Saturday, December 20, 2008

Learning the Rules of the Road

by Caitlín

Lacey Villiva from Ship 1176 in Springfield came to Occoquan today to teach a Rules of the Road class. Lacey needed to teach the class to meet her final requirement for the rank of Quartermaster, and we needed the class for advancement. We invited members of the newly-formed Ship 1115, also in Springfield, to join us for the course as well.

With five 7916 Scouts and six from 1115--along with several adult leaders--we had a good sized class, although we Scouts were a little unresponsive to Lacey's questions. Lacey used little movable paper boats to demonstrate which boat was the stand-on vessel and which was the give-way in different situations, and circles of colored paper to show navigation light combinations. I think the signal we all learned fastest was for an unmanned vessel, easy to remember by the rhyme "Red over red, the captain's dead."

To conclude, we did some practical demonstrations of rights-of-way. Rebecca and I began by portraying two power boats in a crossing situation (we failed on the first try). Everybody got a turn navigating the VFW hall floor while representing sailboats on various tacks, a tug pushing a barge, and other vessels.

The class was beneficial in many ways; Lacey meeting her final Quartermaster requirement, everyone probably learned at least one new thing, we got to meet the Scouts from Ship 1115, and the 1115 adult leaders networked with ours.

Thank you very much, Lacey!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Youngest Solo Circumnavigator?

Cool! This reminds me of when I followed Robin Lee Graham's adventure in National Geographic as he circumnavigated the world, and later reading his book about it, Dove.

"From the first day Zac Sunderland said hello to planet earth, it seems he was destined to live the sailor's life. Brought home from the hospital to his first home, a 55' Tradewind in Marina del Rey, California, he was assigned his first bunk and listened to his mom tell the world of his birth over a single side-band radio...he never looked back."

According to Zac's Blog, he is now in South Africa.

Thanks to my mom for the newspaper clipping.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Men Sail Raft Of Trash Across Pacific In 3 Months

A CBS station reportsthat two men sailed a Raft Of Trash Across Pacific In 3 Months to "raise awareness of ocean debris," and once ashore asked, "Where's the food?" The two are researchers with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. They had previously completed a mission "to survey quantities of plastic junk in the North Pacific." and observed that, "housands of miles from land, our ocean is slowly, steadily turning into a massive bowl of plastic soup." According to the Worldchanging blog, Algalita's Director of Research and Education Dr. Marcus Eriksen is a veteran junk raft builder, a Gulf War veteran, and has witnessed firsthand the true cost of our petroleum addiction. He asserts that "We’re destroying our marine ecosystems with throwaway plastic products. This is both morally and ecologically wrong. The age of disposable plastics must end now.” Then came the idea to build Junk–"a raft made from 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna 310 fuselage—and sail it from Long Beach to Hawaii." You can read details of the journey here.

Thanks to my mother for alerting me to the story by sending a newspaper clipping.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Buy Popcorn, Support Sea Scouts!"

by Caitlín

This morning a handful of Scouts and adults unloaded a lot of popcorn and set up in front of the Woodbridge Wal-Mart. We hoped to get all the stuff off our hands so we wouldn't have to re-load it and no one would have to have it take up space in their house.

At first we were all sort of shy about going up to people and asking them to buy popcorn, but after fifteen minutes or half an hour, we got bored and tired of people hardly looking at us and decided it was time to get down to work.

"Excuse me, ma'am, would you like to support Sea Scouting today?" we asked, handing them fliers that listed the different kinds of popcorn and information about ordering online.

Still, most people shied away or muttered "no thanks" as they passed, heads down and not meeting our eyes. It was discouraging when after an hour of advertising we had yet to sell anything.
Part of the problem might have been that the Salvation Army and the VFW (our sponsor) happened to be there, also taking donations, so people had already given by the time they got to us. Also, as David pointed out, people are probably "Scouted out" by now because popcorn sales have been going on all summer.

