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69RoadRunner

Our Sea Base Sea Exploring Report

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We just got back from Sea Base and our Sea Exploring adventure.  I'll probably add to this as my memory allows.  :p

This adventure is sailing on a large sailboat with 18-20 of your troop's crew plus 4 more (2 captains and 2 mates).  This is the first problem.  18-20 plus 4 is too many.  It might be fine if the weather is perfect, but we had rain at least part of every night.  That many people cramped down below creates a heat and smell that makes things not joyful, at least for adults.  Younger scouts seem to sleep in any condition.  Sixteen is would be a better max.  We maxed out our vessel's legal capacity.

We flew to Fort Lauderdale and had two 12 passenger vans reserved.  Like the Seinfeld episode, Thrifty took our reservation, but did not hold it.  They only had 1 van.  We waited for over an hour and asked if they had any 8 passenger vehicles.  They had an Expedition, so we were off.  Sea Base wants you to have your own vehicles in case there's an evacuation.  You're most likely screwed if you book transportation and have to evacuate.

We arrived at 2:30 thanks to Thrifty and were rushed into the swim review, which was really a snorkel review.  The crew learned the basics of snorkeling, including jumping off the pier.

We were set up in one of the dorms and the a/c was broken.  It was repaired in time for sleeping.  We mostly brought sleeping bag liners since it's hot on the boat. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the cranked a/c that night.  It was a little chilly.  Perhaps bring a fleece blanket instead.  On the ship, there was 1 night on deck where it was cool enough with the breeze that many of us used our sleeping bag liners.  All other times people used nothing.

Our Captain of the Gran Nellie was sort of a drill sergeant.  This got the scouts moving.  His expectations for a crew with this many 13 year olds plus 2 with Autism was a bit higher than ideal, but we made it work.  Twig arms of some of the young scouts struggled hoisting sails and retrieving anchors.  They did it, but not fast.  By the end of the week, they were getting good at it.

The first 1.5 days, several, myself included, were seasick due to the swells being rough.  I did have prescription motion sickness medication.  I was fine the rest of the week, which was mostly smooth with 1 day of rougher swells.

Snorkeling the reefs and wrecks was the best part! I brought a full face snorkel mask.  It has a GoPro attachment.  This was not ideal.  I couldn't see if my FauxPro (GoPro knockoff) had timed out or was recording.  A better option is a wrist attachment.  Also, get a red lens filter case.

The food supplied was pretty good.  They're smart and supply pre-cooked chicken, burgers, etc.  We caught a big Mahi and Lexie, one of our mates, taught the scouts to fillet and cook it.  Good stuff.  We had some ceviche, too.

When there's lightning within 5 miles, you need rubber soled sandals or shoes.  Our captain did not care if you wore sandals, some do.  This was good for me as I got a painful splinter and had to perform surgery with tweezers.  My foot was sore for 2 days and the sandals provided some pressure relief.

I wore a competitive style swimsuit under my boxer style swimsuit.  This reduced chafing.  Consider it.

Our day in Key West was fun.  We toured the town, Fort Zachary Taylor and the Butterfly Museum (more interesting than it sounds).  We ate at Caroline's which has good food and, for Key West, reasonable prices.

Best Key Lime pie is at the Key Lime Pie Factory.

Street performers in Mallory Square around sunset are interesting.  We enjoyed it.

We were told some troop demanded that they not have a day in Key West (taking away a day off from the crew) because they didn't want their snowflakes exposed to evils of Key West.  Really, the only questionable things I saw were some of the t-shirts in the shops and the smell of some of our scouts who must have avoided the water from the shower head.

We returned to Sea Base for our luau.  By Boy Scout camp standards, it was decent.  That night, the a/c was not as cold as the first (we were in the San Francisco dorm both times) and my sleeping bag liner was perfect.

After the 8am breakfast, we drove back to Ft. Lauderdale airport to find our flight delayed 3 hours.  We ate there and just chilled in the gate area.

This is all on little sleep, so if it makes no sense, at least I have an excuse. 

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Makes tons of sense for those of us who've been there! I love reports like this. Hopefully, our experiences helped informed your decisions.

1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

... We were told some troop demanded that they not have a day in Key West (taking away a day off from the crew) because they didn't want their snowflakes exposed to evils of Key West.  Really, the only questionable things I saw were some of the t-shirts in the shops and the smell of some of our scouts who must have avoided the water from the shower head. ...

