25Apr

SPRING 2015

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PROGRAM

The 2015 spring program season at the Florida Sea Base concludes with tonight’s luau.  In some ways, the spring season functions as a shakedown for summer.  It reminds us of any additional equipment that needs to be ordered and also serves as a trial period for trying new versions of equipment to see if we like it better.  Spring can also serve as a trial period for staff members to see if they are happy and a good fit for the mission of the Florida Sea Base.

It was a great spring season and congratulations are in order for the Scouts, adult leaders, staff, captains and management of the Florida Sea Base for everyone’s efforts to keep the high adventure experience as safe as possible.

CONFERENCE

Management has been making preparations for some time for the upcoming Florida Sea Base Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  Now, the staff members who were hand picked to represent the base during the tournament will turn 90+% of their focus towards preparations of the facilities and equipment required to make this event a huge success.  This is the only fund raising event held by the base each year and the donations and support are critical to their success.

The Florida Sea Base is looking forward to a HUGE summer.  I hope you will have the opportunity to be a part of it.

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

22Apr

BUSY WEATHER

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WEATHER

The weather is a tad busy early this morning at the Florida Sea Base.  This screenshot was taken at 04:48.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.47.57

You can enlarge the graphic by clicking on it.  The triangles are storm tracks.  You can see multiple storm tracks crossing over the Sea Base area.  I have checked local wind reports and have not observed anything severe but the coloration of the image suggests there may be some strong, short-lived gusts within the system.

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

And now, a word from the National Weather Service, Key West:

Hi everyone,

April has been warmer and muggier than usual, with no really big winds since the first week of the month. It also has been dry, with only 0.11″ of rainfall at Key West and 0.03″ in Marathon, although that may change today and tomorrow, with some slightly higher rain and thunder chances.

I wanted to provide you with an update on few things happening with the Florida Keys National Weather Service during the next month or so.

** First, the “Hurricane Hunters” are coming to Marathon for the first time in years! Two aircraft (an Air Force WC-130J and a NOAA G-IV jet) will be at the Florida Keys Marathon Airport on Friday, May 8, 2015, and the public is invited to stop by between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. EDT, with pilots and crew available, as well as meteorologists from both the National Hurricane Center and the Florida Keys National Weather Service. For additional details, check out the following links:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/media/key/HurricaneAwarenessTour.png

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/20150420-noaa-and-usaf-reserve-hurricane-team-to-embark-on-east-coast-awareness-tour.html

** Next, “National Safe Boating Week” is coming up May 16-22, immediately preceded by “National Wear Your Life Jacket To Work Day” on May 15. This is always a good time to remind folks of the importance of safe boating, including always checking the weather before heading out, filing a float plan, having a sober skipper, wearing your life jacket, operating a safe vessel, and following appropriate navigational rules.

Here is the Coast Guard’s safe boating web site, for your reference:

http://www.uscgboating.org/

** Finally, the “H” season is not far away, beginning on June 1. Attached is a PDF document (20150326_pa_2015seasonChanges) highlighting some changes to National Hurricane Center products, including a new potential storm surge flood map, adjustments to the Tropical Weather Outlook, and a smaller forecast track error “cone”. It’s never too early to dust off your hurricane/disaster preparedness plans, and make any updates or improvements. If you do not have a hurricane plan, and you live, work, or play in the Florida Keys, it’s time to get one!

For more information on hurricane preparedness, check out these links:

http://www.monroecountyem.com/index.aspx?NID=1

http://www.floridadisaster.org/
Thanks for your time, and have a great spring!

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

E-mail: kennard.kasper@noaa.gov
http://www.weather.gov/keywest

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

20Apr

ALMOST DONE

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PROGRAM

The Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification programs concluded last week at the Florida Sea Base.  The final Scuba Liveaboard trip is at the midpoint and will head home on Saturday.  There are seven Coral Reef Sailing crews on the water.  The last goes home on Saturday as well along with the final Sea Exploring crew.

STAFF

The staff will likely be given Sunday and maybe Monday off and then will begin on preparations for the Annual Florida Sea Base Invitational Tarpon Tournament.  The Tarpon Tournament is the only fund raiser conducted by the Florida Sea Base and is very demanding on the staff from preparation to execution to clean-up.  It is a one-of-a-kind event and the seasonal staff usually find it demanding but a great break from their normal program assignments.

WEATHER

The nine Sea Base crews plus those at the Brinton Environmental Center can expect pretty decent weather for the rest of their adventure.  There is a 30% chance of rain, but that usually means some short lived scattered showers.  Lows will be in the upper 70s and highs in the mid to upper 80s.  The wind may be a little light for the sailors.  The forecast calls for winds from the SE to SW range, generally less than 10 knots.

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

TRAVEL

I have arrived in Texas.  The drive was HORRID.  My original plan was to leave the Florida Sea Base on Thursday, before the exodus of spring break traffic.  Obvious, that did not work out.  Imagine if you will, all of vacationers from the Keys driving north and joining with the vacationers in Miami who now continue north and join all of the vacationers in Fort Lauderdale who join up with the vacationers in West Palm Beach until you finally get to Orlando and now everyone is headed north on the Florida Turnpike.  Switch gears, and think about all of the vacations from the Florida west coast (Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg) all driving north on I-75.  Then, in the tiny town of Wildwood, Florida, the northbound traffic from the east coast merges with the north bound traffic of the west coast.  Plus, just a little further north, vacationers are also fleeing Gainesville.  It took over 4 hours to drive 77 miles on three lanes of north bound I-75.

Finally, it was time to turn west on I-10 and leave this insanity behind.  I was able to drive the posted speed for two hours and then we were down to 5 miles per hour.  About a half hour later traffic is diverted north to Monticello, Florida and west on US-190 for almost 10 miles to detour around a fatal accident.

This is an 18 hour drive on the best of days.  This time I had nearly five hours of delays.  But maybe I am failing to see the big picture.  My drive was immeasurably better than the victim(s) of the fatal accident.

WEATHER

There has been no significant change in the forecast; lows in the mid 70s, highs in the mid 80s, 10% chance of showers, wind from the SE at 15 – 20 knots.

PROGRAM

The busiest part of the 2015 spring program season has concluded at the Florida Sea Base.  But the season is not over and the staff and captains are dedicate to seeing this season end with the same enthusiasm as it began.

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

 

TRAVEL

It is time for me to get back to the Mother Country.  I have not run out of projects, just time.  I hope to return to the Florida Sea Base about the time the summer season starts to get some more projects done aboard Escape.  Due to other commitments, I am not going to be able to run in the Coral Reef Sailing program this summer, but still hope to run the summer of 2016.  And who knows, if unforeseen circumstances make it necessary, I MAY be able to get a trip or two later this summer.  In the meantime, I will stay connected with the Florida Sea Base on the scuba side by working with the PADI Instructor Development Courses and the Divemaster Academy.  I will resume posting once a week unless I am fed enough info to post more frequently.

This has been my first trip back since I retired.  I greatly appreciate the kindness and friendship that everyone has shown.  Texas is home, but the Keys may be the happiest place on Earth.

PROGRAM

The spring program season has a couple more weeks.  The level of enthusiasm of the captains and staff is as high as ever and it has always been our goal to insure that the last crew gets the same magical, positive, life changing experience that the first crew received.  Onward through the fog!!!

WEATHER

The coming week is forecast to be H-O-T and humid with a 10% chance of a scattered shower daily.  The wind should be from the E or SE at 10 to 15 knots for the remainder of the forecast period.

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

10Apr

ANGELS

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STAFF

Angels, answered prayers or whatever you prefer to call it, I was very blessed yesterday thanks to some of the staff members of the Florida Sea Base.  Allow me to expound.

I arrived at the Florida Sea Base two weeks and one day ago to work on Escape and MAYBE get her ready to run in the 2015 summer Coral Reef Sailing program.  I had three major projects I hoped to accomplish during this trip.  1 – Replace the fuel/water separator and some of the fuels lines.  2 – Replace the chain plates.  3 – Rebuild the steering ram.

I was able to complete #1.  It was painful and took a day and a half but it was completed.

Captain Jon Strydom of S/V Foreign Affair rebuilt and reinstalled the ram so that completed #3, sort of.  While refilling and bleeding the ram and hydraulic steering system, a hydraulic line failed.  So item 3 was completed but a new, related project, replacing the hydraulic lines from the rudder to the helm, became item 3b.

As of yesterday morning, I had not completed #2 or #3b.  I had prayed about my situation and it was beginning to look as though that was not God’s plan for me at this time.  Then everything changed yesterday afternoon.  Captain Spencer Johnson of S/V Endeavour came to Escape and (without going into too much detail) offered to help (actually doing almost everything) with replacing the chain plates.  We solicited Sailing Commissioner Captain Charles Kantlehner to assist.   A couple of hours passed and four chain plates had been removed as templates for the making of replacements.  Captain Chris Jennet of S/V Stormalong fame, will take to old plates up to the New Port Richie area tonight to have new plates made.  (The price is a fraction of what they cost to have made in the Keys.)  In about 2 weeks, Captain Spencer and Captain Charles will install the new plates while I’m away.  So that will complete item #2.

In the middle of the chain plate frenzy, Captain Hans Bockelman of S/V Adventure came aboard.  He and Captain Charles are going to replace my hydraulic steering lines week after next.  That will complete item 3b.

Then, quite unexpectedly, Scuba Instructor Rich Goldman invited me to dinner.  And I dare not fail to mention Captain Dennis Wyatt who stopped by to offer assistance during the chain plate removal.

So my prayers were answered by a swarm of angels.  These individuals, and 99.99999% of the staff and captains at the Florida Sea Base are the type of people who are always quick to help.  THANK YOU, GENTLEMEN!  I have a LOT to pay forward.

