Sunday, July 9
We left the Combs' household at 8:14 a.m. after several scouts retrieved and changed to their uniforms which they had inadvertently loaded into the troop trailer. Mr. Joe Stekli was transporting crew B in his blue mini van. John was transporting crew A in the troopĖs recently donated 12 passenger van which was also pulling the troop trailer. As time would soon tell, the two vans had a totally different atmosphere. Crew A (and Sean Henderson) in the troop van were reading, listening to music through headphones, or sleeping. Crew B in the Stekli van were wild, noisy and crazy. After leaving the Dayton area, we were passed by a car with Bud and Betty Dill inside. Bud and Betty are big with the Brookville troop and even bigger workers on a district level. We drove nonstop to the Kentucky/Tennessee border where we enjoyed a Kodak moment at the state sign. We then drove sixty seconds to the Tennessee welcome center for a lunch stop. The rest stop was packed, so that John had to park the troop van on the entrance ramp to the interstate. All the picnic tables were taken so we ate our sack lunches under several shady trees. It was pretty hot so we were back to the vans in record time. We resumed our travels, stopping for gas and restrooms. Several scouts in the Crew B van wrote thank you notes from the troop to various people who had helped to make our trip possible. Next, the crew B folks stuck their hands out of the vanĖs tinted windows trying to get people to wave back. We left the interstate at the Robins Air Force Base exit. Cafe Erotica stood on the corner and several scouts begged for their Scoutmaster to stop. At a traffic light stop, crew B spotted people in the next car eating pizza. They stuck their hands out the window in an effort to beg for a bite. A man got out of the car and gave one of our ÏhandsÓ a peach. Welcome to Georgia! Finally, after 12 hours of travel, we arrived at Robins Air Force Base. We checked in at the entrance gate and drove back to our campsite. James had made arrangements to meet an old friend of his at the base. We ran into his friend just before we got to our tent. In our two previous stays here we were lodged in air conditioned Scout huts. Unfortunately, they were being refurbished so the Air Force had set up two twenty man tents at the skeet range. The tents were pretty nice. They had screened windows and doors and had several lights installed in the ceiling. However, they did not contain cots as promised. While Rick supervised the cooking of dinner under the roof of the skeet building, John and Joe Stekli went to find a pay phone to call Sgt. Carson, the youth coordinator from Robins. Within a half an hour the coordinator arrived and issued us our cots. They were fairly easy to put together until the last step, putting in the end crossbar. With no air conditioning and the humid Georgia air, we were covered with sweat by the time our cots were together. Our cooks served up mushy spaghetti, garlic bread, peaches, cookies, and Kool-Aid. We ate while signing thank you notes and fighting off the bugs. We went to bed at 11:15 p.m. and spent the night tossing and turning in the hot, humid air.
Monday, July 10
Our Scoutmaster woke us up at a brain shattering 6:30 a.m. We dressed in full uniform, packed our gear and folded up our cots. We met Sgt. Carson and returned our cots to him. We loaded the trailer and headed to the dining hall. The mess facilities were very nice. Scouts could choose from French toast, scrambled eggs, omelets, cereal, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit, hash browns, pancakes, toast, muffins, and various beverages. The Scoutmaster challenged the group of sixteen to break the $20 mark. Everyone ate until bulging, but the total bill only came to $19.10! It was nice not having to do dishes and a busboy even came and took our trays. After picking up our box lunches and taking a quick picture at the Robins Air Force Base sign, we resumed our travels. After several hours of driving, John stopped at a Rite Aid to buy duct tape for the vanĖs window seal. It had come loose from the windshield and was in risk of coming off completely. We ate our box lunches at a rest stop in Florida. The box lunches contained two meat sandwiches, an apple, crackers, cookies, and two pint containers of milk. Refueled and refreshed we resumed our ride. John stopped to take our picture at the 325 mileage sign. We drove through St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, and saw many historic buildings. The troop van started stalling at traffic lights so John pulled off on a side street to take a look under the hood. Rick guessed we were having overheating problems and suggested we let it sit for a while. Most everyone went off to explore for 45 minutes while the van cooled. When we resumed our travels the van seemed to be working fine. We made a quick stop at a lighthouse and then began the beautiful drive down Route A1A. This road snakes along the Florida coastline and gives incredible views of beaches, vacation resorts, expensive homes (some of which were on stilts) and cute girls. We hit Daytona Beach at the same time a wicked thunderstorm did. Therefore, we had to cancel our planned stop there and decided to head for our nightĖs lodging instead. We stopped at a 7-11 so the guys could get a pop. Mike, our tripĖs quartermaster, purchased two bags of ice and got soaked in the rain while trying to get them into the cooler. We resumed our travels and found the van again was trying to stall. John discovered the problem was lessened greatly if he did not run the air conditioner much to the dismay of his passengers! After four hours of driving from Daytona Beach, we arrived at St. Clouds United Methodist ChurchĖs Family Life Center. What a beautiful facility! It had a carpeted half court basketball gym, fully equipped kitchen with ice machine, restrooms with showers, and air conditioning! We unloaded the van and began fixing dinner. Soon James and his assistants were serving up hamburgers, chips, Zingers, and Kool-Aid. Man, did the air conditioning feel good! Cleaning up greasy skillets was much easier with sinks and hot running water. It poured the rain outside so we were especially thankful for our lodgings. The guys burned up energy playing several very competitive games of basketball. Rick issued money to each person to cover the cost of tomorrowĖs meals at DisneyWorld. Guys took showers, snacked, looked at swimsuit magazines, shot hoops, and lounged around until lights out. Several scouts then began throwing things at each other, but soon settled down.