Regarding Key West, it's not just "their snowflakes". Some scouters contend with leaders who want time off from mid-week to have a drink (or seven, or ten). Or, we have kids with nascent behavior disorders. Or, we coeds have late teens with budding romances but a lack of discipline when backs are turned. Either way, we realize in the months leading up to the adventure that the short leash principle must apply. A major tourist city with a notorious drug and alcohol problem doesn't help.

That said. Since you had such young boys, you may want to try and inspire some of them to save up for the Bahamas sailing adventure in a few years. They'll enjoy the contrast of the Abacos.

On the flip side, older scouts clean up a little better. So the smell isn't so bad. But still, I endured the rain and slept topside. I found it was worth the loss of sleep ducking under a tarp until the rain stopped to sleep the remainder of the time above deck. :)

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1 minute ago, qwazse said:

Makes tons of sense for those of us who've been there! I love reports like this. Hopefully, our experiences helped informed your decisions.

Regarding Key West, it's not just "their snowflakes". Some scouters contend with leaders who want time off from mid-week to have a drink (or seven, or ten). Or, we have kids with nascent behavior disorders. Or, we coeds have late teens with budding romances but a lack of discipline when backs are turned. Either way, we realize in the months leading up to the adventure that the short leash principle must apply. A major tourist city with a notorious drug and alcohol problem doesn't help.

That said. Since you had such young boys, you may want to try and inspire some of them to save up for the Bahamas sailing adventure in a few years. They'll enjoy the contrast of the Abacos.

On the flip side, older scouts clean up a little better. So the smell isn't so bad. But still, I endured the rain and slept topside. I found it was worth the loss of sleep ducking under a tarp until the rain stopped to sleep the remainder of the time above deck. :)

Yes, all the advice here was invaluable.  Thank you.

Unlike the chickens of Key West, our scouts were not free range.  Between the number of 13 year olds, 2 kids with Autism, and one scout whose behavior was awful this week, we were with them at all times.  We allowed 2 very responsible 18 year old Eagles on the crew some free time.  I'd be more concerned with a place like San Francisco with its defecation and hypodermics on the sidewalks.

Sending us adults to Key West with the rule of no drinking is like training a dog not to eat the biscuit on his nose, but that's the rule.  We abided the rule.

This was our first high adventure trip since I joined 4 years ago.  Philmont is booked next year.  We'll survey the scouts to see if they want the triple crown in NT for 2020, return to Sea Base or something else.

While older scouts are more willing to shower, the ones who fail to do so are more pungent than the younger ones. :confused:

We didn't bring tarps.  That might have been a better option and stay on top, even if you don't sleep.  Really, if it rains at night, there's zero chance I'm sleeping, but I'd rather be cool and B.O. free and not sleeping than down in what was basically a well used gym sock down below.

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Another piece of advice, bring earplugs.  In the dorms, if your group doesn't have a snorer, you might be with another group with someone sawing wood.

It can also benefit on the boat.

Make sure your water bottle has a wide mouth opening.  The water at Sea Base is warm, but they have an ice dispenser.  Water bottles hang along the siderails of the boat, so this is why you need a carabiner and the bottle needs to be plastic to avoid loud clanking.

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On 8/3/2018 at 7:20 AM, 69RoadRunner said:

We just got back from Sea Base and our Sea Exploring adventure.  I'll probably add to this as my memory allows.  :p

This adventure is sailing on a large sailboat with 18-20 of your troop's crew plus 4 more (2 captains and 2 mates).  This is the first problem.  18-20 plus 4 is too many.  It might be fine if the weather is perfect, but we had rain at least part of every night.  That many people cramped down below creates a heat and smell that makes things not joyful, at least for adults.  Younger scouts seem to sleep in any condition.  Sixteen is would be a better max.  We maxed out our vessel's legal capacity.

We flew to Fort Lauderdale and had two 12 passenger vans reserved.  Like the Seinfeld episode, Thrifty took our reservation, but did not hold it.  They only had 1 van.  We waited for over an hour and asked if they had any 8 passenger vehicles.  They had an Expedition, so we were off.  Sea Base wants you to have your own vehicles in case there's an evacuation.  You're most likely screwed if you book transportation and have to evacuate.

We arrived at 2:30 thanks to Thrifty and were rushed into the swim review, which was really a snorkel review.  The crew learned the basics of snorkeling, including jumping off the pier.

