June 26, 2011 Troop 1 from St Helena, CA / DAY 1

June 27, 2011 by
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Another Sunday, another troop aboard the Schooner Conch Pearl.  This week we welcome Troop 1 from St. Helena, CA (Napa Valley country).  It looks to be a promising week—I’ve seen evidence of artistry afoot!  Young Will has his sketch pad out already, and just before bed I noticed someone with a guitar (or ukulele, not sure, it was dark!)

Scuba Instructor Megan gives a predive briefing.

Scuba Instructor Megan gives a predive briefing.

Today was a busy day, so not much time for the “getting to know you” business.  The first day of a trip is always like that, but tomorrow will remedy that.  Troop 1 has already spent a half day (and last night) at Sea Base in Islamorada.  Today they were delivered by Sea Base vehicles to us on Stock Island (yep, where the cattle were kept when Key West was a frontier town, centered around Fort Zachary Taylor).  The guys brought piles of supplies they’d need for the week aboard, food, ice, dive gear and personal items.  It amazes me each week that it all fits somewhere aboard!  Next week, I’ll be sure to give you some photographic evidence of this feat!

After a boat briefing, we had lunch at the dock.  Then we dropped lines and pushed off to begin our adventure!  In the channel not far from our dock slip, the mainsail was raised.  That is the rearmost sail on a schooner.  Because of the angle of the wind, we could not raise our jib/staysail (front most sail on our boat—and we have no bowsprit, so it really is a staysail—for those of you who know your sail terminology).

Gearing up for the first dive!

Gearing up for the first dive!

Our destination was Western Sambos reef, just south of Stock Island, and a little east of Key West.  The mooring balls we usually take were occupied, so we ended up a little more east of our normal dive spot.  The first dive of every scout trip is lead by our dive instructor Megan, with half the troop, and Jim, our divemaster, with the other half. These dive professionals are making sure the participants are comfortable in the water, good with buoyancy, weighted out correctly, etc. It wasn’t a fabulous dive, but at least it was okay.   And for these California divers, the warm water was a luxury!  By the time the first dive was over, the moorings we usually dive were clear, so over we moved.  This time the California fellas got to swim off in their buddy pairs, navigating on their own.  I am pleased to report that everyone returned safely, at the appointed time, no problems, navigation errors, or other serious issues, etc.  Like I said, looks to be a promising week!

divemaster extraordinaire

Divemaster extraordinaire, superhero at large!

We do have one person aboard who is only able to snorkel this week, due to Sea Base’s strict medical policies.  But Ryan will get to snorkel, and in fact, did at our second stop today.  Superhero divemaster Jim accompanied him so that he would have a buddy in the water.  It’s a scout policy, and just prudent behavior.  All in all, a good time was had by all.  We are currently (it’s 11pm) moored off Key West in an anchorage next to Fleming Key.  The skies look cloudy, and there is a threat of rain.  I hope not, because it looks like everyone is planning on sleeping on deck.  There are bunks below, but without air conditioning running, it does seem stuffy and warm.  But, it is one of the reasons this is called “high adventure!”  That’s all to report for this go round.  Until tomorrow,  Holley

Secret Agent Man returns from the deep!

Secret Agent Man returns from the deep!

Ryan's ready to get wet!

Ryan's ready to get wet!


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