Tuesday, July 11
We awoke at 7:00 a.m. after a wonderful nightĖs sleep in our cool, insectless quarters. We gobbled down a breakfast of cereal, oranges, donuts, milk, and orange juice. Dressed in our civvies, we headed to DisneyWorld for a day of fun and excitement. Rick, Sean, Heath and Ryan decided to try Epcot while everyone else went to MGM. The attractions at MGM were truly spectacular! The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular provided awesome action, spectacular stunts, and earsplitting explosions. Jim HensonĖs Muppets in 3D was an incredible 3D movie complete with real water from above. The Backstage Tour provided a behind the scenes look at what scenery and props are used to make a movie. During the tour, we entered Catastrophe Canyon, where the audience sat in the middle of fire, flood and earthquake. The Great Movie ride provided a tour through some of the greatest moments in film making history. Star Tours was a virtual reality trip through space. If this ride would have been two minutes longer your Scoutmaster would have blown chunks! There was also a live Pocahontas show, the Monster Sound Show, and Artist Animation exhibits. The new ride of the year was the Hollywood Tower Hotel, an elevator free fall of over ten stories! We caught the choreographed fireworks show and then headed for the vans. We were on the road by 10:30 p.m. and the guys traded stories with each other about their day at DisneyWorld. Back at our gym, the guys played basketball and Rick worked on MikeĖs tape player (a possible casualty of a stray basketball). Lights out was at 12:25 a.m. and we immediately became good friends with our bed rolls.
Wednesday, July 12
Who is bouncing a basketball six inches from my head at 7:30 a.m. in the morning?!? Why it is my Scoutmaster, of course! After this rude awakening, James, Joe Plummer, and Ryan began fixing a breakfast of French toast, sausage, bananas, and orange juice. Much to our surprise, at 7:50 a.m. a ladiesĖ exercise group came in to use the gym. We quickly finished our meal, cleaned dishes, packed gear, loaded the van, and cleaned the Family Life Center. Matt did an immaculate job of vacuuming! We left at 9:25 a.m., just as a childrenĖs group came in to use the facility. We drove to Cocoa Beach and made our traditional stop at Ron JonĖs Surf Shop. We left our vans in their parking lot and walked to the beach. Scouts divided their time between playing in the ocean waves and checking out the latest in female swimwear. Matt and Joe met three girls and were able to extract their names and addresses. We headed back to the vans and some of the guys stopped at a sub shop to buy drinks. We drove for about an hour and stopped at a roadside park for a lunch of PB&J or lunch meat sandwiches, pretzels, oatmeal cookies and pop. We continued driving and the closer we got to Miami the worse the traffic got. We made a gas stop in south Miami, keeping an eye out for potential trouble. We took Route 1 out of Miami which gave us a close up view of the seedy part of town. We finally got to Florida City and found the Super 8 Motel where we had reservations. We unloaded our gear into our air conditioned rooms and immediately flipped on the TV sets. We prepared a dinner of hot dogs, pears, chips, pudding, and brownies in a grassy area between the pool and the parking lot. After dinner, the guys headed for the pool. The main event was six scouts trying to dunk Rick in the pool. They sure donĖt make scouts like they used to. We also did laundry at the motel. Unfortunately, there was only one washing machine and one drier. To make matters worse, it took the drier over one and a half hours to dry a load of clothes. Back at the pool, Joe Plummer was again attracting girls. One in particular was throwing ice at him to get his attention. The rest of the evening was spent swimming, doing laundry, watching TV, playing cards, or ordering a pizza. By midnight everyone was asleep.
