Archive for February, 2011

28Feb

Zzzzzzz

The seasonal program staff members are sleeping in this morning.  There are no program participants at the Florida Sea Base this week.  Tomorrow we will start on several projects to prepare for the onslaught of scuba participants that start arriving in about two weeks, plus oodles of new sailing participants.  Let the good times roll!  (Starting tomorrow.)

The PADI Member Forum will be held at the Florida Sea Base on Tuesday, 01 March from 19:00 until 21:00 or so.  PADI Member Forms are scheduled annually at several venues around the US and the Caribbean.  It is an opportunity for the PADI Regional Manager to bring everyone up to speed on changes that have been made in the past year.

Capt. Dennis submitted the following status report on the boat delivery to Belize:

How many captains does it take to sit on a boat waiting for winds to die down? At least three apparently. We’ve been sneaking into the hotels pool (just sitting not swimming), trying to find magazines in English, and cleaning the boat over and over. Looks like we’ll be stuck in Puerta Adventuras Mexico until Wednesday March something or other. The adventuras is very adventurous if you have moola to swim with dolphins, manatees, and Texans.

Dennis Whether Or Knot

I hope to make more progress on the summer staff hiring today and maybe place some orders for replacement items like weights.  Scuba weights are heavy and made of lead.  I don’t understand how we manage to “consume” as much as we do every year.  It’s one of those things that should last forever.  A substantial quantity seems to disappear each year.

I hope you have a good Monday.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Our last round of crews for this week will be departing today.  The Sea Exploring schooner Jolly II Rover, and the Coral Reef Sailing boats Juan Cadiz, Spindrift, Midnight Dragon, Chanticleer, Jewel of Athena, and Island Woman all returned to dock and discharged their crews yesterday afternoon.  The seasonal program staff will have the remainder of the day (once the crews leave) off and tomorrow off.  They have been working for 10 days straight.

I am going to try to go to the “Gigantic Nautical Flea Market” in Islamorada this morning.  The annual event is sponsored by the Upper Keys Rotary Club.  I spoke with Capt. Martin Ivy during dinner.  He said he went to the flea market today and it doesn’t sound like they will have much, if anything, that I’m interested in.  But you never know what you might spot at a flea market.  There is another annual nautical flea market held in Dania Beach (adjacent to Fort Lauderdale) in a few weeks.  It usually has more boat stuff.  The Islamorada event leans towards fishing and crafts.

There’s a 10% chance of rain today.  Otherwise, it will be partly cloudy, 82º and gentle breezes.  Perfect for getting sunburned at a shadeless flea market.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

It is Saturday morning and I am running a little late already.  Our weather is holding with a “slight chance” of rain later this week.  Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. East wind around 10 mph.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. East wind around 15 mph.
Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Southeast wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 69.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81.
Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 69.
Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 67. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 68. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Three Coral Reef Sailing boats (Lady Nell, Excalibur, and Misty Shoals), one Sea Exploring boat (Yankee), and one Scuba Liveaboard boat (Conch Pearl) returned from sea yesterday.  The crews returned to base, went through the check out process and had their luau last night.  They will head home today (except the Scuba Liveaboard crew; I think they left last night).

The seasonal staff members of the Florida Sea Base are doing a great job.  Today we have six Coral Reef and one Sea Exploring boat returning.  The conference staff is busy with a CREDO conference (CREDO is a marriage improvement program for the US Navy) and the Galley staff is busy feeding us all.

Time to get to the morning staff meeting.  Enjoy your weekend.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

25Feb

Uneventful

in Sailing  •  0 comments

Uneventful – the word of the day at the Florida Sea Base yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong, there was a LOT going on and tons of fun being had.  What I meant was there were no negative events taking place.  All was well and everything was under control.  I spent the morning working on summer staff hiring and reorganizing my office, including disposing of some clothes that are now too big.  (Since November I have lost one shirt size and almost three pants sizes.)  In the afternoon, Capt. Carol Chapman and I drove vans to Key Largo to pick up one of the Sea Exploring crews that was returning for their luau and final night at the Florida Sea Base.

Overall, our weather is holding.  Starting at 22:00 (1o pm) last night the wind picked up a bit to 15 knots with a few gusts as high as 20 knots.  The guys doing the boat delivery to Belize called by satellite phone yesterday morning to report they had hit some rough weather and are holed up on the Mexican coast south of Isla  Mujeres.

