Archive for the ‘Sailing’ Category

21Apr

USVI WEATHER

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SEA BASE ST. THOMAS

Those attending the inaugural season of the Florida Sea Base in the US Virgin Islands may have weather related questions.  You may bookmark this site http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=134587&units= if you like.  I’m sure there are a jillion other sites as well, but this one put the information in an easy to decipher table.  Don’t be put off by the rainfall.  It is similar to the Florida Keys.  It may rain about every other day, but the showers are usually spotty and brief – a nice cooling fresh water rinse if you will.

Captain Mike and Captain Kelly are very excited about being your hosts in the Sea Base St. Thomas sailing adventure.  They are working diligently to prepare an outstanding program.  I know they will be looking forward to feedback on how the adventure can be tweaked for future crews, including your next trip with them.

PROGRAM

Back at the Florida Sea Base in Islamorada, we have two Scuba Liveaboard crews and six Coral Reef Sailing crews enjoying some great weather on the reefs.  It is very slow on base.  The few remaining staff members will be kept busy making preparations for the Tarpon Tournament and/or the summer program season.

WEATHER

The weather looks very good for the coming week.

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

CONFERENCE

The NAYLE program falls within the conference department.  They spent the morning NOT racing on a course set-up by Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttel on Florida Bay just outside the Florida Sea Base harbor.  When you see sailboats running a buoyed course AND you see this much heel, it is hard to believe they were NOT racing.  But that is their story and they are sticking to it.  Captain Luke took these photos of the non-competitive, vessel maneuvering, experience.

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Above is S/V Misty Shoals, owned and operated by Captain Brian Stolzenberger.

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And this is S/V Chanticleer, owned and operated by Captain Scott Penfield.

Since this was not a race, there was no winner (or loser).

PROGRAM

The sailors were sailing and the divers were diving.  The sailors had the better conditions of the day.  The divers reported very limited visibility.  This was quite unexpected since they had at least 60′ of viz Monday.  Several Coral Reef Sailing crews were in for shore leave yesterday.  With a weak cold front approaching, the Scuba Adventure crews elected to make their night dive last night in the event the conditions deteriorate.

WEATHER

We had a little rain last night; hopefully enough to settle the coral dust a bit.  The dust has been aggravating a lot of sinuses and causing allergy like symptoms.  We have a 30% chance of rain for the remainder of the day, but the radar shows the spotty showers moving away from the Keys.  It is 77° at 05:00 this morning and the forecasted high is 82°.  The wind should be 10 to 15 knots clocking from NW to NE.

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

USVI

Summer 2014 is the inaugural season for the Florida Sea Base Virgin Islands sailing adventure.  Captains Mike and Kelly are onsite at the Sapphire BeachResort and Marina on St. Thomas.  Click HERE for the best photo I could find on the web of the marina.  Captain Kelly sent me this photo from ground level recently.  Bear in mind that this is the dead of winter at St. Thomas.  The summer is going to be even more incredible!

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I am anxious for program to start.  I am hopeful that Captain Kelly will be able to send me short reports to share with you about the success of the program.

22,424

That’s a lot of almost anything.  Today, I am 22,424 days old.  Would you like to know how many days old you are?  http://www.korn19.ch/coding/days.php

HEADED BACK

I am in Jasper, Texas spending a final day with my dad before making the 22+ hour drive back to the Florida Sea Base.  Chances are that I will not see any family members until next fall (except my wife who will come over to visit).  The drive back is always harder, slower, and sadder than the drive to Texas.

I think I will stay south of the current ice storm but I am a little concern about the road conditions.  I probably won’t post again until Sunday or Monday.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™

CAPT. BRUCE

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One of the most popular captains to ever run in the Florida Sea Base Coral Reef Sailing Adventure, Captain John “Bruce” Payette, passed away on 03 February 2014 following a long illness.  There is not much I can say.  I don’t think there is anyone who ever met Captain Bruce who didn’t love him.  Everything he did was first-class and the the participants he served will have great memories of him for life.  He was a good friend and we are very saddened by his death.

H&S MEETINGS

I attended four BSA Health and Safety meetings Monday; Safety Team, Education & Publications Team, Medical Team and the BSA National Health and Safety Support Committee.  My primary roles are to intervene if any of the Teams or the Committee proposes policies that would adversely effect operations at the Florida Sea Base, act as a subject matter expert on scuba, snorkeling and boating issues, and keep the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base informed on the actions of the H&S Committee.  (Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Seven hours of sitting in the same chair is hard on an “outside dog”.)

The Safety Team has worked for years in trying to improve safety from the top down, such as influencing the Top Three to support safety measures (“BSA’s Commitment to Safety”).  The Team is now focusing more on influencing the Unit level and working up the chain.  The arguments made within the meeting make this sound like an excellent change in tactics.  Incident reporting is still very weak nationwide.  Units in some instances are doing well in reporting to the Council but the Council is failing to report to the National Office.

One of the top priorities of the Education and Publications Team is the development of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2).  The hope to have a draft copy for the national meeting in May.  First implementation is to be within National Council, High Adventure Bases, Scout Shops, etc. and then on a local council level.  The Team is also moving forward with a BSA Emergency Preparedness Award.  I do not have any specifics on the requirements, but leaders should keep and eye open for the role-out of this new award.

The Medical Team announced that the BSA Annual Health and Medical Record has been revised (yes, again) for 2014.  The new form is GREATLY shortened from the model that has been in use since 2011.  Part D has gone away and the form is no longer bilingual.  (A Spanish version will be available as a separate document.)  The impact for High Adventure is each base will have a separate addendum to accompany the AHMR.  The Florida Sea Base will accept the old form for 2014.  EMR (electronic medical record) stored online is being investigated for National Jamboree, High Adventure Bases, large events and Council events).  The EMR may be ready by 2017.  The Team is also working on a new publication, “Practical Guide for Promoting Mental Health & Wellness in Scouting”.

The BSA Health and Safety Support Committee announced that the 2015 BSA Health and Safety Summit will be held in February (2015) at the Florida Sea Base (not a bad venue at that time of year).  Much of the rest of this meeting was a review of the previous three meetings.  I was allowed to make a brief presentation on the status ofo the Florida Sea Base.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™

After being up for over 40 hours, I was very disappointed that I didn’t sleep more than three hours Wednesday night.  I stayed fairly busy yesterday but did manage a 30 minute nap.  This is not starting out as much of a vacation. I received 67 emails yesterday.  This morning it is 22° at the house but I’m headed to Denton this morning and its 13° there – a great reminder of why I moved to the Florida Keys.  We are dry here but it is snowing to our south, including our homestead which is northeast of Houston.  It is very rare to get snow there.

FSB

I did not hear anything about yesterday’s activities at the Florida Sea Base.  The weather is cool and sunny with moderate breezes.  We received and reviewed our year end financials.  Telecommuting does have advantages.  I did my best to spend all my 2013 money but still had a surplus.  That’s a shame because that money doesn’t roll over.  It’s not totally lost, some goes in to our capital projects fund.  I think that most of the remainder goes to the Summit to try to whittle down their unbelievable debt.

USVI

Captains Mike and Kelly Lucivero called me from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands yesterday afternoon.  They have just arrived there after a three month odyssey from the Florida Sea Base and through the Bahamas.  They have spent a lot of time in the Bahamas on previous trips and were in no hurry.

Captain Mike said it was 85° at the marina yesterday.  He and Captain Kelly will begin making preparations for our inaugural summer season today; there is certainly a lot to do.  Home port for the program will be Sapphire Marina.  [I tried several times to insert a Google Maps link but I am having technical difficulties.  I will confer with I today and maybe have it posted tomorrow.]  Those of you with reservations for 2014 are VERY fortunate indeed.  For the rest of you, 2015 reservations are open NOW and close on 15 February 2014 for the 2015 summer season.  Passports are NOT required.  Airfare is cheaper to St. Thomas than to Miami from some airports.

The next island to the east, St. Johns, will also play a big part in the new sailing program.  Much of the island is a US National Park.  The details are still being worked out, but the NP management is very excited to have Scouts using the island and working on service projects.  I am very excited about this program.  I will pass along as much information as I can as preparations evolve.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Shivering in North Texas

 

28Jul

ADIOS DORIAN!

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DORIAN

Great news for the Florida Sea Base was posted by the National Hurricane Center at 14:00 (2 pm) yesterday:

000
WTNT34 KNHC 272032
TCPAT4

BULLETIN
REMNANTS OF DORIAN ADVISORY NUMBER  15
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL       AL042013
500 PM AST SAT JUL 27 2013

...DORIAN DEGENERATES INTO A TROPICAL WAVE...
...THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY...

Just because Dorian is  no longer a major concern does not mean we won’t feel some impact locally.  We may still get some rain, wind or both later in the week.  We do have a 30% chance of showers mid to late week.  But that is MUCH better than a tropical storm of hurricane.

SAILING

Captain Chris sent some photos of his lobster catch.  This was actually the first batch.  In my early morning rush yesterday, I posted the 2nd set of photos first.  Sorry to be out of sync.

Our crew this week caught 38 lobster during the two day mini season. We have grilled them, seared them, & fried them. Tonight they are preparing all of the leftover lobster for themselves, their coral reef mate and other sea base staff. After eating lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have came to the conclusion that sharing is the only way we can get rid of them all. Here are a few different pictures to choose from!

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SCUBA

Captain Christy Clemenson felt I needed evidence to support my claim of driving a dive boat Saturday morning.  So here I am (upper deck) with Dive Boat Mate Michael Cochran (lower deck) while our divers were experiencing 50′ visibility, no current, 84° water and and overall great last dive at the Landing Strip.

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

15Jan

MY FRIEND

in Sailing  •  8 comments

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

12Dec

USVI

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WORKING VACATION

Not me this time.  Captain Rich is taking a week of “vacation” away from the Florida Sea Base to celebrate Captain Carol’s graduation from nursing school.  Captain Rich was so impressed with his fall recon trip to the USVI for our upcoming 2014 summer sailing program there that he decided to go back.  Even though this is a “vacation”, I know Captain Rich will spend much of the time gathering intel for our 2014 summer sailing adventure.

USVI 2014

Speaking of the 2014 summer sailing adventure in the US Virgin Islands, I recently realized that for many people there is a preconception that the travel costs will be prohibitive; not necessarily so.  Captain Rich checked airfares from Minnesota to Miami, the Bahamas, and St. John’s.  St. John’s was actually the CHEAPEST airfare, Miami was second and the Bahamas was the most expensive.  Also keep in mind that the US Virgin Islands are a US territory and therefore do not require a passport.  This is a pilot program for 2014.  Reservations will be VERY limited and there is no guarantee at this time of bookings beyond 2014.  (I want to go!)

CHRISTMAS SAILING AND OUT ISLAND ADVENTURES

Yesterday I commented on the weather forecast for the week after Christmas at the Florida Sea Base.  I mentioned dressing in layers.  This is an especially important consideration for participating in any of our sailing adventures and the Out Island Adventure at the Brinton Environmental Center.  Something I failed to mention is sleeping gear.  In these programs you are essentially sleeping outdoors or with very limited heating options.  Therefore, give consideration to your sleeping gear.  A pad, sheet and MAYBE a light blanket are generally adequate for these programs in the summer.  You will want something more substantial this winter.

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

 

21Nov

Steve’s Away

in Sailing  •  6 comments

I’ll try to bring you up to speed on the ongoing of the Florida Sea Base.

The galley project is almost complete. John and crew have been doing amazing work in there. I saw the fire marshal, fire installation guys and the county inspector in there yesterday. So I’m guessing all went well.

Rooms 9 & 10 as well as the Thomas Building have been rehabbed with ceramic tile. I haven’t personally seen the Thomas Building but the two rooms look great.

The Newton is still broke. It isn’t a big fix just a pain in the butt. I’ll get it going next week before we need to have the boat. We’ll start splashing all of the other boats getting them back to Sea Base as well. The BEC has the Tarpon, after they are finished with it we’ll be selling her off. I may have a buyer for it where I do part time work. You can never have too many boats (not).

Probably the biggest news I have on the sailing end is that Sea Base will soon be expanding, announcing “Sea Base St. Thomas” tada!!!!

Captain’s Mike Lucivero, Alan Robinson and yours truly invaded the quaint little island of St. Thomas. Captain Carol (my wife) soon to be RN Carol made a joke of us three going to the Virgin Islands BUT it isn’t scout appropriate so we’ll leave this alone.

Anyway our trip was very successful. Seems our old Coast Guard inspector from Islamorada was recently stationed there and just happens to be a pretty good friend our mine. He showed us all the good spots to go and places to avoid. So mark your calendar for the sign ups coming in January.

This adventure will be a combination of sailing, snorkeling, fishing (not eating them, I’ll explain) and hiking the Island of St. John.

The fishing; seems the fish have a disease called ciguatera. Parrot fish eat reefs that are diseased. Needless to say everything gets infected. The tuna and dolphin are ok, but most of everything else isn’t.

Captain Carol and I will head to the island one more time mid December on a semi vacation/ semi work trip. Carol wants a vacation, I can’t sit still.

Well that’s about all for now, take care and have a great Thanksgiving.

Captain Rich

I thought I posted this Saturday but found it in my drafts folder just now.

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  A couple of days ago I posted my fall travel itinerary.  Due to events beyond my control and despite my best efforts, I am (at this moment) hoping to finish packing my Civic and little trailer, run some errands, prep Escape and go to bed around 18:00 (6pm).  If I can pull all of that off, I can leave here around 03:00 Sunday morning and arrive in Midlothian, Texas just as everyone is waking up on Monday morning.

FORMER STAFF

It’s always a treat to hear from former staff members.  I saw this comment this morning from Derek Faust:

Captain Steve,

Not sure if you remember me or not. I was a Scuba Mate for Summer 2010. I read your post almost everyday. I really enjoy the updates and progress that Sea Base is making. As a scientist myself (earned MS in Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech and currently at Mississippi State for my PhD in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture), I am really interested in the STEM program that you have posted about the past couple days. I think this is an excellent idea. As a nation, we are falling behind other countries in STEM and I think STEM education and outreach is where we need to start. I would like some additional information if you have it. I hope all is well and I am glad that Sea Base has thus far had pretty good luck in this busy hurricane season.

Derek, I’m glad you are doing so well with school.  I don’t recall (CRS disease) if Tim was working at the Florida Sea Base when you were here.  Tim Stanfill replaced Chrystene Matthew-Speed as the Food and Conference Director.  He is an Eagle Scout, former Florida Sea Base seasonal staff member, former District Executive, and a real life Boy Scout in every sense of the word.  Tim and Captain Rich Beliveauare discussing potential STEM programs with several local educators and many of the Coral Reef captains who are former educators.  We are looking at two approaches to the STEM project and hope to find a way to accomplish both.  The Boy Scouts of America has it’s own, in-house, STEM project.  There is a lot of information about their programs at http://www.scouting.org/STEM.aspx.  Our other approach is through the Florida Department of Education.  Florida’s STEM Strategic Plan is available at http://www.lsi.fsu.edu/centers/fcrstem/resources/documents/floridaSTEM_strategic_plan_dec2011.pdf.  I’m not sure of the proper title, but the Florida Sea Base is already recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a STEM facility.  The ultimate goal is the same, fill the Florida Sea Base with youth on a year ’round basis.

OTHER INITIATIVES

Simultaneously, Captain Rich Beliveau is working on a program to attract collegiate  sailing clubs to the Florida Sea Base and I am working on expanding our Divemaster Academy from an annual event to two or three times a year and working on hosting the first PADI Instructor Development Course at the Florida Sea Base, hopefully in the spring of 2013.

As I mentioned yesterday or the day before, the Scouting programs will ALWAYS come first at the Florida Sea Base.  Programs like STEM, collegiate sailing, professional scuba diving training, or whatever else we come up with will always be used to fill in our non-Scouting times.  Any income generated by other programs will benefit Scouting.  We have tried other programs in the past that were unsuccessful.  But we try to learn from those experiences and improve our proposals.

TYPHOON SANBA

The good news is Sanba is down from Super Typhoon to Typhoon (category 4 hurricane) status.  The bad news is the eye of this system is about 150 miles from US Air Force Base Kadena on the south end of Okinawa.  The track looks like it will take the eye through or very near the Air Force Base.  Please keep these folks in your prayers.

TRAVEL

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I hope to be on the road from 03:00 Sunday until sometime Monday morning.  So please excuse my absence for the next day or two and I will post again as soon as I have recovered from the 24 hour ± drive to the Mother Country.  It looks like I will beat much of the rain but will likely be wet from mid-Louisiana to Midlothian.  (Maybe the bugs will get washed off.)

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713
Aboard S/V Escape