Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sea Camp recap day 4

Group B: Boat trip

The fog that greeted us this morning came straight out with a scene more out of a Wes Craven movie not the Endless Summer we were hoping for.  The city and Fiesta Island were completely overrun a thick blanket of clouds and a light wind that hinted of a swell rolling in to test the fortitude of the sea camper’s stomachs.

Breakfast was the usual delicious affair with hash browns, eggs, and cereal.  Once our day bags were packed, team B shoehorned themselves into the familiar white and silver Sea Camp vans for the ten minute drive to the marina while group A prepared to live the experienced that group B had yesterday (minus the dolphin interactions).  Driving down Sea World Drive in the Sea Camp vans is always an experience every driver should have.  Between the vans size, maneuverability, and volume of noise and distractions, it’s a wonder that we ever get anywhere.  As a passenger there are so many things to see and hear, hum, what’s more entertaining, palm trees covered in fog or 8th graders singing and getting the words wrong?

Finally, we reached the marina and we trekked down the floating dock and onto the Sea Watch for the obligatory safety briefing.  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), that any unplanned feeding of fish (throwing-up) was to be done OVER the side of the boat, not the ships head, 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.  So far the winds didn’t change the marina’s water typically glass surfaces.  Perhaps things out past the breakers things wouldn't be bad.  

The first thirty minutes of motoring was uneventful unfortunately yet the staffs predictions of a mad dash to the gunnels didn’t happen either.  The ocean turned out to be calm, the benefit of foggy skys.  This season’s boat trips have yielded precious few animal sightings and at first we feared that the dolphins had performed so much for yesterday’s group that they would have nothing left to show us.  As luck would have it, a pod of common dolphins was spotted by the ships captain and in no time we had caught up with the pod who very kindly jumped and squeaked for pictures. When the captain rendezvous with a pod he slowed to their preferred bow surfing pace and chart a course that matches that of the dolphins.  The dolphins were headed in the opposite direction of intended trolling spot so after a short dolphin surf, we changed course and headed back to the mission bay channel.  Fortunately the marine layer had burned off by this time and we enjoyed cloudless skies for the rest of the day.
I have only trolled the channel on one other occasion and have been really exciting. The bottom scrapping net caught four California Spiny Lobsters, Calico Bass, Giant Kelp Fish, Pipe Fish, sand bass, string rays, and halibut.  After a brief description of the specific adaptations that have evolved to allow survival, the students were able to pet and hold everything that was liberated from the bottom of the sea.  Don’t worry, the lobsters behaved themselves.

After our half day boat trip we were driven up the 15% grade to the top of Mt. Soledad for some games and scenic views until our reserved time at the Scripps aquarium. 
The final night at the Sea Camp ranch is the bond fire.  Hopefully by this time everyone going to bed with bellies full of s'mores and minds full of memories.  Even though the boat trip wasn’t an epic whale adventure, the yield by the end of the day far exceeded our expectations.  The kids did great, learned a ton, and had the time of their lives.

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