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CHASE Sailing

We had a slow start Monday as the Eagle was having engine problems.  We placed the scouts on the Chaser and Explorer with Captain Norm and Captain Arturo and they were off.  A few hours later the Eagle’s engine was “fixed” and the adults set off with Captain Travis.  The “fix” held for just over an hour, just as a thunderstorm hit.  The adults raised the sails in the storm to avoid running aground and sailed out of danger to the nearest marina for repairs in Urbana.  Thankfully, the Boyer’s have had much sailing experience.  You think about many things when you are on a sailboat with a tall mast in the middle of a big lightning storm.  The scouts were able to avoid most of the storm and made it to the Deltaville marina.

Tuesday was a perfect sailing day with winds at 5-10 knots and 1-2 foot seas.  It’s hard to explain the faces of the scouts the first time the sails fill with air, but terror comes to mind.  The boat tips 45 degrees, the gear below crashes down to the floor and everyone is convinced we are going to tip over.  We dealt with the fear by hanging on and spending a great day learning to sail.  Our sailing day ended with an afternoon micro-burst of rain and wind.  It lasted only 15 minutes, just long enough to grab rain gear and life jackets.  After with the sun out and the wind still, we are joined by dolphins swimming by our boats.  By the end of the day the Eagle joined us in Deltaville, under tow as the engine has gone down for a third time.  The mechanic is called in and finally identifies the problem.  The Eagle is back!

We wake up on Wednesday with no wind.  Our captains take us on an educational tour of the nearby boat yard and museum.  Then they provided excellent instruction on the finer points of sailing, allowing the scouts to earn the Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge.  Swimming in the pool at the marina, playing cards and catching crabs fill out the rest of the day.

Thursday was the real high adventure day!  Winds were expected to be 10-15 knots with 2-3 ft seas.  After setting sail we find 15-20 knots blowing with waves at 8-10 ft.  We quickly got over our fear that our boats will tip over.  Everyone loves the waves washing over the bow, burying the side rail in the water and the feel of the water spray.  We learn that seasickness comes fast:  don’t go below, don’t look down for long and keep active.  Only a few actually “chum” the water.  We end the day with a great meal out and exchange stories of our high adventure.

For Friday we set out on light winds back to scout camp.  After a couple of hours the wind stops.  Thinking quickly, I grab my life jacket and proceed to be “man over board.” I am quickly followed by the rest of the Explorer crew.  The Chaser and Eagle, spying heads in the water, run their own drill.  The Explorer and Chaser were close enough for us to swim the boats together.  Mr. Polsgrove, in his comedic way, grabs the flag from Chaser to fly on the Explorer.  After returning to scout camp we get a lesson from Mrs. Boyer on pickin’ crab at our crab dinner while performing skits around the fire.  We end the evening with a new twist on our closing ceremony taught to us by our new scout friends from Pennsylvania. 

The trip had its fair share of issues with equipment and programming, but in the end we had an excellent trip.  Scouts learned that the wind, like life, doesn’t always blow the way you want.  When you take the helm the first time you feel fear, uncertainty, excitement and a little panic.  After some time at the helm and a few tacks (course changes) our scouts are confident, relaxed and enjoying the trip.  I’m sure this experience will help them.  

Remember, if you’re not enjoying the trip, then you will likely not enjoy the destination.