We got into a real popcorn-selling frenzy for a while, giving away fliers right and left (Daniel got the award for most fliers handed out) and calling out to people to "Buy popcorn, support Sea Scouts!" But it got to be lunch time and we were all hungry and getting tired of standing around and saying the same things over and over again.

David arrived as a reinforcement, and his little sisters really got into advertising. They fought over who got to hold which sign and wear the corn hat, and the two of them (in the first photo) attracted a lot more attention with the signs than our display did.

One gentleman who used to be a Boy Scout bought a tin and said his tour bus company would give us discounts, so if we ever need to go on long trip....
Another couple walked up and said, "How much popcorn can we get for $100?"
"You can get a lot of popcorn," David replied. They ended up buying $98 worth of popcorn and trail mix, our largest purchase by far, and probably the largest we'll ever have.

In total we made $280.00, which is really good, and much better than our first attempt to sell popcorn at the Occoquan Arts & Crafts Show, but at 2:59 p.m. we had a second-by-second countdown until it was time to start packing up.

There is still popcorn left, but not huge amounts like before. Maybe we can sell the rest of it in one more day of fundraising.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not Your Traditional Halloween

by Caitlín

Everyone should know that Sea Scouts are too old to go trick-or-treating, so we didn't. Instead we celebrated Halloween by going to the schooner Sultana's annual Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown, MD. I had tried to get a large group together to go, but a lot of people already had plans or just weren't interested.

It ended up being just my mom, Daniel, Rebecca, and I going as friends and not making it an official Scout activity. After driving around and around trying to find Gus's un-find-able house, I finally made it there and took him to pick up Daniel, then met Rebecca and my mom at her office to leave from there.

Finally, only an hour later than we had planned, we started off towards Chestertown. As you can tell from Rebecca's quotes (yes, she's begun bringing her quotebook everywhere, and especially when Gus will be along), it was a pretty weird trip.

Driving up seemed very long. It didn't take as long to to Chestertown by land as it did by water in August when we visited Sultana on our Long Cruise, but of course sitting in a car wasn't as enjoyable as sailing up a river either.

Surprisingly, although there were quite a few people queuing up to see the ships, we found parking very near the dock. Over the rooftops, our first view of the ships: crossed spars, a tangle of rigging against a hurt-your-eyes-blue sky; tall masts topped with colorful pennants a proud reminder of the freedom of the open seas.

Rebecca and I headed straight to the ships, while the boys trailed behind acting unusually bizarre even for them (which they unfortunately kept up for the entire day).

First we went aboard Pride of Baltimore II:

And took lots of pictures of each other, sometimes at the same time...

My mom took one of me at the wheel, a companion to the photo taken at least eight years ago the first time I toured Pride.

A view up the ratlines.

We asked people to take our picture of us all at the wheel of every ship we toured.

Aboard the schooner Virginia:

At the helm of the Lady Maryland.

Lady Maryland's compass. (Notice the goldfish in the corners.)

Probably because she was the most ornate ship attending, there was a line to get on board the Kalmar Nyckel, but it gave me a chance to take a lot of pictures of the carvings and many colors on her hull.

Like the figurehead...

the huge anchor (I wonder if that would hold Amanda Grace?)...

and the rigging. One of the crew members told us as we waited that of the ships at the Downrigging Weekend, Kalmar Nyckel's rigging is the most complicated and does the least.

At the tiller (only it's not called a tiller, I just can't remember the proper name) of Kalmar Nyckel, which works... this. The rudder is on the other side of the transom.

We looked around at other things at the festival and then tried to find somewhere to eat. The waterfront restaurants were all very crowded, but we found one little deli-style place, "Play it Again, Sam," across the street from the Sultana Center.

We sat outside and watched little kids run around in costumes, waiting for it to get dark. Even though the line was long, Gus and Daniel had to go back (separately) and get cupcakes, which they ate like a hobo and a barbarian, respectively:

Once it got dark, we went back to the docks to see the illuminated ships. But because the docks were roped off (I guess to keep people from tumbling into the water) we couldn't get close enough for our cameras to focus, so no pictures there.