That would be a nice ending BUT – – –

I was taught the lesson of taking the bitter with the sweet a LONG time ago.  When I returned from dinner, the salon air conditioner was off.  I spent some time putting away tools, making the bed (I did laundry yesterday) and filling the water tank.  Then I investigated the A/C issue and found the sea water circulation pump had failed.  I have a used spare on board so I will swap out pumps this morning and hope the old one works.  West Marine’s listed price for a new pump is $324.  Hope for the best! :D

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

09Apr

HELP NEEDED

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SCUBA

I know a lot of people have their hands out these days; billionaire celebrities wanting your money for one cause, billionaire politicians wanting your money for themselves.  But I think this cause is worthy of all of us who love the ocean, above and below the waterline whether you are affiliated with PADI or Project AWARE or even if you have never heard of either.

Last week I commented on Super Typhoon impacting the Vanuatu Islands.  Please click on this LINK and give just a little if you can to help them recover from this disaster.

PROGRAM

Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be big luau nights with the Easter/spring break crews concluding their spring 2015 adventures at the Florida Sea Base.  There are two, maybe three weeks left in the spring program, but the massive weeks conclude this weekend.  Brinton Center Program Director Captain Scott Martin, Sailing Program Director Captain Luke Knuttel and Scuba Program Director Joe Angelo have guided the staff through another season of magic.  Kudos to the staff and participants that have made this such a great season so far and to the others who will see this through to the end.

WEATHER

Not perfect, but maybe better than we deserve.  The two plus weeks that I have been at the Florida Sea base have been very decent weather wise.  It was hot and humid yesterday.  I think I could have fried an egg on top of Captain Dennis Wyatt’s head.  Captain Dennis Wyatt is an occasional Dive Boat Captain at the Florida Sea Base since 2000.  He is the author of The Bald Man and the Sea and The Balder Man and the Sea.  Both books are available on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

MISCELLANEOUS

THIS is the DEFINITION of AWESOMENESS!!!

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

07Apr

IDC DATES

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SCUBA

Florida Sea Base Scuba Director Joe Angelo has announced that our next PAD Instructor Development Course will be held on 17-25 September with the PADI Instructor Exam to follow on 26-27 September.

Joe Angelo will be out of town for the IDC dates and Captain Bert Hubby and I will co-teach the course.  A few of the Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructors will be working on their PADI Instructor Development Course Staff Instructor certification during this course.  More information can be found on the Scuba Training page of this blog or by emailing FSBScubaTraining@gmail.com or Joe.Angelo@scouting.org.

WEATHER

Wave conditions have been much better than anticipate according to Captain Dennis Wyatt.  Captain Dennis reported mostly 2′ seas with occasional 3 footers.

PROGRAM

The calmer than expected seas have been a blessing.  Everyone I have talked with says they are having a blast.  I have seen a LOT of sunburn.  It has been a little cloudy and that causes people to let their guard down.

WORDS OF WISDOM

A penny saved – – – is not much!

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

06Apr

SLAMMED

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PROGRAM

Yesterday was as busy of a check in day as a summer Sunday.  Five Scuba Adventure crews, one Scuba Certification crew, one Scuba Liveaboard crew, and five Coral Reef Sailing crews checked in.  All that was missing for a grand slam was one more Scuba Adventure crew and a Sea Exploring crew (which arrived on Saturday).

WEATHER

We have a tad too much wind.  It was interesting to stand on the dock yesterday and listen to Captain Tom Gaunt (S/V Juan Cadiz) discussing with Captain Joe Wishmeire (S/V Spindrift) his planned itinerary for taking advantage of the wind conditions this week.  If you know someone attending Sea Base this week, call them if you can and tell them to take their Bonine®.

This is the official marine forecast from the National Weather Service:

NWS Forecast for: Hawk Channel from Ocean Reef to Craig Key out to the reef (GMZ042)
Issued by: National Weather Service Key West, FL
Last Update: 5:15 am EDT Apr 6, 2015

Today: E wind around 15 kt. Isolated showers after 2pm. Seas around 2 ft.
Tonight: E wind around 15 kt. Isolated showers. Seas around 2 ft.
Tuesday: E wind around 15 kt. Isolated showers. Seas around 3 ft.
Tuesday Night: E wind around 15 kt. Isolated showers. Seas 2 to 3 ft.
Wednesday: E wind around 15 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas around 2 ft.
Wednesday Night: E wind around 15 kt. Partly cloudy. Seas around 2 ft.
Thursday: E wind around 15 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas around 2 ft.
Thursday Night: E wind around 15 kt. Mostly cloudy. Seas 2 to 3 ft.
Friday: ESE wind around 15 kt. Partly sunny. Seas around 3 ft.


Zone Forecast: Hawk Channel from Ocean Reef to Craig Key out to the reef (GMZ042)
Visit your local NWS office at: http://www.weather.gov/keywest

The air and water temperatures are very warm.  The air conditioner on Escape is set at 78° and has been cycling on all night.  It will be cloudy today through Tuesday night with more sunshine after that.

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