Archive for September, 2012

30Sep

OFF SEASON

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TRAVELS

Captain Rich Beliveau returned to the Florida Sea Base Friday.  He reported having a very successful business trip.  I am still in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and will be returning to base this Thursday.

SCUBA

We have a Scuba Liveaboard crew arriving on Saturday, 06 October.  They will spend a week diving, sailing and fishing with Captain Luke and Captain Hans.  Kyle Moran and Emily Sepeta will be the Divemasters for the trip.

SAILING

We had two Coral Reef Sailing crews booked to arrive a week or two after the Scuba Liveaboard crew, but Captain Rich Beliveau reports that one of the crews has cancelled.  The remaining crew will sail with Captain Bruce aboard S/V Barefoot with Girl, the sailing dog.

WEATHER

The water temperature on the reef is still a balmy 83-84ºF; VERY nice for diving and snorkeling.  The local weather remains seasonal with spotty, brief showers, highs in the mid 80s and lows in the low 80s.  That’s not a typo; it is common for the temperature to very little during the night and afternoon at this time of year.  I think it was Wednesday when the low was 81 and the high was 83.  The winds are gentle enough for great snorkeling and diving and just enough to get in some sailing.  With a few weeks remaining before the Coral Reef Sailing crew arrives I suspect that we may see some frontal activity by then and that would provide more wind which equals better sailing.

The tropical Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico are almost too quiet.  Nadine is still alive in the northeast Atlantic.  She may set a record for the longest lasting tropical storm ever.

Drought is still a major issue in the US but it is getting a little better with the much needed rains and cooler temperatures that have arrived in some locations.  While short term relief from the drought is very welcomed, the long term weather pattern is not encouraging for food production.

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

If you are considering applying for the 2012 Divemaster Academy, please do so ASAP.  I will continue to accept applications as late as possible or until the final slot if filled.  I do not have a definite cut off point but 15 October is about as long as I can wait.  It you can’t submit an application for some reason, I strongly suggest you at least send me an email to let me know your intentions.  Kyle Moran has been sending out packets of PADI training materials to the candidates who have met all of the prerequisites.  They have also been provided information for registering for the PADI Divemaster eLearning course and the PADI Dive Theory Online course.

MEETINGS

The full time staff of the Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, some of the Philmont Scout Ranch staff and at least one senior manager from the National Office will come together in Miami next week for four glorious days of strategic planning meetings.

Have a great week.  I will be on the road all day Monday.  I will post again when I can.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

27Sep

STAFF APPLICANTS

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I am still out of town as is Captain Rich.  Kyle Moran continues to manage the daily program related needs of the Florida Sea Base.  I received a call from former Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructor Steven Raymond Wednesday.  Steven has signed a contract with Disney Cruise Lines but is interested in returning to the Florida Sea Base next spring.  Talking with Steven made me think of some pointers to share with wanna be staff members and wanna be returning staff members.

CHRISTMAS SEASON & DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

Christmas (winter) staff applicants were generally identified during the exit interviews at the end of the summer season.  It is rare for us to hire non-returning staff at Christmas; we simply do have time for any sort of staff training.  I have submitted the information to Florida Sea Base Administrative Assistant Cheryl Ferreri to prepare Letters of Employment for the Divemaster Academy staff and three of the Scuba Adventure/Scuba Liveaboard positions.  The filled positions include:

Reed Beazley – SA/SC Dive Boat Mate and DMA assistant
Captain Alex Bergstedt – DMA Instructor
Captain Christy Clemenson – DMA Captain
Captain Kari Dahlquist – DMA Instructor
Richard Goldman – DMA Instructor
Hank Gordon – Divemaster (specific assignment pending)
Kyle Moran – DMA Divemaster
Captain Dennis Wyatt – SA/SC Captain and DMA assistant
Ellen Wyatt – Office Manager

I believe I have five scuba positions still open:

1 Scuba Certification Instructor
1 Scuba Certification Divemaster
2 Scuba Liveaboard Divemasters or Instructors (2 positions total)
1 Scuba Adventure Divemaster

I do not have the summer exit reports with me, so if you are a former Florida Sea Base scuba staff member interested in working the Christmas season, please send me a reminder email.  I am 99% sure Emily Sepeta has asked to fill one of the DM positions, so that leaves four openings.  I wil be back at the base in a week and will review the exit reports again.