But we did get photos of of the fireworks, but those aren't as interesting as a little video of one fifteenth of the firework display:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Quotes from Uniform Trip

by Rebecca

Today a bunch of the scouts went up to Avenue, MD to get Winter Blues. We ended up not only getting the blues, but also getting the whites.

As usual, I had my notebook to write down quotes. Here are some of them.

"On every long cruise, everyone should have a nickname." "Let me say: 'NO!!" - Daniel and David

"Too bad Gus isn't here to hit on Caitlín." - Daniel

"I have more pictures of Gus than you." - Daniel

"She's writing down everything we say." - Mark

"Was that a yawn or a scream?" "It was a Daniel thing." - Adam M. and Caitlín

"Darn, I forgot to buy a gag for Daniel." - Caitlín

"Who said anything about killing?" - David

"What would happen if we left him on the side of the interstate?" - David

"Is that an Adam question?" "It's not an Adam question, it's THE Adam question." - Caitlín and David, in regard to Adam L.

"Your hair is just too strong." - Mark

"I once had too much cheesecake." "Is that possible?" "Yes." - Daniel and Adam M.

"You look like a scary clown." - Caitlín

"Are you bionic?" - Daniel

"Daniel, are you being creepy?" - David

"I think I'm actually speechless." - David

"Who votes for real music over Daniel?" - David

"I've run out of strength." - Daniel

"Oh my gosh, we're all going to die." "No, Daniel, not everyone, just you." - Daniel and David

David: [referring to Daniel stroking his chin] "Daniel, you don't have anything to stroke down there."
Daniel: "Yes I do."
David: "I see one [hair]."
Daniel: "There are six!"
David: "I shaved this morning and I already have more than six."

"You can sleep through death." - Mark

"He was trying to look like a girl." - Caitlín

"You don't have to worry about that. You already do, Daniel." - Adam M.

"I would say a girl or an emo guy, but then I realized they look the same." - Mark

"You have a muscle?" - Caitlín

"Anyone have a hair tie?" "No." "Whoa, what?" - Daniel, Adam M., and David

"We should attach a price tag to Daniel and toss him out." - David

"Good thing we don't have more than one Daniel." - Caitlín

"No, not dating. You're considering dating a Nazi." - David

"Why are we arguing about showers?" - Adam M.

"I love that smell." "Burning bags?" - Mark and Caitlín

"It's not dangerous. Ouch!" - Daniel

"I can do it with my head. Can you?" - Caleb

"You don't want to smell this hair." - Daniel

"We could probably throw Daniel on the fire." - David

"Do you think he will taste more like beef or pork?" "Chicken." - Mark and David

"I'm a mud Scout." - Daniel

Caleb: [Speaking to Mark, who was in charge of cooking:] "I can be your faithful sidekick."
Caitlín: "No, it's the 'galley slave,' remember?"

"Daniel is a weed." - David

"Daniel is not talking for once." - Caitlín

"It sounds like a duck." - Sarah

"Just don't wear it in public." - David

"I'm sorry, I won't say 'Hi' anymore." - Caitlín

"Daniel, do you want to pick out Gus's clothes?" "All right!!" - Caleb and Daniel

"You look like a little elf or something." - Caitlín

"Let me sleep in peace for petesake." - Daniel

"Oh no, not the hat!" - Adam M.

"I didn't know you all had things that small." - David

"I was listening to this song and thought it was a soup commercial." - Adam M.

Downrigging Quotes

by Rebecca

This afternoon Caitlín, Daniel, Gus, Skipper Shay and I went up to Chestertown for the Sultana's Downrigging Weekend.

Here are some of the quotes that were said in the car on the way up and back. (There were more funny quotes, but I didn't write them down because we were on the tall ships.)