Thursday, July 13
Our Scoutmaster permitted us to sleep late since we were less than an hour and a half from the sea base and we were not allowed to check in until after 2:00 p.m. One of the rooms did not crawl out of bed until 8:30 a.m.! We tried to finish as much laundry as we could and also load the van. We ate a breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs. John checked us out at the front desk and we hit the road. Within minutes we entered the Florida Keys. Swamp, scrub trees, and tourist towns were everywhere. After one hour and twelve minutes of driving we were at the sea base. We took group pictures at the sign and left in search of a place to eat lunch. We stopped at a pull off by the ocean and ate in the shade of several small scrub trees. Scouts had fun feeding bread to the birds and fish. We then stopped at a couple of shops. Several guys bought Johnson t-shirts and John bought his customary bottle of Squirt. We returned to the sea base parking lot at 1:48 p.m. and sat in our vans and cooked. At 2:00 p.m. Rick and John went into the registration office. While they checked us in, the program mates, Jenn and Sarah, took the rest of the guys on a tour of the base. We checked into our air conditioned quarters and changed into our swimsuits. We went to equipment issue to get our snorkel, mask, and fins. Next, we went down to the beach to take our swimmers test. This was a very important moment for those who flunk the swim test must wear a life jacket aboard the boat at all times. We all passed the 100 yard swim despite the disgusting taste of the super salty water. Jenn gave us a lesson in snorkeling and then sent us on the snorkeling trail. We saw tires, fish, and lobster, but gone were the Christmas trees that were there from previous years. At the end of the session, we returned to our cool quarters to change clothes and kill some time. Most of the guys played volleyball on the court just outside of our quarters. We also visited the shipĖs store, wrote letters and postcards, and explored the area. At 6:00 p.m. we had our crew pictures taken in front of our boats. We looked sharp in our troop t-shirts and scout shorts! We puttered around until our 7:00 p.m. dinner. We feasted on spaghetti and meatballs, tossed salad, green beans, garlic bread, and chocolate cake under the quarterdeck. LeaderĖs meetings were at 8:15 p.m. Crew chiefs Matt and James met with the coral reef sailing director while the adultsĖ meeting was held aboard a boat out in the bay. When the meetings ended, we met with our captains at their boats. Crew A was on the Spin Drift with captain Joe Wischmeier. Crew B was on the Gypsy Spirit with John Keyes as their captain. The captains spent a half an hour going over safety, precautions, and boat life. The yachts were 41 feet long and had a full galley, several bedrooms, head, kitchen, gas grill and separate quarters for the captain. At 9:00 p.m. we watched a slide show on the various creatures we would meet in the ocean. Stopping at the shipĖs store, we bought our sea base t-shirts and a few other small items. We returned to our quarters, got our gear ready for the boat and dumped all unneeded items at the vans. Lights out was 11:00 p.m.
