29Jul

INVEST 93-L

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WEATHER

There is nothing to update regarding the local weather at the Florida Sea Base.  Very warm, very humid, sunny, and gentle breezes – the perfect summer!

However, our area of interest in the Atlantic has been designated as Invest 93-L.

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The system is a long way out and there is no firm agreement on its future track.  The computer models show it curving north.

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However, Hurricane Tracker posted this comment:

The NHC is highlighting a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic which is now Invest 93L. At this time there is a 70% chance of development during the next 5 days. Every model is showing development and we should see TS Bertha form by WED and then track WNW toward the Lesser Antilles this weekend. A US impact cannot be ruled out as there is no clear indication yet that the system will recurve out into the Atlantic. Stay tuned for updates.

This statement deserves serious consideration based on Hurricane Tracker’s record to date this year.

STAFF

The captains and staff are doing an excellent job.  It is very hot, there is little sleep, and folks get tired.  But they are holding up well.

Many of our staff members have no previous work experience.  Some do not grasp that we establish their start and end dates based not only on their dates of availability, but also on the needs of our participants.  They may decide they have had enough fun and are ready to go home.  They don’t realize the problems they are making for those who fulfill their commitment.  Most of those who terminate their employment early will not be eligible for rehire.  But the vast majority acknowledge their commitment and run strong through the end.  Those are the keepers.

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

28Jul

ROUND 2

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TROPICAL WEATHER

There is strong agreement that the wave of interest in the Atlantic has the potential to intensify.  The system will likely arrive in the Leeward Islands by Saturday.  The US computer models suggest it will develop into a tropical storm.  The European models indicate it will remain less organized.  if it survives beyond there, Dr. Jeff Masters feels there is reason to believe it will curve back into the ocean and miss the East Coast of the US.

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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT SUN JUL 27 2014

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

1. A tropical wave is producing disorganized shower activity several
hundred miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.
Environmental conditions appear conducive for some gradual
development, especially by the middle of the week, while the system
moves westward to west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...medium...40 percent.

Forecaster Berg

Locally we are doing fine, stuck in a rut of sorts.

PROGRAM

We have about a month (give or take a few days depending on the specific adventure) of summer programming ahead.  We have been very blessed with good weather.  The wind has been a little light at times, but that is much better than too much wind.  With light winds we have a lot of program options for everyone.  Too much wind has a significant impact on all of the programs, including sailing.  Overall, the weather has been great.

The scuba training complex is (surprise!) still under construction.  With the 28 April deadline three months behind us, we have no credible completion date.  Frustration has come and gone.  We no have a choice between being really mad or just resigning ourselves to accepting that it will simply be done someday.  I am fortunate to NOT be responsible for this project.  The pressure on the Facilities Director and the General Manager is indescribable.

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

27Jul

HARD DAY OFF

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DAY OFF

I apologize for posting late today.  I was off yesterday.  I spent the day rebuilding the steering ram on Escape. More correctly, I spent MOST of the day removing and reinstalling the ram.  As almost all things on a boat, it is in a tight, hard to reach area and anything you drop is written off as a sacrifice to bilge demons.  It took about 12½ hours, but it seems to be working.  Then, just as I was pulling the shower curtain closed (8:50 pm), the DirecTv repairman arrived.  He was done around 9:45.  All of that is to say I slept in as late as possible this morning, went to the 7:30 staff meeting, and I am skipping breakfast (the most important meal of the day!) to write this brief post.

WEATHER

There is mixed news about the wave that came off Africa a few days ago.  The five day outlook calls for a 40% chance of intensification, but the longer term looks somewhat optimistic.

NHC

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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT SUN JUL 27 2014

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

1. A tropical wave is located about 420 miles southwest of the Cape
Verde Islands. The associated shower activity is limited
and disorganized, and development should be slow to occur over the
next couple of days. By the middle of this week, however,
environmental conditions are expected to become conducive for
gradual development over the central tropical Atlantic as the
system moves westward at 10 to 15 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...near 0 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...medium...40 percent.

Forecaster Roberts

Hurricane Tracker posted:

SAT 7/26 9AM EDT – DEVELOPMENT POSSIBLE NEXT WEEK

The NHC is highlighting a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic. At this time there is a 20% chance of development during the next 5 days. Wind shear is forecasted to be low across the Atlantic next week, but dry air & Saharan dust remains. If you are a resident or have interests in the Lesser Antilles, please monitor this system. Check the Model Watch section to see the model runs for this system. We will continue to keep you updated.

Here’s the model watch to which they referred:

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PROGRAM

All program elements rolled along well yesterday.  The sailors on shore leave definitely appreciated some time playing in the water on the small sailboats, paddle boards and kayaks.  The incoming crews were surprised by how warm the bay side water was (90.3°F).  The reef is running a little cooler (as always during this time of year) at 85.  Conditions have been excellent for diving and snorkeling.  The fishing seems to have tapered off a bit.  The sailing has been a little slow.

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

26Jul

DIVE DIVE DIVE

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STAFF

What do the Florida Sea base staff members do on their days off?  They go diving.  Captain/Scuba Instructor Scott Patton sent these pictures of Dive Boat Captain Ed Miller, Divemaster Ben Aaron, and Dive Boat Captain Reed Beasley diving on the wreck of the Adolphus Busch off Big Pine Key.

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DM Ben

reed in stack

When they are working, they watch the sunset over and over and over – how boring!

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The sunset pictures were submitted by Kyle Moran.

Project AWARE

A favourite amongst scuba divers around the world, sea turtles have been on Earth for more than 100 million years. Six of the seven sea turtle species are now classified as threatened or endangered. Find out how you can help protect these beautiful creatures with one of our 100% AWARE partners: http://www.projectaware.org/blog/blue-guru/jul-23-14/terrific-turtles- Photo by Blue Guru

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The Florida Sea Base has been a 100% AWARE facility for three or four years.  Love diving?  Become a member!

WEATHER

We have another African wave to watch.  This will be a frequent threat for the next month.

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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT SAT JUL 26 2014

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

1. A tropical wave located south of the Cape Verde Islands could
develop into an area of low pressure by early next week over
the central tropical Atlantic.  Environmental conditions are
expected to be marginally conducive for gradual development of
this system through midweek as it moves westward.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...near 0 percent
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent

Forecaster Stewart

Locally we are still very dry, warm and humid with mostly SE breezes at less than 15 knots.

Plotter.php

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

25Jul

FROZEN IN TIME

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POOL CONSTRUCTION

Completion of the new scuba training pool and complex at the Florida Sea Base was promised to be completed by 28 April 2014.  The complex is not completed, so does some bizarre type of logic dictate that, despite what we think the date may be, we are actually at some point in time prior to 28 April?  If so, I have over paid my bills!

The construction “team” still shows up three or four days a week.  There is usually one foreman and one or two workers.  Some days there are four, maybe even six workers.  They frequently arrive around 10 AM and bug out by 2 or 3 PM.  It is enough to make a Christian want to curse!

You may be asking yourself, “Is it really that bad”?  It is bad enough that they can’t even vacuum the sediment from the pool.  Here is a photo of Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt helping with that project.  Apparently a $1,500,000 contract does not include the use of a pole that can reach the bottom of the pool.


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Photo by FSB staff member Alexandra “Alex” Zimmer.

STAFF

Former Director of Conference and Food Services, Chrystene Matthews Speed (hi Chrystene) posted this cool tee shirt on Facebook.

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GET YOURS HERE ==> http://teespring.com/LL_XBScoutXKeepCX_KCS?fb=PE  I don’t know this company, but it is a cool shirt.

Former Florida Sea Base staff member turned Keys resident Trevor O’Keefe, has apparently found a cure for Keys Disease (a type of psychosis that infects many and will not allow them to be away from the Florida Keys for more than a week at a time).  Trevor will be returning to Chicago soon.  I have posted some of Trevor’s artwork over the years.  He has been a great friend of the Florida Sea Base.  While I know the move is the best choice for Trevor, he is leaving a lot of friends behind in the Keys.

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Take it easy, Trevor.

Florida Sea Base Sailing Commissioner Richard Fallon has discovered scuba diving and seems to be liking it A LOT!

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Alex Zimmer and Richard Fallon headed out for a recent night dive.

Whoa!!! I’ve gotta get to the morning staff meeting!

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

23Jul

REAL RAIN

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WEATHER

The Florida Sea Base received a significant rainfall yesterday morning.  It was GREAT for the palm trees, grasses and flowers, but definitely not great for the Coral Reef Sailing crews that were on base for shore leave or the dozens of FSB boats out on the water.  Small boat sailing, kayaking and standup paddle boarding were postponed for quite a while as the system passed passed the base.  I have not heard of any personal or boat injuries on the high seas; just another day of high adventure!

I believe credit for this photo goes to Sailing Commissioner Richard Fallon.

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The heat index remains oppressive with numbers like 102, 103, and 105 appearing most days.  Sunscreen and hydration are essential to good health.  We expect more of the same for the next several weeks.

PROGRAM

For many, the end of the 2014 summer program season is in sight.  Seasonal staff members are starting to trickle out.  Most of the sailing captains have only three or four trips left.  The scuba programs will slow down in about two and a half weeks.  All summer programs will have concluded in 38 days.

DINNER

I told my lovely bride to the Miami International Airport yesterday and she has returned to work in the D/FW law enforcement community this morning.  It was a nice, but too brief, visit.  last night was leftovers so I fixed a tuna dog.  I have never had a tuna dog before and you may be wondering to what I refer.  Leftover tuna salad deposited into a leftover hotdog bun = a tuna dog.  YummEE!

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

TROPICAL DEPRESSION TWO

From area of interest, to Invest 92-L to TD-2, all in a day.  This graphic was from yesterday afternoon.

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This system blossomed yesterday and Hurricane Tracker is two for two in 2014.  What does the future hold?  Yesterday, two computer models said it would fizzle today, two said it would continue and stay south of Cuba, and two more had it working its way through The Bahamas.  Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground posed yesterday that the system would stay south of Cuba and max out as a Tropical Storm.

