01Jul

TIM STANFILL

in Program  •  0 comments

CONGRATULATIONS

Effective 01 July 2015, Tim Stanfill was promoted to Director of Program at the Florida Sea Base.  I may not have this exactly right but, as I recall, Tim was a Florida Sea Base seasonal staff member (Out Island Mate) in the early 2000’s.  He later became a professional Scouter in Idaho where he worked for a few years before returning to the Florida Sea Base as a full time employee.  Tim was promoted to Logistics Team Leader and was responsible for conferences, food services, retail sales and much more at all Florida Sea Base campuses.  Tim frequently held my hand as I bashed my head against the wall during my last three years at Sea Base.  Tim will serve as the Director of Program AND Logistics Team Leader until a new logistics person can be hired this fall.  The Florida Sea Base Program Directors will now report directly to Tim.

WEATHER

The tropics remain very quiet and significant wind shear in the Caribbean is a positive factor in not allowing development there in the immediate future.

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The local forecast is typical for this time of year; small chance of rain daily, highs near 90 lows around 80 and moderate to light breezes.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED

WEATHER

All programs at the Florida Sea Base are very weather dependent.  Lately, the weather has been favoring the anglers, snorkelers and scuba divers due to the light winds.  Sailing has been tough but that’s why snorkeling and fishing are included in their adventure.  But relief is in sight; tomorrow through at least Saturday the winds are expected to be 10 to 15 knots.  Fifteen knots is pleasant sailing.

This is today’s forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Calm wind becoming southeast around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 81. East wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 82. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 82. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 81. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Independence Day: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Saturday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 81. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 82. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

The tropics are VERY quiet.  The area of some minor concern is the Caribbean.  Potential development so close to home is always worrisome as it can greatly reduce reaction time.  There is nothing happening in the Caribbean today.

READER COMMENTS

I received a couple of reader comments since the last post.

Hi Steve,
Glad you made it home OK. Our crew is wrapping up their FSB adventure and will be home tomorrow evening. Have heard little from them other than a couple of pictures on the FSB Facebook page of them small boat sailing. So, no news is good news!

I will second Capt. Scott’s admonition about having a proper tour permit. You may recall we had a group from our troop that came down last year without one, and it WAS a huge hassle. Trips to the local Scout office, faxing, emailing and I think they got held at base for a day at the beginning of their trip.

Glad your family weathered the storm with minimal damage – and Happy (belated) Father’s Day!

Tim Gaffron
Venturing Crew 3084
Maple Grove, MN

Former staff member Rachael Szostek commented:

(Tropical Storm) Bill was a beast! He hit us bad in Athens and we got 3″ of water in our basement in about 20 minutes! Our neighbors had 5″ and they are still pumping it out……glad you all weathered the storm okay!

I will post again next week, sooner if warranted.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED

23Jun

SAFE TRIP

in Weather  •  2 comments

TRAVELS

My drive from the Florida Sea Base to Texas was essentially incident free.  Including taking time for a couple of naps in the Suburban, it took just over 24 hours for the first leg of the trip (1,250 miles).  That averages out to about 52 mph including the stop time.  The only negative repercussions was the tailpipe on the 1991 Suburban separated from the rear of the muffler and my feet were pretty swollen by the time I finally got to bed.  (I was sitting or standing for 37 hours.)

My family weathered Tropical Storm Bill with the loss of a couple of shingles.  However, we are only 2″ shy of our average total rainfall for the whole year.  Flood conditions have some roads closed and many bridges will remain closed for inspection well after the flood waters recede.  Others have been much less fortunate.

My dad, wife, son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and I spent our first ever Father’s Day together.  My last Father’s Day at home was in 1999.  (FSB Program Directors are not eligible for leave during program season.)

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WEATHER

The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for typical weather conditions for the coming five days.  Essentially, there is a 20-30% chance of precipitation, afternoon highs near 90°F and overnight lows around 80°F.  The water temperature on the reef is 83°F.

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The tropics are currently quiet.

000
ABNT20 KNHC 230500
TWOAT

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT TUE JUN 23 2015

For the North Atlantic…Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico:

Tropical cyclone formation is not expected during the next 5 days.

$$ Forecaster Brown

FSB TIP OF THE DAY

The Florida Sea Base tip of the day was submitted by FSB Scuba Instructor Captain Scott Patton.

Just a few reminders that might help you when you go to your adventure at Sea Base. Make sure all the boys have an underwater timing device of some sort and their cert cards. Almost any underwater watch will work, but each buddy team must have one at the very least although each diver should have their own to track their time under water. While not required, you may want to consider renting computers from your local dive shop for the week. All divers need to bring their logbooks (a must) and the divemaster(s) will work with you each day to help you log all your dives or log them on your own, but log them. When you travel, all Scouts and leaders should be in class A uniforms (at least the shirts). People treat you differently when they see you all in uniform (from the TSA agents to the flight crews) and it is also required by your tour permit. Don’t forget your tour permit. You will need to get another one if you arrive without it and it is a HUGE hassle for both you and the Sea Base staff if you do not have it.

POSTS

As I have mentioned previously, it is difficult to keep up with the activities at the Florida Sea Base while I’m not physically there.  My plan is to post once a week unless something urgent happens.

Capt. Steve
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED

WEATHER

Tropical Storm Bill (my dad’s name is Bill) is no threat to interests of the Florida Sea Base.  However, it looks like my family homestead in SE Texas and our home in the D/FW area may get clobbered by more rain.

at201502

Dr. Jeff Masters posted this on Monday:

The projected track of 91L [now TS Bill] shifted notably westward in last night’s 0000Z model runs, which suggests a larger part of hard-hit eastern Texas and southeast Oklahoma will end up on the much wetter right-hand side of the system. The atmospheric moisture content over southeast Texas is projected to be near record levels for mid-June. The juxtaposition of a slow-moving tropical system with preexisting soil saturation over this region is very unusual and particularly worrisome. Widespread rainfall of 2” – 5” is expected along 91L’s track (see Figure 3), and localized amounts beyond 10” are quite possible with training echoes, especially if the system slows as much as some models are suggesting it might. A flash flood watch is now in effect for parts of southeast Texas from Monday night through Wednesday afternoon. Tornadoes will also be a concern, including this evening over southeast Texas, as instability will be on the high side due to abundant moisture and very warm air at low levels.

Locally, the wind eased up a bit on Monday.  We are expecting east to southeast winds near 15 knots through Saturday.

PROGRAM

All programs are running without a hitch, except maybe a few upset tummies.  But the divers are reporting good visibility at the dive sites and the sailors are sailing up a storm.  The summer program season is between 1/4 and 1/3 done.  Time flies…..

THANKS

First, I want to thank Chip Kasper, Senior Forecaster – Marine Program Meteorologist, National Weather Service – Key West, for taking the time to give me a personal heads-up regarding Tropical Storm Bill.  It is really cool to have a friend at the NWS. :)

Also, thank you to all of the Florida Sea Base captains, seasonal and full-time staff members that have helped me with Escape over the past three weeks.  I am in your debt.

Finally, thanks to whoever is reading this post.  I will be AFK (away from keyboard) for a few days unless something of major concern arises.  I will head west, back to the Mother Country, early Thursday morning.  (I try to be on the highway by 3 or 4 am to beat the Miami/Fort Lauderdale rush hour.)

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Abord S/V Escape

15Jun

INVEST 91L

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

Yesterday I posted that Invest 91L would not impact the Florida Sea Base.  That is mostly true, we will not receive a direct hit from the system, but it did affect our weather yesterday as you can see in the infrared image.

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I failed to look at the above image before posting yesterday.  It appears that the wind and moisture we are experiencing may be related to Invest 91L.  I think it’s also interesting that the infrared satellite image of Invest 91L dominates the imagery from Hurricane Carlos (which fell below hurricane status yesterday but is expected to regroup today).

Invest 91L has a medium chance of development and will impact Texas but have little to no impact on Florida.

two_atl_5d0

A tropical wave has emerged off the Atlantic coast of Africa but will likely encounter significant Saharan dust and not become a factor in our local weather.

Locally, the chance of rain for the Florida Sea Base is decreasing this week.  Highs will be close to 90 and lows around 80.  The wind should ease up a little after today.

PROGRAM

The crews have been making the best of the weather.  The divers are having luck finding sites with visibility and the sailors are definitely getting sail time.  High Adventure is always about attitude and this attitude starts with the staff, then the adult leaders and then the Scouts.  We have all had fun in the rain, in the heat and in the cold.  Attitude is the key!

FSB TIP OF THE DAY

Please try very hard to arrive at the Florida Sea Base as close to 1 pm as possible.  We understand that your travel day is a long, exhausting day.  Arriving late forces everything related to check-in to be rushed.  This is hard on everyone and not the happiest way to start your adventure.