"I wish David was here so he could teach me The Irish Rover." - Daniel

"We're all going to die." - Daniel

"Daniel, what's wrong?" - Caitlín

"You know how glad I am that I'm not claustrophobic?" - Daniel (who was in the middle of the back seat, between Gus and me)

"Do these look like dog biscuits?" 'They are." - Caitlín and Skipper Shay

"Your ears perk up when you hear 'trouble'." - Skipper Shay

"You'll never guess my middle name." "Hamster!" - Skipper Shay and Gus

"Aflac!" - Gus

"What if the helicopter hits the bridge?" - Caitlín

"Oh, you bit me." "I just put my tooth on you." - Daniel and Gus

"I've never been to a full service gas station." - Caitlín

"This is a historic moment." - Skipper Shay

"My brains almost came out my nose." - Skipper Shay

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mason Neck Kayak Trip

by Rebecca

This morning six scouts and three adults set off from Occoquan Regional Park in kayaks. They paddled for about two hours down the Occoquan and into the Potomac. Eagles were seen, including a golden eagle diving for a fish right in front of the group.

I think everyone had a good time, and those who had never been kayaking before really enjoyed it. The water was very calm, with no waves, current or wakes to worry about.

In my opinion, the highlight of the trip was seeing the Amanda Grace coming right towards us. We had only passed one motor boat, and as we were going under the I-95 bridge, we saw a sailboat (under power) coming up the river. I immediately recognized it as the Amanda Grace. When Skipper Shay called 'Ahoy Sea Scouts!', we all made a beeline towards the sailboat.

We will probably be doing some more kayaking trips in the future, so those who missed this event can go on some in the spring.

Amanda Grace Comes Home

by Caitlín

Yesterday morning at 4:45 a.m., five dedicated members of Sea Scout Ship 7916 met at the Old Bridge Road/Route 123 commuter lot to drive to Lusby, MD and bring our favorite boat, Amanda Grace, home.

Captain John Ashton (far right) drove the Skipper, Mate Dan, Daniel, and me to Skipper Doug Yeckley's house and dropped off us and our load of gear.

The drive was long, and because of both the early hour and Daniel's famous ability to sleep at any time, anywhere, he fell asleep like a lump in the seat.

We arrived earlier than planned, so we hauled our food and supplies down to the edge of the water so we could ferry it out to Amanda Grace, anchored past the end of the dock.

Skipper Shay called Skipper Yeckley just before 0700 and asked which rowboat we should use, and he came down the hill to help us.

Mate Dan, Daniel, and I launched the boat (hard to do on the slimy, slippery rocks at the edge of the water), and rowed to Amanda Grace to open her hatches and begin the engine checks.

Three our four loads later, the gear, provisions, and crew were aboard, and Skipper Yeckley rowed out to show us the best places to anchor along our route and help us weigh anchor. We needed a fifty pound plow anchor to keep our mischievous Amanda Grace from wandering where she shouldn't.

Mate Dan started the engine and we prepared to haul in our anchor, but the stern line had become caught between Amanda Grace's rudder and hull.

So Daniel tried pushing it out with his feet. When that didn't work, Skipper Yeckley suggested that we try pulling the line from the starboard side, like so:

That didn't work, even with the line around the starboard jib sheet winch.

So Daniel had to almost fully submerge in the chilly water to pull the line free, and after he dried off Skipper Yeckley hauled his anchor up:

Finally we were ready to set off, through the mist rising from the still morning water and under a brilliantly blue sky. The wind didn't seem promising, but we hoped it would pick up--preferably from the East at 15-20 knots--once we were out on the Bay.

Mate Dan (who must, for this trip, be called "captain") was first at the helm, while Daniel and I raised our Ship flag.

Out on the Patuxent we were quickly passed by a lot of boats, which made our progress seem even slower than it was. As we went beneath the Patuxent Beach Road bridge, I snapped this picture of a warning on the bridge pier for Adam, because it reminded us of how he always wants to know if we're going to hit the bridge and what we would do if we did.

