Our crew experienced a unique opportunity to serve as deckhands aboard the Sea Scout Ship (SSS) Odyssey in late July of 2011. This high adventure activity was based in San Juan Islands WA and followed an earlier summer kayaking trip in Desolation Sound British Colombia. Who says that Venturing and Scouting involves only hiking and camping? A little history about the Odyssey. The Odyssey is a 90’ yawl built in 1938 for Mrs. Barklie Henry, a Vanderbilt granddaughter and was used frequently to race in Long Island Sound. The U.S. Navy commandeered the boat during World War II for radar, sonar testing, and echo sounding studies and continued to put it to use for research and recreation until 1978 at which time it was acquired by the Boys Scouts of America (GO BSA!!!). Today it serves as a sail training vessel with the Sea Scouts of Tacoma.
Our Crew, comprised of 10 coed youths and two adults, departed early morning on Sunday July 24th to meet the Odyssey in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island that afternoon. After two separate ferries and a milkshake casualty, we arrived at our destination and were quickly greeted by the ship's crew consisting of two skippers, a photographer, a cook and two very worthy sea scouts. After a brief introduction to all things afloat including receiving official Odyssey crew t-shirts, we got underway from the docks at Friday Harbor on a glorious sunny afternoon. With safety briefings behind us, we were ready to set sail and sailing we did! Sailing aboard this gem of a boat is an all-hands evolution. We quickly formed into two high-performing groups for raising and lowering sails. With the main, mizzen and staysail up, we decided to also raise their "yankee" sail which serves like a spinnaker giving us at least three additional knots of speed. Duties involved our Crew rotating watches underway standing helm, lookout and navigation; we also were paired up for two hour anchor watches at night which were filled with card games and snacks! Additionally, we helped with clean-up after some fantastic meals. Adult advisors served as "supervisors" which meant they “assumed their positions”. For those who are not familiar with a Venturing Advisor's role, it includes coffee, a chair, and the occasional cat-nap. Back to sailing…We arrived at our first destination and anchored vicinity Reid Harbor, Stuart Island a couple hours before sunset. Because the weather was so awesome this first night, our crew talked the Odyessy’s crew into a halyard swing competition that led all youths partaking of the freezing water and fun. It's great to be young!! That night we slept soundly topside on deck under the multitude of stars.
The next day we headed out towards Sucia Island State Park anchoring for two nights in Echo Bay. There we held some small-boat sailing training reconfiguring our two row boats into small sail craft. We spent the second day ashore exploring the beaches and caves. We also used this opportunity to accomplish many elements of the Kodiak Challenge Leadership Course graduating by week's end with bear claw necklaces to prove it! Sailing in the San Juan Islands is truly magnificent with fair winds and abundant spectacular scenery. As the week progressed our sunsets and sunrises became more and more spectacular. Waking up to a Coast Guard Cutter getting underway from a nearby buoy while the sun rose over Mount Baker was truly a delight for those of us awake. The night air was chilly but the morning dew quickly dried from our sleeping bags as we began making preparations to getting underway. Each day involved a new adventure. On our way to Rosario Resort on Orcas Island we were confronted by our sister motor vessel Charles N. Curtis and engaged them in a water fight to which of course we claim victory! At Rosario Resort, we went ashore for showers and a bit of swimming in their fresh water pool. We decided to spend our last night back in Friday Harbor moored outboard of the Adventuress; an impressive 133ft schooner built in the early 1900's. They treated us to a tour of their boat prior to our shore expedition to sample some of the local frozen dairy flavors.