Archive for July, 2010

21Jul

Invest 97

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The Florida Sea Base management is closely monitoring the progress of the tropical wave (designated Invest 97) located between Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.  We may have a meeting at 08:30 to discuss the threat.  For now, the existing weather system is causing us enough grief even if Invest 97 doesn’t intensify.  The bad news is that the forecasted path for Invest 97 continues to be towards south Florida or the Keys.  The GOOD news is the forecasted wind strength has been dropped from over 80 mph (category 1 hurricane strength) to 60 mph ( tropical storm strength).  Sixty miles per hour is still a lot of wind, but the effects of the wind are more logarithmic than linear so 20 additional mph of wind can cause much more damage.  For today we are expecting 20 – 25 knot winds with 9′ seas at the reef line.  While conditions could improve in the next three hours, at this point I am pretty sure I will have to ground the dive boats for at least today and tonight.  Nine foot seas are too dangerous for our generally inexperienced divers (one of whom got beat up by the ladder trying to board the boat at the end of a dive 2 days ago), hard on the boats, and hard on the moorings (one of the moorings at Conch Reef was damaged in the past few days).  All of the Coral Reef Sailing boats are operating on the Gulf of Mexico side of the islands.  The wind is blowing, but the seas on the bay side are only 2 feet or so.  They will likely stay hunkered down in the lee of some of the islands and spend the day fishing and snorkeling.  Even with the possible approach of Invest 97, the local forecast is calling for less wind tomorrow and Friday than for today.

Courtesy of Weather Underground

I drove BSA Explorer yesterday morning.  The wind was 20 knots and the seas were consistent 5′ waves with legitimate 7′ rollers coming thru regularly.  We went to Long Key Ledge which is about 25′ deep.  The visibility was 30′ or more.  The divers onboard were doing their last dive of the week so we were back in time for lunch.  Capt. Tom was on BSA Adventure and went to a site named Three Peaks with similar conditions.  He also returned at noon. Capt. Carol was on BSA Eagle and Capt. Dennis was on BSA Tarpon.  They were out all day.  The conditions worsened in the afternoon.

I have some Plan B proposals to discuss with my staff and then with the scuba participants for today’s land based activities.  I have a lot to tend to this morning.  Be safe.  If your children or spouses are here at the Florida Sea Base we will be keeping them safe.

If you are scheduled to arrive in the next three or four days the base will be remaining open and you should continue with your scheduled plans.  If the weather changes to the point that we cannot accommodate you, we will let you know in three ways: (1) we will call the registered adult leader of the incoming crews, (2) information will be posted at www.bsaseabase.org, and (3) information will be posted at this site.  I understand that you may have concerns, but calling the Florida Sea Base won’t help.  It will tie up the phone lines, but all we can tell you is we are monitoring the situation, we will contact you if the conditions warrant and we are operational at this time.  The current weather conditions are unrelated to Invest 97.  The current weather conditions are not life threatening, just too bumpy to safely get divers on and off the boat at the reefs.  Everyone here will have a good time today.  In many ways it’s not much worse than getting rained out at a camping event.

20Jul

Eco Adventure

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The Eco Adventure (EA) is a new program for the Florida Sea Base for 2010 and it is a hit!!!  This program is based on our Coral Reef Sailing (CR) program with many twists.  The CR crew size is 6 to 8 on a 40′ – 45′ vessel; EA is a crew of 10 – 12 on two 41′ vessels.  The emphasis on EA is learning by seeing, and doing.  The EA crews visit each of the five major marine habitats of the Florida Keys and receive instruction from their Sea Base Mate and Captains Harold and Margie Ochstein.  Please visit the Ochstein’s blog for a great explanation of the program.  This is a wonderful couple and they are very knowledgeable about the history of the Florida Keys and marine biology.