Sailing program boats ending their programs yesterday included Sea Exploring vessels Calypso Gypsy and Pirates Lady, Coral Reef vessels Silent Harmony and Silver Crow, and Eco Adventure vessels Morning Dance and Island Dreamer.  The Coral Reef vessels that came in for their mid-week day were Chanticleer, Spindrift, Island Woman, Midnight Dragon, Jewel of Athena and Juan Cadiz.  About 75 participants attended last night’s luau.

The will be more mid-weekers today and some crews returning to base for the end of their program.  But it won’t be as hectic as yesterday and we are in the winding down phase for this week.  Next week we have some conferences but know program participants.

That’s all I have this morning.  Be safe.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Here’s the weather forecast for the Florida Sea Base, courtesy of the National Weather Service:

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. East wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 69. East wind around 15 mph.
Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Southeast wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 69. East wind around 10 mph.
Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 69.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.
Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 72.
Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 81.
Monday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71.
Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 81.
Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

Capt. Dennis called fairly early yesterday morning.  He and Capt. Alan had arrived in Mexico well ahead of schedule.  They will rest, take on fuel, water and provisions and continue towards Belize.

We had three Coral Reef Sailing crews enjoy their day on base yesterday doing the usual routine; small boat sailing, tubing, kayaking and volleyball.  They were aboard Misty Shoals, Excalibur. and Chanticleer.  At least three more Coral Reef crews will come in today for mid-week and two Coral Reef, one Eco Adventure and two Sea Exploring crews will be returning for the end of their program.  It will be another long, hot, active day for the sailing and galley staff members. Laura Kuras has been the mate on one of the returning Sea Exploring crews.  She is technically my Scuba Commissioner this year and it will be good to have the opportunity to put her to work on scuba related projects.  I will likely let her take the day off tomorrow and then put her to work on Saturday.

Rob Kolb is hosting a meeting at 10:00 this morning for us to discuss updates to our National Camp Standards.  This process works a little differently for National High Adventure Bases than for Council camps.  The National Council of the BSA sets standards annually for all BSA camps from Cub Scout day camps to week long resident camps.  The National High Adventure Bases use the standards as the basis for preparing their own, individual standards.  Each Base (Northern Tier, Philmont and the Florida Sea Base) writes its own standards because the programs we offer are so different from each other.  We have no horses at the Florida Sea Base so it doesn’t make any sense for use to have camp standards addressing issues involving horse care or horseback riding.  Likewise Philmont and Northern Tier don’t deal with the Coast Guard so they don’t need standards addressing those issues.  It also makes it challenging when we have our annual “visitation” to insure our compliance with those standards.  (They used to call it an annual inspection but the kinder, gentler BSA changed it to annual visitation.)  The inspectors, I mean visitors, are a mix of Professional Scouters and Volunteers who are sometimes not aware that our standards are different from council camps.  On occasion this causes minor issues that we have to explain.  At the Florida Sea Base we do n exceptional job of meeting all of the standards dealing with our programs each year.  Our goal is to offer a safe and enjoyable high adventure experience.

Summer hiring is progressing well.  If you applied for a scuba job and haven’t heard from Cheryl, please be patient.  I am wading through the applications as quickly as I can.  Well, maybe not at any record setting pace, but I’m working on it every day.  (I think I sent seven more approve applications to Cheryl yesterday for processing.)  This IS paradise and I am under doctor’s orders to not get stressed.  (Yeah, right.  No stress is why I’m up at 03:30 composing a blog entry.)

I hope you had a better night’s sleep than I had.  (This is two nights in a row.  I had broken this habit, I thought.  Stress is a killer.)

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

 

As I mentioned yesterday, former Florida Sea Base staff member Joe Schreiner is working in New Zealand.  Dave Ball, Scuba Instructor extrodinarie, aboard the Scuba Liveaboard Schooner Conch Pearl, forwarded the following:

I am working on a cattle farm north of Auckland, on the other side of the country. Christchurch was a beautiful city, lots of old brick buildings and churches. Not anymore. It is a very dark day for NZ. Imagine a earthquake hitting a city the size of Tulsa, oklahoma. Say hi to everyone for me.

Joe

Joe, it’s good to know you are safe and well.

