Sailing trip challenges seaworthy Boy Scouts


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Area Boy Scouts enjoyed six days of sailing, snorkeling and fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.

photo courtesy of John Dabney

Boy Scouts from Suntree Troop 224, joined by Troop 330, recently sailed off the Florida Keys during a week-long trip aboard an 85-foot sailboat. The scouts enjoyed six days of sailing, snorkeling and fishing in the Atlantic Ocean during their seven-day adventure. 

“We learned all the aspects of sailing and how the boat works with the sails,” said Daniel Dabney, a 15-year-old scout. “The crew was really nice and helpful.”

 The boys each had an opportunity to lend a hand while sailing, including hoisting the massive sails.

The expedition started off in Islamorada at Mile Marker 73.8. There, the group of 14 scouts and six scouting dads took a swimming and snorkeling test, learned about reef etiquette and spent the first night at the Sea Base camp.

 The next day, the two troops traveled to Key West, where they loaded provisions onto their Yankee tall ship. 

An experienced crew helped Boy Scouts from the area get the most out of their voyage on a Yankee tall ship. | PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN DABNERTall ships are large vessels with enormous sails, offering participants a challenging sailing experience. The Yankee vessel, part of the Sea Base adventure fleet, was manned by an experienced crew. Snorkeling gear, fishing gear and other essentials were all provided by Sea Base
for the trip. 

 “They were always talking to us about what was going on with the sailing aspect,” William Howald, 17, said.

 He noted that crew members were highly knowledgeable instructors.

“My only job was to organize everyone else,” Howald said. “Everyone there was over 14, and they worked very well together.”

Howald felt that interaction among the troop members went smoothly and noted that the scouts worked hard to complete duties. All troop members helped with cooking, cleaning, mopping the deck, manning the sails and night-watch duty while in port. Paired scouts took turns watching the boat during two-hour shifts throughout the night. 

“I was lucky and got the 10 to 12 p.m. shift,” said 15-year-old scout Ben Gust. “Some guys had to get woken up during the middle of the night for a 2 to 4 a.m.”

The two troops experienced wind, rain and some stormy seas while offshore. Normally, scouts sleep on deck during Sea Base sailing trips, but rain drove them downstairs. 

Despite the intermittent rain, the scouts snorkeled whenever the skies were clear. Colorful reefs provided a vibrant backdrop to the lively marine life. 

Boy Scouts from Suntree Troop 224 and Troop 330 were happy to reach Key West, which is Mile Marker 0. | PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN DABNER “The reefs were thriving and growing compared to other Florida reefs I have seen,” said 15-year-old Noah Ogburn. “I even saw a venomous stonefish.

 “I noticed barracudas all around me,” Gust said. “We got used to them.” 

Another exciting moment was when Ogburn had the thrill of reeling in a 4-foot jack crevalle fish. 

“We saw sea turtles, parrot fish, barracudas and sharks,” Howald said. “It was cool.”

The trip included a port of call exploring Key West, Mile Marker 0, and concluded with a luau party the last night. 

“The best part was sailing and snorkeling,” said Dabney, echoing the sentiments of other scouts. “We saw lots of different fish and lots of cool coral.” 

Florida Sea Base, part of Boy Scouts of America, is a high adventure ocean excursion program. For more information, go to bsaseabase.org/About.aspx