21Oct

5 1/2 HOURS

in Conference  •  0 comments

CONFERENCE

In preparation for the BSA Aquatics Workshop, Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt and I spent over 5½ hours braving Miami traffic and some of the hardest rain I have seen in a long time.  But the canoes arrived safely at the Florida Sea Base.  Will the weather allow us to use them?  That is the question.

American Canoe Association instructor trainers arrive tomorrow to certify about 17 Scouters as Stand Up Paddleboard instructors.  I want to express my appreciation to Florida Sea Base Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttel for helping with so many of the logistics this week.

WEATHER

Invest 93L is worrisome but still too unorganized to effectively forecast.  The experts seem convinced that we will get more rain from the system.  Beyond that, all is speculative at this time.

at201493_model

Our local forecast continues to call for rain and moderate temperatures.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.14.05

The NWS marine forecast indicates very manageable winds.  So long as the wind has an easterly component, life is tolerable in Matecumbe Harbor where the workshop will be conducting their boating activities.

Today: SSE wind around 10 kt. Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Seas 1 ft or less.
Tonight: SE wind around 10 kt. Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Seas 1 ft or less.
Wednesday: ESE wind around 10 kt. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Seas 1 ft or less.
Wednesday Night: E wind around 15 kt. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Seas 1 ft or less.
Thursday: E wind around 15 kt. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Seas 1 ft or less.
Thursday Night: ENE wind around 20 kt. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Seas 1 ft or less.
Friday: NE wind around 20 kt. Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Seas 1 ft or less.
Friday Night: NNE wind around 20 kt. Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Seas 1 ft or less.
Saturday: NNE wind around 20 kt. Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Seas 1 ft or less.

Ah, but remember, ’tis only a forecast.  It may be spot on, it may be nicer than forecasted, or we may get hit by an asteroid.  In an unusual turn of events, it seems this system will be more of a rain maker and less of a wind event.

Wow, it’s 04:30.  I am going to get a couple of hours sleep.  With the insanity that will be the BSA Aquatics Workshop conference, please bear with me if I moss a post or two this week.

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

AQUATICS WORKSHOP

As a general rule, I try to avoid the mass of humanity that can be found about 100 miles north of the Florida Sea Base.  But, Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt and I will be on the road to Fort Lauderdale early this morning to pick up a dozen canoes for the Aquatics Workshop.  It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive each way.  Next Monday another helper and I will return the canoes.

A few early birds arrive today, those signed up for ACA SUP Instructor certification arrive tomorrow and the majority of participants and vendors arrive on Wednesday.

WEATHER

A few days ago I mentioned that workshop attendees should bring a rain jacket.  The forecast has deteriorated over the past few days and the chances for rain have been expanded from 2 days to a full week and the daily likelihood of rain has increased.  (Click on the NWS graphic to enlarge.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 6.41.24

The Weather Channel said the Keys could receive 3″ of rain this week.  Of course it is going to rain this week.  I sent two of the panels for the cockpit enclosure for Escape to be repaired and they are not yet finished.

The system that is forecasted to bring rain to the Florida Sea Base deserves our attention.  It is originating in the western Gulf of Mexico and was given a 30% chance of development this morning.

two_atl_5d0

It is what it is.  If it does turn ugly, all I can say is, “You should have been here last week; it was PERFECT”.

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

19Oct

SCUBA TRAINING

in Scuba  •  0 comments

SCUBA

One of my current, “self-inflicted”, projects is finding 2015 dates to conduct PADI Instructor Development Courses (IDCs) and PADI Divemaster training (DMAs) for the Florida Sea Base.

The dates of a week before Christmas to a week after Christmas for our traditional DMA is set for the foreseeable future.  We have yet to establish a set date for IDC(s).  The process of introducing additional dates is more complicated than it sounds. Florida Sea Base adventures are scheduled a full year or more in advance and conferences are frequently scheduled that far or further in advance.  The Florida Sea Base Annual Invitational Tarpon Tournament is always held in early May, but the dates float somewhat.  The base is generally closed to program and conferences in September.  (September is generally a very busy month for internal administrative issues.)  The base is also closed the week of Thanksgiving.

IDCs need to be scheduled to coincide with PADI Instructor Exams (IEs) which are scheduled by PADI headquarters in California.  Unfortunately, they do not schedule as far out as FSB.  When PADI IE dates are announced, we have to hope for a whole in our calendar that matches.  Our program and conference schedules are so aggressive that finding a hole in itself is tough.  The odds of finding a hole that matches up with an IE date are boggling.

