I received this email yesterday.  Unfortunately, I am not at the Florida Sea Base to tend to Escape.  However, Captains Drew and Maggie Mead are aboard S/V Comfort Zone II which is berthed alongside Escape and will keep an eye on her for me.
Hi everyone,
Small Craft Advisories have been posted for all Florida Keys marine zones, and the first significant wind surge of this autumn season will be underway later tonight.  Northeast to east breezes which currently are sustained close to 20 knots will freshen further overnight and early Monday, with a sustained blow of 25-30 knots, and gusts occasionally approaching gale force (34 knots) during Monday afternoon and evening.  These strong breezes will build seas quickly in deep water, with waves steepened and enhanced in the Gulf Stream.  Attached is an image from our experimental Nearshore Wave Prediction System, showing significant wave height valid Monday evening at 8:00 p.m. or 2000 EDT.  Note the sizable area with seas of 9-11 feet across the Straits of Florida and southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
Peak winds and seas will occur from Monday afternoon through Monday night, with a gradual decrease in both wind and sea expected from Tuesday through Thursday.
For the latest marine forecast details, please follow our updates online from any of the following sources:
Hourly Weather Graphs:
Florida Keys Coastal Waters Forecast (text):
Smartphone Widget:
Marine Weather Forecast Graphics:
Best Regards,
Chip K.
Chip Kasper is a Senior Marine Weather Forecaster at the National Weather Service Office in Key West.


In personal news, my lovely bride, Sue, and I have been married for 30 years today.
Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™


in Scuba  •  0 comments


If you were a candidate or member of the cadre (staff) of any of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academies, I need your help.  I am trying to put together a brief history of the DMA.  Please email me at with your name, the year or class number of your DMA (2004 was class 1, 2005 was class 2, etc.) and the names of the candidates and cadre that were in your class.  I realize the information is on file at the Florida Sea Base, but I am not there to dig through the records.

If you are interested in becoming a PADI Divemaster and working at the Florida Sea Base, the time to apply is NOW.  Detailed information on the DMA and an application are available on the ScubaTraining tab of this blog.  Please hurry, time is growing short and there is much to do.

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


The BSA Aquatics Task Force met last weekend in Irving, Texas. Scuba Program Director Joe Angelo and I represented the Florida Sea Base.  Task Force member Chris Stec, CEO of the American Canoe Association, announced the launch of a new app called Paddle Ready.  This is a FREE app and is incredible.  If offers a lot of information and features for anyone who spends time on the water regardless of if you paddle, sail or use some form of motor vessel.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.

A topic of great importance to Scouting was the CDC Model Aquatics Health Code.  This will impact all BSA pool and waterfront operations including the Florida Sea Base.  ATF members Keith Christopher and David Bell are staying on top of the issue on behalf of the BSA.

Former Florida Sea Base Director of Program Rob Kolb was recently reassigned to the National Office and is acting as the BSA advisor to the ATF.

The Aquatics Task Force hosts the BSA Aquatics Workshop every two years.  Dates and venues are currently being considered for the 2016 workshop.  Potential venues include (but are not limited to) the Summit, Sea Scout Base Galveston, and the Florida Sea Base.  Tentative dates are in late September to early October.  Stay tuned.

Significant progress was also made of a BSA Whitewater Policy.  This exercise is being lead by Richard Thomas and has been three years in the making.  We are very close to a final product.


I am keeping  close eye on Invest 91L.


Monday, the system had a 30% chance of development and was tracking towards the general vicinity of the Bahamas and possibly towards the Florida Keys.


This morning, the National Hurricane Center suggests 91L will curve to the north.  Hopefully if will die out of curve more northward and have no significant affects on any land masses.  The Bahamas and Carolinas in particular do NOT need another significant storm at this as they recover from Hurricane Joaquin.

I am headed back to deep Southeast Texas later this morning.  I have very limited internet access there and therefore have limited ability to post.

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



The Florida Sea Base held it’s 4th PADI Instructor Development Course 17-25 September.  Five candidates completed the PADI Instructor Exam on 26-27 September.

Sep 15 IE

Standing left to right are: Will Ligon (Instructor), Tyler Burns (Instructor), Cory Wells (Instructor), Adam Hartfiel (Instructor), Scott Anderson (PADI Instructor Examiner) and Taron Soto (PADI IDC Staff Instructor).

Kneeling left to right are: Capt. Steve Willis (PADI Course Director), Capt. Bert Hubby (PADI Course Director) and Rich Goldman (PADI IDC Staff Instructor).

