Archive for April, 2012

The weather was nice again at the Florida Sea Base yesterday.  We have a better chance for rain today and wind for a few days.

The scuba divers went to Long Key Ledge, the Pillars of Atlantis and Caloosa Rocks yesterday. Five Coral Reef Sailing crews and the Scuba Liveaboard crew returned to the Florida Sea base for their luau.  No Coral Reef Sailing crews were in for shore leave.  The Scuba Liveaboard program has concluded for this spring.  In 9 days, the last Scouts of the 2012 spring season will depart.

Captain Dennis Wyatt was busy early this morning, preparing for another day of danger on the high seas.

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It was good to see the new slips on the chapel seawall being used.  This has taken almost two DECADES, three General Managers, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish.

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This summer the slips will be filled to capacity.  By the way Captain Brian, isn’t that the BSA ghost ship S/V Misty Shoals on the right side of the photo?  And to be fair, the other vessel is S/V Conchy, owned by Captain Chuck Gaut.

It’s 0535.  I am going to try to lay back down, maybe skip the 0730 staff meeting, and drive to the mainland later this morning to buy some plumbing supplies for my dad.  I’ll explain why I’m buying plumbing supplies in Florida for my dad (who lives in Texas) in a future post.  Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

The USA has experienced hurricanes in every month of the year.  At the Florida Sea Base, this weather threat is never far from our minds.  April is not very worrisome and this April in particular appears to be benign.  The threat level starts to rise in May.  For the Florida Sea Base, our best chances of being significantly effected by hurricanes are in the late summer and into the early fall.  This is a nice graphic from The Weather Channel of the 2011 Atlantic hurricanes.

ENLARGE

We will remain ever vigilant and the safety of our participants will remain our highest priority as the 2012 hurricane season looms ahead.  Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground is looking forward to a quiet 2012 season. “Expect one of the quietest Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995 this year, say the hurricane forecasting team of Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU) in their latest seasonal forecast issued April 4.”  Whatever gets thrown at us, we will be as prepared as possible.  In the meantime, trip insurance is always a good idea – just in case.

For years there have been rumors of a vessel named Misty Shoals being in the Florida Sea Base Coral Reef Sailing fleet.  However, the elusive ghost-ship had never before been caught on film.  But yesterday, while hiding in disguise and laying in ambush for hours, I was finally able to photograph the elusive vessel and it’s extremely shy Captain Brian Stolzenberg.

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I want to thank all of the substitute Coral Reef Mates that helped receive the returning Coral Reef Sailing crews yesterday.  I’m sure I will leave someone out, but Captain Rich Beliveau, Captain Zach Woodmancy, Blue Price, Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras, and Food and Conference Director Tim Stanfill were all seen chipping in.  If anyone complains that I left them out, I will print a correction.

The weather should be great again today but start ramping up tomorrow according to the National Weather Service:

Today: Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming south around 5 mph.
Tonight: A slight chance of showers. Mostly clear, with a low around 74. North wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Saturday: A chance of showers, mainly after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 82. East wind between 10 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74. Windy, with a east wind between 20 and 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Sunday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Breezy, with a east wind around 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy and windy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Monday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny and windy, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Monday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

It looks like tomorrow might be a good day to take off.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

12Apr

UPDATE

While I have not been apprised of any details, a memorial service for Captain Joe Maggio is tentatively set for 20 April 2012 in Coconut Grove (Miami).  I will post details as soon as I have them.

The divers first stop yesterday was at a spur and groove type reef named Hammerhead.  They saw several invasive Lionfish, one or more of which were reportedly large enough to eat.  [I feel a staff dive being organized in the near future to destroy these dangerous fish and make a tasty treat for the conquerors.]  The next stop was Bacon and then Donut.  Last night was the night dive at Alligator Reef.  Attending Florida Sea Base scuba programs in the slower weeks of spring allows nearly unlimited latitude in our diving schedule.  (Just a thought for potential future attendees.)

Roger and Brian spent the day photographing and videography sailing crews.  The wind was very light so some of the images may show sailboats under full sail with diesel exhaust trailing behind. The shore leave sailors had a great time.  I believe the photographers will be going to the Brinton Environmental Center today.

Captain Rich has completed the schedule for boats, captains and crews attending this summer.  This is a massive accomplishment.  Hopefully I can work on the scuba part of the schedule today.

We have a 30% chance of rain Friday night and Saturday with a very slight chance of showers lingering through Monday.  According to the national Weather Service in Key West,

A WEAK PRESSURE PATTERN WILL PREVAIL OVER THE COASTAL WATERS THROUGH FRIDAY…FEATURING GENTLE WINDS. HIGH PRESSURE WILL THEN EXPAND SOUTHWARD ALONG THE EASTERN SEABOARD BY FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY…RESULTING IN FRESHENING NORTHEAST TO EAST WINDS. HIGH PRESSURE WILL BECOME CENTERED OVER THE WESTERN ATLANTIC THROUGH TUESDAY…MAINTAINING FRESH TO STRONG EAST TO SOUTHEAST WINDS.