The wind speed had improved a lot, but we had to motor for quite a while before rounding Drum Point and putting the sails up.

When we first tried to set it, the Genoa sheet felt too tight, and was really hard to unfurl, even using the winch. Captain Dan went forward and untwisted the halyard from the forestay and then it worked perfectly.

We got a little bit of nice sailing in before the wind died back down and we had to turn on the engine to make good time. About then we were besieged with flies--many of which liked snacking on human flesh. One of the supplies we have yet to buy for Amanda Grace is a flyswatter, and every sailboat out on the Bay should have at least one.
The decks--both above and below--soon became so infested with flies that Daniel and I were both smacking them left and right and still there were too many.
Once, when a particularly large specimen was killed, the Skipper and Daniel had the following exchange:

Daniel: "I got him!"
Skipper Shay: "I see the big bloodstain!"
Daniel: "I see his dead body right there!"

It was really gross, but eventually there weren't as many flies. In the evening we had to wash the "carnage" off the deck so that we could sit without squashing fly bodies.

Daniel and I were employed in making lunch, which was seafood salad wraps, with tuna salad as an option if we ran out of the first. But we didn't know the tuna was not supposed to be in with the rest, so we mixed it all together. Then the tortillas were so torn up that we couldn't use them without salad spilling out, so Daniel had the idea of shredding them up and mixing them in, along with the lettuce.

We ate that with mismatched forks out the funky blue retro bowls my mom picked up at a yard sale. It mostly tasted like tuna, but it was okay.

After lunch I had a turn at the wheel, where I saw a trio of pelicans fly by (the first time I'd ever seen any in the wild) and mistook a tower for the green marker Captain Dan was talking about. So I cut closer to Point Lookout than I was supposed to, which took us through a field of crab pots that I had to carefully avoid because we didn't want the lines caught in our propeller.

We motored up the Potomac a looong way, until the moon rose and the sun set in a wash of oranges, yellows, lavenders and, later on, turquoise.

Eventually we got hungry, and making dinner was an experience because none of us had operated the alcohol stove before and it hadn't been used in at least six years. Earlier Captain Dan and Skipper Shay had tried it out to see if it worked at all, and flames shot up--and out beneath the stove, darkening a bit of the woodwork.

Because the alcohol tank was loosing pressure, cooking dinner took four steps:

1. Follow the directions on the box of Hamburger Helper and stir:

2. Continuously pump the alcohol tank (beneath the starboard quarter berth) so that there is enough pressure to have fuel:

3. Keep the flames from shooting up too high around the frying pan, although they licked the edges:

4. Add canned green beans, and it's ready to eat! Surprisingly the noodles were even soft:

Doesn't it look tasty? It actually wasn't too bad, if you like warm salty goop. I think a good word for it is "burgoo," while the Skipper described it as "Hamburger Helper stroganoff flambé."

The latch on the door to the head doesn't quite catch, and would open and close as Amanda Grace rolled, slamming each time. Daniel put his creative engineering skills to use and made this invention out of an extra PFD (Personal Flotation Device). We could open the door just enough to slip the PFD strap off the handle and open it, and do the reverse to close it. The contraption worked very well, and made sleeping much more peaceful.

Captain Dan decided to motor all night, with Skipper Shay to help keep him awake and watch for buoys. Daniel and I, however, fell into our berths fully clothed around 10:00 and didn't get up for several hours.

Monday, October 13th

I was wide awake at 3:30 a.m., when a life vest fell on my hand and woke me. I went up on deck, where Captain Dan was waiting for sunrise so he could be relieved at the helm. The morning light was slow in coming, and by the time it the sun rose Skipper Shay and I were in familiar territory; at Possum Point power plant, just downriver of Leesylvania Park and the Carefree Boat Club, from which we had our training sails.