Friday, July 14
Our Scoutmaster, a human alarm clock, woke us at 7:00 a.m. We dropped our gear at the boat and then went to the flag raising ceremony. Matt, Aaron, Ryan, Heath, Joe Plummer, and Jeremy raised the flag for the entire camp. This put a glow in their ScoutmasterĖs heart. We returned to the quarterdeck, said the sea base grace, and got in line for breakfast. French toast, ham, cereal and fresh fruit were devoured in short order. We changed into our swimsuits and made a final trip to the van. Using a two wheeled cart, we received our provisions and took them to our boats. We first loaded ice and then loaded mountains of food. Each boatĖs quartermaster had to check off each individual item as it was being loaded down below. Soon we were ready to cast off our lines and set sail for adventure. The Gypsy Spirit left at 9:40 a.m. while the Spin Drift left at 10:00 a.m. Captain Joe spent the first 30 minutes of the trip explaining all the rules and procedures. Some examples of Captain JoeĖs more interesting rules are as follows: if you are caught sleeping in the shipĖs cockpit, Captain Joe will pour a glass of ice water in your crotch; anyone bumping into the throttle must clean the head; anyone caught standing on the stairs will receive a fine; anyone caught leaving their personal gear laying around will have to sing Little Bunny Foo Foo at the sea baseĖs closing program; when the captain wakes up in the morning he will call Ïgood morning crewÓ down below and we have 30 seconds to get up, sit in the cockpit and on the count of three yell Ïgood morning Captain JoeÓ or receive a blast from his air horn; anyone caught sitting on the cushions down below without a sheet under them would be fined; to eat dinner each evening we all have to score 100% on a quiz pertaining to some area of scouting knowledge. On first inspection, it may seem that Captain Joe really should be called Captain Bligh. However, one must understand that Captain Joe has been doing this for the past seven years. All the rules he sets up counteracts various problems he has encountered over the years. Instead of burning out, he has become very wise! Captain Joe also owns the boat we were on and with hundreds of people on it a year, needs to keep the wear and tear to a minimum. Well anyway, we were soon under sail power as we left the bay and entered the ocean. Captain Joe is quite a fisherman and we soon had caught three barracuda, a grouper, and a blue runner. Matt, a veteran of one previous sea base trip and one who never got sea sick, decided he was thirsty. He drank some water and soon thereafter puked! The next to blow chunks was Jeremy although he tried to sidetrack the inevitable by wearing sea bands and eating saltines. Ryan was the first to get fined when he was caught standing on the stairs and sitting on the cushions without first spreading out a sheet. Our first sailing lunch was turkey sandwiches, cheese curls, and cookies. Captain Joe kept pushing us to drink ice water constantly since it is easy to become dehydrated in this environment. And then an exciting thing happened. A school of dolphins began swimming playfully off the front of our boat. Everyone scrambled for cameras and the perfect viewing point. The dolphins followed us to our first dive site at Sombrero. The sights were incredible! The water was an average of sixteen feet deep and crystal clear all the way to the white sandy bottom. We saw thousands of brightly colored fish which swam almost within reach. The coral was a multicolor landscape of hills, valleys, and caverns. A few barracuda made the swim even more exciting. There was also a coral arch which several of the scouts took turns swimming under. After an hour, Captain Joe called for us to come in, Motion sickness and the taste of the salt water caused Aaron and Joe Plummer Sr. to become members of the puke club. We then set sail for Coupon Bight in Newfound Harbor. Sun bathing became the popular sport. Captain Joe gave a quiz on repeating the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan from memory. Everyone passed, but several guys had to take the quiz several times before succeeding. We dropped anchor in Newfound Harbor not more than a couple of hundred yards from the Gypsy Spirit. Captain Joe tuned the radio in to an oldies station and cooked our hamburgers on the grill. Ryan whipped up some macaroni and cheese and we all ate while a beautiful sunset swelled in the background. After cleanup was finished (and Captain Joe gave a white glove inspection of the kitchen), we prepared the ship for sleeping. This entailed moving all the gear from the V birth (two bunks in the front of the ship which form a V) to the galley and converting the dining area into a bedroom. Captain Joe, being a man who is always on his toes, found several personal items laying around loose. The first day and he already had several guys to sing at the closing program! Captain Joe then explained anchor watch. Due to the possibility of sudden storms, we would maintain an all night anchor watch to make sure the ship did not drift. Each shift would consist of two people and would last two hours. Captain Joe informed us anyone caught sleeping while on anchor watch would have to clean every piece of stainless steel on the boat. We went to bed and found the cabin below to be hot and stuffy. Each anchor watch struggled to stay awake for their shift. The evening was quiet except for a small shower in the early morning hours.
Saturday, July 15
We were awakened at 6:45 a.m. by Captain JoeĖs cheery, ÏGood morning crew!Ó Panic raced through us as we raced for the cockpit. On MattĖs count of three we responded with, ÏGood morning Captain JoeÓ and were thus spared a blast from the vicious air horn. However, I am sure most of us felt like tired old shoe leather at that moment. We moved our gear from the galley back to the V birth. Breakfast was Poptarts, cold cereal, and apple juice. A culinary delight! We then hoisted anchor and returned to the open sea. Everyone was pretty whipped from snorkeling, anchor watch and early rising so most of us moved to the front of the boat where we could sleep without reprisal. Soon we arrived at Looe Key, the finest snorkeling waters in the United States and one of the best in the world. Matt and Joe secured us to the mooring buoy while Ryan put up our diving flag. All the other guys helped move the snorkeling gear to the back of the boat. We hit the water in record time. The crystal clear water varied in depth from two to twenty feet and provided ideal picture taking conditions for our underwater cameras. Four eyed butterfly fish, sergeant majors, french angelfish, midnight parrot fish, shark, barracuda, sea turtles, and sting rays were everywhere. The hills and valleys of coral were dressed in reds, yellows, and tans and were dotted with brain coral and coral sea fans. After an hour of outstanding snorkeling, we reluctantly returned to the ship. We were soon under sail and the Gypsy Spirit challenged us to a race. Being the heavier ship, we lost. We caught a couple more barracuda and then fixed lunch. PB&J, corn chips, and granola bars were devoured under some very dark looking skies. We caught a Kingfish, but a greedy barracuda chomped off its tail and lower body. Captain Joe kept the fish and promised to add it to tonightĖs dinner. The storm was now upon us and Captain Joe decided to keep the sails up and sail through it. The winds were so strong that the toe rail of the boat was actually in the water! We got a pretty good rain, but no one seemed to mind. The wind kept getting stronger so Captain Joe decided to take the sails down before disaster struck. We headed toward Key West with Joe Plummer Sr. at the helm. About this time lunch and fatigue began to work its magic. Soon Ryan had fallen asleep in the cockpit of the boat, Captain Joe called his name three times and getting no response, dumped a cup of cold ice water in his crotch. The look on RyanĖs face was priceless! As we rounded the southeastern corner of Key West, Captain Joe took the helm and pointed out famous coastal landmarks such as the coast guard station, navy base, Mel FisherĖs Treasure Museum, Key West Aquarium, and Mallory Square. We anchored off Wisteria Island among several dozen other boats. Captain JoeĖs dinner quiz was on the parts of the Scout Badge. Everyone did pretty well although Matt originally refused to take the quiz. Most of the Scouts decided to snorkel on a sunken sailboat about 100 yards from our anchored ship. Upon their return, Captain Joe had us take ÏJoyÓ baths. Each buddy team got on the back of the boat and washed with liquid Joy soap. Then they took turns washing each otherĖs backs. Next, they jumped into the ocean to rinse off. After everyone was in the ocean, Captain Joe had us get back on the boat one by one so he could give us a warm fresh water rinse from a solar powered shower. Joe and Aaron prepared fresh salad, stuffing and applesauce while Captain Joe cooked lemon pepper pork chops! Captain Joe also cooked the Kingfish on the grill marinated with orange, cheese and lemon pepper. The meal was a true culinary delight! This combined with being clean and dry caused the crewĖs spirits to be very high. Unfortunately, someone was not using the head properly so the captain gave us a big lecture on proper usage. At 10:30 p.m. we turned in and anchor watch began.
Sunday, July 16
Captain Joe woke us at a lazy 8:00 a.m. and we scrambled up to the cockpit to give him the standard greeting. He also had us give Captain John in the Gypsy Spirit a greeting too. Anchor watch had not gone well the night before. Both Heath and Ryan fell asleep sometime during their 10:00 p.m. to midnight shift. They didnĖt wake up until 1:30 a.m. which meant Joe and John only had to do 30 minutes of anchor watch. Aaron, who was working towards completion of his First Class badge, supervised Heath and Ryan in cooking scrambled eggs, sausage, and English muffins. As dishes were being washed, Jeremy and Matt hauled up the anchor and received a Ïgood job guysÓ from Captain Joe. We motored the short distance to the marina. A tow boat was in our path, but the highly skilled Captain Joe was able to do the impossible and miss it with room to spare. Our docking crew watched like hawks to make sure fenders were kept between the dock and the boat. Once we were safely tied up, the scouts began the process of cleaning the boat. Matt sprayed water from the hose, Ryan cleaned the head, Joe cleaned the cockpit, and Heath and Aaron scrubbed the deck while Joe, Joe, and Jeremy checked the boats in. Next, Rick (a sea base employee) gave us a tour of the Galleon marina. We had access to their showers, pool, beach, weight room, and bar. Since there were only three showers and three crews waiting to use them, the wait was immense. Crew B decided to go swimming in the pool and Matt, Jeremy, Joe Plummer, Heath, and Rick worked out in the weight room. After showers, we returned to the ship and ate lunch. Captain Joe pointed out the huge school of tarpon that swam around the docks waiting for fish scraps. He then let some of the scouts use the shipĖs fishing bait to hand feed these four foot tarpon. They actually came out of the water to get the bait. Now it was time to tour Key West. Most of us toured the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum. We viewed a 20 minute film on Mel FisherĖs discovery of the Atosha, the richest sunken treasure ship ever discovered. The museum was full of various items recovered from sunken ships such as swords, cannons, pottery, silver bars, jewelry and coins. Most of us also went to the Key West Aquarium where we got close up views of sharks, sting rays, saw fish, moray eels and other assorted saltwater fish. Scouts scattered throughout Key West and visited such places as Jimmy BuffetĖs restaurant, the southern most point in the United States, Fort Zachery Taylor, and RipleyĖs Believe It or Not. We all met at the Burger King at 6:00 to take the captains out to dinner. Some of the scouts chose to go their own way so the rest of us went to ClancyĖs for pizza. Captain Joe brought his girlfriend, Diane. The sea base had worked a special deal with ClancyĖs so that scouts (not adults) could get pizza and unlimited soda for $5.00. Joe Plummer Sr. bought Key Lime pie for everyone and then proceed to pay our entire dinner bill! We then hurried off to Mallory Square to watch the sunset festival. Everyone applauded as the sun dropped below the horizon. Next, we checked out some of the shows being put on by street performers. There were guitar players, singers, a man with trained stunt cats, a man and woman escape artist team who were chained and put in a big black bag, a chained man in a straight jacket who took 90 minutes to escape, palm readers, painters, jewelers, and a violinist. We hurried back to the boat to make our 10:00 p.m. curfew. TonightĖs sleep was in an air conditioned cabin with no anchor watch. Captain Joe also told us there would be no good morning greeting tomorrow since it might wake up people in neighboring boats.
Monday, July 17
We awoke at 8:30 a.m. and moved our gear to the V birth. Joe and Aaron cooked French toast while we got the ship ready for departure. With cleanup done, we got the ship ready for departure. We loaded the ship with water, gas, and ice and left the marina by 10:19 a.m. As we motored out from Key West Captain Joe worked on knots with us. Soon we heard the captain of the Gypsy Spirit on the radio asking us for help. It seems they were having mechanical problems. Captain Joe motored out and hooked them up to our ship. We towed them to Western Sambos, our next diving spot, so Captain Joe could work on their boat while we were snorkeling. Great snorkeling here! Afterwards, the scouts did creative dives from the decks of our boats. Matt, Jeremy, and Joe did a three musketeers dive, all three of them jumping at the same time. James impressed us all with his great double back flip. Captain Joe continued to work on the Gypsy Spirit while we ate lunch. Finally, with the Gypsy Spirit repaired, we headed for Newfound Harbor. Captain JoeĖs dinner quiz tonight was on the history of Boy Scouting in England and the United States. Based on previous experiences, John bet the scouts would not pass on the first try. Captain Joe confidently bet they would and roared with laughter when they did. We raced the Gypsy Spirit to Newfound Harbor. However, due to unfavorable winds neither boat completed the race under sail power. After anchoring in Newfound Harbor, Ryan, Heath, and Captain Joe fixed a dinner of stew over rice, bread, tossed salad, Swiss cake rolls and tea. After dinner, Captain Joe gave the scouts some yo yos (a spool of fishing line with a hook on the end) to catch pin fish to use as shark bait. The scouts soon caught eight pin fish. Captain Joe put one of the pin fish on the hook and dropped it over the side for the night. We sat around and talked for a while. Captain Joe said he could make any scout there bark like a dog. With that he grabbed MattĖs big toe and gave him some toe therapy. Matt howled with pain, but the captain still insisted he bark like a dog. Soon Matt was barking like a born and bred beagle! Heath and Ryan did the dishes and we moved our gear to the galley. Aaron, having finished his cooking requirements and First Class rank, had his ScoutmasterĖs Conference. He was the first scout to have earned a rank on a Troop 325 high adventure trip. Lights out was 10:38 p.m.
Tuesday, July 18
Our Captain Joe greeting came at 7:00 a.m. The day was very overcast with a much better sailing wind. Matt and Jeremy fixed an outstanding breakfast of piping hot pancakes. We hoisted the anchorage and set sail for Big Munson Rocks. The area was full of fish, rocks, and beautiful coral. Heath and Joe even saw a sunken ship. However, everyone chose not to snorkel here, but to continue on to Sombrero. The sailing was especially good now! The ship was really rocking and a heavy spray from the bow of the ship was flying through the air. At this point, Ryan complained of swelling and pain from the right side of his neck under his jaw. Captain Joe asked to see RyanĖs medical form and it was discovered that we had the Gypsy SpiritĖs medical forms! Captain Joe radioed the Gypsy Spirit and ask their captain to get our medical forms out for him. It was then discovered that Rick had left their (but actually our) medical forms in the van! Captain Joe was not pleased! Uncomfortably, Captain Joe called the sea base and told of our predicament. The sea base physician prescribed Benadryl for Ryan. The medication soon put Ryan to sleep. We arrived at Sombrero, our dive site. Matt connected us to the diving buoy while Ryan sleepily put up the diving flag. Ryan was feeling much better, but was still very sleepy from the medication. Therefore, he chose to sit this dive out. The water was very rough, but the snorkeling was still pretty good. Joe, Matt, and Jeremy swam over to a boat which had a bikini clad babe on board. Once everyone got back to the boat, Captain Joe had us complete the requirements for the Snorkeling B.S.A. patch. We dove ten feet down and brought a ten pound weight back to the surface. Easy! We feasted on a lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches, cheese curls, Pringles potato chips, creme pies and cookies. We then pulled up anchor and motored to the Marathon Marina and filled up with gas. Captain JoeĖs dinner quiz was repeating the Outdoor Code verbatim from memory. Amazingly, almost everyone passed on the first try. Next, we docked at the Farco Blanco Marina Resort. We tied the ship to the dock and discussed our evening plans. Joe Plummer Sr. and Heath took showers, while everyone else went to the resortĖs pool. While the guys were swimming, John contacted RyanĖs parents who informed him the pain and swelling was part of a sinus condition. Whew! The pool was a beautiful Olympic sized pool with almost no one in it. We returned to the ship at 6:00 p.m. and found that the Gypsy Spirit had just pulled into the slip beside us. As we were fixing dinner, we saw Rick slip with a pot of boiling water, dumping it on his hands, legs and feet. Ouch! Joe and Aaron prepared a dinner of tossed salad, cheese potatoes and pudding while Captain Joe cooked our steaks on the gas grill. Now that the trip is drawing to a close, the scouts are beginning to pick on each other. At times name calling and put downs cause tempers to flare. Several scouts threw left over food to the gulls flying above our boat. Matt pegged two of the gulls with potatoes. Maybe we should hold his Eagle badge presentation, huh? With dinner dishes done, the scouts headed back to the pool. Ryan stayed back to sleep, Heath to walk around, and Rick, John and Joe Stekli to discuss the trip and take showers. The scouts returned by their 10:00 p.m. curfew and were in bed by 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 19
We woke up at 7:30 a.m., thoroughly refreshed by the air conditioning and no anchor watch. We ate cereal, oatmeal and Poptarts. Just then, a monumental event took place: Captain Joe had changed to red shorts after having worn his blue ones since leaving the base! The weather continued to be overcast, but the winds had died down considerably. We packed our gear and left at 8:30 a.m. Matt and Joe worked furiously on the fishing merit badge with Captain Joe while the other guys worked on knots. Later in the morning, Captain Joe called us all into the cockpit. He gave us our safe swim defense, safety afloat, and Snorkeling B.S.A. cards. He then showed us a conch shell and told the meaning behind it. He told us to take turns holding it up to our ear, listening to the sound of the ocean inside, and telling what we will remember most about our cruise. After we each had taken our turn, he showed us the sea base patch and explained its significance. He then thanked us for being such a great crew. We returned the thanks and presented him with our council strip, O.A. lodge flap and Troop 325 t-shirt. The captain immediately put on his t-shirt and we took pictures of him at the helm. We also took pictures of John and his amazing sea wrist bands which had kept him from puking for the first time in three sea base trips. At this point, the sea base contacted us on the radio and said a newspaper reporter would meet us at the dock for an interview. We ate lunch while listening to Jimmy BuffetĖs ÏFeeding FrenzyÓ album and sailing for the sea base. As the sea base came into sight, we began to gather our stuff together and get ready for docking. We came into dock at 1:51 p.m. and soon met with Jill, a local newspaper reporter. She interviewed us and took a picture of us. We then cleaned the boat from top to bottom and end to end. We then walked to our van and retrieved our duffel bags, While John was there he tried to start the van. Low and behold, it started! This was a first! The past two sea base trips, we had tried to leave early in the morning only to discover the battery was dead. Now it was time for a nice hot shower. Boy, did that ever feel good! We then relaxed, visited the shipĖs store, did laundry, and played volleyball. The guys also spent some time practicing their skits for the evening program. Rick and John did our final checkout and we then all filled out evaluation forms on our sea base experience. At 7:00 p.m. we met under a shelter for our evening luau. The eveningĖs specialty was deep fried fish that tasted just like chicken. Even though the sun was shining, it began to rain very hard. Water dripped through the thatched roof as we ate fish, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad and rolls. Various styles of music were blasting from a boom box on the ground. This got Matt up and dancing in a flash. Soon several other guys followed his example. We then cleaned up and headed for our evening program. The program started by most of our crew singing Little Bunny Foo Foo due to loose items left lying about on the ship. Next, each of the three crews gave a skit depicting the weekĖs happenings on the ship. A certificate was given out to the Gypsy Spirit for catching the largest edible fish and the Spin Drift received one for catching the largest nonedible fish. Captain Joe finished the program by telling about the importance of scouting and the significance of the sea base patch. Guys spent the rest of the evening relaxing, doing laundry, visiting the shipĖs store, or calling home. All were in bed by 11:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 20
We got up quietly at 6:00 a.m., being careful not to wake the other troop staying in the dorm with us. We carried our gear to the road and headed for breakfast. After a quick breakfast of cold cereal and fruit, we loaded our gear into the van. We were on the road by 7:04 a.m. and the occupants in the troop van soon discovered the air conditioning was not working. We knew this would make for a very uncomfortable ride home. Also, the vanĖs radio was having problems. Joe Plummer Sr. and John would have to constantly hit the dash board to get it working again. The rain was really coming down as we were leaving the Keys. We decided to take the turnpike part of the way to avoid the heavy traffic in Miami. At one point, John went in the cars only lane (he was pulling a trailer) at the toll plaza which made the female attendant extremely angry. We stopped at McDonaldĖs for lunch and quickly resumed our travels. We stopped at a rest stop in Georgia. John called Robins Air Force Base to reserve our lunches for the next day. The guys played Frisbee and ate snacks. James fell while running to the van and skinned up his leg pretty bad. The guys in the Stekli van used RickĖs tape recorder to record songs they had written. The guys in the troop van slept and listened to music all the while enduring the heat. We finally took the Robins Air Force Base exit and stopped for ice. Arriving at Robins, we stopped at the guard gate and unsuccessfully attempted to contact the youth liaison for cot issue. The guard at the gate assured us he would continue to try to reach the liaison for us. We drove back to the skeet range and unloaded the van. Rick supervised the cooking of dinner while Jeremy and John went to check on the guard calling for our cots. As John had predicted, the guard had made no further attempts to contact the liaison. John then made the call himself and got the liaison to come out and give us cots. We ate a dinner of stew, pudding, snack cakes, and leftovers. We cleaned up dinner dishes, repacked food boxes, and loaded the trailer. We went to bed at 12:10 a.m., but scouts continued to talk and make silly noises until 12:40 a.m.
Friday, July 21
The nightĖs sleep was sticky, sweaty, and short. John woke everyone up at 5:15 a.m. so we could get an early start on the long day of traveling. We packed up our gear, put our cots away, loaded the trailer and headed for the cafeteria. The scouts tried their best, but still could not break $20.00. We picked up our box lunches, stopped for ice, and were back on the interstate in record time. Scouts slipped back into their comas and only emerged to eat their box lunches at the Tennessee welcome center. We stopped for gas at a service station in Kentucky and John called his wife, Terry, telling her to have pizzas delivered at our anticipated arrival time. We hit the Kentucky-Ohio border at 5:33 p.m. amid a chorus of cheers. Finally, after thirteen days, 5 states and 2931.6 miles of driving, we arrived in Englewood. We gassed up the vans and took them to JohnĖs house to be washed and vacuumed. The pizzas soon arrived and the scouts ate as they cleaned. The scouts were soon picked up by parents whose responses ranged from ÏWeĖre so glad youĖre home!Ó to ÏIf I paid you more, would you have left him in Florida for me?Ó
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