Archive for December, 2009

Today is New Year’s Eve and the winter season at Florida Sea Base is starting to wind down.  Five of the Coral Reef Sailing crews and the Scuba Certification crew had their going away luau tonight and head for colder climates back home tomorrow.  A slightly sunburned Capt. Rich is through driving the tubing boat for the season and drove BSA Adventure today.  The Divemaster Academy candidates, Scuba Adventure crew and Scuba Certification crew spent the day diving.  Four Coral Reef Sailing crews, two Sea Exploring crews and one Scuba Liveaboard crew are still out on the water.

Divemaster Academy candidates preparing for a night dive.

Preparing to descend.

Glow of the divers' lights 24 feet down.

I appreciate everyone who has been checking this website, blog, or whatever the correct techno term may be.  If you do a Google search on Florida Sea Base you will find that Florida Sea Base News has moved from the fourth page of Google hits to the second page.  Hopefully we will make page one in the near future.

As I have mentioned before, I am severely computer illiterate.  My son Aaron is the brains and he managed to set this site up in such a way that even I can add posts, photos, and edit the various pages.  Thanks Kiddo.

Today was another busy day for the Divemaster Academy.  I taught risk management this morning, then the group headed out to the reef for three scuba dives.  After dinner they had two more classroom sessions plus a guest speaker, Bert Hubby, who is a Course Director at Florida Keys Dive Center.  Bert is a retired attorney from Texas and a former Florida Sea Base staff member.  He was very instrumental in the formation of the Divemaster Academy and was one of the instructors for DMA Class 1.

The Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification crews went out for two more scuba dives.  The Scuba Adventure crew then had an early dinner and went back out for a night dive.  Four Coral Reef Sailing crews came back to Florida Sea Base today for their “fun day” and participated in the same activities that I posted pictures of yesterday.

And the last panel was installed in phase one of the sea wall repairs at Florida Sea Base.  And while their is still much to do before phase one is complete, it was good to see the last panel put in place.  All in all, quite a busy day.

The final panel being installed in phase one of the sea wall repair.

I want to remind everyone that there are limited openings for spring and summer 2010 at the Florida Sea Base.  Check the official website at www,bsaseabase.org for details.  And don’t forget to visit the Ship’s Store online at www.fsbshipstore.com.

I was occupied with administrative issues most of the day and didn’t get out on the boat.  I was able to take several photos today.  I’m going to post seven of the photos and let them and their captions kind of speak for the day.  I forgot to take a picture of the crews playing volleyball.  I’ll try to remember tomorrow.  Please click READ MORE to see the photos.

Captain Richard T. Beliveau, FSB Program Director - Sailing

Capt. Rich is the Program Director for the sailing programs at the Florida Sea Base (Coral Reef Sailing, Sea Exploring and handles dockage and some other aspects of the Scuba Liveaboard Adventure).  The sailing programs represent about 60% of our annual participation.  When my son Aaron set up this blog site for me I hoped Capt. Rich would become a contributor.  Be watching for posts from him starting soon.

I want to tell you a little more about Capt. Rich because … well because he is one of my personal angels.  I am not a Bible scholar, but I have read the Bible cover to cover multiple times.  And I’ve done some other independent biblical studies as I’m sure many of you have.  Sometimes I wonder if Capt. Rich is the personification of the Archangel Michael (who is also referred to as St. Michael).  There is a movie called Michael with John Travolta playing the part of Michael.  Again, not being a biblical scholar, my impression is that Michael is God’s enforcer.  It appears that Michael has been on Earth several times (in the Old Testament) and has taken part in most (if not all) of God’s heavy work.  Some scholars believe that in some instances when it is thought that God came to Earth in the Old Testament that He may have actually sent Michael in His place to take care of business.  It’s a very interesting topic if you want to do some research.

Anyway, Capt. Rich and his wife Capt. Carol appeared at the Florida Sea Base in 2005 looking for work as boat captains.  They are a wonderful couple and I am sure Capt. Carol would agree with me saying that Capt. Rich is a very charismatic individual.  If you have meet Capt. Rich you really like him.  You just can’t help it.  So, needless to say I hired Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol.  They are both great people, have really big hearts, and seemed to like what the Florida Sea Base and scouting were trying to do for the youth of America.  So they were hooked on the Florida Sea Base and all of us were (and still are) hooked on them.

Capt. Rich seemed to recognize how overwhelmed I was as the Program Director for all of the Adventures being conducted at Sea Base.  And “overwhelmed” is a huge understatement.  My days started at 0730 and ended at 2100 (9 pm) or later seven days a week whenever program was running (7 1/2 months a year).  In a relatively short period of time we worked up a plan to sell upstream for Capt. Rich to become the Sailing Director.  Since everyone loves Capt. Rich it wasn’t hard at all to convince the bosses that Capt. Rich was the person to give me some relief.  So Capt. Rich stepped in and took over the lion’s share of many aspects of my job.  Now I only work from 0730 to 1900 hours six days a week during program seasons (plus a lot of hours between midnight and 0500 because I don’t sleep well many nights).

Capt. Rich’s presence has allowed me the time and opportunity to greatly increase the quality of the scuba programs while he has done likewise for the sailing programs.  The divers have better gear, better staff (thanks to the success of the annual Divemaster Academy), better boats, and soon – more dives per week.  I have become a member of the BSA Aquatics Task Force and a frequent guest of the BSA Health and Safety Committee.  Through these groups I have been able to participate in the revisions to some of the water safety policies of the BSA like Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense.   I was able to play a role in the recently released Scuba Diving merit badge book and I’ve spent countless hours researching scuba related medical issues and working with the Florida Sea Base doctor (and the Health and Safety Committee) to devise fair but safe medical policies for Scouts wishing to participate in scuba as part of a unit activity.  There have been several other projects.  I am not mentioning all of these to wave my own flag, but because all of these good works that have benefitted our youth happened because Capt. Rich’s success with the sailing programs allowed me the opportunities to work on all of these other issues.  Without him at the helm, I would still be struggling 14 hours a day, 7 days a week just to try to keep this place from imploding.

Capt. Rich, thank you – again – for saving my life, helping the Florida Sea Base grow into the highest quality of all of the national high adventure bases, and for having such a tremendous impact on the lives of our staff members and participants.  It will be great to read your posts.  If any of you have any questions regarding the Coral Reef Sailing Adventure, Eco Adventure or Sea Exploring, you can contact Capt. Rich at Rich.Beliveau@scouting.org.

It was a little slower at Florida Sea Base today.  No new crews checking in at least.  The Divemaster Academy candidates spent all day on the water.  I didn’t get to go with them so I didn’t get any new photos.  Half of the class worked on their underwater mapping assignment while the other half practiced working as divemasters leading certified divers.  They did so well the instructors gave them the night off.

The Scuba Certification crew spent all day (literally) in the scuba training tanks preparing for tomorrow’s Open Water Training Dives.  The Scuba Adventure crew spent the day diving (reporting 80′ visibility), snorkeling and having a great time.  The sailing crews were out sailing, fishing and snorkeling the reefs.  All in all a great day of fun program activities.  Tomorrow some of the sailing crews come back to the Florida Sea Base for a mid-week day off.  They will get instruction on small boat sailing, spend a few hours sailing our Hunter 170s, play volleyball, go kayaking and go tubing.

DMA Instructor Dave Ball returning from an underwater session with the candidates.

Tomorrow some of the Coral Reef Sailing crews will enjoy small boat sailing and other activities on the Base.

27Dec

Half Way

The Divemaster Academy is half way through. This morning was physics class taught by Instructor David Ball, this afternoon was their last timed swimming skill, the 100 yard inert diver tow.  In this scenario, the rescuer and victim will be in full scuba gear at the surface.  The rescuer has four minutes or less to tow (or push) the victim 100 yards in open water conditions.  This was the last of the “stamina” skills.  After completing the inert diver tow they went to the scuba training tank for a “surprise” underwater problem to see how well they deal with stress and how quickly they could devise a solution to the problem.  This is a pass/fail scenario, but it is not uncommon to require a second try to be successful.  This evening they took the physics exam and I counseled one on one with them to discuss their interim professionalism score.

Several Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew checked in at Sea Base this afternoon.  All of yesterday’s crews did an excellent job (thanks to an outstanding effort from our staff members) at catching up and getting on with their Adventure.

The forecast calls for a chilly 61 degrees tomorrow morning.  The rest of the week is looking good with lows near 70 and highs around 76.  If you’re not here, I would encourage you to consider reservations for winter 2010.  The Sea Base and Brinton Center run all programs the week before and the week after Christmas.  For reservation information, visit the Florida Sea Base website at www.bsaseabase.org.  Any available dates for 2010 should be listed on the website.  If not, email our Registrar at Nancy.Wells@scouting.org.  Reservations for all 2011 dates (including winter) will open on 15 January 2010 through the reservations website.  If you have never attended Sea Base, you will need to set up an account in advance.  See the FSB website for details.

DMA Class 6 prior to the timed inert diver tow.

Logan towing "inert diver" Mike.

26Dec

A Very Busy Day

in Scuba  •  2 comments

The DMA candidates were busy in the pool this morning learning how to handle problem students when assisting an instructor with an entry level scuba class.  Then in the afternoon they went diving on the reef and worked on how to handle problem students in open water conditions.

Saturday was opening day for the winter season at Sea Base for all of the other programs.  Controlled chaos is the best way to describe this event.  Most of the crews arrived late so the place was a madhouse.  The Scuba Liveaboard crew and Scuba Adventure crew won’t get to do their scuba review in the scuba training tank until tomorrow morning.  This won’t affect the schedule for the Scuba Adventure crew but will put the Scuba Liveaboard crew about a half day behind.

More crews arrive tomorrow and the Divemaster candidates will have another long day.

One candidate plays the role of Divemaster while the other candidates play the role of student. Drew is supervising the "students" as they assemble their scuba gear on the ride out to Alligator Reef.

Alligator Reef Lighthouse.

On the ride back in we had dolphins playing in our wake.

I accidentally failed to publish this post the other day.  So it’s a little out of sequence.  My apologies.

Thursday and Friday were busy days for the divemaster candidates.  The group was essentially divided into two.  Each day, one group was evaluated on their scuba skills in the pool while the other groups was in the classroom taking tests and learning about dive theory and dive tables.  As a professional it is important to understand the “whys” of diving.  The dive theory, physiology and physics sections of the divemaster course explain most of the “whys”.  Even so, there is still volumes to learn and understand.  That’s one of the reasons I am still excited about scuba after so many years – there is ALWAYS something new to learn, see and explore.

As a matter of fact, I bought an underwater metal detector last year.  Everyone knows that a lot of ships sank of the coast of the Keys.  Most of the real treasures have been found, but every now and then something small still gets found.  I know where there’s an anchor; a really old anchor.  It’s near some of the charted wrecks of the ships from the 1733 era.  Others know of this anchor.  But I found the chain to the anchor and it stretches on for a long while, probably further than I can swim on a single tank.  So I plan to take the metal detector, follow the chain and see if I can find parts from an old pirate’s pistol or something cool like that.  I’m not expecting to find a ship of sunken gold, but I am hoping to find something, and have fun looking.

If your family is not into scuba, I would suggest you check it out.  You can start at www.padi.com where you can find dive shops in your area.  Stop by, talk with an instructor, check out the equipment and facilities and give it strong consideration.  This is a family oriented activity that can be enjoyed from pre-teen years to very old age.  Ask your dive shop about “Discover Scuba” – a pool experience that gives you the opportunity to “try before you buy”.

After grazing on the amazing spread pictured in the previous post, half of the Divemaster Academy candidates hit the classroom and the other half hit the 73 degree water in the scuba training tank.  Later we went to an incredible dinner at Tom’s Harbor Restaurant, but I forgot to bring my camera.  [If you click on the second photo to enlarge it, you may see the red flowers blooming in the background – on Christmas day.]

Instructor Milly McCoy explains one of the toughest skills - removing and replacing the mask underwater.

Instructor Milly McCoy explains while Instructor/Capt. Alex Bergstedt demonstrates the Giant Stride entry.

DMA candidates demonstrating their skills in the scuba training tank.

Tomorrow Scouts arrive for Coral Reef Sailing, Sea Exploring, Scuba Adventure, Scuba Certification and Scuba Liveaboard.  It will be a VERY busy day.

I just couldn’t fit this into less than four photos.  Fresh fruit, Norwegian salmon, vegetables, bagels, pastries, scones, cheeses, meats, a true feast for the Divemaster Academy candidates and the staff of the Florida Sea Base.  Thank you Deanza, Kerri, Re, Maria, Valerie, Chrystene and anyone I left out.  This was amazing.

The main line...

Cereals, bagels & breads...

Cookies & pumpkin muffins...

The final touches.