We have one Scuba Adventure crew arriving Sunday.  One Coral Reef Sailing crew arrives on Saturday, three arrive on Sunday and three more arrive on Monday.  Once these crews depart, the spring session of the 2012 Florida Sea Base high adventure programs will conclude and preparations for the 2012 Tarpon Tournament will begin.

Today is going to be very tough for the sailing staff; five Coral Reef Sailing crews are in for shore leave and five Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew are returning to base for luau.  The only way we can cover all of the crews is by having Captain Rich, some of the scuba staff, some of the Admin staff and me help on the dock with the returning crews and driving to pick up the Sea Exploring crew.

I would like to initiate a “rant” at this time, but it is not appropriate to speak disparingly of the organization.  So, I will wish you a safe and profitable day and sign off.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

BSA photo/videographer Roger attended yesterday’s morning staff meeting.  His partner, Brian, met us at breakfast.  I then introduced them to the scuba staff and off they went.  They took pictures and/or videos of the crews gearing up, loading the boat, diving, eating and playing on the boat, diving, unloading and securing gear.  Today they will be shadowing one or more sailing crews.  Then they will go to the Brinton Environmental Center to take more photos and videos.

The weather was great.  The divers went to Ham, Cheeca Rocks and Capt. Grumpy.  The sailors on shore leave spent the day kayaking, small boat sailing, tubing and playing volleyball.  Today was Captain Teri Wells’ first lesson in operating the tubing boat.

Mr. Scott Wyatt from the IT department of the BSA National Office is on property to resolve some of our computer issues.  I certainly hope he is successful; our internet, network and overall computer system is a disaster.

Captain Rich found time to call Newton Dive Boats.  They said the Newton 36′ Dive Special being purchased for the Scuba Certification program should be ready around 11 May.  We were hoping to have it by 01 May for christening at the Tarpon Tournament.

I didn’t sleep very well Monday night, had a killer headache all yesterday and essentially accomplished nothing.  Today will be better.

I hope you have a good day.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

10Apr

GONE!

in Staff  •  2 comments

Many of the Florida Sea Base 2012 spring staff members are gone.  Scuba is dwindling but sailing is holding strong.  I get depressed as the staff leaves.  No one is more aware of that than my Office Manager, Ellen.  Ellen and Captain Dennis have elected to not work at the Florida Sea Base this summer.  We will find people to fill their slots, but they are irreplaceable.  Yesterday Ellen said, “Please don’t be mad at us”.  I responded that I wasn’t mad, just saddened.  Staff members come and go.  The Florida Sea Base is much bigger than any of us and will continue.

And such is the case with the passing of Captain Joe Maggio.  I received emails and phone calls yesterday expressing condolences.  Captain Joe can never be replaced.  But we will do the best we can without him.

Yesterday was very busy for the sailing staff; five Coral Reef Sailing crews arrived to begin their trips, two Coral Reef Sailing crews were in for shore leave and one Sea Exploring crew had to be driven from the Florida Sea Base to their awaiting vessel in Marathon.

What’s left of the scuba staff, Scuba Instructors Meghann Michalski and Steven Raymond, Divemaster Captain Ed Miller, and Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras spent the morning preparing our two Scuba Adventure crews for their first dive of the week.  In the afternoon they went to Alligator Reef for dive 1, except for Laura who stayed behind and worked on inventory.

The wind was mostly in the single digits yesterday but did hit 10 and 11 knots occasionally.  It was mostly sunny and hot; PERFECT for sunburn.  We are expecting at least a few more days of nice weather with the winds building again on Friday.

Synopsis…WEAK HIGH PRESSURE WILL REMAIN OVER THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS TODAY…THEN A WEAK LOW PRESSURE TROUGH WILL SAG SOUTHWARD ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING…RESULTING IN LIGHT WINDS ACROSS THE KEYS COASTAL WATERS. THE LOW PRESSURE TROUGH SHOULD PASS THROUGH THE FLORIDA KEYS LATE WEDNESDAY OR WEDNESDAY EVENING…WITH A BRIEF PERIOD OF GENTLE TO MODERATE NORTHWEST BREEZES IN ITS WAKE. FRESHENING NORTHEAST TO EAST BREEZES ARE EXPECTED FOR THE LATER PART OF THE WEEK INTO THE WEEKEND. (Courtesy of NWS-Key West)

We have a photographer and videographer conducting a photo/video shoot for the rest of the week at the Florida Sea Base and the Brinton Environmental Center.  The “Detailed 7-day Forecast” from the NWS looks very good:

Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. East wind around 5 mph.
Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. East wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Wednesday: A slight chance of showers after 3pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday Night: A slight chance of showers before 2am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. Northwest wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. North wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: A chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday: A chance of showers. Mostly sunny and breezy, with a high near 83. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 73. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Sunday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Monday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

Captain Joe Maggio died Friday of an apparent heart attack.  Someone would have to write book if you wanted to chronicle all of the positive impacts Captain Joe had on the youth of America over the last 30+ years.  Captain Joe served as the director of the Florida Sea Base Bahamas program so I only had the opportunity to meet him a few times.  He was a great man and will truly be missed.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Barbara, and his family.

