PROGRAM

The last participants of the 2014 summer season at the Florida Sea Base departed yesterday morning.  We have four scuba staff members remaining, two (I think) from the Ships Store and a handful of rangers.  There is plenty of work remaining; inventories, repairs, cleaning, moving, and securing gear and boats.

We were very blessed during the 2014 spring and summer programs seasons.  There were no fatalities or serious hospitalizations.  I did not fire any staff members this summer (but maybe should have).  In fact, we had some of the most outstanding staff members ever this summer.

WEATHER

And while the program season ends, the hurricane season is approaching its historical peak.  However, the next two weeks are forecasted to quiet.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

This article, posted on The Weather Channel, is an interesting read about the current dry spell of hurricane activity that has been enjoyed by the State of Florida.  We have been hurricane free for more than 3,200 days.  This is the longest streak since 1851.  We are obviously due for a serious spanking.

TRAVELS

I will be on the road for about a week.  I will post when I can.

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

POOL CONSTRUCTION

Most members of the Florida Sea Base full-time staff took a plunge into the new scuba training pool yesterday.

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From left to right: Cheryl Ferreri (Administrative Assistant), Captain Keith Douglass (Facilities Director), Cheryl Kuras (Retail Sales Manager), Tim Stanfill (Logistics Team Leader), Shelley Miklas (Financial Assistant), Captain Paul Beal (General Manager), Nancy Wells (Registrar), Captain Steve Willis (Program Director – Scuba), Captain Rae Murphy (Food Services Manager) and Captain Luke Knuttel (Program Director – Sailing).

The pool is “completed”, but there are still several bugs.  One of those is a leaking drain pipe that may require serious dismantling to locate and repair.

PROGRAM

The final Sea Exploring crew of the summer and the next-to-last Scuba Liveaboard crew of the summer returned to base for their luau last night.  They will be headed home before lunch today.  The FINAL crew of the 2014 summer season at the Florida Sea Base (Scuba Liveaboard) returns to base today.

WEATHER

With the arrival of a cold front a few days ago, the local temperatures have been a little cooler.  The afternoon highs have been around 90 and the lows have been in the low 80s.  We are getting occasional, spotty showers and a touch of breeze.

Dr. Jeff Masters posted this comment in his Thursday blog:

A large and powerful tropical wave will move off the coast of Africa on Friday evening, and will move near or over the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday as the storm moves west at 10 – 15 mph. None of the three reliable computer models for predicting tropical storm formation predict the wave will develop over the next five days, but wind shear will be low enough and ocean temperatures warm enough to allow some slow development. In their 8 am EDT Thursday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the system 2-day and 5-day development odds of 0% and 30%, respectively.

Steve Gregory included this comment in his Thursday blog:

At this time, it appears well defined Tropical Waves will be coming off the West African coast every 4-7 days for the next 3 weeks – but with none of the models forecasting major intensification of any of them at this time. This MAY turn out to be correct in a few cases as the convectively suppressed portion of CCKW’s will be over the MDR starting late next week.

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

27Aug

STAFF DAY

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PROGRAM

The Florida Sea Base did not have any Scouts on base yesterday so the staff worked about half the day.  After that, some went diving, some spinnaker flying (P4240074), some chilled.  We ordered pizza for dinner so the galley staff could enjoy an afternoon off with us.

WEATHER

Storms are popping in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Atlantic.  For now, none are a threat to the Florida Sea Base.  Our local weather was a little cooler today behind the “cold” front.  We will be hot again today.

BUDGET

What can I say?  It has to be done.  I can produce a LONG line of credible witness to testify I am NOT an accountant.  Somehow, I manage to do a decent job (most years).  I have never looked forward to this time of year.

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

26Aug

COLD FRONT

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WEATHER

Local weather at the Florida Sea Base continues to be hot and humid with very occasional spotty showers.  Around 3:00 PM yesterday I noticed that the wind had shifted to the west (not in the forecast and seldom a good sign).  At 4:00 PM a cold front pushed through brining us a brief, but very heavy, downpour.  The bad news is I did not have time to get my car out from under its funeral cover.  The good news is the funeral cover has several major holes in it so I did get a partial wash.  I left the car out overnight and we did have two very brief episodes of light rain.

WUNIDS_map

Steve Gregory posted this commented on Sunday on Weather Underground:

ELSEWHERE in the Tropical Atlantic – a fairly strong disturbance (97L) now S/SW of the Cape Verdes with isolated convection is westbound – but is unlikely to show significant development for at least the next 4 days as the system is embedded within the dry and warm Saharan Air Layer (SAL), By Friday, the system will have a notable chance for development. An even stronger wave now over Africa should emerge off the coast next weekend.

PROGRAM

It is pretty quiet around the base.  One Scuba Liveaboard crew returned to base yesterday for a private luau.  The staff are working on assignments to close down the program areas.  Some of the star went on a night dive last night.

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

25Aug

CRISTOBAL

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WEATHER

I posted at 2 AM yesterday.  TD 4 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Cristobal at 06:20 AM when the National Hurricane Center determined the winds had exceeded 39 mph.  The weather community did not expect the system to be upgraded so early in the day.  The good news is the majority of the computer models are now confident of the system staying off shore and curving back into the Atlantic.

at201404

We are not anticipating any negative effects from Cristobal in the Florida Keys or the US Virgin Islands.  However, the is an unassociated low pressure sitting on the Georgia coast.  Many of the Coral Reef Sailing captains are ready to head north to take their boats home.  The Georgia low will generate wind from the north or northeast for a few days.

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While Cristobal is moving away, Invest 97L is next in line.

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PROGRAM

The final Scuba Adventure crews of the 2014 Florida Sea Base summer season went home yesterday.  The final Coral Reef Sailing crews go home this morning.  The only programs still underway are Sea Base St. Thomas, Sea Exploring, Eco Adventure and Scuba Liveaboard.  We are down to a double handful of hardcore, dedicated staff members.  We may be winding down, but it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

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

STAFF

The Florida Sea Base Alumni and Friends Association has announced the winners of the 2014 college scholarships; Nathaniel Krafve from the Brinton Environmental Center and Emily Mathae from Sea Base.  The SBAFA awards two scholarships annually.  Please visit their website and consider joining.  As a charter life member myself, I feel it is a worthwhile way to stay connected and to support the organization and especially the staff.

PARTICIPANT SUBMISSIONS

Ken Wagner, Venture Crew 359 Associate Advisor, emailed the following YouTube links from his crew’s Florida Sea Base Scuba Adventure.
This was a “double crew”, SASU081014AB.  They are from the Western Massachusetts Council (if memory serves me).  The first video was shot at Robbie’s Marina, a popular tourist location about 4.25 miles north of Sea Base.  The second video was shot at Davis Reef.
Ken also sent these two photos of Katrina Surdyka  who endured a very challenging medical ordeal just in time to make the trip to Sea Base.
KS with shark
Katrina with a nurse shark.
P1010386
Katrina with Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructor/Captain Scott Patton.

WEATHER

Invest 96L was upgraded to Tropical Depression 4 at 4:49 PM Eastern Time yesterday.  As indicated in the graphic, the National Weather Service is forecasting TD 4 to intensify into Tropical Storm Cristobal sometime today.
at201404_5day
The system should have minimal, if any, impacts on the Brinton Environmental Center and the Florida Sea Base.  The Sea Base Bahamas programs have concluded so there are no safety concerns for participants.  However, most, if not all, of the captains and their vessels are still in the general vicinity of Abaco.  They have been through much worse and will prepare well for this blow.
The National Weather Service marine forecast for the Florida Keys is calling for maximum winds of 15 knots through Thursday within the areas that we operate our sailing and scuba vessels.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

TAKE 3

We all need a break every now and then.  If you are looking for some clean, Scout appropriate, family style entertainment, and have 3 minutes to spare, this is one of my favorite pick me ups.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYv4Fs7nzIY

My son, Aaron, is the Chief Creative Officer of Rockshow Comedy, Inc.  I have attended three or four of Tim Hawking’s shows.  I highly recommend the live shows and the DVDs for clean comedy that appeals to pretty much all age groups.  They are also nice gifts.

WEATHER

Invest 96L brought some heavy rain to the general vicinity of St. Thomas yesterday.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 6.50.08

The future track and intensity are still uncertain.  Anywhere from Miami to recurving into the Atlantic is still possible.  The weather gurus should have a better handle on this sometime today, tomorrow at the latest.

at201496_model

While our primary attention (and the media) are focused on Invest 96L, two larger waves have slipped off the African Coast and into the Atlantic.  The season is definitely ramping up.

SICK

No, not “sick” as in “cool”, but sick as should be in bed.  Yesterday was a rough day.  The good news is the doctor called the pharmacy and ordered some antibiotics for me.  The bad news is the pharmacy is out of the antibiotics and won’t have them until after supper on Monday.  Such is life in the Keys.  I may be cured (or dead) by then.

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

22Aug

8 DAYS A WEEK

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PROGRAM

There are eight days left in the 2014 summer program season at the Florida Sea Base and Sea Base St. Thomas.

WEATHER

Invest 96L is still a tropical wave and is going to bring rain, maybe heavy rain, to Sea Base St. Thomas today and tomorrow.  The NWS marine forecast is still calling for winds in the 20-25 knot range.  Gusts could be significantly higher within the thunderstorms.  The crews may spend a day or two at dock as the system blows over.

WUNIDS_map

From there the potential area of development widens.  Invest 96L is simply not well enough organized for the computers to built a reliable forecast track.  The USAF Hurricane Hunters are flying into the area to get more information so the computers can do a better job with the forecast.  For now, there does not seem to be much evidence that Invest 96L will become a major event.

two_atl_5d0

While the current focus is on Invest 96L, the Climate Prediction Center graphic suggests we may have more weather in the coming weeks.

gth_full

‘Tis the season! :)

STAFF

A ray of sunshine stopped by the office yesterday.  I was struggling with a sinus infection and Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt and Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttel were both holding my hand as I was in crisis mode working on the 2015 scuba budget.  It was a miserable scene in my office when, out of the blue, former Florida Sea Base Divemaster Margarita Olsen stepped into the doorway beaming her big smile and cheery eyes.  What a pleasant surprise!  Margarita worked at the Florida Sea Base about 10 maybe 12 years ago.  She has been traveling the world for a few years but has somewhat settled down in the Lower Keys for the past year.  She has always been a wonderful person and has blossomed into an accomplished captain and scuba instructor.

DISCLAIMER

I wrote this post at 3:00 AM so there may be some changes by the time your read it.  I’m fighting a sinus infection and had to get up for a while to clear my head and throat out a bit.  We have a 7:30 staff meeting so I’m headed back to bed and hope to get a couple of hours of sleep, or at least rest.  I am scheduled to be off tomorrow.  I may not post or may post late unless there is some significant changes in the weather.

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

PROGRAM

There were no Coral Reef Sailing arrivals at the Florida Sea Base yesterday.  While crews remain on the water, there will be no new crews arriving for this adventure.  The Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification programs are done and the participants have gone home.  We have a few Sea Exploring crews and two Scuba Liveaboard crews that will arrive in the coming days.

SCUBA EQUIPMENT SALE

The Florida Sea Base is selling a limited amount of used scuba equipment at this time.  There is already a substantial list of potential buyers.  We are selling complete regulator sets and BCDs.  We do not sell masks, snorkels, fins or regulator parts.  We have used scuba tanks with current hydros for sale as well, but we cannot ship those.Please contact Alex.Bergstedt@scouting.org for details.

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WEATHER

The good news is that the second area of interest mentioned yesterday is off the map.  However, Invest 96L is going to try to ruin the end of season party at the Florida Sea Base.  As you can see, the possible affected area has been shifted and now includes The Bahamas.

two_atl_5d0

Invest 96L is still poorly organized which decreases the accuracy of the forecast.  It has shifted significantly to the north/east.  Some models are even suggesting that it will curve even more to the north and east, staying east of The Bahamas.

at201496_model

St. Thomas has a good chance of rain daily through Sunday.  The NWS is forecasting the wind to peak at 24 knots on Saturday.  The forecast for the Florida Sea Base calls for a 30% chance of rain daily through Sunday and wind in the 5 to 10 knot range through Monday night.  There is some chance Invest 96L will get knocked down as it crosses the various islands.  There is NO chatter of development beyond a possible tropical storm at this point.  We do not evacuate the Florida Sea Base for tropical storms.  We would hunker down for a day and let the system pass.  Then it is back to business as usual.

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

20Aug

ANOTHER ENDING

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PROGRAM

Captain Luke Knuttel and I had internet and email access from about 8:00 AM until 1:35 PM yesterday and then our connection failed again.  We are dealing with emails as best we can, put please be patient or call us if your concern is time sensitive.

Yesterday was the final day of the Wednesday rotation for Scuba Adventure crews at the Florida Sea Base for the 2014 summer season.  Several of the Coral Reef Sailing captains are concluding their season as well.

WEATHER

On Monday most of the weather community agreed that there would be no tropical development in the Atlantic for the next week or two.  Yesterday the National Hurricane Center designated one of the African waves as Invest 96L and gave a second system a 20% chance of development.

two_atl_5d0

Hurricane Tracker posted:

TUES 8/19 8PM – TROPICAL TROUBLE SOON? INVEST 96L.

hurrtrackerapp
SE US/Gulf Trouble next week? 4 major models now develop the Central Atlantic wave (now Invest 96L) and track it WNW towards SE US/Gulf of Mexico as high pressure builds in the SW Atlantic. It is the time of year and we will watch the evolution of this pattern very closely. The NHC is currently giving this wave a 50% chance of development over the next 5 days. As always, we will have daily updates as new model runs come in. Stay tuned…

Bear in mind that intensification is not guaranteed.  Effects from Invest 96L should be no threat to the Sea Base Bahamas.  IF it develops,  it should take three or four days to have any effect on Sea Base St. Thomas and about six days to be felt by the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center.

This is the 2:00 AM update from the NHC:

Tropical Weather Outlook Text

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 AM EDT WED AUG 20 2014

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

1. Shower activity is currently limited in association with an
elongated area of low pressure located several hundred miles east of
the southern Windward Islands.  Gradual development of this system
is possible during the next few days while it moves
west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph across the Lesser Antilles and
into the Caribbean Sea.  Interests in the Lesser Antilles should
closely monitor the progress of this system.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...medium...30 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...medium...50 percent.

2. A tropical wave located about 1000 miles east of the Lesser
Antilles continues to produce disorganized showers and
thunderstorms.  Development of this system, if any, should be slow
to occur during the next several days while it moves toward the
west-northwest at about 10 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours...low...10 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days...low...20 percent.

Forecaster Cangialosi

I am definitely NOT a meteorologist.  It APPEARS that the threat of serious development from this system is more likely near the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico than in the Atlantic or Caribbean.  I will be checking on this system frequently.

As I have asked in the past, PLEASE do not call the Florida Sea Base with any questions or concerns.  Direct those to me through a comment on this blog, email or call me.  The folks in the office get upset when I create extra work for them.  My email address and cell phone number are listed on the ABOUT page on this blog site.

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