Archive for April, 2010

Hello Sea Base Peoples,
The base is in a major face lifting mode. We have our annual Tarpon Tournament next week. All hands are preparing the base for our one and only fundraiser.

Captain Steve made it over to the Bahamas. I talked with him the other day and is starting his trip back soon. They had a great crossing with S/V Chanticleer and met up with Capt’s Mike & Kelly in Bimini. From there they headed east and made it to Andros for some much deserved down time.

Our Last 6 crews left the base Sunday early heading back home. I think this has been our best spring yet as customers being happy. I think we only had 1 crew out of over 60 that were a little dissatisfied. They wanted more of a Boy Scout program verses an ocean program. They all had a great time none the less.

Other than that all is well on the home front. We’re keeping a weather look for Steve to make his way back.

Capt Rich


El Nino

in Weather  •  0 comments

During the 2009 hurricane season, several potentially major hurricanes were diverted back into the Atlantic in part due to the effects of El Niño.  This image  (from Jeff Master’s blog) shows a forecasted reduction in El Niño effects for the 2010 hurricane season and some computer models show La Niña conditions – definitely not good.

Figure 2. Computer model forecasts of El Niño/La Niña made in April. The forecasts that go above the red line at +0.5°C denote El Niño conditions; -0.5°C to +0.5°C denote neutral conditions, and below -0.5°C denote La Niña conditions. No computer models predict El Niño conditions and six predict La Niña for the upcoming hurricane season (ASO, August-September-October). The rest of the models predict neutral conditions. Image credit: Columbia University's IRI.

This is just a forecast, but it does give us some cause for concern when combined with the above average Sea Surface Temperatures of the coast of Africa.  Only time will tell.  If you are bringing a crew to the Florida Sea Base in August, please consider trip cancellation insurance.

Now I will get back to my vacation.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape

Its official, scuba tanks are all visual inspected in record time. The program staff pulled together in great fashion to finishing the inspections Thursday. Over 400 tanks inspected, cleaned, wire brushed and tumbled. GO TEAM.
On the sailing side of life we had two arrival crews heading out to sea yesterday. S/V’s Island Woman with Captain Ted and Lady Nell with Captain Luke. Conditions are going to be less than perfect, but this is High Adventure to say the least. The wind is starting to settle a little, it’s only blowing 15. They are both heading SW running to Marathon and dodging the rain.

Yesterday was eventful for Captain Ed’s guys on the S/V Siesta. Seems they hit one of the few lobster pots left out the day before. If you’ve ever been on Siesta you’d know that Captain Ed has just about every toy or gadget on, in or under his boat. When he hit the pot (he was piloting) his variable pitch super expensive propeller wrapped the line up and then proceeded to blow 2 of the 3 blades off. They sailed back to sea base and spent the night anchored off of our headpin. Captain Luke and I went out in the unofficial sea base tow boat and brought them in to the dock. Luke removed the old prop and put the even older standby prop back on. Ed is ready to go for tomorrow’s crew arrivals.

Today’s arrivals are S/V Sudden Impulse with Captain Ron and our last Scuba Live A Board with Captains Denny and Holly. Hopefully everyone will get here on time and trouble free.

Rob Kolb (Director of Program) and I went and talked with the Navy again about the Sea Explorers running out of Key West. Our meeting went very well and it looks like the program will be moved. We met with Lt. Fairweather (LDO) and Master Chief James. Seems the Master Chief and I knew some of the same people when I was in the Navy in San Diego. Small world I guess. Hopefully everything will work out, and the scouts coming will get a hoot out of seeing Navy SEALS train as well as Army Special Forces Divers.

That’s all for now,
Captain Rich

It’s been a busy couple of days here at the Sea Base. Yesterday we had 4 crews come in off the water on S/V’s Dutch Love, Siesta, Juan Cadiz and Misty Shoals. The crews had big fun with all of the wind on the little sailboats, tubing was a hoot and the kayaking was challenging getting back from the mangroves. Every boat capsized except one. I personally think it was more of the crews wanting to get wet than actual capsizing.

The scuba staff was hard at it with VIP’ing tanks with the help of the rest of the Coral Reef staff. So far there have been 250 tanks inspected with everyone’s efforts. Great job guys.

The four sailboats are leaving the docks heading north on the bayside trying to dodge the wind; it’s blowing well into the 20’s. So far they’ve blown out a head sail, mainsail and ripped another sail along the way, not bad for a 3 day trip so far.

