Under the sea
In an octopus’s garden
“Octopus’s Garden,” the Beatles
We were told this was to be SNORKELING DAY. What with all the snorkeling we’d already done, I wondered how they could crank this up to be more special. Well, time has taught me patience. I waited to be enlightened.
Meanwhile, the girls made breakfast, it being their turn. Conversation went on in its usual, eclectic way, nine people talking about several subjects at once. Now, as I’ve gotten older and lost some of my hearing, I find myself often having to guess what someone actually said; indeed, it can be fun to just make up your own reality out of what you thought you heard – which couldn’t possibly be what somebody actually said, since nobody would say what you thought they did.
Well, Dakota was talking about something I wasn’t following, when she very clearly said something about “ejaculating Gatorade.” I assumed I hadn’t heard her correctly. I turned to my right and saw Zach looking back at me with a did-you-hear-what-I-heard expression on his face. So I guess I did, in fact, hear her correctly, though what she actually meant is beyond me. (Expectorating?) Sometimes it’s better not to ask.
Three crews were scheduled to go fishing in the morning, and three in the afternoon. We got the early boat, so we trucked on up to the backyard, as they call the western beach, and there was the BIG boat we had seen in the marina. We waded out to it and came aboard. There was plenty of room to sit and lots of shade. Ah, now this was cruising.
The captain opened up the engines and we headed for Looe Reef, a world-class snorkeling area. Abby was still feeling a bit puny, but was finally on the mend. I had barely a quiver in my tummy; no sea-sickness. This was going to be a fun day, though I wondered about the captain’s announcement that there would be pulled pork for lunch. I hoped my tummy would take kindly to that.
Other boats were already at Looe Reef with divers in the water. One of them was a beautiful sailboat from another part of Sea Base. Scouts and Venturers can crew this boat for a week, learning how to sail her under a Captain and Mates. It's a larger-group experience than we were prepared to take on this time. A thought for the future, perhaps.
We got us a bigger boat
And my tummy is much happier, too
Our happy Crew with Mate Sarah
I'm in love
I'll call her the S.S. Bucket List
The snorkeling at Looe Reef was stupendous. I had troubles with my mask, so I didn’t snorkel much, but I enjoyed it. Really cool. When everyone seemed to have had their fill of snorkeling for a while, we played some swimming and diving games. One involved catching an orange while leaping off the boat. Zach did that well, as he does most athletic things.
We snorkeled a bit more, then we headed back for Munson. Before disembarking, we had lunch. The pulled pork was marvelous. The non-moving status of the boat made it even better. While we were finishing lunch, the other crews were already wading out to the floating docks for their turn. So we came ashore again.
Fun and games on board the Scoutmaster II
The Venturers come ashore
It's a schlep
After a brief rest, we then tackled the S.C.E.N.E. we had been assigned. S.C.E.N.E. stands for Scout Centre of Excellence for Nature and Environment. It’s a conservation program. Just like providing some conservation work at Philmont is a required part of one’s backpacking trek, so doing something for the environment at Sea Base is a required part of their programs.
Our service project was to gather up a bunch of the sargassum weed that had washed up on the shallows and spread it up on the berm by the path running along the beach. It serves as mulch or compost and helps preserve the beach. Sargassum gives its name to the Sargasso Sea (a.k.a. Bermuda Triangle). It’s a weed that is fully aquatic, requiring no dirt to thrive. Ah, but when it washes ashore, it becomes to decompose. We were mucking out the vegetarian manure of the sea, is what it was like. Still, we set to with a will and got our part done. Everybody worked very hard, and there was no complaining.
Making it purtiful
Also, keeping erosion at bay
By this time, we had spent several days without any sort of bath or shower beyond jumping in the sea. We had constantly applied and reapplied sunscreen and Skin So Soft and other ointments and lotions to our skin. We were sunburnt in places and there was sandy grit in our hair we couldn’t get rid of. The topic of showers began to dominate the conversation.
But first, more nappage. I lay in my hammock and took a serious snooze. I awoke thinking it must be raining. Actually, the sound I mistook for rain was dry palm leaves rattling against a tree trunk. While I was napping, Sarah worked with the youth to complete the Castaway program. They learned to signal with a mirror and other fun stuff. The patch they earned is really neat, too.
There was to be a cobbler cookoff before the closing campfire. Our crew made a very tasty cobbler with a base of peaches, cherries, and pineapple. It came in second. The meat cobbler somebody made came in dead last. I mean, you can call it a cobbler all you want, but who are we kidding.
The crews gather
The fellowship at the cobbler cookoff gave us our first serious chance to really meet our fellow campers on the island. We began to realize how segregated we had been. And perhaps how fortunate. For now, the boys in the other crews discovered that the real treasure on Munson had been in our campsite all along (girls!). There was some serious chatting-up going on all the way to the closing campfire and back.
The closing campfire was fun. It finished with every person present given an opportunity to say something of what he or she had learned that week. This took a while, of course, but the real value in that is in getting kids who rarely articulate what they feel to struggle to say something important. It was a sort of secular testimony service. Good stuff.
Several of our crew members were talking about packing their stuff the night before so we could make an early start in the morning. I figured it wouldn’t take that long. Most of the crew wanted to spend their last night on the island sleeping in their hammocks. I started out in the hammock, but woke up halfway through the night in an awkward position and switched to my tent. Sarah was grateful for that, since my hammock was next to her tent, and in that awkward position I kept her awake with my snoring. Well, as Super Chicken used to say, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.”