My lovely bride is in the kitchen early this morning.  I’m doing my part by staying out of the kitchen.  We will leave in a little while to make the 5 hour drive to our homestead to share good food and hearts filled with thanks with my dad.  Thank all of you for the good work you do for he Scouts.


Rush hour in Dallas is a little overwhelming after spending 14 years in the Keys.

rush hour

I was alone when I took the photo.  No road rage, no frustration.  Turn up the tunes on XM radio, crank the sub, enjoy the pretty, Christmas-like, red brake lights flashing on and off in front of me, and enjoy the ride.  (Check back with me in a few months to see if my attitude has swung 180°.)  It’s hard to get worked up about anything when you’ve just visited your kids and grandchild that you haven’t seen in months.


The Florida Sea Base will be open for business as usual on Monday.  The 11th annual Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy starts in less than 3 weeks and the winter program season starts on 26 December.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™



I made it to Texas.  The weather (heavy rain much of the way) and pulling the trailer added about 4 hours to the 1,500 mile trip.  I’ve been up since 04:00 EDT Saturday and still have quit a bit to do.  With a little luck I’ll get to bed relatively early and have to do much until tomorrow afternoon.


I posted a few weeks ago about applying for my PADI Self-Reliant Diver Specialty Instructor rating.  I am now officially sanctioned to the teach the course.


Now all I need is a few prospective students that can meet the prerequisites.

I plan to be back at the Florida Sea Base as a volunteer on or about 15 December for the Divemaster Academy and to be available to help Joe with the winter scuba programming if needed.  When program concludes, I plan to hang around for a week or two to work on Escape.


To the best of my knowledge, the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center are locked down through the Thanksgiving weekend.  They will reopen the following Monday.

I will try to have something worth posting before Thanksgiving.  Stay safe, warm and dry.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – ALMOST Retired




I apologize for being away for so long without warning.  I received this sweet comment from Mary Beth DiSanti:

I am having Sea Base News withdrawal!!! I hope someone will continue after your retirement. Good luck & I’ll miss your posts. MBD

I very much appreciate everyone’s well wishes and I hope to post more regularly once I get a bit more settled.  I am hitting the road tomorrow (Saturday) morning to take a small load of stuff to Texas and to spend some time with family.  I will return to the base on or around 15 December to meet up with Alex Bergstedt, Rich Goldman and whomever else is here early to make final preparations for the 11th annual Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy (DMA).

My lovely bride arrived two weeks ago to help me sort through 14 years of accumulated files, dive gear and boat parts.  Once the sorting was done we packed my 16’x7′ enclosed trailer with “the good stuff”.  It has been two weeks of long days.

I have also spent a fair amount of time with the new Scuba Director, Joe Angelo, helping him get up to speed.  You can reach Joe at Joe.Angelo@scouting.org.  He is in place, on payroll and in charge.  One of the big changes for Joe is being on call 24/7 for most of the year.  Unlike a typical dive resort, during program season we have kids on the base and on the water 24 hours a day about 100 days straight (just in the summer) and kids on the base or on the water means the Program Director is subject to call for anything from a bandaid to a fatality.  (I am NOT going to miss that part!)

I am driving my Accord (which I had serviced yesterday) and pulling a small 4’x6′ trailer home.  I am dropping my bride at Miami International Airport early in the morning and then driving another 5 or 6 hours to the historic homesite of Captain Dennis Wyatt (author of The Bald Man and the Sea AND The Balder Man in the Sea) and Doctor Ellen Wyatt (caregiver for The Bald Man Who Left His Brain in the Sea).  From there it is another 18 hours of drive time to Dallas.  According to The Weather Channel, I will enjoy rain, strong winds and a 40% chance of tornadoes as I drive west on I-10 Sunday.

I will return with my 3/4 ton GMC for DMA and haul the big trailer back to Texas in January.  (Fortunately I will travel I-10 back to our homestead in Southeast Texas and hopefully will miss most/all of any frozen precipitation.)


While I was busy closing shop, the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center were busy hosting an assortment of conferences from BSA professional development courses to BBYO (formerly B’nai B’rith Youth Organization) events.

Most of the seasonal and full time staff have fled the premises for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This is the only holiday that Florida Sea Base Program Directors are allowed to be away from their post.  Senior management and hourly employees can take vacation at their choosing.  I will turn out the lights and lock the gates behind me tomorrow when I pull out.


The recent cold fronts managed to push their way through the Keys.  It is raining and cool this morning, very nasty looking and really making for a depressing day.  The cold fronts are wreaking havoc with the local ocean water temperatures.  Molasses Reef Buoy reported the water temperature as 78.1°F at 08:00 (AM) yesterday.  At 06:00 this morning the reading was 73.4.  If anyone attending the Divemaster Academy is reading this, be prepared to shiver off a few pounds during the course this year.

I will try hard to post again by mid-week.  I appreciate your loyalty and patience while I make this transition from warm and sunny Florida to the frozen tundra of The Mother Country.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape





in Staff  •  3 comments


Scott Costa and Christy Clemenson first worked at the Florida Sea Base as Divemasters.  They both upgraded to Scuba Instructor status and eventually both earned their US Coast Guard Masters License.  Since then, Scott has moved backed to New Jersey where he works as a law enforcement officer.  Christy is attending nursing school in New Jersey and working at the Florida Sea Base in the summers.

Last night, Scott and Christy were married at Coconut Cove Resort in Islamorada by Captain Dennis Wyatt.




Over 100 family and friends attended the ceremony.  It was incredible to see so many former staff members.  I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this celebration.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape



The Florida Sea Base is hosting a Professional Development II course this week.  Our own Captain Scott Martin, Program Director at the Brinton Environmental Center, is attending the course.  Professional Scouters from around the country are enjoying a reasonably warm and sunny stay in the Keys.


Bo Bussler continues to slave away with his primary assignment of overhauling about 150 scuba regulators for the 2015 program season.  I have been working daily with Joe Angelo, our new Scuba Director.  Joe will do a great job, but the learning curve is very steep.  In my opinion, it would be easier to indoctrinate a new hire during the program season so they can see and experience the issues at hand.  But that’s not how my retirement date worked out and we are both doing the best we can.


We survived the weekend cold front passage and the weather has been a little cool in the mornings and very breezy but otherwise pleasant for the past few days.  We are expecting another cold front to march its way in this weekend.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.41.47

The temperature drop is forecasted for Sunday night with a low of 69°.  So this front will be much weaker than last week’s.  The bigger concern is the effect on our water temperatures.  With the Divemaster Academy still six weeks or so away, the water temperature is dropping quicker than I would like.  (That was a stupid comment.  Locals consider water temperatures below 80 to be unsurvivable and a sign of the end of the scuba season.  The water at Molasses Reef is a bone chilling 77.9°F at this morning.)

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape




in Weather  •  0 comments


The wind blew out of the west Friday night, all day Saturday and finally clocked to the north around 02:00 this morning.  Yesterday’s high temperature was 80°.  It is 57° this morning and we are expecting a high of 72.

For comparison, it is 37 at Philmont and 30 at Northern Tier this morning.   It is a chilly 33 at the Willis homestead in SE Texas and 44 at our home in the Dallas area.


As soon as the angler class departs, the base will be devoid of all but staff today.  My only chore for the day is packing a final box in my office so my replacement, Joe Angelo, can start moving in tomorrow.  It is very bitter sweet and certainly accentuates the loneliness that I have become somewhat accustomed to over the past 14 years.

I hope you have a nice Sunday.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape


2015 PADI IDCs

in Scuba  •  0 comments


Following are the potential dates on which the Florida Sea Base MAY host PADI Instructor Development Courses in 2015:

19 February – 01 March (Scuba Dorms)
02 – 12 April (Thomas Bldg)
17 – 27 September (Thomas Bldg)
15 – 25 October (Thomas Bldg)
03 – 13 December (Scuba Dorms)

If you are interested in attending on any of these dates, please send me an email at  FSBScubaTraining@gmail.com and let me know which dates you are available.  I will acknowledge your email, coordinate with the Florida Sea Base Scuba Director, and let you know as soon as possible whether your selected course dates will make.

This is the first time we have tried this so be patient.  Details about the PADI Instructor Development Courses offered at the Florida Sea Base can be found by clicking on the ScubaTraining tab above.  (That too will require some tweaking so check back often for updates.)


There is nothing happening in the tropics of concern to the Florida Sea Base.  The wind has been blowing from the west all night, making sleep a challenge.  Our local temperature is 73° (at 05:14) and the forecasted high today is 76.  The wind should remain from the west today at 20-25 knots and gusting to 30 knots tonight.  Sunday’s low temperature should be 60.  If so, that may be a record low for 02 November.  We are not expecting any rain with the passage of this cold front.

Stay warm.  Stay dry.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape


Ben Aaron, a graduate of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy, posted a comment asking about the future of this blog with my pending retirement, and specifically if Joe Angelo is going to inherit the site.

I am sure everyone can understand that Joe is overwhelmed with trying to grasp the controlled chaos and insanity of trying to manage the scuba programs.  I hit him with the medical constraints and review process yesterday.  At this point I have not made him aware that the blog exists.  So I do not expect him to take over the blog soon, if ever.  Additionally, I pay for the site and all expenses related thereto plus writing this in my spare time.  Maybe someone (Ben?) will express an interest in taking over when I’m finished.  For now, I will still have some ties to the base and think I can keep this going.  But beyond that, who knows?


We had a small group, three participants and three instructors arrive yesterday.  The participants are here to become certified fishing instructors for National Camp Schools.  I would think this is an all outdoor program, and if so, the weather is not going to be very cooperative.  We have a decent chance of showers today, the low for tomorrow morning is forecasted at 68 and an even 60 for Sunday morning.  On top of that, we could have winds in the 20-25 knot range with gusts to 30 knots over the weekend.


The ladies in Admin are insisting that everyone wear a costume to work today.  I think I’ll dress up as a tired, old, fat, ugly former FSB Program Director.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape


I posted last month that I would retire as Scuba Program Director of the Florida Sea Base on 30 November.  The papers are not signed yet, but for all practical purposes it is a done deal.  PADI Course Director and Eagle Scout Joe Angelo was selected by General Manager Paul Beal as the next Scuba Program Director.  Joe has a long and prestigious resume and is a known fixture within the scuba industry in the Florida Keys.

Joe officially starts on Saturday so we will have a month overlap.  I do not believe his email address has been activated yet, but the address will be Joe.Angelo@scouting.org.  His cell phone number has not been assigned, but I will post it for you as soon as possible.  His direct office line is 305-664-5625.


I sat with Florida Sea Base Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill yesterday and identified five potential dates for PADI IDCs in 2015.  I will discuss these with Joe Angelo in the coming days and announce which dates he would like to offer IDCs.


PADI offers a distinctive specialty course titled Self Reliant Diver.  I was certified in this specialty in 2013 by PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer Mark Gilbert.  I have now applied (procrastination) for my PADI Self Reliant Diver Instructor certification so I can provide this certification opportunity to other divers.  The course prerequisites include having 100 logged dives, 18 years old, and be at least PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certified or equivalent.

The goal of this course is NOT to teach or encourage divers to dive alone.  The dive buddy philosophy is always encouraged.  However, the reality is that divers sometimes dive alone and should be properly trained and equipped to do so.  Prior to this course being available, I (and many other professional divers) had made hundreds of dives that fall into the self reliant category.  Mark did an excellent job of teaching the course and I learned a lot about protocols and equipment to make these dives safer.  Now I will be able to offer this training to other divers.


The new pool has been used a few times now, but it is still not operating as it should.  The contractor will be back next week to remove and replace a significant part of cement decking and to look for additional plumbing leaks.  The company is trying hard to make everything right; something I appreciate very much.


Our weather has been great for the past few days.  A cold front is marching our way with the potential of bringing temperatures in the low 60s on Sunday morning.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape



in Conference  •  0 comments


Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt is heading north today; first to Orlando, then making his way to Ohio and home to Valparaiso, Indiana.  After that he’s off to Europe for about three weeks and will return to the Florida Sea Base in time for the Divemaster Academy in December.  Alex has been the true leader of our scuba program for years and the machine will not run well while he is absent.


The BSA Aquatics Workshop concluded Saturday evening.  However, the clean-up continues.  I have to find a second driver early this morning so we can return all of the canoes to the South Florida Council camp in Fort Lauderdale.  Conference Commissioner (and Scuba Instructor) Tyler Giblin loaded all 14 canoes onto the trailers and hooked the trailers to vans (for which I am very thankful).  Captain Luke Knuttel has returned the extra standup paddle boards to the Brinton Environment Center but we still have to get the log roll returned to them.  Tyler and Brenda Mallory have to wash, dry, fold and put away all of the towels and linens and clean the classroom.  Bo Bussler has scuba tanks to fill and scuba and snorkel gear to put away.  Whew!


The computer models are temporarily in agreement on the track of Invest 94L, and – for now – it is headed away from the Florida Sea Base.


Locally we are doing better this week than last.

Today: Sunny, with a high near 84. East wind 10 to 15 mph.Tonight: A slight chance of showers.
Partly cloudy, with a low around 76. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. East wind around 15 mph.
Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 77.
East wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85.
Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around
77. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Chance of precipitation is
Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 77. Chance of
precipitation is 20%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation
is 20%.
Saturday: A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 83. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly clear, with a low around 73. Chance of precipitation
is 20%.
Sunday: A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 82. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Point Forecast: Lower Matecumbe Beach FL
24.85°N 80.73°W (Elev. 0 ft)
Visit your local NWS office at: http://www.weather.gov/keywest

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape