Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Marine forecast from the National Weather Service:

NWS Forecast for: Hawk Channel from Ocean Reef to Craig Key out to the reef (GMZ042)Issued by: National Weather Service Key West, FLLast Update: 1147 AM EDT SAT MAR 19 2016

This Afternoon: South winds 15 to 20 knots…becoming south to southwest and decreasing 10 to 15 knots late. Seas 2 to 4 feet… Subsiding to 1 to 3 feet late. Nearshore waters choppy…becoming a light to moderate chop late. Isolated showers developing.

Tonight: South to southwest winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Scattered showers.

Sunday: Southwest winds 10 to 15 knots…becoming west and increasing to 15 to 20 knots late. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop…becoming choppy late. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Sunday Night: Northwest to north winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas building to 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters very rough. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Monday: North winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters very rough. Isolated showers.

Monday Night: North to northeast winds near 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters rough.

Tuesday And Tuesday Night: Northeast to east winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy.

Wednesday And Wednesday Night: East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers.

And here’s the rest of the story:

This Afternoon: A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 83. South wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: A slight chance of showers, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Sunday Night: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 62. Breezy, with a west wind 15 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Monday: A slight chance of showers before 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 68. Breezy, with a north wind around 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 59.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 75.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 68.

Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 72. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Lower Matecumbe Beach FL 24.85°N 80.73°W (Elev. 0 ft)

Very windy for most of this first week of spring break, some rain tomorrow and BBrrrrr ouch cold tomorrow night, all day Monday and Monday night.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape

We are anticipating difficult weather on Friday and Sunday.  Saturday I am going to try to get Escape to the boatyard in Marathon.  So don’t get antsy if I don’t post again until Sunday or maybe not until Tuesday.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

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


All is well at the Florida Sea Base.  However, I don’t have a post for this morning.  I was very busy with Escape until late last night.  When I finished I was so beat up I had to take two aspirin, two acetaminophens an two ibuprofen to get to sleep (around 11:30).  Then I woke up about 4 hours later and was up for about an hour.

I only have a week left before I have to be back in Texas and there are several tasks I have yet to finish on the boat.  It is time to kick in to overdrive.  Hopefully today will be a little easier on me so I can post something tomorrow.

Capt. Steve



That’s what I’ve got for today’s post – nothing.  But they say no news is good news so there you have it; nothing but good news. 🙂


PROTECTIVE CLOTHING – Yes, it is hot here.  But long sleeves are a reasonable consideration.  The SPF type shirts and the “wicking tees” sold through the Ships Store help keep you cool and reduce sunburn.  Hats, depending on style, can shade your eyes, ears, face and neck.  But remember, we frequently have wind and if you are on a dive boat there will definitely be apparent wind from the boats making 20 knots.  So you need to be able to keep your hat on your head.  Regardless of the type of vessel you are on (sailboat or dive boat), if your hat goes overboard the chances of recovering it are near zero.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape


I started my road trip back to the Florida Sea Base early Monday morning; my first destination was our homestead in SE Texas to visit my dad and to load up some tools and parts that I need for projects onboard Escape.

Right about two hours into the five hour drive the motor in the 1991 Suburban suddenly quit.  I coasted onto the rain soaked grass on the side of a 2 lane highway with no shoulder.  I was not quite in the middle of nowhere, but I was about 10 miles NW of the thriving metropolis of Palestine, Texas.  The big issue was easy to diagnose; fuel was not getting to the motor.  But why?  I suspected it was the fuel pump.

There was some good news at this point.  I have AAA Texas Plus which provides free towing for 100 miles.  And there is a Chevy dealership in Palestine.  (No kidding!)  So I called the Chevy dealer and explained my predicament.  They said they would be happy to look at it in a day or two.  Really?  Really.  They said that was the best they could do.  So I called AAA.  (Three As, not 2.)  They had a “preferred” independent shop in Tyler, Texas, about a 2 hour detour from my scheduled route.  I called that shop and they sounded much more interested in helping so I decided to go with that.  Then AAA called back and said it would take two hours for the wrecker to find me.  Great.

More good news, the wrecker arrived much quicker than anticipated AND the driver knew a shop in Rusk, Texas (on my route) that could get me on the road in short order.  So the Suburban was loaded onto the wrecker and we are off to Rusk.  About half way there all traffic was stopped.  A massive hardwood tree has fallen across both lanes of road.  There were a few guys with chainsaws whittling on the tree.  [Yes, we really haul them around with us in the backs of our trucks.  Case in point.]  We pull up in the wrecker, hook a chain onto the tree, pull the tree into the ditch and the road was open.  On to Rusk!

We arrived at Beck’s Auto just before noon.  The folks were exceptionally nice (most people are around here).  Three and a half hours later (at $100 per hour) I was  singing Willie’s hit, “On the Road Again”.  The first leg of the journey is in the bag.

Tuesday will be spent preparing for the long leg of the trip, the 20+ hour marathon from Jasper, Texas to the Florida Sea Base.  This is going to be challenging because I will have to dodge thunderstorms while trying to load tools, parts, dive gear, computers and personal effects into the Suburban.  I hope to leave here very early Wednesday morning and arrive at the Florida Sea Base before the highways are clogged with Memorial Day vacationers flocking to the Gulf Coast areas.

I’ll post when I can.

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


Monday (Sunday night for that matter) did not go quite as planned.  Step one was to go to bed immediately after dinner.  Done (sorta); but sleep was not happening.  Step two was to depart the Florida Sea Base around 3 am on Monday.  Since I couldn’t sleep, I left the base at 4 minutes after midnight.

So now I’m holed up in a motel that seems to be occupied predominantly by families with children who (I assume) are otherwise homeless.  The room is clean, I am very familiar with the stench.  It is the same smell that happens in the galley when the Scouts don’t realize that they have to change the water in the mop bucket from time to time; something like barf mixed with bleach.

I got up at 6 am Sunday.  It’s 7:45 pm Monday.  I am going to try to sleep for a few hours.  The plan for tomorrow is to arrive at the homestead before dark.

I have not heard from anyone at base so I am sure everything is great.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
NOT on S/V Escape

I will be on the road Friday and Saturday.  I hope to post on Monday.  Have a great weekend.

Capt. Steve Willis
Florida Sea base Scuba Director – RETIRED

I am struggling with how to keep this post alive and viable for you while I am physically disconnected from the base.  I started this blog because internal and external communications at the Florida Sea Base have always been “lacking”.  When I set up the blog I asked fellow permanent staffers to feed me information to post.  Captain Rich Beliveau was a big help and a few others contributed on rare occasion.  But like a group newsletter, the vast majority of the submissions have been mine alone.

After I started the blog, senior management at the Florida Sea Base decided to set up a Facebook page.  I was never granted permission to post on their page.  Photos and postings from this blog were occasionally posted on the FSB Facebook page with my consent.  My replacement, Joe Angelo, has years of experience promoting his former business on Facebook and may be able to beef up the FSB page.  If that becomes a reality, there will probably be no more need for the blog.

I will be at Sea Base during the DMA.  I will have very limited time to post, but plan to keep you informed of divemaster candidate progression, seasonal staff, program and captain information as time permits.

To save you time and frustration, my suggestion for now is to check this site once a week and we will share what’s left of this ride to the bitter end.  If you have questions, send them in via comment or my email and I will address those.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas.  Thank goodness that much of the retail insanity is behind us.  Have you ever wondered why these marketing geniuses don’t have a summertime version of this insanity?  Instead of coats and sleds we could buy dive gear, boat stuff and swimwear.  I would much prefer spending my money on the latter.

Capt. Steve


My lovely bride is in the kitchen early this morning.  I’m doing my part by staying out of the kitchen.  We will leave in a little while to make the 5 hour drive to our homestead to share good food and hearts filled with thanks with my dad.  Thank all of you for the good work you do for he Scouts.


Rush hour in Dallas is a little overwhelming after spending 14 years in the Keys.

rush hour

I was alone when I took the photo.  No road rage, no frustration.  Turn up the tunes on XM radio, crank the sub, enjoy the pretty, Christmas-like, red brake lights flashing on and off in front of me, and enjoy the ride.  (Check back with me in a few months to see if my attitude has swung 180°.)  It’s hard to get worked up about anything when you’ve just visited your kids and grandchild that you haven’t seen in months.


The Florida Sea Base will be open for business as usual on Monday.  The 11th annual Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy starts in less than 3 weeks and the winter program season starts on 26 December.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™