Not pictured are: Joe Angelo (PADI Course Director), Capt. Brenda Mallory (PADI IDC Staff Instructor) and Bo Bussler (IDC candidate who was called away prior to the completion of the course).

According to PADI Instructor Examiner Scott Anderson, this was a historic class.  Scott said that in his 35+ years in the business he has never had all candidates from a single dive center score perfect 5s on all open water components of the exam.

IE slate

Florida Sea Base Scuba Program Director Joe Angelo is currently considering hosting PADI IDCs in May and September of 2016.  More details can be found on the ScubaTraining page of this blog or by emailing or

There are still limited openings for the 2015 Divemaster Academy.  Details can be found on the ScubaTraining page on this blog.  This is your chance to become a PADI professional at a very reasonable cost and to join the 2016 Florida Sea Base scuba staff.

ALSO, I am still in need of one PADI OWSI or higher to staff the 2015 DMA.

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


Joaquin has become a major hurricane in the Bahamas.  So far, the system is small and not having significant impact on the Florida Keys.  The Florida Sea Base does not own any property in the Bahamas and we are confident that the captains and vessel owners have taken necessary precautions to protect their vessels.  Forecasts continue to insist that Hurricane Joaquin will turn north, sparing Florida, and likely making landfall in the North Carolina area.  Captains Rich and Carol Beliveau, Stephanie Mansberger and Derrek Polt, all former Florida Sea Base staffers, live and/or work in Oriental, NC.  I have not bothered them, but I am sure they are making preparations for the storm’s arrival.

From the National Weather Service in Key West, Florida:


The NWS is forecasting NW winds at 15 to 20 knots for the Florida Sea Base Thursday through Saturday.



I have more Florida Sea Base news to share but I currently have very limited internet access.  I should be able to post some updates on Saturday.

Capt. Steve Willis
PADI Course Director 39713
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™

I apologize for my lack of recent posts.  I will catch you up on a few things in the near future.  But this post is about two former Florida Sea Base staffers and one of their children that could use your help.

“Hello Sea Base crews past, present and future!  It’s Rachel (Metzger) Szostek and Jason Szostek here! (Sea Base Staffers ca. 2006-2009. Rachel was a Coral Reef Mate/Divemaster/Sea Exploring mate and Jason was a Ranger/Photographer/Base Steward.)
We have asked Capt. Steve to share our story in the hopes that some of you might remember us and be willing to lend a hand, either through your troop or venture crew activities or through individual efforts, in order to help our son raise enough money for an Autism Service Dog.
Jason and I met at Florida Sea Base, married in October 2010, and now have two beautiful children, Josiah who is 3.5 and Judah, who is 15 months (future FSB staff members)!! Last December, our oldest son Josiah  was diagnosed with moderate to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am sure many of you know someone affected with autism. Josiah’s autism affects nearly every area of our lives and has become a very time-consuming and expensive disorder to manage. You can read more about our daily lives with autism at my blog, We also have a lengthy description of his abilities and limitations on our fundraising page, linked below.
Jason and I have been working very hard to get him the best in treatment, and we have recently been approved to fundraise for a service dog through 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit that connects children and veterans to service dogs for a wide range of disabilities. As part of our agreement with 4 Paws, we are expected to fundraise $15,000 to help cover some of the costs associated with breeding, fostering, and training the animal. Would you be willing to help us meet our goal through a donation or fundraising effort? All donations go directly to 4 Paws (and not to us), which is a 501c3 and makes any donations fully tax-deductible. You can learn more about 4 Paws, service dogs, and our fundraising efforts at:
At a tender age, and without a single word of communication, Josiah exemplifies many of the tenants of the Scout law, including being helpful, friendly, kind, loyal, and especially more brave than anyone I know. Please, if you can skip a morning cup of coffee and donate just $5 to his cause, we would be ever so grateful to the Scouting community that brought us together and will continue to be a part of our lives as our boys reach Tiger Cub age (trust me, it can’t come soon enough)!”

Rachel Szostek

JD, 2012
Jason and Rachel are one of the few Florida Sea Base couples that stuck together and are making a life and family together.  Any assistance you can afford Joshia will be greatly appreciated by the Szozteks.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape


in Weather  •  0 comments

Labor Day, the reminder that fall is soon to come, is here again.  The staff at the Florida Sea Base is recovering from the program season and preparing for the conference season.  I hope you are enjoying a safe weekend.


Tropical Storm Fred is dead and now we are watching T/S Grace.


It is encouraging that the track forecast shows Grace diminishing as she crosses the upper Antilles.  IF the system makes it to the Florida Sea Base, it should arrive before the start of the PADI Instructor Development Course that starts in 10 days.

Dr. Jeff Masters posted on his WunderBlog:

Over the next couple of days, Grace will move over sea-surface temperatures of 27-28°C (80-82°F), slightly above average for this time of year. Wind shear will be relatively light beneath a weak upper-level ridge. The National Hurricane Center projects Grace to become a strong tropical storm by late Monday, and I’d put at least 50-50 odds on the likelihood of Grace making it to minimal hurricane status by Monday or Tuesday. Later in the week, as Grace moves west of 40°W, the storm will encounter an intensifying belt of southwesterly upper-level winds extending from the Caribbean into the central Atlantic. Vertical wind shear of more than 40 knots will develop, and Grace is likely to decay significantly as the shear disrupts its circulation and injects dry air into its core. NHC projects Grace to be no more than a minimal tropical storm by Thursday, as it approaches the Lesser Antilles.


Applications are still coming in and it is NOT too late for you to submit an application.  More information can be found on the Scuba Training page.  We are staving to fill the class with 16 viable candidates.  The success of the DMA is critical to Program Director Joe Angelo’s efforts to find sufficient, Scout appropriate, competently trained scuba staff members for next year.


I will spend the remainder of this week with my dad in Jasper, Texas.  Saturday I will hit the road for the Florida Sea Base.  Monday I’ll be reassembling S/V Escape which was made ready for Tropical Storm Erika by Captain “Awesome” Christy Costa, Captain Reed Beasley and Scuba Instructor Jennifer Walk.  After that, I will be making preparations for the IDC.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Diretor – RETIRED


ERIKA – fizzled out
SCOUTS – all summer adventures have concluded
CAPTAINS and SEASONAL STAFF – most are headed for home and/or school
FULL TIME STAFF – breathing a sigh of relief and preparing for their upcoming Staff Planning Conference at Northern Tier later this month


I copied this straight from the NWS graphical forecast for the Florida Sea Base:

Sunday, August 30 at 8am
Temperature: 82 °F Dewpoint: 77 °F Heat Index: 90 °F Surface Wind: SE 16mph
Sky Cover (%): 89% Precipitation Potential (%): 80% Relative Humidity (%): 85%
Rain: Occasional (80%-100%) Thunder: Likely (60%-70%)

Despite the 80%-100% chance of raining, it is not a constant rain at the Florida Sea Base proper although the Brinton Environmental Center has seen pretty significant rain most of the morning.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 8.25.11

Captains Mike and Kelley Lucivero report that the fleet and personnel at Sea Base St. Thomas survived Erika without incident.

Tropical Storm Fred has already emerged from the African coast.  However, it is likely to curve north and not threaten the Florida Sea Base.


The next event at the Florida Sea Base is the PADI Instructor Development Course that starts on 17 September.  We have seven instructor candidates and three IDC Staff Instructor candidates.  The Florida Sea Base is currently fortunate to have three PADI Course Directors (instructor trainers) on staff, Program Director Joe Angelo, Captain Bert Hubby and me (as a volunteer, of course).


There’s still time to submit your application for the 2015 Divemaster Academy and live the dream of being a paid PADI Divemaster at the Florida Sea for the summer of 2016.  Details can be found on the Scuba Training page of this blog.

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


As of 05:00 EDT, the National Hurricane Center has nudged the official forecast track for Tropical Storm Erika slightly to the east, almost far enough to remove the Florida Sea Base from the dreaded “cone of death” (as the locals call it).


This is good news for the Florida Sea Base for the moment.  The next NHC update will be at 11:00 EDT.  I will not have access to a computer until sometime this evening.  I will post another short update if the storm jogs back to the west.  This is one of those situations where it’s a relief to see the system possibly pass you by, but at the same time, you know many people somewhere are going to suffer because of your good fortune.

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



in Weather  •  0 comments


All indications (including an email from our favorite Nation Weather Service Senior Marine Forecaster Chip Kennard) suggest that SUNDAY is the most likely day for the Florida Sea Base to feel effects from Erika IF we get anything at all.

The good news is that the Hurricane Center is currently forecasting a 10% chance of tropical storm strength winds at the base.  I prefer to look at that as a 90% chance that we will NOT experience the 34 to 63 knot winds.


As mentioned in my last post, the remainder of the week is expected to be soggy at the Florida Sea Base.  The good news is all of the participants should have left or be in the process of leaving the Florida Sea Base before Erika arrives.

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