Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sea Camp Day 4

After yesterday’s bright sunshine and warm temperatures, the morning greeted us with a scene more out of a Wes Craven movie then the Endless Summer. The city and Fiesta island were completely overrun with pea-soup fog that promised to hide all the treasures that yesterday’s boat trip got to see. Luckily the ominous beginning to the day didn’t foreshadow what was to come.

Breakfast was the usual delicious affair with trays full of Danish, sausage, eggs, and pancakes. Dietrich again defended his title as this year’s biggest eater. A lesser man would have been doubled over the gunnels of the Sea Watch at the first swell coming out of the marina. Once the bags were packed, team A shoehorned themselves into the familiar white and silver Sea Camp vans for the ten minute drive to the marina. In that time we discovered that the only song allowed to play on San Diego’s air waves is the Eminem tune with Rhianna singing the chorus, but that’s alright ‘cause I like the way it hurts. I think that at one point three different stations had it playing at the same time. And still the fog shrouded our vision like a vale.

As we emptied onto the dock, gear bags in hand, the storm clouds concealed by the fog let loose causing everyone to utilize the often neglected hood of our brand new Sea Camp hooded sweatshirts and hope that the rain would soon stop or produce a rainbow with a pot of gold in the water surrounding Mexico’s Coronado Islands. A rainy two and a half hours each way on the boat with no cover would test even the most avid sea camper. Once all seat backs and tray tables were in there up right and lock positions and all carry-on luggage was securely stowed in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of us, the Sea Camp crew explained where all of the emergency exits were located (over the side of the boat once donning a life vest) and that should the oxygen masks be deployed that you should place the mask your own face before assisting a small child, or someone acting like a small child. Hum, I guess that would mean I would be the last one on the boat to get an oxygen mask. The safety instructions were so interesting that a huge male sea lion came and popped his head out of the water to listen, pose for photos, wish us well, and remind us to write our parents frequently.

The first thirty minutes of motoring was dry, yet we were unable to see anything around us. I felt like I was in the middle of Pirates of the Caribbean. Max and I actually broke out in song.

Yo ho, all together
Hoist the colours high
Heave ho, thieves and begers
Never shall we die!

Avast matey what is it that I see off the port side bow? Dolphins, yes dolphins it is, 30 at least. And look over yonder, could it be? It is, two blue whales with so much creole that the sea runs an angrey frothing red and the squids are jumping out of the water like the Kracken has just been summoned to send our boat to Davey Jones’s Locker! Oh no here it comes, Abandon ship!

Oops, I got a bit to into the mood. Seriously, the massive amounts of creel had coaxed the normally nocturnal squid to the surface to feed. We watched for a quarter hour as the squid would dart in and out of their prey while shooting jets of water out of the surface that made to ocean look like the DIA’s fountain of old. This event is so rare that Whitney, the program director who has been here for eight years, has never seen this behavior on all the boat trips she has worked!

Once we arrived at the four islands that compose the Coronado Islands we were treated to an unexpected phenomenon. The islands were bathed in sunlight with a foggy clouded halo surrounding it. The extra sunlight made it possible for us to see a ton of sea life. We saw so many things that in my short four years of coming to Sea Camp, today was my favorite day of snorkeling. Are you ready for this? Everyone got to see Orange ochre sea stars, orange, purple ochre sea stars. Bat sea stars, knobby sea stars, sea hares, Purple sea urchins, red sea urchins, octopus, brittle stars, lighting whelks, sea snails, chitons, sea lions, harbor seal, (take a breath) garibaldi, opal eye, senorita, kelp bass, sheep heads, blacksmith (blue), navanax, and Hermit crabs. What a snorkel! To finish our stay at the islands, the students challenged the staff (including me) to a contest of king/queen of the raft. Honorable mention has to be given to Tara DeBolt and Livy Fore for their queen of the raft prowess. However, in the end as always, the campers couldn’t match the staff despite outnumbering us 25 to 3. Perhaps next year’s class can do better.

As soon as everyone got back on the boat and changed, they were treated to chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate. Once the anchor was aboard we set off for home. Unfortunately, as I am writing this in the boat’s protected cabin, we are witnessing another first in Whitney’s career. It is raining on our motor back to the States and the kids are getting very cold. Thankfully for us all, we will only remember the epic day that was had on the team A’s boat trip.

Kirk and Kathy

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