Summer 2019 brought high adventure on the high seas for a number of Sea Scouts and their Scouts BSA brothers who came along for the fun.
First out of the harbor were Ships 100, 125, and 7916, joined by guests from Troop 884 in NCAC and Troop 75 from Piedmont Council in North Carolina. They traveled to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to conduct a week of extreme sailing in the best sailing waters of the world, explore the reefs, and conduct a research project on an invasive reef grass species known as halophila stipulacea.
Departing in the afternoon of Day 1, they launched a 43ft 2017 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, a 45ft 2016 Beneteau Oceanis, and a 48ft 2018 Beneteau Oceanis. The experience of the boats alone was enough to make the trip, as these were some of the nicest boats available – with folding swim platforms that raised and lowered for easy access off the back of the boat, in-port airconditioning, and bright, clean bathrooms – or “heads” as they’re known.
The week took them from Tortola, to Norman Island where the story “Treasure Island” was supposedly based and where Blackbeard hid his treasure over two centuries ago. Much to the scouts’ dismay, locals long since found (and distributed) the remains of all Pirate Treasure. The next morning they explored by swimming in the shallow caves at the southern tip of the island. Thankfully for the adults, the caves were not so deep as to risk anyone getting lost. From Norman Island, they circled around Peter Island, carefully crossing 8ft waves with reefed sails and 25kt winds.
By day three they had arrived at “The Baths” a natural rock formation off the southern tip of Virgin Gorda which makes for amazing hikes and swimming. They anchored off the cost of Prickly Pear Island and watched the sun set over the western Caribbean. From Virgin Gorda, they turned west toward Great Caminoe Island and the famous Marina Cay. Here they discovered the best snorkeling of the week at Diamond Cay. Despite the immense damage done to the reefs from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, this secluded reef was still very much vibrant with tangs, wrasses, damsels, gobys, angels and other fish. The fan corals had recovered and there were signs of growth amongst the brain coral. They celebrated mid week with a dinner at Pussers Marina Cay.
Day 4 brought the Dominion Regatta where all 3 boats were to sail from Great Camanoe to Jost Van Dyke. Separated by PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Formulas) the sail was a test of teamwork with three different yachts under the command of three different youth captains. (But carefully supervised by the prescribed adults. These are $300,000 boats after all!)
After a tiring week, they pulled into home port, turned over the helm to their fleet and headed back to U.S. waters.
But the adventure was not over! As these scouts arrived back safely on US ground, the next group departed for a week around the Chesapeake Bay. Ships 1927, 548, 100, as well as Troops 1188 and 1182 cast off the bowlines at Maryland Yacht Club. Sailing the Sea Scout flagship SSTV der Pelikan, a 46ft Morgan Ketch, they headed to Baltimore Inner Harbor where the scouts explored the historic port, home to the USS Constellation – a fully rigged 18th Century sailing barque. From there they turned southward to Annapolis, picking up a mooring ball for the night and going in to experience the night sounds and experiences in one of America’s premier sailing towns, as well as home to the US Naval Academy. Despite torrential rains, they turned west and headed to St. Michaels and the Eastern Shore. By the end of a tiring week, 8 wobbly scouts returned to Pasadena, Maryland to find their land legs again. Each scout had completed their “Boaters License” as it is colloquially named – the Boater Training Certificate from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, which allows them to legally operate a boat in the United States.
Long Cruise is a 7-14 day maritime experience, and serves as “summer camp” for Sea Scouts. It is an important part of the Sea Scout program and provides leadership and maritime skills which last a lifetime.
For more information on Sea Scouting in the NCAC, email firstname.lastname@example.org.