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mashmaster

Sea Base adventure trip report

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We just returned from Sea Base this week.  I thought I would write up a trip report, maybe there will be something useful for crews in the future.  If not, I promise to include a couple of pretty pictures.  Every crew is different so YMMV.

Our crew: 4 boys and 4 adults.  one boy is going into his senior year of high school the others were all entering their freshman year or 8th grade next year (almost 14 or just 14).  Our boys did not have a strong bond coming into the crew and tend to be on the introverted side of things.  I would have prefered there to be 3 adults rather than 4, 2 is a bit scary in case one of them has to drop out for some reason at the last minute.

We flew into Fort Lauderdale in the afternoon, got the van we rented from SIXT and checked into the Hampton Inn that had a deal that came in our Sea Base information.  Then we went to the beach and played in the water and sand.  Then just hung out at the hotel until we left the next morning.

The drive to Sea Base is about 2 hours or so. We stopped in Homestead at Walmart for a few items and Key Largo at a Subway for lunch along the way.  Check in is pretty chill and there is someone there to walk you through the entire process.  After check-in you do a snorkel test, meet with your boat's captain, and have dinner at Sea Base, then you board the boat and sail away.

The boat we were on was a 41' Morgan.  Space is very limited, so be prepared to be very close to your crewmates throughout the trip.  You will have to do anchor watch based on what your crew leader sets up.  So for 2 hours each night you will be up to watch the boat to make sure it doesn't float away.  e.g. 10-12, 12-2, 2-4, 4-6.  Sleeping for adults is very difficult, there just isn't a lot of space.  Bring a blow up pillow, but there really isn't much room for pads.  Expect to sleep in unusual positions.  The boys seem to adapt to this well.  It is hot and stuffy down below, but limited space on top and windy....

Each day you will sail to a reef location or two and snorkel.  The snorkeling is very fun and there are lots of fish.  The boys will be taught how to do everything on the boat.  While going between locations, you will fish as hopefully catch something.  Sailing is a lot of waiting then a sprint to hurry up then back to waiting.   There will be a lot of time the boys will nap, read, or play cards.  The captain will make sure the boys are each taking turns sailing the boat and will teach them  what they need to know how to do.

Mid week, you will dock at Marathon key and clean the boat.  There are showers and laundry there.  Bring a few tide pods, a load to was is $3 and $2 to dry.  You will meet other crews there and hang out until 10pm, watch a movie, play cards.  Our crew met a crew from Pittsburgh and they meshed very well.  New found friends.  That night you have AC on the boat and no anchor watch.  It is wonderful!

Then you go back out to sea for a couple of days.  When you come back to Sea Base, you clean the boat up take showers and chill.  It is so relaxing.  They put on a luau for the boys on the last night, they all seemed to have a great time.  The food is pretty decent as well.

The next morning we left, we stopped at a gator farm for a show and fan boat ride.  That was a highlight for some.  We went to the one near Homestead and they have a scout price, no reservations required.

Our boys all had a great time, they all pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone in some manner.  I wish our boys had been able to gel better as a team prior to the trek.  We tried to get them together but our crew was just that way.  They were young and not super mature.  When they meshed with the older crew that helped a lot.

Key Logistic items:

  • From day 1, start using an app like splitwise so you can track expenses and who paid for what and who owes who.  We didn't start with it and lost track of a few transactions about who paid what.
  • We pre-rented a 15-seat van from SIXT via KAYAK.  It was reasonable.  For some reason I couldn't pre-buy cheaper insurance so that was $40/day.  Normally, I turn it down but since this was a group trip we opted in for it.  There is $9/day toll fee you need to pay for the van.  Still cheaper than a shuttle service and you have flexibility.  Seabase now wants you to have a vehicle at camp.
  • We bought the duffle bags from Sea Base, space is very limited on the boat so the made space work well.  We embroidered the bags so we knew whose bag was whose.
  • Bring a few tide pods with you for the laundry at mid week and at the end.  The clothes stink....BAD!
  • Pack every outfit in a gallon ziplock bag, to keep the smell contained.  Wow it smells!
  • Bring backup camera batteries.   A few of us had the Fuli waterproof point and shoot cameras, those did a great job.  The GoPros didn't seem as useful.

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Thanks for sharing! I think I am looking forward more to this event (hopefully next summer) more than any other HA destination.

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35 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Thanks for sharing! I think I am looking forward more to this event (hopefully next summer) more than any other HA destination.

You are welcome. It isn't physically challenging like other HA but it is mentally challenging.  I would go back in a minute.

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2 hours ago, mashmaster said:

You are welcome. It isn't physically challenging like other HA but it is mentally challenging.  I would go back in a minute.

:rolleyes: If you are mad at someone in your crew, the furthest you can get away from them is 41' without docking or swimming! I've had youth turn down the adventure for precisely that reason. It was a mental challenge that they had no interest in overcoming. :(

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Thank you so much!  We have a group of 20 doing the Sea Exploring (Keys Tall Ship) adventure next month, which I believe is very similar to your adventure, but on a larger boat.

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How did you handle getting your gear there for people who brought their own snorkel gear?  Did you take the fins or use Sea Base fins?

The participant guide says that all gear except snorkel and sleep gear must fit in the 24" duffel bag. That's fine once you're there, but how did you fly with that gear?

I know you need very little personal gear.  I can only assume people don't bring fins.

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1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

How did you handle getting your gear there for people who brought their own snorkel gear?  Did you take the fins or use Sea Base fins?

The participant guide says that all gear except snorkel and sleep gear must fit in the 24" duffel bag. That's fine once you're there, but how did you fly with that gear?

I know you need very little personal gear.  I can only assume people don't bring fins.

One person brought their own snorkel gear, they just need to put it into a mesh bag they can borough at Sea Base.  The gear they have is pretty darn decent so we all used that.  They only thing I would bring is a prescription mask if needed.

We bought the duffles from Seabase, everything fit in that fine.  You don't need a lot of gear.  This is the bag we used: http://www.fsbshipstore.com/duffelbags.html .  The bags fit as carry on luggage.  Each boy had a string bag they used for their camera, playing cards, book.

Feel free to ask questions, if you need someone to join you on the big boat let me know and I will go out 🙂

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I went into our shed and found the duffel bags the troop used the last time they went (before my time).  They're much bigger than the 24" that is mentioned in the participant's guide.  Ugh.

This is my first time going on a HA trip and I'm the adult organizer.  I spend much of my waking hours certain I've missed something very important. :confused:

We have 2 crew members who are also Sea Scouts and an adult who is retired Coast Guard, so we at least have some experienced sailors.

Did anyone have trouble with seasickness?  I've encouraged parents to talk to their pediatrician about motion sickness medicine when they got their physicals. I got a prescription for myself since I'm susceptible to motion sickness.

Did your crew take inflatable sleeping pads?

Much appreciated!!

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Don't sweat the small (or slightly large) stuff. If you duffels will store as a carry on your flight, it will make moving through the airport that much easier. The Seabase staff aren't sitting there with measuring tapes.

I got seasick day one as we were mooring over Looe Key Reef. Heat+below+writing+heavy meal the day before+scout didn't close the valve on the head = I'm rushing up to hurl over the rail. Attracted a bunch of yellowtail, then tarpon though. Made for great snorkeling.

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1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

I went into our shed and found the duffel bags the troop used the last time they went (before my time).  They're much bigger than the 24" that is mentioned in the participant's guide.  Ugh.

This is my first time going on a HA trip and I'm the adult organizer.  I spend much of my waking hours certain I've missed something very important. :confused:

We have 2 crew members who are also Sea Scouts and an adult who is retired Coast Guard, so we at least have some experienced sailors.

Did anyone have trouble with seasickness?  I've encouraged parents to talk to their pediatrician about motion sickness medicine when they got their physicals. I got a prescription for myself since I'm susceptible to motion sickness.

Did your crew take inflatable sleeping pads?

Much appreciated!!

When you arrive, if the staff thinks your bags are too big they will provide you bags to transfer into.  I am sure you will be fine.  

Sounds like you will have a lot of experience onboard.

Some of our scouts took a bonine everyday,  I have sailed before so I didn't take anything.  We didn't get sick.

I used a inflatable sleeping pad, it is a Klymit pad (the V-Luxe) and was a little wide.  The standard Klymit pad would work better.

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Looks like a great time.  We're thinking about putting in for 2020, probably either 2 Coral Reef Sailing or 1 Sea Exploring adventure.  (probably will have 14-18 participants).  @69RoadRunner I"m looking forward to hearing about Sea Exploring when y'all get back!  Sounds like @mashmaster had a great time...it'll be hard to decide which one we would prefer.

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On 7/8/2018 at 5:33 PM, Chisos said:

Looks like a great time.  We're thinking about putting in for 2020, probably either 2 Coral Reef Sailing or 1 Sea Exploring adventure.  (probably will have 14-18 participants).  @69RoadRunner I"m looking forward to hearing about Sea Exploring when y'all get back!  Sounds like @mashmaster had a great time...it'll be hard to decide which one we would prefer.

Will do.  We just got back from summer camp.

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When you're on the boat, are you required to be barefoot? I believe I read that captains don't allow sandals or water shoes.  Those are just for on-shore at base and our day in Key West.

I'm recommending the Wal Mart fleece sleep sacks and not allowing sleeping bags since it will be too hot for those.  Is this a good idea?

 

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20 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

When you're on the boat, are you required to be barefoot? I believe I read that captains don't allow sandals or water shoes.  Those are just for on-shore at base and our day in Key West.

I'm recommending the Wal Mart fleece sleep sacks and not allowing sleeping bags since it will be too hot for those.  Is this a good idea?

Shoes? Depends on the boat and the captain. Some rubber soles, in tropical heat, on some decks, will scuff and leave marks. Those old decks typically were not comfortable to walk on barefoot, so you needed deck shoes. Most modern decks, barefoot is the most comfortable.

What are you doing bossing boys around telling them what and what not to sleep in? If they can stuff their sack in that duffel along with the rest of their gear, let them! I wouldn't have a scout waste a dime on the store unless Mamma isn't letting him out of the house with his own sheet and blanket. Remember, $ wasted on gear = one less coffee they may buy you later! If they want their summertime sleeping bag allow it.

You are an HA organizer, not a drill instructor. Let the scouts know it will be hot and they might want to condition for that. If it's going to be a hot evening where you are, send them a quick e-mail that it might might be a good night to try sleeping in the gear they plan to take on the trip. They should practice unpacking and repacking it ... just like you do with the backpack that you surely keep at the end of your bed.

Edited by qwazse

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3 hours ago, qwazse said:

Shoes? Depends on the boat and the captain. Some rubber soles, in tropical heat, on some decks, will scuff and leave marks. Those old decks typically were not comfortable to walk on barefoot, so you needed deck shoes. Most modern decks, barefoot is the most comfortable.

What are you doing bossing boys around telling them what and what not to sleep in? If they can stuff their sack in that duffel along with the rest of their gear, let them! I wouldn't have a scout waste a dime on the store unless Mamma isn't letting him out of the house with his own sheet and blanket. Remember, $ wasted on gear = one less coffee they may buy you later! If they want their summertime sleeping bag allow it.

You are an HA organizer, not a drill instructor. Let the scouts know it will be hot and they might want to condition for that. If it's going to be a hot evening where you are, send them a quick e-mail that it might might be a good night to try sleeping in the gear they plan to take on the trip. They should practice unpacking and repacking it ... just like you do with the backpack that you surely keep at the end of your bed.

As for the sleeping bags, we have to fly there. Some of these scouts have very large, car camping sleeping bags. I REALLY don't want everyone checking a bag when they can take everything in a carry-on. We fly on the day our trek starts. Lost luggage would be a nightmare. So, I don't want them taking gear that has to be checked.  Those cheap fleece sleep sacks seem to be the answer.

Thanks!

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