Archive for May, 2011

First, I apologize for missing the last two days.  Between recovering from surgery and the last minute preparations for staff training I have been distracted.  (Percoset makes it hard to write blogs that are Scout appropriate.)

The story of the day at the Florida Sea Base is Capt. Dennis Wyatt (MENSA member) and his new contraption, I mean invention, in his continuing quest to provide exceptional comfort and value added benefits for the Scuba Adventure crews diving from the BSA Tarpon.  Drum roll, please…….  Capt. Dennis has engineered, designed and installed AIR CONDITIONING on the BSA Tarpon.  If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will see the bottom of a black, oscillating lawn sprinkler.  Capt. Dennis has tapped into the vessels fresh water system and the sprinkler keeps the roof of the Tarpon damp and cool, translating into cooler deck temperatures for the passengers.

Click to enlarge.

The arrival of summer staff has evolved from a trickle to a flood.  Staff training starts at 0730 Sunday morning.  This is my 12th summer staff training.

The weather buoy near Molasses Reef (Key Largo) is reporting an ocean side water temperature of 82º and the buoy near Layton is reporting a bay side temperature of 85.5º.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Captains Training is almost complete for 2011.  Capt. Rich is putting together a special presentation for the captains and crew of the Halie and Matthew who are running a little later on their delivery that we hoped.  I’m sure he will have another straggler or two who missed the scheduled training dates.  But the good news is that chore is almost off his plate.

The completion date on the new bathroom facilities being built along the north wall of the Galley has been moved back again.  Now we are hoping for the first of June.  While that is VERY disappointing, Capt. Rich will find a way to make the best of a very bad situation.  Rob Kolb has suggested adding more port-a-pots and possibly a more aggressive schedule for servicing the devices.

Everything else is in a state of controlled chaos, or in other words, normal.  We have been geting a little rain off and on.  The water temperatures are holding very well; staff is trickling in; etc.

Our monthly Team Meeting, usually held the third Thursday of each month, has been moved up to today.  Capt. Rich, the other members of the year ’round staff and I will enjoy our time together this morning.  I hope your morning goes well.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The first two thirds of Monday stunk.  I am trying hard to use as little pain medication as possible and that was the first challenge.  Then there was all of the little things that people don’t seem to care about. 

Dr. Ellen’s office computer has not worked properly for over nine months.  This morning is was on a major fritz and the “help desk” was very slow to provide any help.  For over 7 months we have been trying to get an authorized version of Microsoft Office on her computer to replace the free trial version.  For seven months we have failed.

Laura Kuras lead the charge on getting scuba tanks ready for summer.  Jack and Joe helped with reassembling the tanks that were recently hydrostatically recertified.  I think they are going to work on assembling new tanks tomorrow.

Most of the staff worked on preparing the Thomas Building rooms for incoming staff members.  That is hard, slow work.

Capt. Rich made final preparations for tomorrow’s Captains Training.  Capt. Dennis started preparing BSA Tarpon for the summer season.  Capt. Carol trailered a Dusky to Fort Lauderdale for repair.  I worked on staff training.

Tomorrow will be better.  I hope you had a good day.

Capt. Steve
In the Mariner’s Lounge waiting on my laundry.

I woke up around 06:30 this morning.  It was time for pain medications.  I was about to go back to sleep when the light bulb came on.  When should I be most protected from the pain?  Right after taking the pain pills!  So I hopped up (more like slid cautiously out of the bed), packed up, returned some items to my office, moved my car back to it’s designated spot and transported everything out to the boat.  Capt. Scott Costa came over to talk about the threatening weather, so I recruited him to get me a 5 gallon water jug of ice.

Capt. Scott is driving the shark research group this morning and a significant squall line is creeping our way from Naples, Florida.  I told Capt. Scott that I would keep an eye on the radar for him and alert him to return to base if it becomes advisable.