Training Divemasters and Scuba Instructors to serve as future FSB staff is critical.  It is HARD finding 30+ PADI professionals that are willing to work for just three months (or even six months if you include spring).  I was not successful in finding enough scuba staff to run our programs they way we want last summer.  At this point, the number of anticipated applicants for 2015 is concerning.  And while it won’t directly be my problem, any issues that may negatively impact the quality of service provided to the Scouts attending the Florida Sea Base is a concern to us all.

WINTER STAFF

The good news is we have a full staff for winter.  They are all returners bringing experience and positive attitudes with them.  If all goes as planned, I will work with the Divemaster Academy and the new Scuba Director will get to deal with everything else.

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

 

17Oct

COOLING DOWN?

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

On Wednesday the weather folks forecasted Thursday’s low at 69-72°.  Our low was a bit warmer at 78.  This morning we’re at 74.  The National Weather Service is forecasting a low of 66 for tomorrow but Accuweather says 72.  For those attending the BSA Aquatics Workshop next week, I lifted this graphic from Accuweather.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 6.50.50

Regardless of the source, remember, it is only a forecast.  However, I STRONGLY encourage you to pack a light rain jacket and (if you are accustomed to warmer temperatures) a sweatshirt on jacket.  The rule at the Florida Sea Base is always: Sempre Gumby (Forever Flexible).

CONFERENCE

Preparations will continue through the weekend for the Aquatics Workshop.  I hope to see you here.

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

 

 

DMA

While time is growing very short to prepare for the 2014 Divemaster Academy, there are still a few openings available.  Details on the program and an application can be found at the bottom of the LINKS page of this blog site.  If you are interested, I suggest you call me (305-393-7373) due to the limited space remaining.

SAILING

The Coral Reef Sailing crew came to dock late yesterday and will be heading out again today I believe.  I briefly spoke with a few of the crew members on the dock and they are having a great time with Captain Harman on Dutch Love.

WEATHER

The monster weather system marching through the US will effect the Florida Sea Base tomorrow and through the weekend.  Our forecast calls for morning low temperatures of 69°F tomorrow and Friday and warming slowly through the weekend.  Our highs will be in the low to mid 80s with clear skies.  We are expecting the wind to stay in the 15 knot range as the cold front passes tonight.  I guess the good news is that it should not be crazy hot for the Aquatics Workshop attendees next week.  Personally, I am NOT looking forward to 69°.  Brrrrr!

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

14Oct

SHORT UPDATE

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

Hurricane Gonzalo stayed a little to the east of the US Virgin Islands.  They had wind and rain, but fortunately, they were on the weaker side of the storm.

at201408

Locally it is hot, humid and rare, very brief showers.  Our heat index will be a cool 98° this afternoon.  The severe weather system that is marching across the US tapers off just north of the Florida Sea Base.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 6.35.00

PROGRAM / CONFERENCE

I think the Coral Reef Sailing crew is due in today for shore leave.  Everyone else is busy with preparations for next week’s BSA National Aquatics Workshop.

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

 

 

 

13Oct

COLUMBUS DAY

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

The Florida Sea Base is still enjoying very warm temperatures (79 lows – 88 highs) with afternoon heat indices over 100°F.  The water temperature has dropped a couple of degrees to 82°F.  Winter will be here soon enough.  People do not live in or visit Florida to experience “winter”.  Do I hear the Virgin Islands calling me?  Yes, in fact, I do.  HOWEVER, I will spend this winter in Texas battling the threats of the flu, pneumonia, hypothermia, frostbite and experiencing the ultimate redneck thrill ride – driving on black ice.

Tropical Storm Fay slammed Bermuda early yesterday with winds speeds just shy of hurricane strength.  We have been there and done that and it is NOT fun.  70 mph winds that last for hours on end is physically, psychologically and emotionally draining.  The good news is Fay is no longer a threat to land as it moves east into the Atlantic.

Invest 90L has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Gonzalo and a hurricane watch has been posted for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

at201408_5day

 

The computer models suggest the eye of the storm will come very close, if not directly over, St. Thomas and St. John where the Florida Sea Base programs are conducted.

at201408_model

MANAGEMENT TRAINING

General Manager Paul Beal is attending BSA meetings in Dallas.  Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill is returning from training in Idaho (I don’t think it had anything to do with spuds) and Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttle has been in Dallas for BSA training and is now headed to Connecticut to visit family.

PROGRAM

A Coral Reef Sailing crew checked in yesterday and are out with Captain Harman Harkema, one of our most tenured captains, aboard S/V Dutch Love.

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

WEATHER

Bye, bye Fay.  Fay has been upgraded from sub-tropical to tropical storm status but is bugging out towards Europe.

at201407

Invest 90 is likely to bring some nasty weather to the US Virgin Islands but the computer models are not in sync after that.  The system could move towards The Bahamas or it may make a hard right turn and go out to sea.

at201490_model

Friday’s “area to watch” has been upgraded to Invest 91L but where will it go?  Maybe back to Africa from whence it came.  It is still too early to tell.

at201491_model

CONFERENCE

The conference staff members were busy bees yesterday with four boat trips to Alligator Reef to go snorkeling, while others were paddle boarding and kayaking.  A Coral Reef Sailing crew arrives today.

The BIG EVENT of the season is the BSA National Aquatics Workshop that starts on the 22nd.  Last week we were expecting about 65 participants.  Now we are closer to 80.  This event is held every other year and this one is going to be like none before with a lot of hands on opportunities including Scuba BSA and Snorkeling BSA activities in the new scuba training complex.

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

 

WEATHER

HERE WE GO!  It has been a very quiet in the Atlantic basin lately.  But we simply cannot drop our guard until mid to late November at the earliest.

Invest 90L is of concern to Florida Sea Base interests in the US Virgin Islands.  We do not have any participants there at this time, but many of the captains live there year ’round and will be impacted by this system.

at201490_model

Invest 99L has been upgraded to Subtropical Storm Fay and will have minimal impact on Bermuda.

at201407

The area to watch is too far away and currently too disorganized to speculate on.

CONFERENCE

Approximately 137 Scouts from 3 different units checked in yesterday for a weekend of high adventure.  Another crew arrives Sunday for a regular Coral Reef Sailing adventure.  The Florida Sea Base gates close for one week each year, at Thanksgiving time.  The rest of the year it is work, work, work.

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

 

 

WEATHER

The National Hurricane Center has designated a large cluster of thunderstorms off the Upper Antilles as an area of concern on Wednesday.  This system is not forecast to be of any concern to the Florida Sea Base.

two_atl_5d0

However, the system was designated as Invest 99L on Thursday and given a 50% chance of development.  It is still no threat to the Florida Sea Base.

at201499_model

A brief thunderstorm served as our alarm clock yesterday morning.  The Keys experienced small, brief thundershowers throughout the day.  Look at how flat our temperatures are at this time of year.  (Click on the graphic to enlarge it.)  There is only a 4°F change between our high and low daily temperatures.

Plotter.php

The only downside to consistent mid 80 temperatures is the water temperature will continue to drop.  The temperature on the bay side has dropped to 82° while the ocean side is holding in the 85° range.  The bay side, being shallower and less influenced by the Gulf Stream, warms and cools faster than the ocean side.

A Coastal Flood Statement was issued for the Florida Keys Wednesday.

Coastal Flood Statement

COASTAL HAZARD MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KEY WEST FL
247 PM EDT THU OCT 9 2014

FLZ076>078-100800-
/O.NEW.KKEY.CF.S.0001.141010T0000Z-141010T0800Z/
MONROE UPPER KEYS-MONROE MIDDLE KEYS-MONROE LOWER KEYS-
247 PM EDT THU OCT 9 2014

...MINOR COASTAL FLOODING POSSIBLE IN LOW-LYING AREAS TONIGHT...

* COASTAL FLOODING...HIGHER THAN PREDICTED TIDAL LEVELS IN
  COMBINATION WITH THE SPRING TIDES SHOULD LEAD TO MINOR COASTAL
  FLOODING OF LOW- LYING AREAS IN THE FLORIDA KEYS TONIGHT.

* TIMING...WATER LEVELS WILL BE AROUND ONE HALF OF A FOOT ABOVE
  PREDICTED VALUES...ESPECIALLY DURING THE TIME OF HIGH TIDE TONIGHT.
  THE TIMES OF HIGH TIDE RANGE FROM AROUND 1100 PM IN THE LOWER AND
  UPPER KEYS...TO AROUND 300 AM EARLY FRIDAY MORNING FOR THE MIDDLE
  KEYS.

* IMPACTS...THE PRIMARY HAZARD WILL BE MINOR FLOODING OF THE LOWEST
  ELEVATION STREETS. SOME STORM DRAINS WILL OVERFLOW...AND SOME LOW-
  LYING DOCKS AND SEAWALLS COULD BE OVER-TOPPED.

$$
CLR

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