One last high adventure episode awaited some of Troop 353’s “survivors” as our week’s stay on Big Munson Island came to an end. After both crews packed their gear, cleaned up the campsites – leaving no trace – and took a few last photos, we slogged out one last time to the war canoes and got underway for the long pull back to Brinson. In an hour or so, we’d be enjoying hot showers and bedding down in cool air-conditioned comfort.
But the ocean had other ideas.
Stirred by high winds, a series of waves just offshore kept one of the war canoes from making its turn to run before the wind – and sea spilled over the gunnels, swamping us a few hundred yards from shore. But seasoned after a week spend most wet – and often floating or swimming – the six-person crew and their island mate calmly assessed the situation. We were all wearing PFCs and treading water easily. We grabbed our gear bags, which were floating away, and lashed them together. Then we tried to refloat the war canoe. A couple hours later, with the help of a skiff and a Dusky dispatched from Brinson Center, we were paddling again – and another 90 minutes or so after that, we climbed wearily onto the dock on Summerland Key.
Freshly-scrubbed and turned out in Hawaiian shirts and other festive gear, Troop 353’s contingent celebrated our salty passage with a luau at Brinson Center, complete with BBQ, games, contests of skill, songs and skits. Everyone had a fantastic time – especially during the limbo contest – and we all slept well that night.
Next morning brought breakfast, last-minute shopping in the Sea Base shop, adding the troop’s numbers to the rafters, and farewells to the terrific Sea Base crew. All the adult leaders agreed: what an impressive group of young leaders.
Then we hit the road for Key West, where a festive dockside seafood lunch – after a little sightseeing – capped our week-long adventure. A couple of hours later, we sat back on our Jet Blue flight and watched the Florida coast disappear into the twilight.