I want to express my appreciation to Coral Reef Mate John Gilbert.  John is one of the hardest working, quickest to volunteer, tireless, and least complaining staff members we have had in my 10 plus years at the Florida Sea Base.  I’m not sure what his job assignment was yesterday, but when Coral Reef Mate Sophie couldn’t find anyone else to help her with swim reviews John was there.  Yesterday evening Sea Exploring Mate Kyle Moran was having a shortage of certain sizes of snorkeling fins and John was there to help.  It may not sound like a big deal, but these are just two examples.  John volunteers for everything and complains about nothing.  There were others who also helped out last night with the room to room search for snorkel fins.  Coral Reef Mates Bob Der and James Dreger and Scuba Mate Aaron Phoebe, and possibly others were critical in our efforts to make sure the customers were well served.  And I don’t want any of the rest of the staff to feel unappreciated.  They are a great team this summer.  Overall, this is probably the best staff we have ever assembled.  The small example sited above is just one example of their cohesiveness.

There is more wind and rain in the forecast for today and the next several days.  A tropical wave that was off Puerto Rico yesterday was  designated as Invest 97.  This means their is potential for the system to intensify.  We will be watching it closely.  It COULD attain hurricane strength and approach south Florida on Saturday.

From Weather Underground

I am in a hurry this morning because I get to drive a scuba boat.  It will be a bumpy ride.  Take care.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

I have made previous posts about the progress of S/V Chanticleer on her quest sailing from the Florida Sea Base to the National Jamboree.  The last two emails ended up in my junk mail and I missed them.  I apologize for the lateness, but here they are.

Sent 09 July 2010

We dropped anchor next to the Yorktown at 4:15AM this morning.  The trip from Ft. Pierce took 60 hours and we traveled 360 nautical miles.  We went off shore about 20 to 30 miles from the Georgia/Florida state line and remained off until we came into the Charleston Harbor.  Sailed for about half of this segment, motor sailed the rest, until we got into thunderstorms around Charleston.  It was a pretty rough entry into the Harbor, lots of lightning, rain, and wind.

Jan and Dutch have toured Charleston today, picked up their rental car and plan on leaving here early tomorrow morning for Sea base.  Gail and I are leaving tomorrow, day tripping for the next 4 days to Oriental, NC.  Expecting a stalled cold front tomorrow with rain so we will see whether we go out or the Inter coastal waterway.  Everyone hit the dock with all their fingers and toes.  It was a great trip.

Scott, Gail, Jan & Dutch

Sent 16 July 2010

After saying goodbye to Jan and Dutch, Gail and I headed back out the Charleston harbor and headed for Georgetown SC.  We had a great motor sail until late afternoon for the daily thunderstorm drill.  As we headed in to go up the Wacamaw River for a great anchorage at Butler Island the winds piped up into the 20 plus range.  The tide was with us and we traveled along at about 8 knots.  Got the anchor down just before the squalls started – although again they mostly skirted around us and then all settled down for the night.  The next day we motored to Southport and took a dock for the night.  Next morning we headed up the Cape Fear River cutting across to Carolina Beach and then on up the ICW to Camp Lejuene SC to anchor for the night.  Again afternoon thunder storms skirted around us but we remain dry.  The marines were conducting an excercise in the bay we anchored and so all night transport boats were moving in and out making for a less than restful night.  The next day we headed on up the ICW to Oriental NC for a dock.  Next morning it was raining and it didn’t let up until 11 AM. We left and anchored off the ICW near Bell Haven NC at the entrance to the Alligator – Pungo canal.  This time the thunderstorms actually caught us and we dropped anchor just before it hit.  Started off at 6 the next morning and made it to Coinjock NC near Curituck Sound. This morning we head on up the ICW and made it to Norfolk about 4 this afternoon.  Lots of big Navy ships and lots of bridges to go through and our first lock – The Great Bridge Lock.  We sailed out of Norfolk and into the Chesapeake Bay with the outgoing tide at about 9 knots and crossed over to Ft. Monroe to a military marina for the night.  We have traveled 947 nautical miles since leaving Sea Base on July 4th.  Tomorrow we sail up the Bay to Reedsville and the next day on to Colonial Beach our final destination for National Jamboree.

Gail and Scott

Thanks Gail & Scott.  I am looking forward to your final report.

Locally, Capt. Dennis Wyatt (who gave up his day off) and First Mate / Commissioner Matt McClure took most of the Galley, Commissary and Ships Store staff out in the morning for a boat ride /snorkel / swim excursion.  Chrystene Matthews gave up her morning off to run the Ships Store while Angela and Katie manned the Galley.  The staff members on the boat included Dustin, John G., April, Toben, Jacob, Ian, Sara, Sarah, Sean, Heather, Wes, Ellen, Maria, Maya, Lenka, Ashley, Jan, Noah, Bob, Whitney, Valy, Mike and Aaron F.  They tried to make it out to the reef but decided the conditions were too harsh.  So they went to White Marlin Beach on the bay side instead.