I received this email later from Joe:

Capt Steve,

I read your blog yesterday.  Thank you for asking how I am doing.  I commented twice on my status on the blog post, maybe you dont get e-mail updates if someone comments on your blog.  Brady Trautman is also in New Zealand.  I spoke to him last week, he said that he was going to travel in the south island starting last Thursday,  I have not heard from him since.  It can only compare the earthquake hurricane Katrina.  This country is very small, they need all of the resources available to recover from this.  I hope everything is well at FSB.

Joe

Capt. Steve
Sitting in my office

23Feb

What a Day

in Staff  •  0 comments

Yesterday was a routine day for me, but the seasonal staff at the Florida Sea Base had one heck of a day.  Most of Monday’s crews arrived late, very late, due to weather delays.  The staff was up before daybreak and had the crews swimming right at first light.  That was followed by snorkeling instruction and then final loading of the boats.  About the time they pulled off the dock, the Coral Reef boats arrived for their Sea Base day.  That had the staff small boat sailing, kayaking, tubing and playing volleyball.  It was pretty warm today and some of the participants got more than enough sun.

I haven’t heard from Ranger Joe yet.  Hopefully all is well and he survived the New Zealand earthquake without incident.  Since we had no crews checking in or out, Ellen Wyatt took much of today off – she deserved it.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt, Capt. Alan Robinson and a third captain left Key West this morning to make the boat delivery to Belize.  Capt. Rich organized the delivery but delays meant he had to stay here to run program instead of making the trip.  He’s very disappointed.  The trip would have been a great adventure.

We bottomed out overnight at about 67º.  We are headed for a high of 81 today under mostly clear skies with very gentle winds.  The water temperature is 72.3º.

I didn’t sleep well.  I woke up around 02:00 and let some of those job related issues creep into my mind that just won’t let you go back to sleep.  There is nothing worth watch on at 04:00.  I’m going to try to get a couple more hours of sleep.  The day officially starts at 07:30.  I hope you stay warm and dry today.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

When your Troop, Crew, Post or Ship registers for a High Adventure program at the Florida Sea Base they are issued a “crew number”.  I realize that using the term “crew” can be confused with a Venture “Crew”, but it was decided long before my time that, in keeping with a nautical theme, the participants would be called crew members.  As a matter of fact, it is possible that the Florida Sea Base (1974 at it’s inception on 1980 at our current facility) was using the term “crew” prior to its use by the Venturing Division of the BSA (reorganized in 1998).  For those of us who are professional mariners, the term can be even more confusing because we consider “crew” to be professional mariners below the rank of Captain who are working on a vessel.  (In 1980 the USCG did not require the use of licensed captains and crew member on they types of boats we were using so “crew” was not as confusing.  The law requiring the use of licensed captains on small passenger vessels went into effect in 1993.)

Regardless, upon registration you become a crew and are issued a crew number.  It is critical that you include your FSB crew number on any correspondence including medical forms, rosters, waivers, emails and even when making phone calls to the Florida Sea Base.  People call or email and identify themselves as John Doe from Troop XXXX in Anytown, USA.  Unfortunately that does not mean much to most of us working here.  The FSB crew number tells us volumes.  All correspondence is filed by FSB crew number.  Very few people on our staff have access to the reservation system so we have no way of looking up your name or unit number to cross reference is to an FSB crew number.

What does the FSB crew number tell us?  Here’s the breakdown.

The first 2 alpha characters designate your adventure.  (CR = Coral Reef Sailing, SE = Sea Exploring, SA = Scuba Adventure, SC = Scuba Certification, SL = Scuba Liveaboard, EA = Eco Adventure, FA = Fishing Adventure, OI = Out Island, KA = Keys Adventure, BA = Bahamas Adventure, etc.)

The next one or two alpha characters represent the day of the week you will arrive.  (S = Saturday,  SU = Sunday, M = Monday, T = Tuesday, W = Wednesday, TH = Thursday, and F = Friday.)

These alpha characters are followed by 6 digits that are the date your crew is scheduled to arrive at the Florida Sea Base.  (051511 = May 15, 2011).

The last 1 or more alpha characters designate whether you are a single or multiple crew.  (A single alpha character means you are a single crew, two alpha characters mean you are a double crew, three alpha characters = triple crew, etc.)

SEW023011A would be a single Sea Exploring crew arriving on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.  SASU027011CD would be a double Scuba Adventure crew arriving on Sunday, February 27, 2011.  CRM028011ABC would be a triple Coral Reef Sailing crew arriving on Monday, February 28, 2011.

When you call or email with questions, knowing your crew number expedites your call being routed to the person who can best answer those questions.  You will get the best answer without being routed through six different people.  Plus we will know when you are arriving and sometimes there are minor program differences depending on what season you are attending.  Including your crew number with emails, paperwork of any sort, or even during phone conversations allows us to file that information for future reference.

Despite the passage of a cold front, our weather is holding nicely; sunny, 80 degrees, mild breezes.

Our staff did an amazing job of handling another onslaught of Coral Reef Sailing crews yesterday (6 arriving crews).  I failed to mention that a few captains and boats have snuck in during the past two or three days.  Capt. Ted Bezanis (S/V Island Woman), Capt. Jim Disser (S/V Midnight Dragon) and Capt. “Hammer” Kinnard (S/V Jewel of Athena) received crews yesterday.

Today starts the mid-week return of the first round of vessels (S/V Silent Harmony with Capt. Giuseppe Passanisi and S/V Silver Crow with Capt. George Clements).  While the boats are off loading trash, pumping out holding tanks, taking on water and possibly refueling, the participants will be sailing small boats, kayaking, tubing and having a volleyball tournament.  These days are very busy but also a lot of fun for the sailing staff.

Gotta go.  Please read the very brief post below this one regarding Joe Schreiner.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

There was a 6.3 earthquake in New Zealand overnight with multiple fatalities.  One of our former staff members, Joe Schreiner, is in New Zealand.  The local Miami news said  a glacier 120-130 miles away from the epicenter came crashing down a mountain.  As soon as you can Joe, let me know you’re okay and I’ll pass on the good news.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Whether you are a NASCAR fan or not, Trevor Bayne winning yesterday’s Daytona 500 was incredible.  I feel I was VERY lucky to see the last 30 – 45 minutes of the race.  If you’re not aware, Mr. Bayne is the youngest winner ever of this race (he turned 20 on Saturday).  I also believe he is only the second person to win the Dayton 500 in their first appearance.  (The first was Lee Petty, father of “King” Richard Petty.  Lee Petty won the first ever Daytona 500 in 1959.)  What does this have to do with the Florida Sea Base?  Nothing really.  I just think it is awesome for a clean-cut young man to accomplish such an incredible task.

Okay, now the Florida Sea Base News.  Two of yesterday’s crews arrived very early.  As a matter of fact, they arrived a day early.  The remainder of yesterday’s crews arrived fairly late.  If you are coming to the Florida Sea Base this spring, remember this is a HUGE spring break venue.  Much of the highway is only 2 lanes ( that is, one lane each way) with very limited passing opportunities.  There is a draw bridge that can cause significant delays and US 1 is the only road in and out.  So if there is a major accident you may sit for hours.  (I have personally sat on US 1 for 3 hours trying to make the 25 minute drive from here to Marathon.)  Speeds of less than 30 miles per hour will be common.  Please plan accordingly.  It is about 90 miles from the Florida Sea Base to the Miami International Airport.  The drive may take 2 ½ hours or more.  Check in is at 13:00.  If you are more than an hour or two late it may have a negative impact on the start of your adventure.

Our weather continues to be incredible.  Sunny, 80º, gentle breezes.  I am sorry to be so repetitive, but it is what it is.  I’m sure we will have another bout with miserable weather.  We don’t get rained out very often, but we do get winded out.  Until that happens, we will enjoy perfect weather.

I drove one of the Sea Exploring crews to Marathon yesterday so they could board their vessel and begin their adventure.  We did so without incident.  I think we had a record number of crews that had to be transported to their boats yesterday.  Besides me, the drivers included Kyle Beighle, Capt. Scott and Gail Penfield, Dave Ball, and Capt. Aaron Foster.  The remainder of the staff were at base working with the incoming crews.

Today is another big arrival day.  Every day is opening day at the Florida Sea Base.  New participants with expectations of a high adventure program that may impact their lives forever requires the staff to treat every arrival day with the same enthusiasm and energy as the very first crew received.  It is a difficult challenge met head on by our seasonal staff members.

Capt. Dennis Wyatt and Megan Ware have been gone (to separate places, not together) for a few days but returned last evening.  And Teri Wells stopped by and blessed us with her presence.

Speaking of staff, I have an 07:30 staff meeting to attend.  I hope you stay warm and dry.  The flood forecast in the Minnesota area is very ominous.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape