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2010 USPS Annual Meeting - Coronado Springs Resort

From February 3rd through the 7th 2010 the USPS held its Annual Meeting at the Corodano Springs Resort in the Disney World Complex. Almost everyone who attended from District 30 made a vacation out of it. Except for Terry, she's the only one still working for a living. Most arrived early and stayed late.

I made a road trip out of it and headed South towards the end of January. That sounds like a good thing except that the third Storm of the Century for the month was making its way east through some of the southern states. Didn't make it to Chattanooga the first night because of severely iced over roads in Nashville. Nashville has a salt shaker they use to clear the roads with. I made it to Jacksonville the second night passing through some decent roads through the rest of Tennessee and Georgia. Did a little bit of sight seeing and then headed into Cocoa Beach for a few days. I went to the Space Center which had a few more exhibits open from the last time I was there. There was a retired Space Shuttle which I couldn't resist walking through. Mercury and Gemini capsules built byMcDonnell Aircraft that I checked out. Those were the things that lured me to St. Louis. I checked out some of the local restaurants in the Cocoa Beach area, the Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island Wildlife Refugee. These were all awesome. On February 3rd, I headed to Orlando and picked up my sister, Louisa, at the airport and then checked into the Coronado. We met up with most of the other folks from D30 and had some fun together. Thursday I needed to go back to the airport and pick up Terry. Friday we took in a couple of meetings in and then Terry, Louisa and I went to Epcot. We had a great time there and then took the shuttle back to the hotel for a little rest. Bettie and Ken had a great hospitality room going. We had a good crowd but not many visitors. The hospitality rooms were spread out over such a large area that it was tough to go from one to the other without a long walk. Saturday was the annual meeting. About 650 persons were in attendance. The significant issue we voted on and passed was the ability to teach any USPS course to the general public. We of course had the change of watch with the new leadership taking over. The evening banquet had great food and a terrific band that played music from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Everyone retired to their rooms for the night.

Sunday morning, Ken Danley, Dick Des Camps and myself climbed into my car at o-dark hundred and headed to Tavares. With a brief stop at McDonalds for breakfast we arrived at the Triangle Yacht Club Marina at 0730. We were some of the first to arrive. The air was brisk (about 40o F and the wind was blowing from the east with a light chop on the water. USPS chipped in for donuts and coffee inside the clubhouse which really hit the spot on the brisk morning.

This events chief organizer was P/R/C Bob Brandenstein, SN of the Pittsburgh Power Squadron but he had lots of help from the Harris Chain Power Squadron and the Jacksonville Sail & Power Squadron. Four boats were bought in from various locations for the event. There were thirty of us at sign-up in the morning. Twenty were to be certified and the rest were either master or regional certifiers and other support personnel.

We were broken up into small teams. Dick and I were assigned to Joe Sackett’s (Jacksonville Sail & Power Squadron) team on board a 21’ Cuddy Cabin Bayliner. It was the biggest boat of the four and was a terrific boat for this type of event.

While still in the clubhouse, we started with introductions, some guidelines, expectations and instruction. We then prepared to go out on the lake. I had put on so many layers of clothes that I couldn't’t get my life jacket over my clothes, so I had to take off a layer or two to be able to snap on the PFD. A course was set up by the instructors on the water. Buoys were set to mark the low speed and high speed slalom course and also the markers for the high speed stop.

Each boat headed to a different section of the lake first so that we wouldn't’t be close to each other while demonstrating our skills. High speed activities were conducted on Eustis Lake while low speed maneuvers remained on Harris lake. We had five students on our boat with two of them being sailboaters.

Our first activity was docking. Then we moved on to low speed maneuvers through the preset slalom course. Forward and then backward. Backward became a challenge for many with the wind blowing but everyone got through it okay.

We then moved over to Eustis Lake for some high speed events. We each went through a preset slalom course at high speeds. Then we all had to demonstrate a high speed stop. Unnerving at first but a lot of fun once we got use to it. Full throttle up the course until you pass the buoy. Engine quickly to idle and right turn and then engine in neutral. Then you watch the wake off to your starboard without rocking the boat. Then, we each had to take a turn at “man-overboard” and come around properly to pick up the float. We demonstrated our ability to run a range both going in and coming out.

We headed back to the marina for a lunch and a break. After a morning on the water, the lunch was delicious. Sandwiches were made by the Finn Restaurant (a great place to eat). After swapping sea stories and relaxing for a little bit we headed back out to finish the activities we had left.

When we all came in we had a fire extinguisher demo with each of us taking a turn putting a fire out.

Paperwork was taken care of and we said our farewells to our new friends. This was a great event which was very well organized and put together by three squadrons with a common interest in doing something good for USPS. Our organization saw some weak links in getting remote Districts into this program and took a giant step forward in remedying this. Everyone involved had a positive attitude and we all left with very few hoops to go through afterwards to become Advanced Certifiers.

Once we were done with our “official business”, I needed to get Dick Des Camps back to Orlando to meet up with Peggy for the rest of their vacation. Ken came along for company and we drove Dick back to the Coronado. We then turned around and headed back to Tavares where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which had a special price for those involved in the Certification Program. Most of the participants stayed there for the night. We met up with Betty and Ken’s sister Marci, who had already eaten diner but came with us so we could eat. We walked through a fenced off swampy area, (Betty and Marci saw an alligator there earlier) and went to Finn’s Restaurant for a super seafood dinner. The Super Bowl was on TV. Then we walked back to the motel. Betty refused to walk through the swampy place so we took the long cut. Everyone crashed in their room and went on their way the next day. The Danleys continued on their trip through Florida and checking out Kentucky. There will be an article in the next Ensign and this event will be repeated next year with more up front advertising.

P/D/C Gus Elia, JN

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