Around 7:00 Captain Dan went below for an hour and a half of sleep, and the Skipper called COR Sanford to report on our progress. The sky was very pretty, with dramatic coloring.

The route from Leesylvania to Prince William Marina seemed surprisingly short, but we arrived later than our estimated 9:00 a.m.

Ahead, under the I-95 bridge, we saw a group of kayakers that looked familiar. As we got closer, we recognized members of our Ship, who were starting out on their Occoquan to Mason Neck kayak trip.

"Ahoy, Sea Scouts!" the Skipper cried, which raised a cheer from the small fleet. Skipper Shay told them about our galley fires, feasting flies, and sailing all night, and Rebecca called that her mom was taking pictures of us and Amanda Grace.
"And I'm taking pictures of you!" I shouted back.

Adam (M.), Caleb, and Mark came over to investigate more closely. It was, for a few of the kayaking Scouts, their first glimpse of Amanda Grace, and for others their first view since she started to look loved.

The boats continued on their way (Daniel had slept through the whole thing), and we very soon arrived at the Marina, to be met by Mr. Sanford, who was waiting on the dock with hot coffee and fresh doughnuts.

We wanted to pump out the tank for the head, but at first the pump-out station was not working, and when it did, we couldn't get the cap to the waste tank to unscrew, so that will have to wait until later.

We tied Amanda Grace up, and Skipper Shay made completed the first page of Amanda Grace's new logbook (right) before we went to the end of the dock to eat doughnuts.

We sat around chatting with Mr. Sanford for a while, and then we had to pack our gear up and clean up Amanda Grace a bit so that she would look pretty.

Captain Dan suggested that the October Quarterdeck meeting be held aboard her, and that it could double as a welcome home party for our special boat.

"Welcome home," Amanda Grace!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Petty Officer Traing Quotes

Once again, those not on the cruise will not understand most of these quotes. Some of us that were on the cruise don't even understand some.

"I miss Kitty." - Skipper Shay

"We don't have Gus." - David

"I've always wanted to serve under Santa Claus." - David

"Annapolis is ten miles from Baltimore, but it will take us six hours to get there." - Skipper Shay

"He might as well be putting a flaming dog turd to his mouth." - Skipper Shay, referencing a man smoking a cigar

"I'm going to fill the role of both me and Gus on this ship." "Gus doesn't sing; we prefer Gus over you." - Daniel and David

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, oh!!" - Daniel

"Daniel's completely dead." - Caitlín

"Daniel, you're like a demented monkey." - Caitlín

"He's firmly rooted in the 19th century." "Ah, the days of his youth." - Captain Nichols and David

"Come on Daniel, beat your chest." - Skipper Shay

"9:21 and we're really sailing." - Caitlín

"Open your eyes before going down below." - Skipper Shay

"Are we going to hit the bridge?" "Only if you keep talking about it." - Adam and Skipper Shay

"Wake!!" "What?" "You're acting like a drunk person." - Daniel and Caitlín

"There we go, 6 knots. Much better." - David

"It's killing him now anyway." - Skipper Shay

"Geezo Flip!" "You need to email that to Sarah Palin." - Mr. Longhi

"We can periodically throw things at you if you want." "Yes, if they're dry." - Caleb and Mr. Longhi

"What's breaking the rules?" "Feeding David." - Adam and Caitlín

"You can't force homeschoolers to do anything." - Skipper Shay

"No wonder they're so cracked. They don't have a dollar's worth of salt." - Caitlín, about lame chips

"We got them from the dollar store." - Skipper Shay

"He usually chews through books." "3-5 knots is his normal speed." - Skipper Shay and David

"Sounds like a crocodile mating." (Indescribable sound coming from Daniel's mouth while it was closed.) - Skipper Shay

"You're the odd duck." "I'm not a duck!" - Skipper Shay and Daniel

"The Commodore's having too much fun this morning." - Skipper Shay

"Hey, I should try that. Knocking Scouts around." - Skipper Shay

"Gotta find a sharpie." - Skipper Shay

"Oh, I forgot Sea Scouts." - Daniel

"Doesn't Sea Scouts rule your world, Daniel?" - Skipper Shay

"Dating" "Girls" (Daniel coughs whenever these words were mentioned)

Sea Scout Mad Libs

by Rebecca

These were done on the Petty Officer Training Cruise.

From a Mad Lib of the Sea Scout Promise:

As a Car Scout, I promise to do my best:
To guard against lip accidents.
To know the location and sweet use of the life saving devices on every Caleb I board.
To be prepared to render picks to those in need.
To seek to preserve the motto of the sea: Noses and Caitlín first.

From a Mad Lib based on Long Cruise Quotes (All names refer to the original quote.):

"There's always a bigger rutabaga." - Gus

"When we have to do the amputation, you're not going to be able to sneeze very well." - Skipper Shay

"There's a really big zipper on the dinghy. Oh, wait, that's Gus." - David

"I sometimes wish I was a potato." - Gus

"A helpful scout is a ducky scout." - Skipper Shay

"If you have anything disgusting, Gus will laugh it." - Mate Dan

"Everybody watch what you say, she's got her crack out again." - Daniel

"I like dust bunnies." - Gus

"I'm not good at pickpocketing rolling stuff." - Daniel

"Why are you pinching your spleen?" "I don't have anything else to do." - Daniel and Gus

"Gus, you don't have to eat your appendix, you can eat cookies." - Caitlín

"Did she taste like OCCL (over concentrated Crystal Light)?" - Gus

"That's the last hangnail you get from me, missy." - Skipper Shay

"Is there such a thing as bad ice cream?" "Yes, hash flavored." - Mate Dan and Skipper Shay

"Are you eating your nose hair again?" - Daniel

"That's girly tea." "It's tea that mops back." - Mate Dan and Skipper Shay

"Tell me that's not surreptitious." "That's not surreptitious." - Skipper Shay and Mate Dan

"I wonder what a jellyfish elf would shiver like." - Caitlín

"Did we run out of kitties?" "Yes, you ate them all." - Daniel and David

"Buy canned fried grapes at the dollar store." - Daniel

"No one else is fruity, it's just your imagination." - Gus

"My tonsils are 3.2 nautical miles apart." - David

"Mine are 3.1 nice leagues." - Caitlín

"Did Gus get attacked by dung beetles again?" - Mate Dan

"They're girls, you're never going to understand them, so just chew." - David to Gus

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lone Sailor Awards Dinner

by Caitlín

Last night the Skipper and I attended the United States Navy Memorial's Lone Sailor Awards Dinner. We only had a week and a half of notice that we were going. At the last NCAC Wardroom Meeting it was announced that there were two spots still open at the table of ten that is donated annually to Sea Scouts. Everyone except for my mom and me was either already going or had attended previously.

So they talked talked us into going, even though at the time we had nothing suitable to wear. As a Scout, I technically should have been in dress whites, but we don't even have our work uniforms yet (but the delay isn't our fault; the Ship Store is relocating).

But Skipper Yeckley of Ship 458 (S.S.S. Sea Eagle) said he would send us some of the donated US Navy uniforms that could be converted to Sea Scout uniforms. Unfortunately they had not come by the time we left, so both the Skipper and I were in black dresses and heels.

We arrived at the National Building Museum (NBM) at 4:40, very early for a 6:00 dinner. I was not in the best of moods; I could hardly move my arms in my dress, my feet were already getting a bit sore from wearing heels (which my feet are completely unaccustomed to), parties are not my thing, and I felt stupid wearing a dress. But I tried to make the best of it, and fortunately enjoyed the evening a lot more than I expected. Not that I'd want to do that sort of thing all the time...but it was kind of fun.
(Right: The stage area, with two of the TVs and the fountain.)

