FSBN BLOG

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?

CONFERENCE

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.

HALLOWEEN

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

SCUBA PROGRAM DIRECTOR

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.

INSTRUCTOR DEVELOPMENT COURSE

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.

SELF RELIANT DIVER

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.

SCUBA TRAINING COMPLEX

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.

WEATHER

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

27Oct

ALEX

in Conference  •  0 comments

SO LONG FOR NOW

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.

CONFERENCE

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!

WEATHER

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.

at201494_model

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
20%.
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

CONFERENCE

The BSA Aquatics Workshop concluded last night.  It has been a long five days at the Florida Sea Base.

WEATHER

The final day of the BSA Aquatics Workshop was gorgeous.  I had the pleasure of taking a group diving.  It was a very special treat to have Brad Smith from PADI and his youngest son, Parker Smith, diving with us.  Brad is an incredible role model and I am thrilled that some of our scuba staff had the opportunity to work with him this week.

Look at this crazy set of computer runs.

at201494_model

I really don’t know what to say.  Here’s what the National Hurricane Center posted:

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT SAT OCT 25 2014

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

1. A broad area of low pressure over the northwestern Caribbean Sea
is associated with the remnants of Tropical Depression Nine and a
cold front.  This system is producing disorganized showers and
thunderstorms, and redevelopment, if any, will be slow to occur
while the disturbance meanders for the next few days.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent.

Forecaster Blake

I hope to take it a little slow today.  HA!

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

CONFERENCE

Wednesday morning 15 to 20 Scouters were working on their American Canoe Association (ACA) Standup Paddleboard Instructor rating while many more BSA Aquatics Workshop attendees were arriving and the BSA Aquatics Task Force was meeting to discuss all things aquatic within the BSA.  One of the topics that was discussed is the recent changes to Cub Scout electives and how those might require changes to the BSA Safety Afloat doctrine.  We also discussed the progress being made with various organizations that can help us attain our goal of having every Scout (including Cubs) learn to swim.  The big issue seems to be access to a swim facility.  There are a lot of swim facilities and opportunities within the US.  Members of the Aquatics Task Force are working aggressively to identify organizations and locations that are willing to work with Scouting.  As much as I detest meetings, these were timely and relevant discussions.

Today is our outdoor hands-on aquatics day.  This is how the day is starting off.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 7.16.35

I am hopeful that we will catch a break by 9 AM.  Regardless, just as with all outdoor activities, we will work with what we have, keep a good attitude, and make this a good day.

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

WEATHER

Ironically, 13 October was the end of the rainy season for South Florida and the Florida Keys (including the Florida Sea Base).  This Wundermap® screenshot from yesterday morning would not cause anyone to be concerned.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.19.37

But add the satellite layer and POOF, reality.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.21.55

We obviously have a lot of moisture headed our way.

Late last night the National Hurricane Center upgraded this system to tropical depression status, designated TD 9 and are forecasting continued development to tropical storm status before it crosses the Yucatan Peninsula.

at201409

The long range storm track suggests the system will stay south of Cuba.  However, we are still expecting a lot of rain, especially Friday and Saturday, from this system.

The National Weather Service forecast continues to forecast winds from the NE through Saturday, but we experienced westerly winds at the Florida Sea Base most of yesterday afternoon.

 CONFERENCE

Despite the weather, the show must go on.  Attendees of the 2014 BSA Aquatics Workshop began checking in yesterday.  The BSA Aquatics Task Force members will meet from 08:30 to 17:30 today.  I am not a fan of meetings; a necessary evil I suppose.  More participants will arrive during the day and the show kicks off in earnest after dinner tonight.

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

 

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