I have no idea of how far along Captain Rich or any of the other hiring managers are.  If you are interested in a winter scuba position and haven’t heard from me yet, I suggest you send me an email.  If you are interested in a sailing position you might check with Captain Rich next week.

SPRING & SUMMER 2013

It is NOT too early to submit applications for spring or summer.  The sooner you apply the better your chances of being selected.  Former staff members hoping to be rehired need to send a new application; again, the sooner the better.  Here are a few hints about applying:

1. Neatness counts – if we can’t read your email address and phone numbers your application is worthless.
2. Apply early – sometimes, first come is first accepted.
3. Dates of availability are important – BE ACCURATE.  Check with your school and parents to confirm your dates of availability.  Being available for the full season is a HUGE bonus.  If you are only available from mid June to early August, your chance of acceptance is marginal at best.
4. Do not expect to get extended time off – FSB policy allows a MAXIMUM of ONE three day absence.  Asking for a week off for a wedding or family activity is not appropriate.
5.  If you work the spring season, you will get preferential consideration for summer.
6. Returning staff members’ past performance and adherence to FSB & BSA policies will be given heavy consideration.
7. Talk with your references and make sure they are going to give you a positive referral.  Sometimes the reference tells us we shouldn’t hire you.  That is not what you want.

CRITICAL SEASONAL POSITION OPENINGS

Laura Kuras and Ellen Wyatt have elected to move on to bigger and better opportunities for 2013.  Therefore, I am accepting applications for a Scuba Commissioner and Office Manager.  These are seasonal positions of major responsibility.

The Scuba Commissioner runs the day-to-day operations of the Scuba Adventure, Scuba Certification and Scuba Liveaboard programs.  The Commissioner must be available for the spring and summer seasons.  Former FSB scuba staff experience is preferred.  PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor or higher certification and USCG Master (50 tons or more) are very desirable.  Computer skills (especially Excel) and leadership experience are mandatory.

The Office Manager reviews all incoming scuba paperwork, especially the medical forms and contacts crew leaders when issues arise.  This is a very demanding job.  The Office Manager should be available from the first or second week of January until the end of August.  This is for continuity in reviewing the medical forms and communicating with crew leadership.  The Office Manager must be proficient with Excel and Outlook and have excellent phone and organizational skills.

If interested, please submit an application AND resumé through the usual channels.  In addition, please send me an email so we can talk one-on-one. These are truly critical positions to the success of the Florida Sea Base scuba programs.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

WEATHER

Indications from the Climate Prediction Center are for a quiet two weeks in the tropical Atlantic.

Click to enlarge.

The local weather at the Florida Sea Base remains very consistent with highs around 88ºF, lows around 78ºF and a 30% chance of showers daily for the next seven days.  The water temperature at Molasses Reef  is still quite warm, 83ºF.

MEETINGS

My days are occupied with preparations several upcoming meetings.  The Florida Sea Base full-time staff will meeting for five days in about two weeks.  This is an annual meeting for us to discuss long-term strategic plans.  As soon as we return from that I have the pleasure of attending BSA Health and Safety Committee meetings for five and a half hours.  These are excellent opportunities to stay up to date with issues and changes within the BSA.

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

Applications are still coming in.  I worked on the welcoming PowerPoint presentation for quite a while Tuesday.  The paperwork involved with this endeavor is mind boggling.  I will fall behind a bit tomorrow, I have an all day road trip to visit with my sister and dad.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

24Sep

HURRICANE RITA

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I am still on a working vacation in Texas.  “Working vacation” means you are burning vacation time, but are still ALLOWED to handle work related phone calls and emails, work on strategic planning, budgeting and purchasing, review incoming Divemaster Academy applications, hire winter staff members and tend to other program related logistics and maybe spend a couple of hours with family and friends or have dinner with them.  Since becoming a professional employee of the Boy Scouts of America in 2002 I have enjoyed one 3 week vacation.  Other than the sporadic day off here and there, the remainder of my time off has been dedicated to serving the Florida Sea Base.

TROPICAL UPDATE

There are no tropical threats to the Florida Sea Base at this time.  However, there is certainly a very real potential for severe tropical weather ahead.  Seven years ago, category 5 Hurricane Rita landed near the Texas/Louisiana border.  The system was still at category 3 strength when the eye passed within 5 miles of my parents’ home, about 75 miles inland.  My folks were without electricity for 6 weeks.  It had passed by the Florida Sea Base just four days earlier.

Click to enlarge.

The below photo shows the wind, waves and surge generated by Rita as she passed the Florida Sea Base.  I took the photo across the highway from the Florida Sea Base at the Caloosa Resort.

Click to enlarge.

USED SCUBA GEAR

I was in WalMart over a week ago; they were putting Christmas lights on the shelf.  “Tis the season, I guess.  With that in mind. fsbscubagear@gmail.com will put you in contact with Kyle Moran who can set you up with a great buy on a used BC and regulator for those on your Christmas shopping list.  You can also check out other Florida Sea Base gifts at www.fsbshipstore.com.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

23Sep

26th

NASCAR

The Hybrid Light / BSA #8 car placed 26th in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Kentucky.  I lifted this graphic from the Hybrid Light site:

Click to enlarge.

I did not get to see the race live, but recorded part of it  (the DVR cut off somewhere around lap 110) and watched it Sunday.  Being outside the top 10, the #8 car did not get much air time.  I saw him as high as 16th.  Someone please correct me if I am wrong.  Based on what I could find on the internet, it looks like Lagassee finished the race running, but was probably the last car (27th thru 43rd place cars had withdrawn for various mechanical issues) to cross the finish line and was (maybe) 13 laps down.  Not seeing the last half of the race and poor news coverage of drivers outside the top 5 is frustrating.

The bottom line is the #8 car spent hours in front of 10s of thousands of fans at the track and many, many more fans watching on TV with the BSA logo zipping by time and time again.  We will see how it goes.  NASCAR, Indy car, or dragster, most young men like fast cars and maybe this effort will attack some new youth to our organization.

FLORIDA SEA BASE

A team effort including Captain Rich Beliveau, General Manager Captain Paul Beal, myself and the nice people of Newton Boats, an agreement has been reached and a contract will soon be written for the purchase of the 4th Newton 46 Dive Special to be purchased for the Florida Sea Base Scuba Adventure program.  If all goes well, the vessel should be ready on 15 March 2013 for its delivery by sea from Slidell, Louisiana to the Florida Sea Base.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

21Sep

FALL

Fall begins today.  What does that mean for the Florida Sea Base?  Well, nothing quite yet.  But in a week or so we will start our 2012 conference season.  Since the Sea Base Galley and conference housing are being remodeled, the 2012 fall conferences will be held at the Brinton Environmental Center.

BIRTHDAYS

Friday was my sister’s and my birthday.  We are not twins; we were born on the same day, four years apart.  Saturday I am driving to my sister’s place in Mead, Oklahoma for a family reunion/birthday party.  This weekend or Monday is also the birthday of our Financial Assistant, Shelly Miklas.  Sunday is Juliet’s (my oldest granddaughter), 14th birthday.  Captain Rich’s birthday was just three weeks ago, and our Head Ranger, Rafael Arrom’s birthday was just a few days ago.  Tuesday will be my mom’s first birthday since she passed away.  (Does that make sense?)  September is apparently a busy birthday month.

WEATHER

What can I say?  It is officially fall today.  Many folks will be very happy.  I don ‘t mind if it cools down 10º or so, but that would be plenty; highs of 80 and lows of 70.  There is no tropical weather of concern to the Florida Sea Base.  They have been getting some hit or miss showers and have a 50% chance of rain daily for the coming 5 days.

NASCAR

Don’t forget to watch the first ever running of a BSA sponsored car in a NASCAR race.  It will be televised on ESPN at 15:30 (3:30pm) Eastern Time Saturday.  Check out this article and the related articles referenced at the bottom of it.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

Drivers, start your engines!

I’m thrilled to announce the Boy Scouts of America will be racing in our first ever NASCAR Nationwide Series race, with Team SLR, and the #8 HybridLight BSA car, this week!

This first ever race with the BSA’s association will take place at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY. The race will be aired on ESPN this Saturday, September 22 at 3:30pm ET (check your local listings to verify, as times could change).

There’s only one “first” race, so please help us get the word out by forwarding this email on to as many folks as possible; the more Scouts, volunteers, and BSA supporters that tune in, the better!

We realize your time is valuable, so we appreciate your support in helping us spread the word. Hosting Pack or Troop parties would be a great way for unit leaders to have fun with this, so we hope you’re open to forwarding this on to your council membership.

We look forward to rooting for the #8 HybridLight BSA car at this race, and many more in the future, as we embark on this exciting new journey through the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Team SLR.

To see a more in depth overview of this BSA Racing program, please read a full article in the most recent Scout Wire!

Craig H. Shelley  |  Director

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Development and Corporate Alliances

1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
P 972.580.2107

Craig.Shelley@Scouting.org

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713
18Sep

GLUTEN

I am in Texas and the Florida Sea Base scuba department is in the hands of Kyle Moran.  More Divemaster Academy applications are arriving.  Kyle will keep me updated on those and also staying busy with used scuba equipment sales.  Bills are still arriving and Captain Rich will see those get submitted for payment. Phone calls and emails are still coming in, but I am dealing with those thanks to modern technology.

GLUTEN

At the Florida Sea Base, Food Services Director Tim Stanfill and Galley Manager Captain Rae Murphy have to deal with gluten allergies more and more frequently.  Will so many gluten free products on the market now, I was wondering where all the gluten was being placed.  Is the a gluten glut in the USA?  Monday the answer was revealed; corn gluten meal.  Someone is making their billions by removing the gluten from food and using it to fertilize our lawns.  There is no glut of gluten, just an organic herbicide made of gluten.  If gluten is an organic herbicide, is it safe for any of us to be eating?

WEATHER

Invest 92L and Invest 93L are both expected to fizzle out, becoming rain events and are not expected to develop into tropical systems.  However, the Climate Prediction Center says there is a moderate chance of tropical storm development in the Atlantic next week.

Click to enlarge.

There is a 30% to 50% chance of showers daily for the next week at the Florida Sea Base.  The temperatures are expected to be seasonable with highs around 90ºF and lows around 80ºF.  The wind is about 10 knots, generally from the south.  By Thursday they should clock around to the northeast or east and increase to 15 knots.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI CourseDirector #39713

I thought I posted this Saturday but found it in my drafts folder just now.

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  A couple of days ago I posted my fall travel itinerary.  Due to events beyond my control and despite my best efforts, I am (at this moment) hoping to finish packing my Civic and little trailer, run some errands, prep Escape and go to bed around 18:00 (6pm).  If I can pull all of that off, I can leave here around 03:00 Sunday morning and arrive in Midlothian, Texas just as everyone is waking up on Monday morning.

FORMER STAFF

It’s always a treat to hear from former staff members.  I saw this comment this morning from Derek Faust:

Captain Steve,

Not sure if you remember me or not. I was a Scuba Mate for Summer 2010. I read your post almost everyday. I really enjoy the updates and progress that Sea Base is making. As a scientist myself (earned MS in Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech and currently at Mississippi State for my PhD in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture), I am really interested in the STEM program that you have posted about the past couple days. I think this is an excellent idea. As a nation, we are falling behind other countries in STEM and I think STEM education and outreach is where we need to start. I would like some additional information if you have it. I hope all is well and I am glad that Sea Base has thus far had pretty good luck in this busy hurricane season.

Derek, I’m glad you are doing so well with school.  I don’t recall (CRS disease) if Tim was working at the Florida Sea Base when you were here.  Tim Stanfill replaced Chrystene Matthew-Speed as the Food and Conference Director.  He is an Eagle Scout, former Florida Sea Base seasonal staff member, former District Executive, and a real life Boy Scout in every sense of the word.  Tim and Captain Rich Beliveauare discussing potential STEM programs with several local educators and many of the Coral Reef captains who are former educators.  We are looking at two approaches to the STEM project and hope to find a way to accomplish both.  The Boy Scouts of America has it’s own, in-house, STEM project.  There is a lot of information about their programs at http://www.scouting.org/STEM.aspx.  Our other approach is through the Florida Department of Education.  Florida’s STEM Strategic Plan is available at http://www.lsi.fsu.edu/centers/fcrstem/resources/documents/floridaSTEM_strategic_plan_dec2011.pdf.  I’m not sure of the proper title, but the Florida Sea Base is already recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a STEM facility.  The ultimate goal is the same, fill the Florida Sea Base with youth on a year ’round basis.

OTHER INITIATIVES

Simultaneously, Captain Rich Beliveau is working on a program to attract collegiate  sailing clubs to the Florida Sea Base and I am working on expanding our Divemaster Academy from an annual event to two or three times a year and working on hosting the first PADI Instructor Development Course at the Florida Sea Base, hopefully in the spring of 2013.

As I mentioned yesterday or the day before, the Scouting programs will ALWAYS come first at the Florida Sea Base.  Programs like STEM, collegiate sailing, professional scuba diving training, or whatever else we come up with will always be used to fill in our non-Scouting times.  Any income generated by other programs will benefit Scouting.  We have tried other programs in the past that were unsuccessful.  But we try to learn from those experiences and improve our proposals.

TYPHOON SANBA

The good news is Sanba is down from Super Typhoon to Typhoon (category 4 hurricane) status.  The bad news is the eye of this system is about 150 miles from US Air Force Base Kadena on the south end of Okinawa.  The track looks like it will take the eye through or very near the Air Force Base.  Please keep these folks in your prayers.

TRAVEL

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I hope to be on the road from 03:00 Sunday until sometime Monday morning.  So please excuse my absence for the next day or two and I will post again as soon as I have recovered from the 24 hour ± drive to the Mother Country.  It looks like I will beat much of the rain but will likely be wet from mid-Louisiana to Midlothian.  (Maybe the bugs will get washed off.)

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713
Aboard S/V Escape

17Sep

TOUCH DOWN

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My Honda Civic, 4′ x 6′ utility trailer, and I arrived safety in Midlothian, Texas sometime around 15:00 (3pm) Sunday.  During the drive, I took a one hour nap at a rest area on I-10 near Tallahassee and a 20 minute nap at the Flying Jin Gulfport, Mississippi.  At least I think it was Gulfport.

I rolled out of bed at 05:30 Saturday with the intent of packing, loading and going to bed around dinner time.  Then get up at 02:00, hit the road 03:00, and make the 22 – 24 hour drive to Texas.  But I was packed and loaded by noon.  Kyle, Preston, Runowich, and Ian (also a D/FW resident) moved my loaded trailer by hand from the Scuba Chickee to the driveway so I could connect it to the car.  I was wring wet with sweat so I took a shower, threw a few final items in the car and headed for the Mother Country.  When I went to bed Sunday I had been up for 39 hours, minus the hour and twenty minutes of napping done in the driver’s set of the Civic.

Blah, blah blah.  What about the Florida Sea Base Captain Steve?

GALLEY

Saturday was the first day that the construction crew was NOT hard at work since they began over a week ago.  I’m not sure if they need a (much deserved) break, were at a point where permission to continue was required from a Village of Islamorada building inspector, or needed materials.  Regardless, they have been making phenomenal process.  I think the building inspector was out on Friday to check progress.  You never know if that is good or bad.

WEATHER

I was lead to believe this would be a quiet week or two regarding tropical weather development.  I checked this morning and Invest 92L is approaching the Lesser Antilles and expected to track south of Cuba and Invest 93L has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to track into northern Florida. That makes me think of the Jimmy Buffet song, “Fins”.  To paraphrase, storms to the north, storms to the south.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I’m glad I didn’t wait to make the drive.  There is very heavy rain along most of my route today.  I drove in the rain from Shreveport, Louisiana to the house yesterday.

Click to enlarge.

WEATHER UNDERGROUND

Former staff member John Livres sent me a brief email to confirm my worry; Dr. Jeff Masters has sold Weather Underground to the parent company of The Weather Channel.  All of the above graphics are courtesy of Weather Underground.  I’m sure the sale was a huge financial success for Dr. Masters.  The impact on the rest of humanity  is inconsequential.  I am very disappointed.  The eventual loss of the Weather Underground radar graphics will have a negative impact on our weather monitoring options at the Florida Sea Base.  We will work around it.  http://wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2143  I guess I was busy that day and didn’t the the blog.  Shame on me.

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

If you are contemplating submitting an application for the 2012 Divemaster Academy, please do so immediately.  If you cannot send in the application all me or send in an email to let me know of your interest.  If you have submitted an application you should have received an email from me recently; if not call or email me.  i will try to send an email to those who have already been selected for the program tomorrow with instructions on how to properly sign up for the PADI Divemaster and Dive Theory online training courses.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713
Aboard S/V Escape

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