Mike Runowich drove Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol up to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park very early this morning for the final leg of the MS-150 bicycle ride.  Capt. Rich said the first 60 miles was a cake walk yesterday but then the cramps set in and the last 15 miles were tough.  I provided him with a secret weapon that should help him through today.  In my experience, day 2 is always the hardest day.  I wish them the best of luck.

I saw Capt. Scott Penfield and his wife Gail in the parking lot at the Florida Sea Base preparing for a bike ride of their own.  Katy was in the galley preparing breakfast early this morning. Jim Funnell was busy helping Capt. Scott Costa prepare the boat for the shark research group.  Jack Moorman wandered into the galley but I was not clear on what his mission was.  Capt. Bruce Payette and Girl (his dog) were on the base and on the dock.  That’s all the staff I saw this morning.

It’s almost 09:00.  A nap would be nice but I’m on radar watch.  The pain medications make me drowsy and I can’t sit still too long.

Click to enlarge.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Capt. Steve
Back aboard S/V Escape

I am doing well this morning; very tender and limited on how far I can walk or how long I can stay on my feet.  Dr. Ellen is in the office reviewing medical forms that have trickled in over the past two weeks.  Capt. Dennis is looking for mischief.  Ted Stanfill is in the office.  Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol are in a bicycle race somwhere between Homestead and Key Largo.  Everything else is very quiet.  I think I saw Sarah Grant  working on conference laundry early this morning and Capt. Scott Costa may be drivining the shark research group again today.  I saw Michael  Runowich briefly in the Galley cooking himself some breakfast.  I haven’t seen anyone else.

I have been wandering around as much as I can stand and then taking a break or short nap.  My alarm just went off – time for more pain medication. I hope you have a great weekend.

Capt. Steve
Milling about the Florida Sea Base

I am alive and well; a little sore, but the Percoset helps.  I want to thank Capt. Dennis and Dr. Ellen for transporting me from the hospital back to base and serving as my nurses.  They are kind (and very fun) folks.

Captain Rich and Captain Carol are riding in the MS-150, a bicycle event from Homestead, FL (on the mainland) to Key Largo (in the Keys) and back to Homestead.  Here’s a link for more information:

This forecast is courtesy of the National Weather Service:

Tonight: A slight chance of showers before 2am. Mostly clear, with a low around 76. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.Saturday: A slight chance of showers after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. South wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Saturday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly clear, with a low around 76. South wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Sunny, with a high near 86. South wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly clear, with a low around 76. West wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Monday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 76. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Clear, with a low around 76. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly clear, with a low around 77. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday: A slight chance of showers. Sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

 Point Forecast: Islamorada FL
 24.93°N 80.64°W (Elev. 0 ft)

That’s all for tonight.  I’m not sure if I will have anything to report tomorrow.

Capt. Steve
Recovering in Room 10 tonight

I may not be able to make posts for a day or two.  I am having abdominal surgery tomorrow morning to repair an inguinal hernia.  I have submitted to a battery of tests and I am very optimistic that there are no other issues to resolve in that area.  The surgery is scheduled as a laparoscopic procedure so hopefully I will be back on my feet in a day or two.  I plan to ask the doctor if he can suck out 10 or 20 pounds of fat while he’s in there.  I doubt he will, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Preparations for summer continue.  I think Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras and Scuba Commissioner (Emeritus) Capt. Alex Bergstedt both return on Sunday, 15 May.  I have big plans for Capt. Alex in the scuba area and staff training assignments for Laura.  Some of the seasonal staff will start trickling in soon thereafter and they will be put to work immediately.

Capt. Rich will host the first of two Captains Training sessions today from 0900 until done.  Unfortunately, Tim Stanfill, the new Food & Conference Director, will miss the meeting.  He is back in Idaho packing up his wife, baby son and personal effects for the move to the Florida Keys.

In addition to TimRob Kolb, Director of Program, Nancy Wells, Registrar, Maria Donovan, Retail Sales Manager, Capt. Scott Martin, Program Director – BEC, and Rafael Arrom, Ranger, are all off for a while.  I was hoping to be back in Texas visiting family right about now myself, but surgery took precedence.

Time to get to work.  This is going to be a long, busy day.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Tuesday was generally a quiet day at the Florida Sea Base.  I spent much of  the day working on PowerPoint® presentations, handouts and other preparations for summer staff training.

I spoke with Rob Kolb, Director of Program, at about 0900.  He reported that his visit with USCG Capt. DeQuattro went very well Monday.  However, Capt. DeQuattro took our situation regarding the manning requirements of inspected vessels under advisement.  Mr. Kolb reached out again yesterday to see if – while waiting for a permanent decision – we could have a written agreement to allow us to continue running the programs until 01 September in the same manner that we have for the past 30+ years.  Maybe we will hear back today.

The Miami/Fort Lauderdale area is getting choked by smoke from grassfires in the Everglades.  Fortunately all of the smoke is staying north of the Keys.  It is still H-O-T hot!!!  We have a 20% chance of rain over the weekend but high temperatures are still forecasted to be 90º.  Hopefully the rain will help with the fires.

I’ve got to hit the road.  I have three doctor’s appointments today, first the cardiologist in South Miami, then on to the fat doctor in Aventura (extreme north Miami) and finally back to Tavernier in the Keys to see my primary care physician.  Oh boy!!!

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Rob Kolb, Florida Sea Base Director of Program, meet with Capt. DeQuattro, USCG Commander of Sector Key West, yesterday to discuss the manning requirements for the inspected vessels we charter for the Sea Exploring, Scuba Liveaboard and Open Oceans Adventures.  I hope to be briefed by Mr. Kolb today.

The weather is HOT!  The water temperature was over 81º on the reef and 87.4º on the bay side yesterday.

Most of the staff have cleared out for a week or two before we begin summer staff training.  I ordered 130 more scuba tanks yesterday bringing our total inventory to just over 500.  That’s a LOT of scuba tanks to maintain and fill.  The bear minimum daily breakdown for the summer is 270 tanks for Scuba Adventure participants, 40 tanks for Scuba Certification participants, and 84 tanks for Scuba Liveaboard participants.  That totals 394.  Then I have to factor in tanks for staff members, spares for tanks requiring service, and spares in the event a compressor malfunction results in a delay of refilling the spent tanks.  500 is barely enough.  That represents approximately $80,000 investment in scuba tanks, valves, boots, dust caps, visual inspection stickers, tools and rebuild kits.  High Adventure does not come cheap.  We have over $20,000 worth of portable scuba compressors being delivered soon for 2011 and will spend about $20,000 more for compressors for 2012.  In addition to those, we have $80,000 invested in fix mounted compressors, storage banks and hardware.  So just our scuba compressors and tanks (plus accessories) cost about $200,000.  The scuba tanks caught the PADI photographers eye.

Click to enlarge.

Okay.  That little exercise in reality gave me a headache.  I need to go to the office and spend more money.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


It was a relatively quiet weekend at the Florida Sea Base.  There was a little staff drama Saturday but no one was injured.

Our weather looks great for the coming week with a “slight chance” of showers next weekend.  Otherwise it should be mostly sunny with seasonable temperatures (lows around 76 and highs around 87).

The first of two Captain’s Training sessions (for Captains and Mates in the Coral Reef Sailing, Sea Exploring, Eco Adventure, Order of the Arrow Oceans Adventure, Open Oceans Adventure, and Scuba Liveaboard program) is scheduled for this Thursday, 12 May.

Niccole Sherman from PADI was kind enough to send me copies of over 300 photos taken during the PADI/BSA photo shoot at the Florida Sea Base last month.  The coconut telegraph (now referred to as the wireless coconut) reports that a photo of Divemaster Jessica Arms may be used in one of the PADI Go Pro ads.  I’m sure that several of the photos will be used in articles and marketing pieces by PADI.  Here’s one of my favorites with PADI Instructor Dave Ball supervising gear assembly as his Scuba Liveaboard crew (SLS041611A) prepares for their scuba skills review.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

PADI Instructor Dave Ball & crew.

That’s all for today.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape