27Mar

HERE IT COMES

in Weather  •  0 comments

READERS

Tom Laing posted this comment Friday morning:

Steve:

Each morning when I report to work here in the mid-mid-west, I read the emails and log in to your site. Being of the Baby-Boomer generation, I don’t post much to social media. Reading your blog is like reading the paper, only much more fun. I and my son, who staffed for you last spring, really enjoyed our two Sea Base trips. It’s fun to see what’s happening. I’m glad you’re still writing, even though it’s not as frequently. Perhaps we’ll stop in and say “Hi!” when we’re down on the Keys on vacation this summer.

Tom

Thanks Tom; it is nice to know there is SOMEONE out there.  Retiring (more like semi-retiring because I work more and get paid WAY less) is a bittersweet event.  Writing this blog has been an attempt at maintaining my sanity for the past several years.  Now I realize there is no sanity to maintain and I am less motivated to post!

I can testify to this, people will come and go from the Florida Sea Base management positions for years and decades to come but very little else changes.  And in all truthfulness, that is a good thing.

WEATHER

The local heat index was 95°F on the t-dock of the Florida Sea Base this afternoon.  Holy guacamole!  Saturday’s low is forecasted to be 67° with a ripping west wind.  This WunderMap screenshot was captured at 16:12 EDT Friday and yes, all of these pretty colors are coming this way.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.11.28

PROGRAM

But divers are diving, sailors are sailing and lots of folks are making log entries with reference to intestinal distress or gastroenpukeulitis as singer/song writer Captain Sam Crutchfield calls it.  From staff, to captains, to adult leadership to our youth participants, it is all about keeping a positive attitude and celebrating what Mother Nature has to offer us at the moment.  What’s happening is God’s plan, not ours, and if He would like for us to enjoy a little high adventure ocean weather then bring it on.  (Easy for me to say sitting at he dock.)

Stay safe!

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

 

 

 

26Mar

VISIT

in Staff  •  0 comment

STAFF

This post may be a total waste of time.  It has been nearly two weeks since I posted anything and I’m sure the sporadic postings are having a negative effect on readership.  I arrived at the Florida Sea Base just before lunch time Thursday.  It was a long drive made worse by the failure of the air conditioning unit on my 1991 Chevrolet Suburban that only has 38,000 miles on it.  Within a couple of minutes of my arrival, Assistant Ranger Mike Stolar happened by in the parking lot, followed by Assistant Ranger Rick Kuras, Jr, Sailing Program Director Captain Luke Knuttel, Galley Manager Charles Wozny, Retail Sales Manager Cheryl Kuras, and Galley Mate Tyler Richards.  I moved one load of belongings from the Suburban to Escape and then had lunch on base where I saw many of the seasonal staff that were on base plus Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill, Food Services Administrator Captain Rae Murphy and Scuba Program Director Joe Angelo.

During lunch, Captain Luke and Joe were dealing with an issue.  (How I remember those days; it seems like meal times are frequently present challenges for the program directors.)  One of the scuba instructors on a Scuba Liveaboard boat was having back problems.  Scuba Instructor Taron Soto was just getting back to the dock from some staff scuba certification dives and volunteered to replace the fallen staff member.  Captain Luke and Joe were making arrangements to meet the SL boat at sea and make the swap.

After lunch I visited with Program Office Manager Ellen Wyatt for a few minutes and then I went to Escape for a nap.  (I had been up for over 33 hours at that point.)

These coming two weeks are the busiest of the Florida Sea Base spring season.  Scuba Instructor Rich Goldman arrived a little before dinner to augment the scuba staff for these two weeks.  If you read this blog on occasion you will certainly recognize Rich’s name from helping with our annual Divemaster Academy and any time we are short staffed.  He is a Scout’s Scout.  Anyway, Mr. Goldman and I had dinner together at Habanos so we could catch up.

After dinner I crossed paths with Scuba Instructor/Captain Brenda Mallory and Scuba Commissioner Tyler Giblin.  Captain Brenda has been keeping an eye on Escape for me during my long absence.

WEATHER

Bear in mind that I have not been on a boat since November.  The wind was very robust Thursday and I woke from my nap feeling like a seasick zombie.  The weather is going to get worse before it gets better.  From the National Weather Service:

SEAS ARE GIVEN AS SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT…WHICH IS THE AVERAGE
HEIGHT OF THE HIGHEST 1/3 OF THE WAVES. INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE
MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT.

GMZ042>044-270230-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM OCEAN REEF TO CRAIG KEY OUT TO THE REEF-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM CRAIG KEY TO WEST END OF SEVEN MILE BRIDGE OUT
TO THE REEF-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM WEST END OF SEVEN MILE BRIDGE TO HALFMOON SHOAL
OUT TO THE REEF-
453 PM EDT THU MAR 26 2015

TONIGHT
SOUTHEAST TO SOUTH WINDS NEAR 15 KNOTS AND GUSTY
EARLY…BECOMING SOUTH AND DECREASING TO 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO 3
FEET…SUBSIDING TO 1 TO 2 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A MODERATE CHOP TO
CHOPPY…BECOMING A LIGHT TO MODERATE CHOP. SCATTERED SHOWERS AFTER
MIDNIGHT.

FRIDAY
SOUTH TO SOUTHWEST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS…BECOMING WEST AND
INCREASING TO 15 TO 20 KNOTS IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 1 TO 2
FEET…BUILDING TO 2 TO 3 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A LIGHT TO MODERATE
CHOP…BECOMING CHOPPY. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS
IN THE MORNING. WINDS AND SEAS HIGHER IN AND NEAR NUMEROUS SHOWERS
AND SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON.

FRIDAY NIGHT
WEST TO NORTHWEST WINDS NEAR 20 KNOTS…SHIFTING TO
NORTH AND INCREASING TO 20 TO 25 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 4 FEET. NEARSHORE
WATERS BECOMING VERY ROUGH. SCATTERED SHOWERS IN THE EVENING…THEN
ISOLATED SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

SATURDAY
NORTH WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS EARLY…DECREASING TO 15 TO
20 KNOTS IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 TO 4 FEET…SUBSIDING TO 2 TO 3
FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS VERY ROUGH…BECOMING CHOPPY.

SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY
NORTH TO NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20
KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 3 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS CHOPPY.

SUNDAY NIGHT
NORTHEAST TO EAST WINDS NEAR 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO 3
FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.

MONDAY THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT
EAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO
2 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A LIGHT TO MODERATE CHOP.

$$

If the forecast holds, Friday and Saturday are going to be “high adventure”.  Ten knots or less is great for the divers.  Ten to fifteen is doable for the divers and great for the sailors.  Twenty to 25 is not so great for anyone.  However, the staff and captains at the Florida Sea Base will do everything possible to deliver the magic regardless of the weather.

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

WEATHER

The weather at the Florida Sea Base is much improved this week.  The wind has clocked to the NW at less than 10 knots bringing some relief to the reef.  The water temperature is 76°F.  There is a small chance of rain daily this week with lows near 70 and highs around 80.

While not directly related to the Florida Sea Base, Vanuatu, is a popular dive destination in the South Pacific, not far from New Zealand.  The following information is from Weather Underground.

pam-viirs-mar13

Figure 1. Tropical Cyclone Pam as seen by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi satellite at 10:42 am EDT March 13, 2015. At the time, Pam was a Category 5 storm with 165 mph winds, and was just southeast of Efate Island, where the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, lies. Image credit: @NOAASatellites.

Pam’s eyewall clobbered three major islands of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Friday. Even though Pam had weakened slightly to 155 mph winds, the southern islands of Erromango (population 2,000) and Tanna (pop 29,000) likely took the worst punishment from the storm, due to the fact these islands were hit by the stronger right-front quadrant (southeast) side of the storm. Pam was at its peak strength, 165 mph Category 5 winds, when its weaker left (southwest quadrant) eyewall passed over the eastern side of Efate Island, Vanuatu’s most populous island (population 66,000.) However, since the weather station in the capital city of Port Vila survived the storm and reported winds below tropical storm force, this most populous (southwest) portion of the island may have escaped severe damage. Despite this fact, there is a good chance that Pam will be the most expensive natural disaster in Vanuatu’s history.

