Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category




I apologize for being away for so long without warning.  I received this sweet comment from Mary Beth DiSanti:

I am having Sea Base News withdrawal!!! I hope someone will continue after your retirement. Good luck & I’ll miss your posts. MBD

I very much appreciate everyone’s well wishes and I hope to post more regularly once I get a bit more settled.  I am hitting the road tomorrow (Saturday) morning to take a small load of stuff to Texas and to spend some time with family.  I will return to the base on or around 15 December to meet up with Alex Bergstedt, Rich Goldman and whomever else is here early to make final preparations for the 11th annual Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy (DMA).

My lovely bride arrived two weeks ago to help me sort through 14 years of accumulated files, dive gear and boat parts.  Once the sorting was done we packed my 16’x7′ enclosed trailer with “the good stuff”.  It has been two weeks of long days.

I have also spent a fair amount of time with the new Scuba Director, Joe Angelo, helping him get up to speed.  You can reach Joe at  He is in place, on payroll and in charge.  One of the big changes for Joe is being on call 24/7 for most of the year.  Unlike a typical dive resort, during program season we have kids on the base and on the water 24 hours a day about 100 days straight (just in the summer) and kids on the base or on the water means the Program Director is subject to call for anything from a bandaid to a fatality.  (I am NOT going to miss that part!)

I am driving my Accord (which I had serviced yesterday) and pulling a small 4’x6′ trailer home.  I am dropping my bride at Miami International Airport early in the morning and then driving another 5 or 6 hours to the historic homesite of Captain Dennis Wyatt (author of The Bald Man and the Sea AND The Balder Man in the Sea) and Doctor Ellen Wyatt (caregiver for The Bald Man Who Left His Brain in the Sea).  From there it is another 18 hours of drive time to Dallas.  According to The Weather Channel, I will enjoy rain, strong winds and a 40% chance of tornadoes as I drive west on I-10 Sunday.

I will return with my 3/4 ton GMC for DMA and haul the big trailer back to Texas in January.  (Fortunately I will travel I-10 back to our homestead in Southeast Texas and hopefully will miss most/all of any frozen precipitation.)


While I was busy closing shop, the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center were busy hosting an assortment of conferences from BSA professional development courses to BBYO (formerly B’nai B’rith Youth Organization) events.

Most of the seasonal and full time staff have fled the premises for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This is the only holiday that Florida Sea Base Program Directors are allowed to be away from their post.  Senior management and hourly employees can take vacation at their choosing.  I will turn out the lights and lock the gates behind me tomorrow when I pull out.


The recent cold fronts managed to push their way through the Keys.  It is raining and cool this morning, very nasty looking and really making for a depressing day.  The cold fronts are wreaking havoc with the local ocean water temperatures.  Molasses Reef Buoy reported the water temperature as 78.1°F at 08:00 (AM) yesterday.  At 06:00 this morning the reading was 73.4.  If anyone attending the Divemaster Academy is reading this, be prepared to shiver off a few pounds during the course this year.

I will try hard to post again by mid-week.  I appreciate your loyalty and patience while I make this transition from warm and sunny Florida to the frozen tundra of The Mother Country.

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




The Florida Sea Base is hosting a Professional Development II course this week.  Our own Captain Scott Martin, Program Director at the Brinton Environmental Center, is attending the course.  Professional Scouters from around the country are enjoying a reasonably warm and sunny stay in the Keys.


Bo Bussler continues to slave away with his primary assignment of overhauling about 150 scuba regulators for the 2015 program season.  I have been working daily with Joe Angelo, our new Scuba Director.  Joe will do a great job, but the learning curve is very steep.  In my opinion, it would be easier to indoctrinate a new hire during the program season so they can see and experience the issues at hand.  But that’s not how my retirement date worked out and we are both doing the best we can.


We survived the weekend cold front passage and the weather has been a little cool in the mornings and very breezy but otherwise pleasant for the past few days.  We are expecting another cold front to march its way in this weekend.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 4.41.47

The temperature drop is forecasted for Sunday night with a low of 69°.  So this front will be much weaker than last week’s.  The bigger concern is the effect on our water temperatures.  With the Divemaster Academy still six weeks or so away, the water temperature is dropping quicker than I would like.  (That was a stupid comment.  Locals consider water temperatures below 80 to be unsurvivable and a sign of the end of the scuba season.  The water at Molasses Reef is a bone chilling 77.9°F at this morning.)

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


Everything is fine at the Florida Sea Base.  I just have nothing to report that is worth your time.  Maybe tomorrow.

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



Thanks for all of the birthday and retirement wishes.  My stress level remains off the chart with the PADI IDC starting this Thursday, still trying to recruit more applicants for the Divemaster Academy in December and the Scuba Tournament and National Aquatics Workshop in October.  I continue to be very blessed with help from some incredible staff members.\ and could not do any of this without them.


Florida Sea base Facilities Director Captain Keith Douglass was kind enough to volunteer “us” to serve as a safety vessel for the 2nd annual Swim for Alligator Light.  The event was organized to bring attention to the neglected lighthouse.  The lighthouse was erected in 1873.  I don’t want to start any political pushback so I will simply say that there is currently no funding available for the Coast Guard to maintain the light and there are plans to abandon or dismantle this historic landmark.

Captain Douglass was too busy to attend himself.  Scuba Commissioner Alex Bergstedt, Scuba Instructor Brenda Mallory and I manned BSA Sea Scout and were on station at Alligator Light, one of the most photographed sites in the Florida Keys, from 08:30 to 16:00.


Florida Sea Base Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill was on a four person relay team that placed third in their division.  Former Florida Sea Base seasonal staff member (also retired Sergeant from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and currently an Officer with the Florida Wildlife Commission) Roy Bogue swam with another team.

This is a true open water swim; 8 nautical miles of current, waves, 4 to 5 hours of sun and saltwater exposure, droves of moon jellies, and yes, the occasional passing shark.  There were no shark attacks, but severe jellyfish stings did cause several swimmers to abort the swim.

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

Despite being held against our will in the Big Cypress Swamp of SW Florida, we are having a productive meeting.

The “resort” is very interesting.  This photo was (obviously) taken in the men’s room.

photo 1

In case you can read the signs…

photo 2

I was confused.  Please flush COMMODE when done (with the URINAL).  I’ve never been in a men’s room where you had to flush the commode to empty the urinal.  If you finished but someone’s sitting on the toilet, no worries.  No need to flush.  When the guy finishes on the toilet he will flush the urinal for you.  As I am writing this I realize that I failed to check inside the stalls.  I wonder if there were signs saying please flush urinals when done (on the commode).  Life in the swamp.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Surviving in the swamp





The rain is gone, the wind is gone.  So what is left?  MOSQUITOS!!!  Good golly Miss Molly!  Swarms of newly hatched, BLOOD THIRSTY mosquitos.  Our heat index was in the triple digits yesterday, the humidity felt like it was 99.99999%, the wind was dead calm, and the mosquitos were loving it.


I remember AFK – away from keyboard – from an episode of The Big Bang Theory.  As I mentioned yesterday, the full time staff of the Florida Sea Base will be sequestered in a secret location in the swamps of SW Florida Tuesday through Friday.  I don’t know what, if any, connectivity may be available there.  I may post Tuesday morning before we hit the road.  If not, it will likely be Saturday before I can post again.


Speaking of connectivity, the Florida Sea Base was without internet, email, and phone service Friday.  Yesterday, a technician was installing g a new fiber optic switch in the Program Office where Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill, Sailing Program Director Captain Luke Knuttel, the Office Manager and I are housed.  We have been waiting over 5 years (maybe closer to seven) for this switch that is SUPPOSED to end all of the connectivity issues in our little building.  Why has it taken so long?  Consider that it took more than a MONTH for the switch to arrive at the Florida Sea Base after it was reportedly “overnighted” from the tech guys at National who are responsible for supporting our operation.  We are obviously so low on their priority list that we are not even on the list.  Today we will learn whether the switch works.  If not, maybe tech support will find a solution by 2021.

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


I left Texas at 4 AM (ET) Monday and pulled into the Florida Sea Base at 1:30 this morning.  1,215 miles in 17 hours and 15 minutes of drive time.  My eyes are stressed to the max and I have serious car lag.  The drive back and forth is tough but it was worth it to spend a few days with my family.


Several African waves have made their way into the Atlantic and fizzled while I was traveling.  This was consistent with the long range forecast.  Another wave (Invest 91L) has emerged but poses no threat to any Florida Sea Base interests at this time.



Tropical Weather Outlook Text

800 AM EDT TUE SEP 9 2014

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

1. A broad area of low pressure located a few hundred miles south of
the Cape Verde Islands continues to produce disorganized showers and
thunderstorms. Environmental conditions are forecast to be
conducive for gradual development of this disturbance during the
next several days while it moves west-northwestward at about 15 mph.
* Formation chance through 48 hours…medium…30 percent.
* Formation chance through 5 days…high…70 percent.

Forecaster Beven


Family and friends of the late Captain Bruce Payette will meet at the Safari Lounge late this afternoon to celebrate his life.  Captain Bruce passed away in February.  Tomorrow his ashes will be scattered at sea per his wishes.

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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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

Office Manager Yen Trinh, Sailing Director Captan Luke Knuttel and I have rejoined the connected world.  How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

I am going to be away from the computer this weekend.  I will be able to answer some emails on Sunday and I’ll be back in business on Monday.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™



I apologize for not posting for a couple of days.  The Florida Sea Base programs are in full swing.  The weather is great (very warm).  We are still short staffed and I have simply been overwhelmed and have not been able to make the time to post.  Bear with me and I’ll get some real information posted soon.

Capt. Steve Willis