Last Full day for Troop 31

June 24, 2011 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Through the grapevine, I hear this blog is actually getting viewed, at least back in Pennsylvania—the home of Troop 31.  Awesome!  My hope is to give all you folks left back home a sense of the adventure your troop is experiencing.  Feel free to give me some commentary, even requests.  I’ll accommodate if I can!

In rapt attention.

In rapt attention.

As for another day in the life of our high adventure….I must begin by a little digression.  Soon after we began cooking breakfast, I began to realize that certain members of Troop 31 have been holding out on me—been misleading, dare I say!  “Whatever do you mean, Captain Holley, a scout is honest?”  I can hear many of you asking (assuming there are more than 3 readers….).  Well, it has become apparent that while young Mr Hartsky has been somewhat reserved, stoic even, has been hiding a talent.  A very useful talent……He is perhaps the best pancake flipper I have had the pleasure to welcome aboard!

Chris doesn't quite fit in the galley!

Chris doesn't quite fit in the galley!

There, Chris, you have officially been outed!  Once again, I am caught short in the photographic evidence department of the pancake action, but you are GOOD IN THE GALLEY!  A rare distinction among the scouting crowd, I must confess. But in a later blog post, I will discuss the horrors of galley duty on these trips. Suffice it to say I am the one in charge of cooking, damage control being my main mission while we sling out three meals a day for 16 people aboard.  So it is a pleasure to have some able help in the galley.  It’s not gourmet expectations I have whilst on a scout trip.  But I do like it when fellas know when to wash their hands without being told to do so.  I like it when the guys cooking the breakfast sausages does NOT SNEEZE on the skillet, and no, the fact that heat kills germs is not an excuse for that offense!  And I especially am pleased when I don’t have to tell boys that wiping soapy wash water off dishes with a clean towel does not suffice as a rinse.  So, you can see, my standards are not high, but I do have standards!  I’ll take this moment to also name some another name in the honorable galley mentions:  Quin Savant.  Though he, too, has waited until day 5 of our adventure to come clean about the fact that he works catering jobs part time!  He, too, knows his way around good and safe food handling!  Why have you hidden this from me all week, Quin?  Hhhmmmm?!?!? Well, at least I know now, and heartening news it is!  Thanks, guys!

Quin can't stand up either!  Bas can, only if he slouches!

Quin can't stand up either! Bas can, only if he slouches!

Now, back to our day’s activities…….After the feast of breakfast was cleaned up, we left the dock for our day’s diving.  We ended up at a site known as the “Hump”, because it is literally a big hump of shallower water surrounded by deeper water.  It is south of Western Sambos, which we will likely dive tomorrow.  And it is north of the Vandenberg, a large and famous wreck here in Key West.  It took us a while to drop the anchor.  Cloud cover kept Denny from being able to see a good sand channel.  Dropping the anchor on coral is only killing coral needlessly.  It is fragile stuff indeed.  The dive was another good one.  These guys are getting spoiled with good visibility.  They won’t be satisfied with quarries anymore!  Some reported seeing eels, a turtle, and a nurse shark (I think).  Evan always spits his regulator out as soon as he ascends to breathlessly announce what he has seen!  He wins the unabashed enthusiasm award!

You can look up some of these dive sites on the website www.divesites.com .  The Hump will not be on there, but most others will.

After our first dive, we pulled anchor and went south out into the deeper water offshore.  We could just barely make out land, and sometimes not even.  The boys worked the fishing lines, keeping the weed and grass that floats on the surface off the lures.  Diligence paid off, and we caught quite a few mahi-mahi (also known as dorado, or dolphin fish—not Flipper!).  Some were too small to keep, so we threw them back in to grow up some more.  But two were keepers—and graced our table tonight.  The filleting was finished just before we stopped at another dive site, 9 Foot Stake.  It was another awesome dive, with good visibility and good wildlife sightings.  Quite a few guys saw nurse sharks, and even some lionfish.  Our dive master Jim was back at the ladder, fins off, when Megan surfaced and mentioned the lionfish to Jim.  His primal instinct took over, and off he went for the thrill of the kill.  He did dispatch one of the lionfish, while the other got away.  So only partial satisfaction for him there.  But, I am certain he’ll try again next week.

Jim looks innocent enough, but lionfish beware, a killer lurks within!

Jim looks innocent enough, but lionfish beware, a killer lurks within!

Andrew, ready to splash....

Andrew, ready to splash....

After the dive, the boys wanted to jump off the side of the boat, again.  The flips, jumps, dives, pushes, squeaks and squeals (Evan) abound—I think they enjoy that as much as diving.  Today it took an evolutionary turn, as Mr. Welsh upped the ante.  He produced a nerf football from his bag of tricks and got the guys to try various complicated maneuvers with it.  Mr. Welsh would toss it mid-air as a boy would jump from the gate, catching it as he landed sideways in the water.  That quickly progressed to the first guy to jump received the pass and tossed the ball onto the next guy behind him, who would be in mid-air as he received the ball, who would in turn do the same for the next in line.  Sometimes they got it quite well, and sometimes it was an utter flop. But it was impressive to see when it went right.  A hoot to see when it went wrong!  Our divemaster Jim was watching from the water, still wearing his scuba gear, and laughed so hard he gave himself the hiccups!  That’s the true mark of a good time!