SCUBA

The old scuba tanks are totally down.  The demolition team was successful in saving the iconic Ship’s Wheel from the old deep tank.  The old wheel will be attached to the exterior of the new scuba training complex and will likely become a popular photo op.

10441450_895446797144092_1304787092377597599_n

The original wheel is a true work of art.  The new pool also has a Ship’s Wheel, but it is a computer generated graphic printed on tiles.  The original is carved tiles and would probably cost a fortune to reproduce.

“Thanks” to Captain/Scuba Instructor Brenda Mallory and Scuba Instructor Jenna Burton for keeping me posted on the progress.

STAFFING

If you are interested in being a member of the 2015 summer staff at the Florida Sea Base you should submit an application post haste!  You can go to the About tab on this site for contact information if you want to contact a specific hiring manager for specifics.

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

 

 

WEATHER

This system is not having any dirt intact on the weather at the Florida Sea Base but I wanted to share it anyway because of its immensity.  This system is impacting most of Texas and is called a Pineapple Express because the system can be traced back to Hawaii (and almost to India in this instance).

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.40.56

I took this screenshot from WeatherUnderground (http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?lat=24.92293549&lon=-80.63190460&zoom=8&pin=Islamorada%2c%20FL&rad=1&wxsn=0&svr=0&cams=0&sat=0&riv=0&mm=0&hur=0), a source I frequently reference on weather conditions/forecasts.

The weather at the Florida Sea Base is very nice this week except for the wind; easterly winds 15-20 knots (with gusts to 25 knots earlier this morning), some scattered showers, highs around 80, lows in the mid 70s, water temperature 76°F at Molasses Reef.  It will be tough for anyone to enjoy the reef this week, but the captains and staff will do everything possible to insure a safe and fun week for the participants.  These conditions are a program director’s nightmare and having adult leadership with positive attitudes can salvage the week.

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

PROGRAM

The Florida Sea Base has been relatively quiet from a program point of view.  A week of staff training has concluded and now it’s time to get back to work.

On the sailing side, three Coral Reef Sailing crews will arrive Saturday followed by one more on Sunday and two more crews on Monday.  For the scuba side, one Scuba Liveaboard crew arrives Saturday followed by one Scuba Liveaboard, two Scuba Adventure crews and one Scuba Certification crew on Sunday.

WEATHER

The long range weather forecast looks great for the coming week with lows in the 70s, highs in the lower 80s and some sunshine!

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

03Mar

OUT WITH THE OLD

in Scuba  •  2 comments

SCUBA

The new scuba training complex was opened at the Florida Sea Base in late August 2014.  Around mid-February posts started appearing on Facebook of the new scuba facility from Google maps.  In this image you can see the new L shaped facility and the two old, circular dive tanks.

10407534_884205978268174_7196630992060128322_n

The scuba training pools what were built in 1979 or 80 are now rubble and being hauled away.

Jenna Burton, PADI Scuba Instructor, sent these photos yesterday.

IMAG0075

IMAG0076

And Brenda Mallory, PADI Scuba Instructor and Dive Boat Captain in Training, sent me this shot this morning.

imagejpeg_2

Let me know when you see a Google map of Florida Sea Base with the old pools removed.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

ATF

The February meeting of the BSA Aquatics Task Force was held in Irving, Texas yesterday.  Travel was a challenge with several members not able to fly in due to the weather.  Our Midlothian home is about 45 minutes from the meeting site.  The drive took almost two hours due to a significant ice layer on neighborhood roads and many bridges.

IMG_1130

The majority of the meeting was additional discussion on the BSA whitewater policy process is being  led by Richard Thomas.  Writing new policies for the BSA is a long and tedious process.  Richard has been leading through this task for a couple of years and we are getting very close to a final policy.

Florida Sea Base Scuba Director Joe Angelo flew in for his first ATF meeting.  He is flying back today to rejoin the rest of the spring scuba staff for staff training.  Scuba Commissioner Tyler Giblin has been leading the training over the weekend.

FSB FACEBOOK PAGE

If you have not “liked” the Florida Sea Base Facebook page, now would be a great time.  Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill and others are doing a much better job of posting frequently.

NAYLE

During this brief break from spring program participants, the Florida Sea Base conference team is hosting another session of  National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience.  The link is to a 2014 document but I was not able to locate an updated version.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

 

22Feb

IMPROVING!

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

The National Weather Service forecast calls for improving conditions at the Florida Sea Base for the coming week.

Today: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 78. Southeast wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. Northeast wind around 10 mph.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 68. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. North wind around 10 mph.

Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 67.

Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 79.

Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Point Forecast: Lower Matecumbe Beach FL
24.85°N 80.73°W (Elev. 0 ft)

PROGRAM

This is a quiet program week at the Florida Sea Base with only one Sea Exploring crew on the water.  This is common with the up-down nature of our spring season.  However, as noted in previous posts, this spring is more consistent than the past few years.

2016 LOTTERY

The registration lottery for the 2016 Florida Sea Base program season closed on 15 February.  The “winners” (you’re all winners in my book and I wish I could send each of you a purple ribbon with a plastic coin on it to prove it) will be announced around the end of the month.  We always experience cancellations after the announcement from crews that have overbooked so check the Florida Sea Base website daily as programs and dates become available.

Stay warm and dry.  Rest when you can.  The spring thaw will happen soon and what a mess that will be for many. :)

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

 

 

WEATHER

Richard Kuras took this photo at his home on Grassy Key this morning and posted it on Facebook.

10981437_10205863673221801_9095772354108699970_n

Likewise, Captain Ed Marill on S/V Siesta posted this image:

10982479_1020384134643159_7173955406411882950_n

Cory Lancaster is a graduate of the 2014 Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy and is currently leading a Scuba Adventure crew at the Florida Sea Base.  He posted this yesterday:

Just got back from a “great” dive at port Antigua… Seabase dive masters know the place. I chilled with a manatee, saw a spotted eagle ray, and found a golf ball. My crew did great with buoyancy so we had a crystal green ten feet of visibility. Surface temp was 70 degrees Fahrenheit, Bottom temp was 69 degrees, air temp was 58 degrees. Cold and murky but still better than sitting in a lecture hall!

And that is the bottom line.  The cold is brutal for Florida Keys standards.  But the staff and captains at the Florida Sea Base are keeping a great attitude and making the magic happen for our participants.  Scouts are diving and sailing and making ocean memories that will last a lifetime.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

18Feb

WEATHER

in Weather  •  0 comment

I am late in posting this due to the sporadic internet connection in my current location. My apologies.

Hi everyone,

As you may know, we are expecting a cold front to sweep through the Florida Keys early tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.  This front and subsequent surges of modified arctic air will bring the coldest air of the season into the Florida Keys.  In addition, you may expect a 4-day blow from this event, from early Wednesday through early Sunday.
The coldest morning will be Thursday morning, when low temperatures likely will range from the lower 40s up in the Ocean Reef area to the upper 40s down in Key West.
The strongest winds likely will be late Wednesday night through most of Thursday, when sustained north winds will peak near 25 knots, with frequent gusts near 30 knots possible for a few hours.
The attached graphic shows the (sustained) wind forecast for Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. EST.
For additional details and timing, please consult the following web sites:
Hourly Weather Graph:
NOAA/NWS Florida Keys Marine Weather Page:
Also, check out this experimental smartphone widget:
Take care, and stay warm!
Best Regards,
Chip K.
Kennard “Chip” Kasper
Senior Forecaster-Marine Program Meteorologist
NOAA/National Weather Service
1315 White Street
Key West, Florida 33040
 
Mobile:    (305) 304-6712
Office:    (305) 295-1316
FAX:       (305) 296-2011
 

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED