(Thank you to Emerson Koester for putting together a report on our most recent high adventure trip to Bahamas Sea Base!)
Last month, 10 Scouts and 7 Adults participated in an amazing high adventure trip. We spent a week at Sea Base sailing around Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. After flying into Marsh Harbour , the crew spent Friday enjoying the activities at the Abaco Beach Resort. We had dinner as a group at a local restaurant called Jamie’s Place. On Saturday morning, 5 of the crew went scuba diving with a local dive shop. The rest of us had a lazy morning and after lunch went to the dock to meet the Sea Base team. Upon arrival, we found that the 60’ catamaran that we were supposed to use for the week was uninsured so we were split up onto two 42’ single hull boats. The older scouts were assigned to the Sempre Amantes under Captain Dave. The younger scouts went on the Take A Bow with Captain Josh and First Mate Walker. At first, it seemed quite unfortunate not to be together but it turned out to be a good thing as this gave us more opportunity to learn the basics of sailing. After loading the boats with our gear and supplies we left the dock around 6:00 p.m. Our crews sailed to Matlowe Key and after doing our swim checks we grilled dinner out on the deck. That night we learned about the boat, sleeping on deck and conducting anchor watch.
I was on the Sempre Amantes, and while we anchored together, we had separate experiences. What followed is mostly those of my crew.
Sunday morning, The Sempre Amantes crew (the older Scouts’ boat) discovered that the transmission on our engine had failed so the motor was unusable the entire week. That meant that we got lots of practice sailing – tacking, jibing and running. It also led to some stressful moments as we tried to maneuver around reefs and into anchorage locations. Our boats sailed into Fowl Key for snorkeling around coral reefs. We struggled a bit to sail back into the Abaco Sea from the Atlantic as the tides were tricky and the passage was narrow. I even had a rough time being a helmsman. On the first day of driving the boat, I did quite a few 360 degree turns in rapid succession. After the spinning ended, we met up with the other crew and anchored off Man O War Key. That night both crews took dinghies into shore and had dinner together under a shelter. The location was beautiful – the Abaco Sea on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Throughout the day we got periodic updates on the World Cup final. Eventually we found out that France won over Croatia 4-2.
Monday, we tendered into Man O War Key and strolled through town along the Queen’s Highway. After purchasing cold drinks and enjoying the village, we sailed to Hopetown on Elbow Key. It is one on the larger towns in the Abacos and had a beautiful natural harbor and candy -cane striped lighthouse. We climbed to the top and learned it is the only remaining kerosene burning lighthouse in the world that is still functional. We walked through town, enjoyed ice cream and did some souvenir shopping. Both of the crews ended up at the Hope Town Lodge where we could enjoy their pool and snack shop. That night the Sempre Amantes crew enjoyed steaks on the grill for dinner.
Tuesday, we sailed around 8 miles to Great Guana Key. It was an interesting trip due to the winds and we lost a few personal items and a tank of fuel overboard. It took quite a bit of time circling around trying to retrieve the stuff. I spent most of the day as helmsman and learned to navigate using the satellite navigation, wind speed gauge and depth charts. Along the way we stopped to snorkel over a man-made reef. Tying up to a mooring buoy without a motor in the pouring rain was quite challenging. After finally securing the line, we took the dinghy into the island. Our crews explored the key and had a fantastic time despite the rain.
Wednesday, we arose to a beautiful sunrise. After breakfast we sailed to Waters Cay. Our crew was finally getting more confident in our sailing abilities. Off the tip off the key there were areas to snorkel over a wreck and a series of reefs. There were dozens of small grottoes formed by the coral and they were filled with sea life. The water was warm and we had great visibility throughout the trip. We tried a bit of fishing as we sailed but were unsuccessful in landing any fish. Our sister crew joined us after a brief stop at Treasure Key. That evening we went ashore to a secluded beach for a cookout. We enjoyed a campfire, hermit crab races and attempted to gather coconuts without much success. Also, that evening Reeves passed his Eagle Scoutmaster conference on the beach.
Thursday, we set sail for Marsh Harbour for our last day at sea. There was a storm brewing so we had gusts of 17 knots and at times we were making 5.5 knots of speed. The wind also shifted a lot so that required lots of tacking to stay on course. Eventually the rain came down in buckets and we tried to sail through. When the boat was about ¾ of a mile from port the winds died altogether. Without any wind we then tried to tow the boat into dock with the dinghy. It was slow but our boat eventually made it in past the break water. Luckily there was an open slip and by lashing the dinghy to the side of the boat we could get it tied up. We cleaned the boat, stowed our gear and then took much needed showers. We took Captain Dave out to dinner and returned to discuss the week and receive our Sea Base awards. We also celebrated Reeves’ 18th with a birthday cake. Our last night was spent onboard playing cards and recalling the highlights of the week.
Friday morning, we headed to a local coffee shop for caffeine, sweets and Wi-Fi! After that we took a group photo and said our goodbyes to the captain and crew. There was a bit of a delay in the Miami airport but we finally made it back to Normal around midnight. Overall, no one got homesick, seasick or sunburned. It was a once in a lifetime experience for everyone involved. Lucky for us, Troop 19 offers these opportunities every year. Another reason why we’re the best you’ve seen!