Surface swim.

Surface swim.

Time was growing late.  We still had to motor into our anchorage for the evening and cook our luxurious high adventure dinner of steak and mahi.  So after about two hours of jumping and whooping, we dropped the mooring line on 9 Foot Stake and made our way into shore. The galley crew helped me get dinner started, then went above deck to bait fish with the rest of the gang.  We were just finishing cooking as the sun went down.  And we did manage to get a good picture of the whole gang on the deck of the boat with the sunset in the background (but it was Dr. Biggs camera, so again no photo from me!).  The guys did a thorns and roses while we were just finishing the cooking.  I didn’t hear it all, but I think the general consensus is a big thumbs up!  I’ll take a moment to wax poetic, and say this was a great week for us, the boat’s full time crew.  These guys worked very well together all week long.  Everybody was upbeat and of generous spirit.  That makes all the difference in the world, to us, who do this trip all the time.  The only thing that is different (other than the weather) is the people.  And when you’ve got a good group of guys that get along, like each other, and are willing to roll with the whole experience—it makes for a great time!  And we’ve all had that this week!  Tomorrow is the last day of the adventure.  One dive in the morning is all there’s time for, then into the dock.  The guys will disembark, help tidy up the boat for the next troop (arriving on Sunday at the boat) and return to Seabase for the night.  So hopefully tomorrow will be the icing on the cake.  I’ll keep you posted.  Until then, I’ll publish this and catch up with you again tomorrow.   Goodnight,  Holley

Rarely caught on film--son helping father!  No Colin, you are not INEPT!

Rarely caught on film--son helping father! No Colin, you are not INEPT!

Our fearless crew leader keeps an excellent logbook.

Our fearless crew leader keeps an excellent logbook.

BFF, LOL

BFF, LOL, WTF, OMG!

Demostration quality giant stride!

Demostration quality giant stride!

First pass of the nerf round!

First pass of the nerf round!

Hermes stands watch.

Hermes stands watch.


Comments

6 Comments on Last Full day for Troop 31

  1. Dana Loundas on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 10:17 am
  2. Captain Holley, Your reflections from this outstanding adventure are greatly appreciated by all of us stuck on land in PA. Thank you for capturing so explicitly the thrill of the dive, the sense of camaraderie and the genuine enthusiasm about a new experience and personal challenge. Your love of boating, diving and marine life will surely rub off on each and every one of them. Keep blogging because we are hanging onto your every word. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Thank you for being such a generous host and keeping our guys safe! Dana Loundas (proud mamma of Evan!!!)

  3. admin on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 12:01 pm
  4. Thanks for your kind words. I am happy to hear you are enjoying my musings and ramblings. The fellows this week are great at providing me material! And Evan has a special place in my heart, as he does for all aboard I am learning!

  5. Mrs. Bond on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 6:15 pm
  6. I would like to mimic Dana’s comments… you all (Captain and staff) have been great! This is an adventure the boys will cherish for a lifetime. Thanks so much for the blogs, you can’t imagine how much they mean for us back here in PA. I cry and laugh everytime I read one…. many thanks and enjoy the rest of your summer.

  7. Becky Welsh on Fri, 24th Jun 2011 6:24 pm
  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE the photos and the reporting! I feel like I am a part of it! Can’t wait to hear all of the stories firsthand! How about hosting the mothers next summer?! We are all jealous back home in PA! :) I’m glad the weather has been lovely, but it’s the Captain of the boat that ensures a successful trip…..To ALL the members of the Conch Pearl Crew, thank you for making their experience so very wonderful and for keeping them safe! They’ll NEVER forget this trip!
    Yeah, Troop 31!
    ~Becky Welsh (Sebastian and Mark)

  9. Ruth Simonson (Andrew) on Sat, 25th Jun 2011 12:51 am
  10. Thanks so much for your “musings and ramblings”, Holley. It really brings this experience to life for those of us back home, and I’m sure will be a great jumping off point for conversations, once these guys come back home. Thanks for sharing space, experience, and memorable time with them. What a fabulous experience! Have a great summer with the other groups yet to join the crew for their adventures.

  11. Gail Hartsky on Sat, 25th Jun 2011 10:34 am
  12. I agree with everything above… thank you so much for all the wonderful blogs and details of the trip! The pictures have been great and we’ve been thrilled to read all about their adventures. It’s so nice to hear about the trip and see the pictures through you…. Thank you for taking the time to do this and for the stories, keeping them safe and making their trip so much fun! We appreciate all you have done!
    Take care!