We were set up in one of the dorms and the a/c was broken.  It was repaired in time for sleeping.  We mostly brought sleeping bag liners since it's hot on the boat. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the cranked a/c that night.  It was a little chilly.  Perhaps bring a fleece blanket instead.  On the ship, there was 1 night on deck where it was cool enough with the breeze that many of us used our sleeping bag liners.  All other times people used nothing.

Our Captain of the Gran Nellie was sort of a drill sergeant.  This got the scouts moving.  His expectations for a crew with this many 13 year olds plus 2 with Autism was a bit higher than ideal, but we made it work.  Twig arms of some of the young scouts struggled hoisting sails and retrieving anchors.  They did it, but not fast.  By the end of the week, they were getting good at it.

The first 1.5 days, several, myself included, were seasick due to the swells being rough.  I did have prescription motion sickness medication.  I was fine the rest of the week, which was mostly smooth with 1 day of rougher swells.

Snorkeling the reefs and wrecks was the best part! I brought a full face snorkel mask.  It has a GoPro attachment.  This was not ideal.  I couldn't see if my FauxPro (GoPro knockoff) had timed out or was recording.  A better option is a wrist attachment.  Also, get a red lens filter case.

The food supplied was pretty good.  They're smart and supply pre-cooked chicken, burgers, etc.  We caught a big Mahi and Lexie, one of our mates, taught the scouts to fillet and cook it.  Good stuff.  We had some ceviche, too.

When there's lightning within 5 miles, you need rubber soled sandals or shoes.  Our captain did not care if you wore sandals, some do.  This was good for me as I got a painful splinter and had to perform surgery with tweezers.  My foot was sore for 2 days and the sandals provided some pressure relief.

I wore a competitive style swimsuit under my boxer style swimsuit.  This reduced chafing.  Consider it.

Our day in Key West was fun.  We toured the town, Fort Zachary Taylor and the Butterfly Museum (more interesting than it sounds).  We ate at Caroline's which has good food and, for Key West, reasonable prices.

Best Key Lime pie is at the Key Lime Pie Factory.

Street performers in Mallory Square around sunset are interesting.  We enjoyed it.

We were told some troop demanded that they not have a day in Key West (taking away a day off from the crew) because they didn't want their snowflakes exposed to evils of Key West.  Really, the only questionable things I saw were some of the t-shirts in the shops and the smell of some of our scouts who must have avoided the water from the shower head.

We returned to Sea Base for our luau.  By Boy Scout camp standards, it was decent.  That night, the a/c was not as cold as the first (we were in the San Francisco dorm both times) and my sleeping bag liner was perfect.

After the 8am breakfast, we drove back to Ft. Lauderdale airport to find our flight delayed 3 hours.  We ate there and just chilled in the gate area.

This is all on little sleep, so if it makes no sense, at least I have an excuse. 

Welcome home.

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13 hours ago, mashmaster said:

WOW your boat was massive compared to ours.

Yeah, I like the larger schooners better than the smaller ones.  Still, 24 people, including crew, made it very crowded.

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6 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

Yeah, I like the larger schooners better than the smaller ones.  Still, 24 people, including crew, made it very crowded.

You got lucky to get that one.  Most crews only get the coral reef adventure which is limited to 8 people on a 42' sloop.  

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1 hour ago, mashmaster said:

You got lucky to get that one.  Most crews only get the coral reef adventure which is limited to 8 people on a 42' sloop.  

The scouter who signed us up is no longer with our troop.  I don't believe he even checked with anyone, he just assumed we'd want that one, so I don't know what the lottery situation was like.

While it increases the cost per person, I still recommend going with the least amount of people you can or pray for perfect weather.  It gets hot, cramped and stinky down below.

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2 hours ago, 69RoadRunner said:

The scouter who signed us up is no longer with our troop.  I don't believe he even checked with anyone, he just assumed we'd want that one, so I don't know what the lottery situation was like.

While it increases the cost per person, I still recommend going with the least amount of people you can or pray for perfect weather.  It gets hot, cramped and stinky down below.

It also limits the access to scouts that want the once in a lifetime experience.   That adventure is one of the hardest to get I have heard.

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Thanks for sharing!   You’re letting me re live our coral seas adventure earlier this summer.  It looks like everyone on your adventure had a great time. 

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