It is definitely the end of an era for the sailing programs and all of the Florida Sea Base. It was long expected, but still very sad a few days ago when my friend, Sailing Director Captain Richard T. Beliveau, told me he had accepted a new job in North Carolina. Yesterday he made it official, notifying the General Manager and sending an email to the Florida Sea Base captains.
Captain Rich came to the Florida Sea Base in December 2004. He quickly realized that running the scuba and sailing programs was more than I could do. Not long thereafter he was appointed to the position of Program Director for the Florida Sea Base sailing adventures. He took the position more to help me out than for any personal reasons. We became friends as we struggled together daily to improve the sailing and scuba programs. I have written several posts comparing Captain Rich to the Archangel Michael. Without the partnership with Captain Rich neither the sailing nor scuba programs could have improved to their current status.
It is such a shame that the circumstances are as they are. The Florida Sea Base is loosing and outstanding employee and I am loosing a dear friend and trusted co-worker. But this is an incredible opportunity for Captain Rich. He can work 40 hour weeks instead of the 60 plus hours he has put in here. There will be no more 100 day stretches with a random day off here and there. He will make more money to start than he was making here after 8 years. His new position includes a house and dockage for his boat. Heck, he may even be able to spend Christmas, New Years, Independence Day, and birthdays with family and friends. While it is very hard to loose a friend, I am VERY happy for him.
This is also a great opportunity for Captain-turned-Nurse Carol Beliveau. She has been sorely missed for the past two years while she turned 100% of her attention to studies; another outstanding employee lost. The nursing opportunities are very limited in the Keys. I know she will have great success in her new profession.
Captain Rich was sent to the Florida Sea Base to take the burden of the sailing programs off me and to build those programs into the success they are. Without Captain Rich I would have crumbled under the stress of this job and moved on long ago.
I do not know of any stronger words to express my appreciation for being given the opportunity to become friends with Captain Rich than “thank you”. This day has been in the making for two or three years. When we realized this I changed my ringtone for Captain Rich so every time he called my phone would blare, “It’s the end of the World as we know it”. This loss may not be the end of the World, but it is certainly the end of an era.
Thanks for everything Rich, you will be missed more than you can imagine.
If any readers of this blog have comments or well wishes, please click on the comment button; I will post those for Captain Rich to read.
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape