Archive for September, 2010

Tropical Storm Nicole deposited 10″ to 12″ of rain on the Florida Sea Base yesterday.  The storm is essentially gone, but we are getting winds from the NNW at 15 to 20 knots.  It’s not bad at all.  Just enough to shake me awake and give me an opportunity to start working on this post at 12:45 in the morning.  Here are the highlights from Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wednesday WunderBlog:

Nicole dumps 10" - 12" of rain at FSB.

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave a few hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands is generating a modest amount of disorganized heavy thunderstorms. The wave is under a moderate 10 – 20 knots of wind shear, and has some dry air to the northwest of it that is interfering with development. None of the models develop this disturbance, and NHC is giving it a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday. The wave is headed into a region of higher wind shear, and is not likely to develop.

Another tropical wave located about 900 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands is more of a threat. This wave is currently moving west at 15 – 20 mph, and is generating a large area of disorganized heavy thunderstorms. Wind shear is 10 – 20 knots over the wave, and shear is forecast to decline by late this week. The latest 2am EDT runs of the NOGAPS and GFS models show some slow development of the wave late this week, and the storm is forecast to pass near the northern Lesser Antilles Islands on Sunday or Monday. NHC is giving the wave a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by Friday.

Disturbed weather will continue in the Western Caribbean for at least the next ten days, and the NOGAPS and GFS models continue to predict that the region could spawn a tropical depression 6 – 7 days from now. However, the models are being less aggressive about such a development than in yesterday’s runs, and the models have not been consistent about the timing or location of such a storm.

At 07:30 the skies are clear and our temperature is 79 degrees.  We aren’t expecting any more rain until Sunday.  The wind is going to stay from the NW at 10 – 15 for the next several days.  Hopefully it will be more northerly than westerly but either way it is tolerable.

Today should be busy in the office.  My top priorities of the day include selling used scuba gear, ordering new scuba gear (especially 100+ scuba tanks), calling our Divers Alert Network rep about training for Capt. Rich and I, and calling our Aqua Lung rep about training for Laura and Christy and a large scuba equipment order.

Capt. Rich will be making final arrangements for the Coral Reef Sailing and Sea Exploring crews that are arriving Sunday.  My understanding is Dominic Alesandrini will be assigned to the Sea Exploring crew and Laura Kuras will be assigned to the Coral Reef Sailing crew.  That leaves Christy Clemenson pulling double duty and assisting with both crews.  I am hoping to be one of the drivers on Monday for the Sea Exploring crew, transporting them by van from the Florida Sea Base to their vessel.

It’s time for me to make my long commute – less than 100 yards – to the office.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

When I left the Florida Sea Base at 07:00 we were dealing with Tropical Depression 16 (since my post earlier today).  When I returned from Miami, we were dealing with Tropical Storm Nicole.  I arrived back at the base at 14:00, just a few minutes ago.  It is raining MUCH harder than this morning and the wind is MUCH stronger.  But it could be a lot worse and we are thankful that all we are getting is flooding.

Capt. Bob Hughes rode to Miami with me.  He is scheduled to deliver a 35′ Pearson sailboat from Miami to the Brinton Center today with the owner who is making the donation.  However, I strongly suspect that they will stay at the dock today and maybe try to bring the boat down tomorrow.  The plan is to put the Pearson in service for the Keys Adventure program at the Brinton Environmental Center and retire one of the 33′ Morgan sailboats, Kalypso.

If you have worked at the Florida Sea Base or Brinton Environmental Center in the past and are considering working here in 2011, it is imperative that you read Capt. Rich’s post from earlier today.  Mr. Kolb is very serious about the dates imposed in his hiring matrix.  As you can see, Capt. Rich, Capt. Scott, Capt. Keith, Chrystene and I are to hire our spring 2011 staff by 15 December 2010.  If you wait any later than that there will likely NOT be a position available.  PLEASE consider submitting your application for spring 2011 employment as soon as possible.  “You snooze, you loose.”

Christy Clemenson and Laura Kuras scored a $2,600 used gear sale this morning.  Great job!!!

I hope you weather is better than ours this afternoon.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

16:30 Update:

The good news is TS Nicole is gradually clearing to our west.  The edge of the rain is only about 11 miles away.  The bad news is our local winds will shift to the west as Nicole passes and it will likely be a bumpy, sleepless night on the dock.

Click on image to enlarge.

Capt. Steve

This is hot off the presses from Mr. Rob Kold, Director of Program.

Staff Hiring Schedule
Staff applications for summer should be sent to Sea Base between December 15th and February 1st.
Staff applications for summer will be forwarded to hiring managers in February.
Hiring managers will staff summer positions by March 15th.

Staff applications for spring should be sent to Sea Base between September 15th and November 1st.
Staff applications for spring will be forwarded to hiring managers in November.
Hiring managers will staff spring positions by December 15th.

It’s raining pretty good here with some decent wind thrown in there. Captain Steve is swimming his way up to Miami, he picked a great day for it. Capt. Bob from the Brinton Center in delivering a sailboat from Miami back here, he really could have picked a better day.

I’m glad Steve is back, now if it would cool off and quit raining.

Coral Reef and Sea Explorer crews coming Sunday.

See you soon,
Captain Rich

I am in a huge rush (trying to get out of here to make an appointment in Miami).  So far, the conditions from Tropical Depression 16 have been very tolerable at the Florida Sea Base.  We have had a lot of rain overnight, maybe 6 inches.  The winds jumped to 37 knots around 23:15 last night but have been in the 6 to 25 knot range since then.  It may be slow going to Miami due to street flooding but otherwise conditions have been much better than expected – so far.

Sorry to be so brief.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Today is our monthly Team Meeting at the Florida Sea Base.  These meetings are attended by the full-time, year ’round staff.  I believe this will be the first meeting for our newest full-time employee, Maria Donovan.  Maria reports to Chrystene Matthews-Speed and is now in charge of retail sales.  Welcome aboard Maria!

Here is the line-up of our current seasonal staff members (in no particular order):

Christy Clemenson – Program Mate
Laura Kuras – Program Mate
Deanza Richards – Galley Manager
Dominic Alesandrini – Conference Mate
Teri Wells – Conference Mate
Capt. Martin Ivy – Assistant Ranger
Derrick Polt – Assistant Ranger
Megan Broyles – Office Mate

We are keeping an eye on the giant low pressure system in the Caribbean.  Today and tomorrow are forecasted to be windy with very heavy rains.  I have a doctor’s appointment in Miami tomorrow so I will have the pleasure of driving 190 miles round trip and parking two blocks from the doctor’s office while the system dumps on us.  Oh boy!!!  Then a sister system of similar magnitude may hit us on Friday.  Neither system is likely to have time to build to hurricane strength but they may reach tropical storm status.  The local TV news channels in Miami are already advising their viewers to be prepared for significant floods.  My biggest concern is Wednesday through Saturday (end of the forecast period) because the winds are forecasted to be from the west or northwest.  Our marina is exposed to these winds and it may mean little sleep for those of us living aboard.  It’s just part of the price you pay to live in Paradise.  The radar (at 07:45) looks very good for the next several hours.  Maybe they have over-forecasted the situation and it will be much less of an event than was anticipated.  [There is a good bit of rain between Cuba and Jamaica, but that has been swirling around in the same spot since very early this morning.  It is forecasted to move our way, but it should take several hours at a minimum.]

We have three conference groups arriving this weekend.  I forgot to look up the details so maybe I’ll remember to include those in tomorrow’s blog.  Chrystene and her staff will certainly have their hands full.

I have to prepare for this morning’s meeting.  More tomorrow (if we don’t get washed away).

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Today will likely be very hectic at the Florida Sea Base.  I expect to have an animated briefing from Christy Clemenson and Laura Kuras on the sales of used scuba equipment, overhauling of regulators and who knows what else.  I need to catch up on issues with Paul, Rob, Chrystene and Capt. Rich.  We are having our monthly Team Meeting tomorrow so I have preparations to make.  I expect to have a few Divemaster Academy applications waiting on me.  (My most recent call regarding the DMA was Saturday from two prospective candidates asking if it was too late to submit an application.)  I also have personal issues; bank, post office and haircut are the three biggies for today.  I had the opportunity to go to the post office yesterday but since it is across the street from the bank I decided to wait until today.  I did make it to the grocery store yesterday.

Our local weather forecast calls for a 30% chance of rain, high in the mid 80s and easterly breezes.  Eyes are on the system forming in the western Caribbean.  If you missed it yesterday, scroll down to Dr. Masters’ comments from his Saturday blog.

I am running behind schedule.  I expect to have an informative post tomorrow or Wednesday regarding the staff and our current Conference Season activities.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  I got in at about midnight.  It seems I arrived with good timing; the ground was wet from rain but the skies were clear while I off-loaded the essentials from my truck to the boat.  I laid down around 01:30 and shortly thereafter the thunderstorms resumed.  It has been raining and thundering since then and the radar shows the storms will continue for several more hours.  I have more stuff to unload and need to go to the grocery store if I can catch a weather window.

S/V Escape was in good shape when I arrived.  I left a package of stew meat in the refrigerator (for about three weeks) but it didn’t smell nearly as bad as I expected.  The interior of the boat was hot and musty from being closed up without air conditioning.  And my mizzen mast boot is still leaking and there is a small, contained mess to clean up in the aft head where the leak has been dripping.  So far I have not found any other problems.

I stopped in Lady Lake, Florida yesterday and visited with Capt. Dennis and Dr. Ellen Wyatt. Their house looks GREAT!!!  Capt. Dennis refers to it as “the ghetto house” because it was repossessed 3 or 4 times before they bought it.  They have done a monumental amount of work and it is VERY nice now.  They have talked with a contractor about getting the indoor swimming pool and hot tub operational.  I’m not sure if Capt. Dennis has EVER owned a house before.  He has been rather nomadic for most of his life.