The scuba staff is dwindling; we are down to two Scuba Adventure crews and one Scuba Liveaboard crew this week and only one Scuba Adventure crew next week.  We would not meet our scuba staff budget if staff members weren’t willing to come for a week or two during the spring.  Most of these staff members are retired or semi-retired and some come as non-paid volunteers.  Scott Patton, David Ball, Richard Goldman, Mark Gilbert, Bradley Williams, and Mark Whitson have all completed their tours of duty for this spring.  Captain Ed Miller lives in the Keys and will be on payroll through Wednesday.  Meghann Michalski is departing at the end of this week (I think).  Most of the others will stay through the Tarpon Tournament and a few will return for summer.  I am finding this “thinning of the heard” very depressing.

Yesterday’s schedule included the exceptionally late departure of the Scuba Liveaboard crew (that arrived the night before), the arrival of two Scuba Adventure crews (one with a non-scuba certified participant and one with a diver restricted to diving no deeper than 20′),  five scheduled Coral Reef Sailing crews plus one crew who decided to show up a day early (SURPRISE!!!), and one Sea Exploring crew.  Whew!  By the end of the day, Captain Rich and I were both wondering if jumping off the Channel 5 bridge would hurt much.  Office Manager Ellen Wyatt and Chef Joyce Frantz handled the day with cool professionalism.  Meanwhile, Captain Dennis reports he had a nice nap.

Thus concludes my report for Easter, 2012.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

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Josie Willis will be enjoying her first Easter today.  I hope you have a great day as well.  And IF you are so blessed as to be with your loved ones today, give them a big hug.  Many people are far from home and won’t have that opportunity.  Don’t take it for granted.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

CONGRATULATIONS TO NEW PADI OPEN WATER SCUBA INSTRUCTORS MICHAEL ROESEL AND STEVEN RAYMOND.  I am looking forward to having them on our Scuba Certification staff this summer.  I have EXCEPTIONALLY high expectations for these two.

Friday was a very windy day at the Florida Sea Base.  The divers still went diving and the sailors still went sailing.  This frustrating west wind finally clocked to the north overnight.  North winds make life easier in our harbor and reduces the waves on the reef.  Yeah north wind!

I drove BSA Quail Ridge Explorer to Alligator Reef for one of the certification crews yesterday; Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras served as First Mate.  Scuba Instructors Captain Christy Clemenson, Steven Raymond and Michael Roesel lead the divers through PADI Open Water Training Dive #4 and one fun dive.  Then we relocated to the bay side to eat lunch and goof off for a while.  Michael Roesel drove the boat for most of the day but Captain Christy made her first successful docking in a major west wind.  Way to go Captain Christy!

Scuba Instructor David Ball sent me an email from the ScubaLiveaboard trip a few days ago, but I forgot to post it.  Dave had reported outstanding visibility AND his 1,000th dive.  Congratulations Dave.  Sadly, Mr. Ball has completed his spring tour of duty and left early this morning to return to New Jersey.  He will be missed.  Barbara, if you’re reading this, thank you very much for letting Dave come out and play.  We will miss you at the Tarpon Tournament this year but I hope you have a great time on your cruise.

Mark Gilbert will be released from the hospital today with a clean bill of health.  False alarm, but better safe than sorry.  If all goes as planned, his wife will drive him down to the Florida Sea Base this afternoon so he can be with his crew for luau.  They will then drive to Fort Lauderdale on Monday and fly home to Kansas City.

Many of our staff are very dedicated Scouting volunteers.  Their service at the Florida Sea Base and with their local units sincerely appreciated.  The Boy Scouts of America could not exist with the devotion of hundreds of thousands of volunteers.  Thank you all for what you do.

One Sea Exploring crew, one Scuba Liveaboard crew and four Coral Reef Sailing crews returned to the Florida Sea Base yesterday to celebrate their luau.  Two Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew arrived to begin their adventure.

As of 0500, the wind is officially from the north and has dropped to 11 knots.  It should be a stellar day on the reef.  We have one Scuba Liveaboard crew arriving today and two Scuba Adventure crews arriving Sunday.  Here’s the NWS Marine Forecast for the next few days:

Today…Northeast winds 15 to 20 knots…increasing to near 20 knots in the afternoon. Seas building to 4 to 6 feet. Isolated showers.
Tonight…Northeast to east winds near 20 knots. Seas 5 to 7 feet. isolated showers.
Sunday…Northeast to east winds near 20 knots. Seas 6 to 8 feet. Isolated showers.
Sunday Night…East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 5 to 7 feet…subsiding to 4 to 6 feet late. Isolated showers.
Monday…Northeast to east winds near 15 knots early…decreasing to 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon. Seas 3 to 5 feet…subsiding to 2 to 4 feet late. Isolated showers.
Tuesday…Northeast to east winds near 10 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Isolated showers.
Wednesday…Northeast to east winds near 10 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Isolated showers.

My suggestion is start taking one BONINE® tablet a day NOW to get it in your system and to see if you suffer any side effects.  (Chew the little orange tablets, do not swallow them whole.  By the way, they actually taste good.)  Sunday and Monday look a little rough.  Hopefully the wind will drop on Tuesday as forecasted and the end of the week will be better than the beginning.  If BONINE® is not your cure of choice you might consider the wrist bands (they work for Scuba Instructor Rich Goldman) or, if you’re not on a diet, ginger snap cookies or ginger supplements from the pharmacy.  If you go with the cookies, put them in a zip-lock bag and enjoy about three of them per morning before leaving on the boat.  You may want to take three more onboard to eat with lunch.  Even smelling ginger essential oils helps many people with gastroenpukeulitis.

Enough about that.  Have a great day.  NO PUKING.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum®
Aboard S/V Escape 

06Apr

NEW FUEL DOCK

in Staff  •  0 comments

Remodeling of the Florida Sea Base fuel dock is complete.  We had been dealing with a weather beaten dock for years.  The new dock is no bigger but is stronger and will be here long after I’m gone.

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Captain Rich Beliveau (in the yellow shirt) personally escorted the dredge barge as it departed the Florida Sea Base.

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This falls under “old news” but I keep forgetting to mention that our Retail Sales Manager, Maria Donovan, has a new office.  She had been sharing an office with Tim Stanfill, Director of Conferences and Food Services.  The down side to Maria’s move is that she has been banned to an office in a little known alley in the back of ourproperty.  We don’t see much of Maria any more.

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Long time BSA volunteer and Scuba Instructor Mark Gilbert had a medical event while on the dive boat yesterday.  He is in Miami for some tests today.  I spent hours with him yesterday and I think he’s going to be fine.  Meanwhile, it would not hurt to keep him in your prayers.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape 

05Apr

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES

in Weather  •  Comments Off on HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES

Happy Birthday to Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras and (almost) Captain Theresa Wells.  (It’s not polite to ask a lady’s age, but the last digits are 6 and 1.)

Yesterday morning started out well at the Florida Sea Base; staff meeting at 0730, flag ceremony at 0745, breakfast at 0800.  The dive boats got off the dock on time.  Now back up to Sunday.  Sunday night I told the divers the weather might get a little dicy on Wednesday or Thursday and they should start taking Bonine® to start getting it into their system.  I’m sure they were thinking that I had lost my mind.  “Why take seasick medicine when there’s no wind?”  Wednesday’s count was 7 pukers on one boat and at least two on the other boat.  Six hours at sea while suffering from gastroenpukeulitus is HIGH ADVENTURE

The seas were medium bad, about three feet.  The divers in California would probably love a day of three foot seas.  Maybe that’s why the (Florida) National High Adventure Sea Base is a success where it is.  (Maybe.)  Here’s our marine forecast from the National Weather Service for the remained of this rotation:

Today…South winds 5 to 10 knots…except near 25 knots and gusty in and near scattered showers and thunderstorms before sunrise. Seas around 1 foot. Nearshore waters a light chop. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms early…isolated showers and thunderstorms after sunrise.
Tonight…South to southwest winds near 10 knots. Seas around 1 foot. Nearshore waters a light chop. Isolated showers and thunderstorms.
Friday…Southwest to west winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers and thunderstorms.
Friday Night…Northwest to north winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers and thunderstorms.
Saturday…Northeast winds near 15 knots…increasing to 15 to 20 knots late. Seas around 2 feet…building to 2 to 3 feet late. Nearshore waters a moderate chop…becoming choppy. Isolated showers.
Sunday…Northeast to east winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers.
Monday…Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas around 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop.

The sailing staff was busy with four Coral Reef Sailing crews in for shore leave and another in for luau.

I woke up at 0345 this morning and noticed some lighting in the distance.  I closed the hatches and laid back down.  About 30 minutes later a storm was upon us.  Fortunately it passed in time for our morning staff meeting.

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Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape