Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Florida Keys Challenge - 3A

At BSA Sea Base, we slept in a dorm building rather than our tents.

In the early hours of 7 August, 1840, the carpenter stepped outside to escape the humidity that made sleep difficult. He immediately realized a large band of Indians had spread across the island, and he raised the alarm. Pandemonium broke out as gunfire erupted and Indians broke into homes and buildings, with some going directly for Housman. People fled barefoot across the sharp rock and coral in an effort to escape. Housman escaped, but of the 50-70 believed to be living on the island at the time, an estimated 13-18 died, including Dr. Perrine. With the island empty of defenders, the Indian band busied themselves stripping the island of virtually anything they could carry. The island is now preserved as a historic site, and evidence of some of Dr. Perrine’s horticultural work can still be seen.

The second floor of the administration building was covered with
a beautiful painted mural.

Needing to make an early start for the afternoon leg, I rushed to the pier for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, returned to Ibi, and set off south. I continued south along Lower Matecumbe Key until I reached its end and paddled under the Overseas Highway bridge into Matecumbe Harbor. (As an interesting aside, if you Google Earth Matecumbe Harbor and zoom in, you will see an ‘H’ lying on its side in the harbor, and to the left a series of white dots. The dots were the piers left when the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 swept away that portion of the Florida East Coast Railroad, killing roughly 400 people. I’ll come back to the H at another point.) Paddling against a good headwind up the northwest side of the causeway, we reached the Boy Scouts of America Florida Sea Base. There was no need to set up camp this night. We were staying in large dorm rooms. With 80 bunk beds in one room, we finally found out who was doing the snoring. The Sea Base staff provided meals, and we had time to relax in their great lounge. Bill, Gus, and Carl were intent on seeing the football play-offs, so we went across the highway in search of a TV at a lounge of another sort, the Safari Lounge. We enjoyed a few beers, some football, and a wonderful sunset.

From the Safari Lounge, we were treated to a brilliant sunset.

It was a great stop, and we enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of the scouting staff. What a wonderful opportunity for youths from across the country. They bring about 13,000 kids a year through here for swimming, snorkeling, scuba, paddling, sailing, cruising, and fishing. Watch this video on Sea Base. http://bsaseabase.org/WhatsHot/SeaBase_video.aspx
The paddle for the day was 13.3 miles.
The next morning's sunrise promised another beautiful day.

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