Part of the reason I returned was over concerns about Tropical Storm Matthew threatening the Florida Sea Base as a hurricane this week.  The good news that is not going to happen.  Here’s the SCARY news from Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog:

Forecast for the rest of the tropics
Most of the models continue to predict that by Wednesday, the remnants of Matthew, and/or a piece of a tropical disturbance over the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Guatemala, will evolve into a huge and very wet low pressure system that will start spinning over Central America and the Western Caribbean. NHC has been referring to this expected storm as a “monsoon low”, and these sorts of storms are very dangerous for Central America and the Western Caribbean, even if they do not develop into a tropical storm. In October 2007, a similar monsoon low I dubbed “the sleeping giant” spent a week spinning over the region, dumping very heavy rains over all of Central America and the countries bordering the Western Caribbean. Rains from this system triggered flooding that killed 45 people in Haiti, damaged thousands of homes in Cuba, and caused havoc in Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Mexico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. A similar type of storm is likely to develop on Wednesday and Thursday, and most of Central America and the nations surrounding the Western Caribbean can expect to see dangerous flooding rains develop this week in association with this giant low. Most of the models also predict that this big low will eventually develop into a tropical storm or hurricane that would be drawn northwards over Cuba late in the week, and threaten the Bahamas, Florida, or the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast. This is an exceptionally difficult system to forecast correctly, and the models have been coming up with some pretty unusual solutions as to what might happen. We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds over the next few days.

If this system develops, we are talking about a giant low pressure system that would potentially extend from the Pacific Ocean side of Central America all the way to the Bahamas.  Holy guacamole Batman!!!  That sounds like the basis for a new horror movie, “The Low Pressure System that Ate the Caribbean”.

That’s enough for now.  I am going to unpack my suitcase and keep watching for a break in the weather.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

If all goes as planned, I will leave the “Mother Country” (a.k.a. The Republic of Texas) tomorrow morning for my drive back to the Florida Sea Base.  Tropical Storm Matthew is part of my motivation due to its potential to hook back to the northeast.

If recollection serves, Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol should be arriving back at the base tomorrow.  If all goes well, I should arrive Saturday evening.  I haven’t called yet, but I may try to make time to have lunch with Capt. Dennis and Dr. Ellen Wyatt on Saturday.  I will probably try to call them tomorrow.  My guess is they live about 30 minutes off I-75 so I don’t think it would add much more than 2 hours total to my currently scheduled 12 hour day.

There are still openings for the Divemaster Academy.  Click on the LINKS page for more information.

By Monday I should be back to making daily posts.

Capt. Steve

I have no news of activities at the Florida Sea Base today but I was looking at the weather data available on-line and wanted to share this computer “forecast” from Weather Underground for Invest 94L, the newest system to emerge from Africa.  The computer models show the system moving west, north and northeast at the same time.  Data like this can make you a little nuts.  The good news is, even if it goes west, it would likely take 10 days or so before the system became much concern to the Florida Sea Base.

Today is not MY birthday, not yet, but today we are celebrating several birthdays in Texas.  Next week is the real birthday week but I may be on my way back to the base by then so we are having a lunch at our home in Midlothian today.  My sister, mom, granddaughter and I all have birthdays next week.  My sister’s husband is out of town working so she is driving down from Oklahoma.  My parents are driving up from southeast Texas.  My son and his wife are driving down from Plano (north of Dallas).  Unfortunately my granddaughter is too sick to join us today. 🙁  But hopefully she will be fully recovered for her actual birthday next week.

Have a great weekend.

Capt. Steve

No news is good news and all I heard from anyone at the Florida Sea Base today was an email from Chrystene Matthews, Director of Conferences and Food Services, who is back at the base preparing for upcoming conferences.  Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol are in Chicago.  Paul Beal, General Manager, is at Philmont and I am still in Texas.

Today was a wild day for tropical weather.  Hurricane Karl EXPLODED to category 3 strength before making landfall in Mexico.  That serves as a good reminder as to how fast these storms can intensify when the conditions are right.  Dr. Jeff Masters ended his post on Weather Underground today with this outlook:

Elsewhere in the tropics
A tropical wave off the coast of Africa, a few hundred miles south of the Cape Verdes Islands, is disorganized, but has the potential for some slow development over the next few days. The NOGAPS model develops this wave into a tropical depression 4 – 5 days from now. NHC is giving the wave a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday.

We have been very blessed so far this hurricane season.  I hope our luck holds out.

I wrecked my lower back Wednesday afternoon.  I am back on my feet, but barely.  I lost almost 3 days of productivity and I was already behind schedule.  It’s hard trying to get a year’s worth of “honey dos” done in two weeks.

That’s all I have for now.

Capt. Steve