Overall everything is going well around the base. We’re starting to prepare for the annual Tarpon Tournament.

Captain Steve is back at the docks aborting his Bahamas trip. He is spending well deserved time off with his son Aaron. Captains Mike and Kelly are floating on the hook somewhere NE of here tucked behind Pumpkin Key waiting for the wind to die down a bit before they jump across the stream and head to Bimini.

I’ve finally got the Ok to start the summer schedule from Nancy. We have a total of 528 crews coming to Sea Base this summer. I have the pleasure of putting crew numbers to boats and finding a home for each vessel throughout the summer.

I will write more later, just didn’t want to leave the blog for too long unattended.

Captain Rich



I apologize for there being no post yesterday.  I am on vacation.  My son, Aaron, and I aboard S/V Escape along with Capt. Mike, Capt. Kelly, Terri and Maggie aboard S/V Ciao Bella tried to make it to the Bahamas but the weather had different plans.  So I am back in cellular range and able to make this post.

Capt. Alex Bergstedt, Capt. Dennis Wyatt, and Sargon have been working on Visually Inspecting the scuba tanks.  I have not heard from anyone else so I’m not sure what they have been up to.    “VIPing” the scuba tanks involves draining them of the high pressure air, removing the tank valve and the tank boot and visually inspecting the outside and inside of the tank for pits, cracks, debris or moisture.  The tanks have to be visually inspected at least once a year.  It is quite a process to inspect over 400 tanks.

Okay, back to the vacation.  We did make it to Rodriguez Key yesterday.  That’s where we planned to stage for our jump across the Gulf Stream to Bimini, Bahamas.  On the way, I noticed that my engine was running hotter than normal. So when we got to Rodriguez Key, Capt. Mike dropped anchor and we rafted up.  Capt. Mike came aboard, emptied the raw water strainer for the motor (I literally could not get the strainer opened) and then pulled the tube bundle from the heat exchanger and cleaned it out.  [The boat ran about 10 degrees cooler today but is still running warmer than I would like.]

The plan was to get up at 0430 this morning (which we did) and depart by 0500 (which we didn’t do).  When we got up at 0430 there were thunderstorms very close by and we agreed to delay for a while.  The rain kept coming.  We finally shoved off but the weather continued to be miserable so we aborted the crossing.  Capt. Mike, Capt. Kelly and their guests will try again in a few days.  Aaron and I are going to make the best of our time together here in the Keys.

Even though the sky’s were gray and very overcast yesterday, here are some pictures Aaron took.

S/V Ciao Bella headed for the Bahamas

Under Attack by "Pirates"???

Mangroves along the bank of Snake Creek



As I mentioned yesterday, today was the last day of diving this spring for the Scuba Certification and Scuba Adventure crews.  Most of the scuba staff will be departing in the next day or two.  So I said my goodbyes to them at the 0730 staff meeting.  Since I am doing my best to start vacation tomorrow, I also said goodbye to the spring sailing staff members who won’t be here this summer.  I reminded them that they have been the best spring staff  we’ve had in my 9 springs at the Florida Sea Base.

Then I did a load of laundry and headed to Miami International Airport to pick up my son, Aaron.  Aaron and I got back at about 1700 and loaded more stuff onto the boat.  Then we had dinner with Capt. Mike, Capt. Kelly, Terri and Maggie at the restaurant across the highway from the Florida Sea Base.  After dinner we returned to the boat, secured some items, reorganized a bit, worked on one of the fresh water tanks, and visited.

So what happened at the Florida Sea Base today?  As I mentioned, the divers completed their last dive of this week.  Dave Ball was already headed back to New Jersey before the 0730 staff meeting but will be back in less than a week.  The Coral Reef Sailing crew aboard S/V Dutch Love with Captains Harman and Martin returned for their luau.  No new crews arrived and no crews were in for their mid-week fun day.

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, I may be out of internet range for the better part of three weeks.  Capt. Rich will post some news from time to time and I will post updates when I can.  The weather conditions for making the Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas and the weather in the Bahamas continue to look “iffy”.  The last I checked, was forecasting 30 knot winds and 60 degree temperatures in the Bahamas Wednesday and Thursday.  Not very pleasant vacation conditions.

I was up past midnight last night and I’m bushed.  I hope you have a good evening and I will post when I can.

Capt. Steve

The spring season at the Florida Sea Base is far from over but it is definitely starting to wind down.  Tomorrow morning the Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification crews will do their last dive of the week.  Scuba Liveaboard has one week off then one more week of program to finish out their season.  Sea Exploring finishes up tomorrow.  There are still two busy weeks for the Coral Reef Sailing program.

The scuba divers searched in vain for good visibility today.  It has been a tough week for them but they have made the best of it and seem to be having a good time.  It is spring break in the Florida Keys after all.  How bad could THAT be?

Capt. Rich and Seth Little drove to Stock Island today to pick up the Scuba Liveaboard crew and bring them back to the Florida Sea Base.  Dave Ball has a week off between trips and is driving back to New Jersey for a few days.  S/V Ciao Bella, S/V Endeavour and S/V Silent Harmony returned to the Florida Sea Base with Coral Reef Sailing crews today ending their spring season.  Capt. Guisseppe is headed home to New Port Ritchie.  Capt. Mike and Capt. Kelly are headed for the Bahamas.  Terri and Maggie Wells arrived today.  They are accompanying Captains Mike and Kelly to the Bahamas.  I’ve mentioned Terri in a few previous posts.  She will be joining our scuba staff this summer.

I am working feverishly (well not right this second) on getting S/V Escape ready for a hopeful trip to the Bahamas.  My son, Aaron, flies in tomorrow and we will make the jump across the Gulf Stream Sunday if the weather will allow.  If the weather doesn’t allow, we have several back-up plans for a great week.  Any dads out there reading this will appreciate what a blessing it is to have a week to spend with your adult children.

I’ve got more work to do right now than time.  So back to work for me.  have a good night.

Capt. Steve

I e-filed my 2009 income tax return today.  It feels GREAT ot get that off my plate!

The scuba divers at Florida Sea Base had bumpy seas and limited visibility today.  Tomorrow may be a little better but not a whole lot.  Hope for the best!  The Coral Reef Sailing crews from S/V Excalibur (Capt. Michele) and S/V Adventure (Capt. Hans) returned to base today for their luau.  The crew aboard S/V Dutch Love (Capt. Harman & Capt. Martin) came in for their fun day.  The Sea Exploring crew from the Schooner Yankee also returned for luau.

I want to throw in a reminder that the BSA Scuba Policy changed on 08 October 2009.  The biggest issue is with asthma.  If a person has active asthma, regardless of control, they are disqualified from participating in scuba diving in local unit activities and at the Florida Sea Base.  Persons with a history of asthma or RAD are required to take a Methacholine Challenge Test and the results must confirm that the asthma/RAD is resolved.  There is no Plan B, no options.  It is a simply worded policy.  I am painfully aware that the MCT is not recommended by all doctors.  I am aware that some insurance policies won’t pay for a MCT.  I am aware that the test is expensive and has adequate risks to require that it be conducted in a hospital or clinic.  But it is the National Policy of the Boy Scouts of America and the Florida Sea Base is required to comply with this policy.

The Florida Sea Base offers MANY non-scuba diving adventures for those who are asthmatic.  If you or a Scout in your unit have active asthma you are not supposed to engage in scuba diving as a local unit activity.  If you apply for a scuba program at the Florida Sea Base you will be medically disqualified.  If you have outgrown your asthma/RAD, you must take a Methacholine Challenge Test (no other test is accepted) and the results must confirm the asthma/RAD is resolved.  As the Program Director for all scuba programs at the Florida Sea Base, I am not authorized to make any exceptions to this policy.  PLEASE consider other Florida Sea Base High Adventure programs if you are asthmatic or if you have a history of asthma/RAD and can’t take the MCT.  If you are now 90 and had asthma when you were 9 you are supposed to take the test.  There is no time limit that allows you to not take the test.

Also, if you are in a scuba crew that is attending the Florida Sea Base in the summer of 2010, your medicals and paperwork were due on 01 March 2010.  My Office Manager, Ellen, has been contacting May and June crews that have not sent in the paperwork.  Many claim that they are unaware of the deadline.  That tells us that they have not read the literature we sent them.  So, one more time, if you are participating in a scuba program at the Florida Sea Base in the months of May, June, July or August 2010, your paperwork was due 01 March 2010.

We want everyone to come to the Florida Sea Base and we want everyone to go home safe and in good health.

Be safe out there,

Capt. Steve

It was a great day at the Florida Sea Base.  Half of the Scuba Adventure crews elected to go to Key West (with Capt. Dennis Wyatt driving the bus).  The other half completed two more dives today, one at Hammerhead and one at Davis Reef.  I think they worked on their underwater navigation skills with Scuba Instructors Rich Goldman and Chuck Grempler.  The Scuba Certification crew completed Open Water Training Dives 1 and 2 with Scuba Instructors Sargon Smith and Milly McCoy.

Scuba Instructor Dave Ball aboard the Scuba Liveaboard vessel Conch Pearl sent this report via email:

Hey Steve,
Just in case you need more ‘fodder’ for the blog here’s an update from the Conch Pearl: Diving has been good although the seas have been ‘sporty’. Visibility has been 40-50ft at most sites.We had an encounter with a pod of dolphins. While diving at Eastern Dry Rocks a pod of dolphins approached the Conch Pearl then began to circle the boat and the divers. The dolphins got so close that one contacted a diver.  Soon after, while motoring from Sand Key to Dry Rocks we encountered a line of seven turtles on the surface.

Scuba Commissioner Capt. Alex Bergstedt filled tanks and worked on the scuba compressors today.  I also saw him working diligently in the office.  I remember a wall poster when I was maybe high school age (about 30,000 B.C.) that had a picture of a little boy sitting on the toilet with a roll of toilet paper in hand.  The caption read, “The job’s not over until the paperwork’s done”.  Capt. Alex was getting his paperwork done.

The Coral Reef Sailing staff members were busy as well today.  Capt. Kelly (S/V Endeavour), Capt. Mike (S/V Ciao Bella). Capt. Guisseppe (S/V Silent Harmony), and Capt. Tom (S/V Juan Cadez) all brought their crews in for the Florida Sea Base fun day.  This kept most of the sailing staff very busy.  Nate Johnson and Judy Cole handled the small boat sailing with some help from Dutch Vanderlaan.  Seth Little, Hanna Locker, Henry Watson, Beth Borcher and Michael Zotti were busy with the crews.  Capt. Steve Harrison drove the tubing boat.

By the way, if any of you want to add anything (appropriate) to this blog, just send an email to and I will be glad to include it.  I would prefer it be related to the Florida Sea Base, its staff members or participants.  I am meeting adult leaders around the base who have commented on the blog so I hope it will continue to catch on.

MONTHS ago I told you Capt. Rich was going to start contributing to and now it’s happening.  If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know how much I admire Capt. Rich.  Having him contribute will really help keep you informed about his side of the house – sailing.

The Scuba Adventure crews got in two more dives today.  The Scuba Certification crew finished their classroom and confined water dives.  Tomorrow they go out for Open Water Training Dives 1 and 2.  And the Scuba Liveaboard crew is still out there doing their thing – diving, sailing and fishing.

As Capt. Rich mentioned earlier today, he is going to cover the blog while I am gone for a while.   My son, Aaron, will arrive Saturday afternoon.  If everything goes according to plan (and it very seldom does around here) we will depart the Florida Sea Base Sunday, move S/V Escape to the ocean side and go east to Elliot Key.  Pre-dawn Monday we will depart for Bimini (weather permitting), crossing the Gulf Stream and arriving at North Bimini before dark.  Tuesday morning we will clear in with the Bahamian government and pay our $300 entrance fee.  Aaron will be with me until the following Saturday as we make our way to Nassau.  Captains Mike and Kelley Lucivero and their two guests, Terri and Maggie Wells, will be sailing on S/V Ciao Bella.  [I mentioned yesterday (I think) that Terri will be attending the PADI IDC/IE in May and working at the Florida Sea Base this summer as a scuba instructor.]  My wife, Sue, will fly in to Nassau the Monday after Aaron leaves and stay for the crossing back to Florida.

In addition to the normal office stuff, I also accomplished quite a bit towards getting S/V Escape ready for the trip.  I painted the registration numbers on the dinghy (NOT a pretty site but technically legal), changed the oil and filters on the generator and the boat motor, and off loaded a few loads of “stuff” that has accumulated on the boat.  Shortly before dinner Capt. Alex Bergstedt came out and lubricated the sail tracks on both masts for me.

After that we had a nice dinner at Sea Base and then I came back to the boat, picked up a little, took a much needed shower and wrote this post.  Now I’m headed to bed.  (I started my day at 0430 so I am BEAT.)

Capt. Steve