DEPARTURE

Surprise, surprise – I am behind schedule.  My plan was to be back in Texas by now.  Tomorrow is the third anniversary of my mom’s death.  I hoped to be home with my dad.  But I will be there for Father’s Day and the next weekend is our family reunion.  I will be on the road early Thursday and won’t be able to post for a few days.  But I am getting ahead a bit.  I expect to post at least a couple more times before hitting the road.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape (for z few more nights)

14Jun

TROPICS

in Weather  •  0 comments

STATUS

I apologize for not posting yesterday.  This visit to the Florida Sea Base is just about over and it is harder to make time for the posts as I still have much to do.

WEATHER

We have tropical activity on the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Mexico.  Hurricane Carlos is crawling up the Pacific coast while Invest 91L has formed in the Yucatan area and will be moving into the Gulf of Mexico soon.

ep201503

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at201591_model

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Neither system is currently a threat to any interests of the Florida Sea Base.  HOWEVER, this is another good reminder that we do have the possibility of severe wind events during the summer and trip insurance should be considered.

New readers may not be familiar with the term “invest” as in Invest 91L.  Invest means conditions warrant investigation for possible tropical development.  The L is for Atlantic.  Each system is numbered 90 through 99 and the numbers are repeated.

Locally, the persistent fresh breezes from the east are making dive conditions less than desirable.  Captain Christy Costa called last night’s dive and rescheduled it for tonight.  Many of the sailboat captains have reported cases of gastroenpukulitus onboard.  It’s Bonine time!!!  Please pack Bonine® brand medication for your crew members.  This is much preferred over generic dramamine type products.  And if you plan to use any medications, either prescription or OTC, please try them before you get here to insure there are no unfavorable side effects.  [In 2001 (I think), I was sent to a Workman’s Comp doctor due to a Florida Sea Base work related (scuba) injury.  The doctor (who is a certified scuba diver) gave me some prescriptions.  I told the doc I was a scuba instructor and asked if it was okay to dive while taking these medications.  His response?  “You bet!  These will really enhance your underwater experience”.]  The wind should ease up a bit tonight.

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FSB TIP OF THE DAY

Former FSB Sailing Commissioner John Lincoln would like me to remind you that the nearest megastore is about an hour and a half drive from the Florida Sea Base.  Pack what you need, but don’t over pack.  There is a Walmart in Florida City where the Florida Turnpike turns into US Highway 1.  There are small K-Marts in Key Largo and Marathon but they are each about 25 miles from base an frequently not well stocked.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape

12Jun

YACHT

in Sailing  •  0 comments

ESCAPE

What is the difference between a sailing vessel (S/V) and a sailing yacht (S/Y)?  Most references define the difference as a function of length.  However, in the Redneck Yacht Club, the difference is ICE.  If your boat has a means to manufacture ice, then it certainly is deserving of the title Yacht.  With the installation of the new refrigeration system a couple of days ago (thanks again, Connor), I think it is fair to upgrade S/V Escape to S/Y Escape.  Here is photo evidence of one-third of my first batch of ice manufactured by the new unit.

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NCAP

Once again, the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center sailed through the annual National Camp Accreditation Program inspection.  There was and is never any doubt.  They run a tight ship here, even though it is led by to retired Army soldiers.  (Oddly enough, the General Manager of the Summit is a retired Navy Admiral).

WEATHER

It is going to be a breezy weekend.  Some of the sailing captains are reporting cases of mal de mar onboard.  It’s time to load your system with Bonine.  Remember, puking leads to dehydration.  And in the Keys, dehydration may lead to death.  Bonine and lots of water is the order of the day.:)

Check below this entry for a post that failed to launch on Wednesday.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/Y Escape

12Jun

IT BEGINS

in Sailing  •  0 comments

OOPS

I thought I posted this on the 10th but apparently I hit the wrong button and it stayed in the drafts file; my apologies.  But since it was written, I thought I would post it now instead of deleting it.

WEATHER

Here we go!  This system is no threat to the Florida Sea Base, but it is just the beginning of the season.

ep201594_model

The wind will favor the Florida Sea Base sailors this week, with 10 to 15 knots today building to 15 to 20 knots from the east and southeast for Thursday through Sunday night.  We have a 30% chance of showers daily with afternoon highs around 90 and morning lows around 80.

FSB TIP OF THE DAY

We are to the third part of the answer to Andy Davis’ question.  There are three components to the Coral Reef adventure; sailing, snorkeling and fishing.  Sailing entails many skills.  And there are many types of sailing.

The Florida Sea Base does not charter any World Cup racing boats.  All of our sailing vessels, whether in Florida, The Bahamas or the US Virgin Islands, are cruising sailboats.  Five knots is a great speed.  When the wind is blowing hard you may go a little faster.  If the wind is 10 knots you may go a little slower.  If the wind is below 10 knots you will be motoring, not sailing.  Motoring is not bad.  There are still things to do, just no sails.  Most of our sailboats will motor along at – you guessed it – about 5 knots.  If you were to sail (or motor) at 5 knots for 12 hours straight, you would go 60 nautical miles, less than from Sea Base to Key West.  So cruising is NOT what you see during the World Cup on TV.

But we don’t sail at 5 knots for 12 hours per day. We fish, both underway (trolling, not to be confused with trawling) and while stopped on the reef, and we go snorkeling – sometimes for hours each day.  That is generally your call, but weather dependent.

Communicate with your captain.  They are Scout friendly and want you to enjoy your adventure.  If you want to sail, be the helmsman, learn about navigation or knots (the kind you tie), fish, snorkel, whatever your preference, tell the captain.  The will do everything possible to exceed your expectations allowing for weather and safety.  If no one expresses a preference, then the captain will decide.  Either way, you’ll have a good time.

There is a great section in the back of the FSB Participant Guide.  Having training sessions with your crew to cover this information will improve your experience.  It will be easier for everyone if the participants know the difference between port and starboard, bow and stern.  You need to know how to tie a cleat hitch, how to tie it quickly, properly and under pressure.  You will tie cleat hitches each time the boat docks.  Sometimes this is done during challenging weather conditions.  The safety of the crew and vessel can depend on a Scout or leader being able to tie this knot under pressure.

NCAP

The National Camp Accreditation Program team will be at the Florida Sea Base today through Friday.  This is the first time in 15 years that I will not be part of the insanity, I mean, that I won’t have the pleasure of participating in this relaxed three days of camaraderie.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape

11Jun

REFRIGERATION

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ESCAPE

I want to thank Rescue Diver/Dive Boat Mate Connor Musial for removing the old refrigeration unit on S/V Escape and installing a new unit in its place yesterday.  He gave up his day off to help an old man (a Scout is helpful).  Connor is a mechanical wiz!  Mr. and Mrs. Musial, you did a wonderful job.  Now I don’t have to haul 40 to 60 pounds of ice to the boat daily. :)

NCAP

The inspectors arrived yesterday and started the official process with dinner and pouring over tons of required paperwork.  They will be at the Florida Sea Base. Brinton Environmental Center and Munson Island today to verify that we do what we say.  Of course we do; a Scout is trustworthy!

PROGRAM

Program is running full bore.  There have been no significant injuries or loss of program due to logistical issues.  The Florida Sea Base is into its third of 14 summer weeks.

FSB TIP OF THE DAY

Former FSB Sailing Commissioner John Lincoln suggested I talk about swimming at the Florida Sea Base.  I think that’s a good idea.  All participants, young and old, attending any of our venues, are required to pass the BSA swimmer’s test BEFORE arriving.  In fact, you are supposed to pass the test “in a strong manner”.  Under the heading of “trust but verify”, all participants complete a swim “review” upon arrival.  The swim review is conducted in salt water.  This is to familiarize you with the feel and taste of the water.  It is important that you become comfortable with salt water in your eyes and the feel and even taste of the water.

Florida Sea Base vessels operate 4 miles or more offshore.  Due to the size of our vessels, participants are not required to wear lifejackets.  While not probable, falling overboard is a real possibility.  If you are not calm and confident in the water you will be in a world of hurt.  You may have to deal with significant waves and current whether you go into the water accidentally or on purpose.  Coming to the Florida Sea Base as a poor swimmer or with anything less than total comfort and confidence with your abilities in the water is simply silly.  Please consider Philmont or Northern Tier as viable alternatives.

WEATHER

There is little change from yesterday.  The chance of rain over the weekend has increased to 40%.

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Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape

09Jun

WHOPPED

All is well at the Florida Sea Base.  However, I don’t have a post for this morning.  I was very busy with Escape until late last night.  When I finished I was so beat up I had to take two aspirin, two acetaminophens an two ibuprofen to get to sleep (around 11:30).  Then I woke up about 4 hours later and was up for about an hour.

I only have a week left before I have to be back in Texas and there are several tasks I have yet to finish on the boat.  It is time to kick in to overdrive.  Hopefully today will be a little easier on me so I can post something tomorrow.

Capt. Steve