Shipwreck Weekend

Ship 25 and Ship 1993 Joint Shipwreck Weekend - Hart-Miller Island, Chesapeake Bay, MD

7-8 September 2002

To get at least some first-hand appreciation of what it might be like to try to survive a shipwreck at sea, seven intrepid souls from Ship 25 (Tim, Matt, Leah, Drew, Ashley, Greg, and new recruit Jim) plus four hardy types from Ship 1993 (Ryan, Simon, Paul, and Darryl) ventured to the Baltimore County Sailing Center at Rocky Point, MD on Saturday, 7 September 2002.  There they were given a pile of lumber, inner tubes, rope, and one bag of MRE's and one gallon container of water per person.  They were pointed in the direction of Hart-Miller Island, about one mile off-shore.  The crew was told to assume their ship just sank with all the adults (Hooray!), and their mission, as the sole surviving youth members, was to get themselves to safety on Hart-Miller Island and survive there for 24 hours.  They were told that if they could send a recognizable SOS signal, they would be "rescued" by boat on Sunday - otherwise they would have to cross back to the mainland on their rafts.  With the further admonition that there would be no more advice or interference from the supervising adults except in case of a serious health or safety matter, the crews set about their task.  (The USCG and the MD DNR police had been previously advised of the exercise to ensure there would be no inadvertent launch of an actual rescue).

NOTE:  This exercise was extensively recorded on video.  The photos below when enlarged from the thumbnails are still much smaller than usual for the Ship 25 web page because they were extracted from the video footage, which has a much smaller pixel count than the normal digital still camera.

Jim, Matt, Drew, Tim, and Greg discuss construction details of the Ship 25 raft.

Leah, Ashley, Matt, and Tim paddle for Hart-Miller Island.

  The crew took turns paddling or swimming along side the raft.

Ashley, Matt, and Tim keep paddling.

  After about an hour and a half of paddling, the crew began to close in on their destination.

  The landing is near!

  Bo'sun Tim strides ashore to supervise the landing of the raft.

  Tim looks pleased with his crew's effort.

Drew, Ashley, and Matt near the shore.

  On dry land at last!

  Hooray!  We made it!

  Matt moves a large white rock that he found where the raft landed.

  Greg, Drew, Leah, Ashley, and Matt inspect the contents of their MRE bags.

  "Look", says Ashley.  "I've got peaches in a box!"

  Tim samples his MRE meal.

  Yum!  Chewy, but nutritious.

  Matt goes he-man and supplements his MRE with his own specialty - cricket dipped in chocolate cocoa mix.

  The Bo'sun gets a signal fire going.

  Tim scores bonus points for a very innovative signal device.  He cut out chunks of rubber from an old tire washed up on the beach, and then got the rubber to burn using a stove he made out of an old soda can he also found on the beach.  The signal was eventually acknowledged:  "Help will arrive at 0930 tomorrow morning".

  The crew begins to settle down and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings.

  As the sun sets on our castaways, the exercise continues.

  The raft at sunset.

  Red at night, sailor's delight.....

  Greg, an Eagle Scout, shows the shelter he is making in the sand.

  Others in the crew start to curl up in an old sail for the night.

  At this point, the Sea Scouts from Ship 1993 arrive on the scene.  They help gather firewood.

  The ambitious firewood collectors even climb an old tree to strip dead branches from the top. 

  A nice fire is always a cheery sight to any castaway.

  At this point, a "treasure map" is unexpectedly found, promising the successful treasure hunter something more precious than gold and jewels.  Tim helps Simon locate the North Star.

  Simon studies the treasure map, looking for clues.

  "Let's see now - start at the big white rock and go Southeast 1/5 the number of feet in 25 fathoms - so that's 6 x 25 /5 =  30 feet ......"

  After a few more courses and distances, Simon and his partners think they are at the right spot and begin to dig.  No treasure!  What's wrong?  Somebody eventually remembers that Matt moved the "big white rock" when it got in the way of beaching the raft, not knowing at the time it marked the departure point for the whole treasure map route.  "Now just where was that rock before it got thrown?"

  Simon eventually traces out the directions in the sand and realizes the directions lead in a circle back to the starting point.  Now it becomes essential to determine just where the rock was before it got accidentally moved.

  Someone remembered a clump of grass under the rock when Matt picked it up.  Good observation, Jim!

  Success at last - the treasure is found to be bug spray and sun screen, truly in this case more valuable than gold or jewels.

  Simon announces the find to the group.

  Simon, in addition to being a determined treasure hunter, is also a supremely dedicated small-boat sailor.

  Paul, from 1993, is a rugged sort, too.

  Ryan, from 1993, is closing in on his Eagle Scout requirements.

  Darryl, from 1993, and Paul keep the fire going.

  Greg and Ryan share a laugh around the campfire.

The night was chilly, and the bugs were bad, but everyone took discomfort in stride.  As dawn broke, the sun brought back warmth to cold bodies, and a fresh breeze blew away the bugs.  Mid-morning at 0930, the rescue boats appeared and conveyed our adventurers back to safety on the mainland.  A huge "welcome home" barbecue greeted the hungry Sea Scouts, most of whom went home shortly afterwards and slept from Sunday afternoon straight through until Monday morning.

Any takers for a 48 hour survival exercise next year?

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