High-Adventure Week: A look back at Florida Sea Base

High-Adventure-Week-2015---Sea-BaseScouts began exploring the clear waters of South Florida long before an official national “base” was established. These trips — often by sailboat —  were organized by the South Florida Council in the early 1970s as the “Florida Gateway to High Adventure” trips.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the BSA acquired property for a base in Islamorada, opening in 1980 as the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base. The base has since grown to include the Brinton Center, Big Munson Island, the Bahama Sea Base and St. Thomas (as recent as 2014).

Thousands of Scouts and Venturers explore the southern waters of the Florida Keys, the Bahamas and now the Caribbean thanks to well-established sailing and scuba trips. Other adventures include the “Out Island Adventure,” which is an island-camping experience on Big Munson Island.

Take a look back at some snapshots from the Scouting magazine archives, featuring the tropical base. Plus, we’ve included some images from this summer to help give you a glimpse at the excitement to come in future trips. 



Explorers venture to Cay Sal aboard a Florida Sea Base vessel, shown on cover and in spread, above. (Scouting magazine, November-December 1980)


Big Munson Island is touted as suitable for Scouts and Robinson Crusoe. (Scouting magazine, March-April 1984)



The Sea Base’s tall-ship sailing program is front and center in this cover feature story. (Scouting magazine, May-June 1993)


A new addition in 2013 to the Sea Base tall-ship fleet, the Spirit of Independence. “Like” Florida Sea Base on Facebook.com for even more images.


A Moray eel spotted by Sea Base scuba divers. Courtesy of Florida Sea Base.


A look at the scuba boat fleet docked at the base, taken by Alex Bergstedt from the top of a nearby sailboat mast (2013). Courtesy of the Florida Sea Base.


A sneak peek at the Sea Base’s newest addition: the Scuba Complex, hosting a “Divemaster Training Academy.” Opened in 2014. Courtesy of the Florida Sea Base.

— By Gretchen Sparling


  1. My son was there 3 years ago and said it was the best adventure he had even if they got stuck on the reef for a few hours 🙂 From this adventure he has decided to join the Navy after graduation

  2. My crew certainly enjoyed the float plan to Key West. However, because the winds are not conducive to sailing east-west, crews are under motor the whole time just to keep the itinerary. When we got back, a number of leaders who also went from our district were very upset that their boys didn’t get daily experience working the sails. I’m sure they were not alone. 🙁

    • Our crew was lucky to get a great captain. He was good teacher and enjoyed being on the water. He was frugal, and spent as much time sailing as possible to save money on fuel. So we sailed out to Key West and we sailed on our return. I’ve heard from other crews from our troop that they didn’t sail much, that they were under power most of the time. So I think how much you sail depends on your captain.

  3. We only sailed one day under all 7 sails and it was very rough seas. Even though we mostly motored we still put up the sails and the boys learned from our crew how to work the sails. Not one scout complained about anything. I was disappointed we did not catch any fish on our voyage. We were on Yankee and had a blast.

  4. We had a terrible time. We motored 90% of the time because the skipper was too lazy to set sail. The boat had expired flares and was discharging raw sewage into the Florida Keys because it didn’t have a functional holding tank.

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