Check-ins, including the seven scuba crews, went smoothly.  Only one Coral Reef Sailing crew was in for the mid-week fun day.  Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol enjoyed their day off bike riding in the Everglades.  Biting horseflies provided motivation but Capt. Rich reported that at 18 miles per hours the flies were still catching up and taking removing chunks of human flesh.

I checked the long range scientific forecast at about 06:00 this morning and the wet, windy weather is likel to stay with us for at least another week.  El Niño is essentially gone and we are trapped between three strong pressure gradients that won’t move on.  I will have to check a few more details but a strong tropical wave (less than a tropical storm) may be upon us this weekend.  MAYBE we will get a break after that.

Sorry to run.  Make the best of your day.  We will make as much magic happen here as possible.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Today is my son’s birthday.  He is the greatest son that any father has ever had.  I love him very much and I miss him terribly.  Happy birthday kiddo.

My son, Aaron, with his lovely bride, Destiny, in the background.

Aaron is very much a self made man and very accomplished.  While in grade school he taught himself to play the guitar, bass, and keyboards.  He had formal training on percussion.  He is very successful in the music industry as a performer, producer, writer, editor, videographer, web designer, etc.  He is very active in his church, a devoted husband, animal lover, and all around good guy.  I am VERY proud of him.

I was off yesterday and only received two business related phone calls.  Both of those were related to a chore I need to tend to this morning.  I did not hear any other news so for now I am assuming that no news is good news.  If that was not the case, I am sure I will be brought up to speed later this morning.  I spent my day off onboard S/V Escape.  I completed a few tasks, cooked for myself (instead of eating in the Galley) and watched some TV shows on DVD and Hulu.com.  I don’t have a TV onboard.

The weather at the Florida Sea Base is still windy and warm with a chance of showers.  This has been going on for too long and needs to stop soon.  The good news is the tropics are still quiet and the cap at the Deepwater Horizon site is still holding.

Today is a big check-in day with scuba crews arriving in addition to the daily allotment of sailors.  Ellen will have her hands full.

I will add an update later if warranted.  I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

17Jul

Winded Out

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We rarely get rained out at the Florida Sea Base, we get blown out by too much wind.  That’s what happened Friday; too much wind.  And weather that interferes with program is always a downer.  But I heard a story that shows there is the possibility of humor even when the chips are down.  I heard this third hand so I’m not sure about the accuracy, but it sounds about right to me.  Charles Harvey is one of our Divemasters who attended the 2009 Divemaster Academy.  Charles, Chuck, Chuckie (he seems to be going through an identity crisis right now) is doing an excellent job.  Apparently he was somewhat puzzled as he was nearing the surface at the end of a dive – it was SNOWING UNDER WATER.  Well, at least for a few seconds it SEEMED like snow.  Until Charles looked towards the surface and saw someone barfing scrambled eggs on top of him.  I know it’s gross.  But it’s true AND it’s funny.  Capt. Dennis needs to include this story in his next book.

Despite the wind, the Coral Reef Sailing boats made it safely on and off the dock throughout the day.  The small sailboats got to do their thing under mainsails only.  There was just TOO much wind for headsails.  The divers had a tough day.  There were long boat rides in search of good visibility and seas calm enough to allow for entries and egresses without endangering the divers.  The dive boat captains (Capt. Carl, Capt. Carol, Capt. Dennis and Capt. Tom) did an excellent job of keeping their divers safe and entertained.

Capt. Rich spent Friday afternoon in Key West visiting with Captains Skip and Deb Bradshaw from the Schooner Pirates Lady and I think he also met with Capt. Bill Malone, owner of the Schooner Jolly II Rover.  Sailing Commissioner Matt McClure and Scuba Commissioner Capt. Alex Bergstedt had the day off.

I comment on the weather almost daily.  If you click on the Weather page of this site it gives average monthly air and water temperatures and some other helpful information.  I recently added the Links page.  The page alignment is giving me a fit, but it still has some useful information.  (I will ask my computer wiz son to align the spacing one of these days.)

I am off this morning but thought I would get this posted as early as possible.  It’s going to be another tough day for the divers.  The wind is trying to lay down a little, but not enough to really help.  NOAA’s forecast:

Today…East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers.

Tonight…East winds 15 to 20 knots early…decreasing to near 15 knots late. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 6 feet…subsiding to 3 to 5 feet late. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy…becoming a moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Today is the last day for the Sunday rotation of the Scuba Certification and Scuba Liveaboard crews.  I am always disappointed when the weather is uncooperative on anyone’s last day.  Even though I obviously have no control over the weather, I almost feel like I should apologize.

Ending on a positive note, the cap is still holding this morning at the Deepwater Horizon site with no major negative consequences so far.  Billy Nungesser is the president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. He was quoted as saying, “For the first day, we’ll be pulling more oil out of the Gulf than is leaking in.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s a very long tunnel.”

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday the oil flow was halted from the Deepwater Horizon drilling site.  This is not a permanent fix, but any interruption of the oil flow is great news for the world.  This is a temporary fix and oil will likely flow again soon.  But hopefully this device will help reduce the amount of oil being discharged into the Gulf.  There is a decent summation from www.msnbc.com.  Click to follow the link.  The report is too long to copy here.  As I said, the best part of this is they have finally made a step towards getting this mess under control.  Maybe a baby step.  And definitely a temporary step.  But a positive step – at last.  And that is encouraging.  We want this flow stopped.

Thursday got off to a decent start with the Florida Sea Base staff in a much improved mood.  The ACA inspection went well.  The only glitch in the day was a squall that come through around 14:00.  The sailboats from the small boat sailing program were overwhelmed by the wind.  The storm lasted about 30 minutes but three of the four small boats needed to be towed in.  No one was hurt.  Two of the jib sails took a beating but everything else looked okay.  Also the night dive was postponed until tonight due to an approaching squall line at departure time.  The divers had an exciting day with 5′ seas.  The forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for more rain and wind but the weather should start settling down a little after that.  Here’s the official marine forecast from the National Weather Service in Key West:

Today…East to southeast winds near 20 knots and gusty. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters rough. Winds and seas higher in and near numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms.

Tonight…East winds near 20 knots…decreasing to 15 to 20 knots after midnight. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters rough…becoming choppy. Winds and seas higher in and near scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Chrystene Matthews, Director of Food Services, and Maria Donovan, Ships Store Manager, bought this cool shirt for Capt. Dennis Wyatt in celebration of his book (The Bald Man and the Sea) selling out of its first printing.

Capt. Dennis Wyatt

It you are not familiar with it, the picture on the front of the t-shirt is his book cover.  VERY cool.

Cathy Hamilton sent this very kind comment:

You guys & gals are amazing! Our troop sent a group down for a scuba adventure. One of our scouts only was able to get Scuba Diver certified. I told him I wasn’t sure you would even let him dive. Not only did he get to dive, you were able to finish his certification for Open Water Diver! That’s going way above and beyond the call of duty! My hat’s off to you and your staff! Thanks for this great blog–I’ve really enjoyed reading it!

Thank you very much, Cathy.  The staff is amazing and we do what we can to make our programs an experience of a lifetime.  I will admit that we miss the mark sometimes; but that is the rare exception.  The vast, vast majority of our crews leave here very satisfied.  And what is really cool is when you connect with that one kid and you literally see them light up.  And if we do everything just right, no one sees the massive effort the staff put into our programs.  When everything goes right, all the participants see is a bunch of staff members having fun in the process of providing a safe high adventure experience that will be a lifelong memory.

With that said it’s time to make some magic for another day.  Today will be tough because of the weather.  But we will find some sunshine and great memories will be created today.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

15Jul

ACA Inspection

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Today the American Camp Association inspectors will be at the Florida Sea Base.  Basically, it will be business as usual while the inspectors observe what we do and check massive amounts of documents for licenses, permits, and certificates.  Tomorrow they will move down to the Brinton Environmental Center and do the same there.

Hopefully today will start out better than yesterday.  There was no major issue, but the weather was gray and overcast and several of the staff seemed to be having a tough morning.  We have passed our halfway point for the summer and its common for the staff to start getting a little tired and sometimes grumpy.  Grumpy is okay in the staff meetings.  Grumpy is NOT okay when dealing with the participants and I know the staff understands that.  This year’s staff is doing a great job delivering an outstanding program.  The tough part always seems to be understanding the business side of what we do.  Interacting with the participants can be the easy part.  Maintaining the facility, emptying garbage, washing dishes, keeping staff housing clean, cleaning dorms, and washing clothes are the “chores” that seem to wear people down.  By this time of the season it becomes very easy to tell which of the staff are used to taking care of themselves and which one’s aren’t.  Many of our staff seem to get their first glimpse into parentless independence while working here.  Others still don’t get it.  But they will.  I hear them frequently comment that Dad takes care of oil changes for the car, Mom does the laundry, Dad pays for this, Mom pays for that, Mom does the laundry, and so forth.  I hope they leave here with a greater appreciation for Mom and Dad but MAYBE a little less dependence on you.  Some of them are currently learning how to check the air pressure in an automobile tire.  Scary, huh?

We had some heavy but very scattered showers yesterday.  There is a chance for more rain today and tomorrow.  But it too will be scattered.  The oil from Deepwater Horizon is still over 630 miles away.  The tropics are still quiet.  But here are some comments from Dr. Jeff Masters’ blog from yesterday:

June SSTs in the tropical Atlantic set a new record
Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region for hurricanes had their warmest June on record, according to an analysis I did of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 80°W) were 1.33°C above average during June, beating the previous record of 1.26°C set in June 2005. June 2010 is the fifth straight record warm month in the tropical Atlantic, and the third warmest anomaly measured for any month in history. The only warmer anomalies were 1.51°C and 1.46°C, set in May 2010 and April 2010, respectively. As I explained in detail in a post on record February SSTs in the Atlantic, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are largely to blame for the record SSTs, though global warming and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) also play a role. The magnitude of the anomaly has fallen over the past month, since trade winds over the tropical Atlantic have increased to slightly above-normal speeds. These higher trade wind speeds are due to the fact that the Bermuda-Azores High has had above-normal surface pressures over the past month. The Bermuda-Azores High and its associated trade winds are forecast to remain at above-average strength during the next two weeks, according to the latest runs of the GFS model. This means that Atlantic SST anomalies will continue to fall during the remainder of July. However, keep in mind that we are talking about anomalies–the ocean will continue to warm until its usual early September peak in temperature, and it is likely that we will have the warmest or second warmest SSTs on record over the tropical Atlantic during the peak part of hurricane season, mid-August through mid-October.

One of the girl’s room seems to have some type of cold type bug; stuffy heads and swollen glands.  Most of them have visited the doctor but I haven’t heard a specific diagnosis.  It does not seem to be anything serious.  Some of the other staff have sniffles or minor injuries but overall we are doing well.  The fact that we made it past the halfway point without firing anyone is wonderful.  Maybe we will make through the whole year without a firing!  That would be a first.

Capt. Rich and I enjoyed a quiet lunch off base yesterday at Debbie Doos.  She makes the biggest sandwiches I have ever seen – and the mot delicious.  Yummy!

Well its that time – I’ve got to go.  Only 40 more 07:30 staff meetings for this season.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday was the last day on the water for a while for Capt. Rich and me.  Today is an off day for the boats we were driving and Captains Carl and Tom should be back to work on Thursday and resume command of their vessels.  Today Capt. Rich and I will be in the office dealing with “management” chores.  We will get to drive an occasional trip now and then, but it was a real treat having a crew for a week; just like the good old days.

Yesterday I took the triple crew from Missouri out for their final dive (this week) at the Florida Sea Base.  We also had three special guests; Paul Beal, General Manager, Dana Beal, Mrs. General Manager, and Capt. Alex Bergstedt, Scuba Commissioner.  They were on a (successful) mission to catch fish for the saltwater aquarium.  We went to a very large patch reef named Labyrinth.  The visibility was outstanding again.  The water was about 30′ deep and the water temperature was 85-86 (as it has been all week). Capt. Rich took his crews to a nearby site named Boink.  (No, I don’t know how it got its name.  Let’s say two boats collided there and made a “boink” noise.)  We came back to the base for lunch and for the crews to begin their check-out process.  They had luau last night (dampened a little by a brief rain shower) and depart after breakfast today.

The America Camp Association (ACA) inspectors will be at the Florida Sea Base Thursday and at the Brinton Environmental Center Friday for our accreditation inspection.   Their inspection is only every second or third year (compared to the BSA’s annual inspection) but it involves a greater number of standards (many of which don’t apply – like wearing helmets while riding horses).  Director of Program Rob Kolb has been tasked with overseeing the inspection process and assuring that we are in compliance with over 200 camp standards (or at least the applicable ones).

There is nothing of a tropical nature expected to develop for the next week.  We are expecting rain locally for the next three days but it shouldn’t be enough to have much affect on our programs.  We are Scouts after all and it is high adventure.  We can handle a little rain.

It will be a little sad to see the Missouri crew depart.  It was a real treat to get to work and interact the participants for a week.  They were very kind.  Each crew completes critiques at the end of the week.  One of the questions asks them to rate the staff members.  The top score is a 10; they gave me a 20!  You just don’t receive that type of gratification doing budget.

It’s time to report to the salt mine.  Deep breaths.  Happy face on.  It’s “opening day” today for six Scuba Adventure crews, one Scuba Certification crew, one Sea Exploring crew, and four Coral Reef Sailing crews (108 new smiling faces with high expectations that we intend to exceed in every way possible).  Plus we will have 32 Coral Reef Sailing participants on the base for their mid-week fun day.  Then their is the luau line-up: four Coral Reef Sailing crews, one Eco Adventure crew, and one Sea Exploring crew (64 participants).

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

13Jul

Monday

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Yesterday tried to be a typical Monday at the Florida Sea Base, but I was driving a boat all day so I missed much of the drama (yaaaaa!!!).  I started my morning on S/V Escape publishing yesterday’s post.  As I mentioned in that post, I had gotten up at 03:30.  I re-read the post last night and noticed some typos.  I think I corrected all of them and then I updated the post.  Sorry for the mistakes, but it was 03:30 and I was tired.  Anyway, from Escape I moved on to the office and worked on emails prior to and following the 07:30 staff meeting.  Breakfast was shortly after 08:00 and then I reported to the BSA Explorer.

BSA Explorer was loaded and we left the dock around 09:30 with the gung-ho Missouri crew aboard plus one Florida Sea Base staff member (Gwyenne) and two Brinton Center staff members (Byron and Tom) aboard to complete some of their Open Water certification dives.  Our first stop was a patch reef named Ham.  This is a 30′ dive and the divers were down for an hour, maybe a little longer.  Then we moved to Davis Reef, a ledge type reef and home to the Buddah statue that seems to intrigue people.  The water is about 25′ at Davis and the participants were down for another hour or more.  Shortly after we arrived, S/V Wandering Star under the command of Capt. Dennis Dugas arrived with a Coral Reef Sailing crew and they moored on the ball next to us.  We moved the boat one more time to an unnamed location near Cheeca Rocks where the water was 20′ deep so the staff members could complete another training dive while the participants enjoyed lunch.  We were going to move again, but everyone was having a good time where we were so we stayed.  We returned to Florida Sea Base at 16:15.  Did I mention that we missed the rain yesterday?

Today will be the last day I get to drive the dive boat for a while.  That’s kind of sad for me.  Wednesday I’ll be behind a desk all day.  Air conditioning is greatly appreciated, but overall it’s much nicer sweating on the dive boat than stressing in the office.

I know most of the people who read this little blog are Scouts, Scouters, or parents of Scouts or staff or a combination of these.  That being true, most of you still honor family and church values.  If you are looking for something “wholesome” and fun for all age groups, something that your family can enjoy together, take a few minutes to check out Tim Hawkin’s website.   Tim is a friend and a great, clean, family oriented comedian.  If at all possible, make it to a live show.  If not, CDs and DVDs are available through his website.  I have been to four shows and folks 8 – to 108 have a ball.  He plays mostly in churches, but there is no sermon; just clean, comfortable and affordable venues.  You can also see Tim on YouTube.  His videos have well over 50 million viewings.  I have never “endorsed” anyone in my blog before.  But Tim is truly Scout appropriate and LOTS of fun.  While the CDs and DVDs are great fun, the live performances are the best way to enjoy Tim’s humor.  (Plus they are very affordable.)

It’s about 04:50 and I’m going to try to lay back down for a while.  I’m really dreading returning to the office this afternoon; budget, scheduling, policy reviews, staff management, hiring, firing, troubled staff, uncooperative adult leaders, medical issues, management meetings, camp inspections, emails and telephone calls.  I love my job!  Fortunately I’ve been listening to “The Best of Bonnie Raitt” while working on this post.  My mood is easily effected by music.  Her music is uplifting and makes the whole day better.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Sunday was a great day for diving at the Florida Sea Base.  We had a serious rain at breakfast time, but once that broke it was sunny skies and calm winds.  There was tremendous visibility on the reefs for the scuba divers and the Coral Reef Sailing snorkelers.  I drove BSA Explorer again with the triple crew from Missouri.  Divemaster Dave Rumbaugh joined us today so Kodiak Hengstebeck could have a day off.

Our first stop was Long Key Ledge.  The divers reported seeing 4 sharks in the 6′ to 8′ range.  Our second stop was Pillars of Atlantis.  The current was ripping at this site.  Some of the divers reported the dive as “awesome”.  Most complained of the strong current.  Many said it was the best coral formations of the week.  After doing a one hour dive at each site, everyone was hungry.  We relocated the dive boat to a site named Lob 10.  We ate and played water games for an hour and a half or so.  Then we returned to the base.

In my spare time I decided to search “Florida Sea Base” to see where FloridaSeaBaseNews.com ranked.  On Google it was second.  On Bing it produced a sublist and was second on that list.  If you stuck with following “Florida Sea Base” it was 7th.  I couldn’t find it on Yahoo search.  Interesting to me.  I’m sure it doesn’t matter much to most of you.

All remains quiet regarding tropic storm development in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico for the next few days.  It’s almost TOO quiet if you know what I mean.  The “experts” still think we are going to have a very busy season.  They also suggested that it might be packed into the latter months of the season.  Not having storms in the early part of the season is good for our program and participants.  Getting hammered in September and October makes it tough on our permanent, year ’round staff.  But I guess it’s tough for us no matter when the storms come.  One thing that might help a lot would be if we could move at least two of the big boats to our hurricane canal, secure them and shrink wrap them.  Without the shrink wrap, the boats will collect leaves from the mangrove trees.  These leaves contain tannin which stains the deck and other surfaces of the boats brown.  It is VERY difficult to clean.  It has been more and more common to see boats (usually big yachts) shrink wrapped for the off season.  It think I saw an episode of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel where Mike Rowe was shrink wrapping yachts.  I should follow-up on this idea.  Things like this are why I don’t sleep well some nights (I’ve been up since 04:30 this morning and was up at 02:00 yesterday morning).

The oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and it does creep at little further east on occasion.  I used the internet tools available to me this morning and the nearest beached oil is at Carrabelle, Florida, 663 miles (straight line) from the Florida Sea Base.  Capt. Harold Ochstein from our Eco Adventure offered this information.  2244_what_to_expect_in_southflorida There is no expectation of any of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon site reaching the Florida Sea Base any time soon – if ever.  Hopefully the flow will be stopped in the next month or two.  The impact from this disaster will last for years, many, many years.  Even after everything looks to be alright, there will be millions if not billions of gallons of oil lingering on the sea floor long after I’m dead and gone.  This catastrophe is so huge that I wonder if any of us can comprehend the true extent of what has happened.

Today’s weather at the Florida Sea Base is going to be great.  Maybe a little rain this morning (like yesterday) but most of the day will be sunny with very mild winds.  Diving and snorkeling will be superb.  There is nothing on the radar now, but after sunrise the heat will start to generate energy and we will like see some building of isolated but very tall cloud formations.  Some of these will result in rain and maybe a little lightening.  I haven’t chosen our dive sites for today.  I will wait as long as possible and see where (and if) storms are forming and then we will do our best to go where the weather’s best.

I need to make preparations so I’ll sign off for now.  I hope you had a good night’s sleep and enjoy whatever today has in store for you.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape