If you have checked the official website for the Florida Sea Base, here and maybe other sources, you may have noticed a conspicuous lacking of program itineraries. That’s because there are so many variables that it is almost impossible to publish an itinerary that is cast in stone. When we have tried to publish itineraries we have caught all kinds of grief for not sticking with it. The official motto of the Florida Sea Base is “Semper Gumby” which we translate as “Forever Flexible”. Some folks just don’t seem to have a flexible bone in their body. (Well, no one has flexible bones but you know what I mean.) We try our best to keep the crew leaders advised of our plans for the day and maybe even tomorrow. However, some people just can’t grasp that the schedule has to change because a boat has broken, the weather stalled instead of clearing as forecasted or some other incident that we cannot control.
If your crew arrives late, your itinerary changes. If another crew arrives late it may change your itinerary even if you arrived at the proper time. If the weather changes the itinerary changes. If a boat breaks down the itinerary changes. If a staff member is ill or injured it changes the itinerary. If someone in your crew becomes ill or is injured it can change the itinerary for your crew or several crews.
Why so Captain Steve? Primarily because we are doing the most we can possibly do with the resources we have available. Generally speaking, we do not have spare boats or extra staff. The Keys are relatively “rural” in nature. Getting anything repaired – a boat, air conditioner, dish washer, vehicle, trailer, swimming pool pump, fire suppression system, oven, anything – can take days. It can actually take days just to get the needed parts. ”Overnite” delivery in the Florida Keys means two days, not tomorrow. The only thing I have ever managed to get “tomorrow” was having my broken Dell laptop picked up for a warranty repair.
In the spring (February through April) the weather is subject to frequent changes. It is not uncommon for the “plan” to change three times a day. One of our functions during the program seasons is to sit in the office and watch the weather radar and the Weather Channel. Each boat submits a float plan before departing the Florida Sea Base. So when the weather is being cantankerous Capt. Rich, Capt. Alex or I (somedays all three of us) may spend the day routing vessels around hazardous weather or recalling them to the base when the weather is getting too nasty. We take these extraordinary measures to try to deliver as much program as is possible. It would be easy to say that the weather looks iffy today and all boats should remain at dock. But that is not what our participants paid for.
So please try to be understanding when you can’t find an itinerary for your adventure. My promise as an Eagle Scout to each of you is that we are going to massage the itinerary constantly to do our best to give you the most bang for your buck possible. The Program Directors and Commissioners at the Florida Sea Base and the Brinton Environmental Center are absolutely dedicated to providing you with a life altering experience. Being shackled by an itinerary would make our lives easier and your adventure less adventurous. Our goal is to provide High Adventure experiences. Our General Manager signs his emails with “Delivering ocean adventures that make a lifetime difference”. We simply haven’t found a way to maximize that promise while being able to stick to a pre-published hour-by-hour itinerary.