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
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
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
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?