After we checked in we went to our table (#77), which was faaar back from the stage area and behind a row of the immense pillars that soar to the ceiling. But several large TV screens had been placed around the room so that those who couldn't see the podium directly could watch the speaker.

We didn't see anyone else from our party, so we wandered around the building, checking out the decorations from the second level balcony (imagine trying to walk up and down the highly-polished brick stairs of the NBM in heels!) and trying to spot the other Sea Scouts who were coming. We took a total of four whole pictures before the batteries on our camera died. The man in the gift shop said there was a CVS a block away where they would have digital camera batteries, but we didn't think we would be able to walk that far in high heels.
(Above: The Sea Scout ad featured in the program, along with our table number.)

Luckily Rob Haas and Basil from Ship 1009 (S.S.S. Sea Devil) had recently arrived, and Mr. Haas offered to let us use his camera.

Steve Nichols--Captain of SSTV der PeLiKan--showed up much closer to 1800 hours, and soon after him came Andrew of Ship 1942 (S.S.S. Dragonlady). And then there was a lot of talking, eating the yummy little hors d'oeuvres brought to us by the waitstaff, and standing around, which I'm sure I would have enjoyed more if I hadn't been thinking, Oh my gosh my feet hurt!

My mom wanted to circle the room and see if there was anyone she recognized, so I went with her because I thought walking might help my feet a little. It didn't, and we saw no one she knew. When we got back to our group, we immediately sat down at one of the small tables placed around the reception and bar area.

It felt so good to sit (and slip my shoes off beneath the long gold table cloth!) that we remained that way until dinner was served. I talked with Andrew and Basil--neither of whom I know well--a little, and people-watched. There were people in all types of dress, from movie star-like to elegantly simple, to a couple pretty "unique" outfits.

Finally we were called to our tables to begin dining. At our table we met the liaisons between the gentleman who donates the table and the Sea Scouts themselves. Above right: Basil, me, and Andrew sit down to our very prettily laid out first course of, to quote the menu:

A savory Tomato Tarte Tatin Baked in a Puff Pastry Crust Served with Endive and Green Leaf Lettuces Drizzled with Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

French Dinner Breads,
Housemade Black Bread with Raisins,
and Cheese Straws Served with Sweet Butter

Except none of us really knew what we were eating until later in the evening when we read the menu. We were hungry, it was food, it was good, that's all that mattered. By the time the announcer said, "Ladies and gentleman, please go to your table so the ceremony can begin" four or five times to get everyone to sit down and stop talking, we were almost finished with our first course.

The colors were presented, an invocation was given, the National Anthem was played by the U.S. Navy Band, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, and Rear Admiral Richard Buchanan gave the welcome. Awards were presented to United States Congressman Norman Dicks and John H. McConnell, and then we dined on:

Noisettes of Lamb marinated with Lavender, Oregano, Garlic, and Pinot Noir
Filets of Grouper seasoned with Basil and Shallot-infused Olive Oil, oven-roasted with freshly prepared pesto
Artichoke Bottoms filled with an Artichoke and Potato Puree

After dinner the representatives of A.G. Lafley and Arnold Palmer received their awards while we had a "trio of American classics" for dessert.

Miniature Coconut Cupcakes dusted with Red, White and Blue Sprinkles, Miniature Chocolate Cheesecake topped with Cherries, and Miniature Apple Crisp

The little circle on the right is not, as I first thought, a pog. And it was edible, as we three Scouts discovered after suspicious examination. It was actually white chocolate, with an image of the Lone Sailor and "United States Navy Memorial" printed on it.

A bit after dessert was finished, it was finally time for the closing remarks, and I think we were all ready for them. Some of the speakers were more interesting than others, but it had been a long evening and personally I was about ready to fall asleep at the table.

Before we parted ways, the group of us said we'd see each other in January at Winter Training.

Basil, myself, Andrew, Steve Nichols, and Rob Haas. Notice that somehow my mother escaped being in any photos.