This morning Hurricane Tracker, the National Hurricane Center and Weather Underground seem to agree that the system will encounter dry air and fizzle out on  Thursday.  It should almost make it to tropical storm strength and it will almost make into the Caribbean which still leaves Dr. Masters’ forecast almost correct.

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

WEATHER

We have experienced short lived but at times intense showers the last three evenings at the Florida Sea Base.  But it is still hot and humid with gentle breezes (except during the thunderstorms of course).

Saturday was my last post and I mentioned that Hurricane Tracker was suggesting a wave coming off Africa was worth watching.  At the time they estimated a 15% chance of development.  They are now giving the system a 25% chance of development.  The system has not yet attained the need characteristics to be designated an Invest system, but the National Hurricane Center has labeled it as an area of interest.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 8.15.15

two_atl_5d0

The system is too far away and in an area with minimal instrumentation to gather sufficient data to have a good handle on its future course or intensity.  However, Hurricane Tracker noted that one of the computer models used in this type of forecasting, “the CMC model, does track a TD/TS close to the NE Caribbean Islands by late next week”.

STAFF

The Florida Sea Base staff is doing a great job this summer.  However, our scuba staffing woes are going to remain an issue to the very end of summer.  We have had two scuba staff members depart earlier than contracted and three of the “relief” divemasters that had committed to come to the rescue in August have decided to pursue other activities.  We are going to get by, but Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt has a scheduling nightmare on his hands.  If you have any spare divemasters or scuba instructors laying around, please encourage them to give us a call.

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

19Jul

QUICK NOTE

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My wife and I hope to get Escape off the dock today.  I do not want to overly concern anyone, but there is a little chatter of a slight possibility of some tropical weather kicking up soon.

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Hurricane Tracker did a great job of providing early warning of Hurricane Arthur.  While they admit the chances of development are slim, I will keep an eye on this.

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

18Jul

TOO QUIET?

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TROPICS

It is quiet, very quiet, in the tropics.  Too quiet?  Probably not.  This time of year tends to be a little slow for tropical development.  But that is not sufficient reason to stay on guard.  I look at tropical data at least every three days.  Most days the National Hurricane Center report has been, “No New Tropical Cyclones Are Expected to Form During the Next 5 Days”, so checking about every third day make sense to me.

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(POSSIBLE) COMING ATTRACTIONS

It is premature to disclose the specifics, but, in the spirit of continuous improvement, I have received preliminary approval from Captain Paul Beal, General Manager of the Florida Sea Base, to present a budget proposal that would add even more benefit to the Scuba Certification adventure.  The projected hit to my cost center is less than $10k per year (maybe closer to $8k once I get more accurate projected attendance figures for 2015 next week).

Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttel and Sailing Commissioner Richard Fallon are working on plans to revamp the Coral Reef Sailing schedule.  While I can hear 30 Coral Reef Captains groaning right now, I have confidence that any changes made by Captain Luke will benefit the participants, staff and captains.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Like almost every business entity in the world, the management at the Florida Sea Base is constantly pressured to do more with less.  And just like the saying goes, it often feels like we are doing way too much with way too little.  But that does not seem to lower the expectation that we must find away to do still more with even less.  Sometimes I feel like a sock that’s been turned inside out.  Apparently this is called “improvement”.

A large part of the dilemma faced by Captain Scott Martin at the Brinton Environmental Center, Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill,  Captain Luke and me is the lack of adequate housing for the seasonal staff.  More efficient scheduling and more efficient use of the staff, are key components of our efforts for continuous improvement.  Building more staff housing is not a financial issue, it is a restriction imposed by the local government.

The only realistic way to increase the quantity of Scouts served at the Florida Sea Base is by opening more satellite operations like the Bahamas and USVI operations.  But does “continuous improvement” only mean serving more Scouts?  Certainly not.  I feel that Captain Scott, Captain Luke, Tim and I are focused on providing better adventures to the number of Scouts we are able to serve through better facilities, better opportunities, better programming.  We have been successful in thinking outside our little box.

Sometimes “improvement” means taking a step back.  Captain Scott Martin was effective in improving one of our most popular adventures, the Florida Fishing Adventure, by removing one of the program’s components and using that time, energy, money and resources to improve the program overall.  Other programs will be tweaked, rearranged, reduced, revamped and remolded to make them better for the Scouts, the staff and the captains.

This need for improvement is internal.  The Florida Sea Base is blessed to serve more Scouts almost every year.  We could keep doing what we do.  But our dedication to the Scouts and our customers pushes us to do better.  I first heard the term “continuous improvement” from our former General Manager.  Despite changes in personnel, that philosophy runs deep at the Florida Sea Base.

We will never satisfy everyone every day.  But the number of patrons that depart the Florida Sea Base without having experienced an adventure of a lifetime is infinitesimal.  We do what we can to plan and budget.  But the success is in the presentation.  The seasonal staff and captains make the adventures come to life day after day.  We appreciate that fact, and never loose sight of this reality.  Tim Stanfill, Captain Scott Martin, Captain Luke Knuttel and I all served as seasonal staff and/or captains at the Florida Sea Base before accepting our current assignments.  We know first hand who makes the magic happen at the Florida Sea Base.

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