Archive for November, 2012



in Scuba  •  0 comments


Captain Rich, other staff members at the Florida Sea Base, and I have been working on our do list.

  • Program cost analysis – done.  Captain Rich, Tim Stanfill and I have finished our parts.
  • Year end budget projection (version 2) – done.  Captain Rich and I finished our part Thursday.
  • 2012 – 2016 Strategic Planning – done.  Captain Rich and I wrapped up our first draft Thursday
  • Order snorkeling gear for the Bahamas programs – done.  I called in the necessary orders Wednesday and Thursday.


As forecasted, it rained Thursday.  I noted in my post Thursday morning that it was supposed to rain.  But the skies were clear when I left Escape in the morning so I left the hatches opened thinking it might rain later in the day.  Nope.  It rained, but fortunately not a lot, before lunch.  The mattress in the v-berth (forward) and some towels in the aft cabin got damp but not soaked.  I returned to Escape at lunch time and secured the hatches.  It rained off and on through the afternoon and evening.  The wind blew 19 to 27 knots overnight making it a little wiggly on the boat.


The cadre for the 2012 Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy participated in a conference call Thursday evening.  The 2012 staff consists of Captain Alex Bergstedt, Captain Christy Clemenson, Captain Kari Dahlquist, Richard Goldman, Kyle Moran, and me.  Captain Christy has volunteered to be the lead on revising the schedule.  A special thanks is in order for Rich Goldman who orchestrated the conference call.


I may not post this weekend.  I hope you have a great weekend.

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



in Weather  •  0 comment


The local NWS forecast calls for a 20% chance of rain today, 30% tonight, 40% Friday and Friday night, 30% Saturday, and 10% Saturday night through Monday.  Temperatures will range between 69°F and 79°F.  The weather buoy at Molasses Reef reports a water temperature of 78°F but the thermometer is relatively shallow (around 1 meter I believe) and my PADI Course Director/mentor Captain Bert Hubby reports the bottom temperature is closer to 73°F.  (Brrrrr!!!!!)

The western USA is in for some weather.  Wherever you are, stay warm and dry!

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


I spent Sunday night in Jasper, Texas after spending the day with my dad.  I woke up yesterday (Monday) at 02:30 Central Time (03:30 ET). I tried to go back to sleep but by 03:00 it was obvious that I should get up. I departed Jasper at 03:45 CT and arrived in Slidell, LA around 09:30. I stopped by Newton Boats to check on the build status of Newton#5.  The new dive boat is in the mold.  After a 20 minute visit, I forged eastward and arrived at the Florida Sea Base at 01:15 Eastern Time.  I didn’t unload the car but I did have to tend to a couple of small tasks on S/V Escape.  I was in bed by 02:00.

I miss my family.


I fully expected the remodeling of the Galley to be completed before my return.  It MAY be done by this weekend.  it looks very good and should be much more functional.  The Galley Manager, Captain Rae Murphy, is getting antsy to have it operational.


Members of the Florida Sea Base senior management are working with numbers.  The program cost analysis and year end budget projection need to be completed in time for the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee meeting 07 December.  In addition to the numbers, we are also working on the meeting agenda and updates for the strategic plan.


We are doing well weather wise but have the potential for some rainy days in the near future.  here’s our weather forecast from the National Weather Service.

Today: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tonight: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 78. Northeast wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers, mainly after 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Northeast wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Friday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 77. Northeast wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Friday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday: A chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Monday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Monday Night: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 70. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

The buoy at Molasses Reef is reporting the water temperature of 79ºF.

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



in Scuba  •  0 comment


A woman died on Thanksgiving when the dive boat was struck by a rogue wave off Pompano Beach, Florida.  The vessel was capsized and the lady was trapped underneath according to ABC News.  There was probably nothing mechanically wrong with the boat.  I assume the captain was experienced and competent.  Based on my personal experiences with the USCG I feel certain the vessel was up to federal standards.  This tragedy should remind us to be ever vigilant; no one ever expects to be taken out by a rogue wave.


Scuba diving is a risky endeavor.  The Florida Sea Base is very conscious of these risks as we take your 14 year old 60 feet underwater in a beautiful but alien environment.  Thanks to the foresight of the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base, the support of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee, the Boy Scouts of America High Adventure matching fund, and several VERY generous individual donors, we have invested about $1.5 MILLION in dive boats since I became the Program Director in 2002.  Our FIFTH Newton Dive Special is under construction in Slidell, Louisiana.  Dive boats are a part of scuba safety that is frequently overlooked by divers; taken for granted I guess.  Divers are taught about nitrogen narcosis, decompression sickness, barotrauma, embolisms, oxygen toxicity, hazardous marine life and other scuba diving risks.  But dive boat safety?  That’s the worry of the vessel owner, dive operator, captain, crew and the United States Coast Guard.  Or is it?


I will be on the road again Sunday and Monday, making my way back to the Florida Sea Base, and probably won’t get to post again until Tuesday evening or Wednesday.  I have attended a week of BSA committee meetings in Dallas, spent another week at the BSA Aquatics Workshop in Arkansas, and a third week at the DEMA show in Las Vegas.  I have spent hours working on the Divemaster Academy and preparations for our first PADI Instructor Development Course.  I have answered 100s of emails and phone calls.

But I have had the opportunity to spend a few days with family and many evenings like a real person instead of watching TV alone on Escape or sitting in the office until 9 pm working because I have nothing else to do.  Now its time to return to my chosen profession of overseeing another year of over a thousand “other peoples’ children” making over ten thousand dives incident free.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Stay safe in the malls!

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


I hope you are able to enjoy so time time with your family today or over the coming weekend.  I am heading out Sunday morning to start my return journey to the Florida Sea Base, so I am really looking forward to these last few days with family.


Copied from the DAN @ DEMA brochure:

Dr. Petar Denoble is the senior director of DAN Research.  After graduating from medical school, Dr. Denoble joined the navy in the former Yugoslavia and specialized in naval and diving medicine.  For 13 years he was involved with training, supervision and treatment of divers in open-circuit, closed circuit, deep-bounce and saturation diving.  His doctoral thesis focused on studying oxygen consumption in underwater swimming.  He has been at DAN for 20 years and has been involved in the development of the largest data base of exposures and outcomes in recreational diving, the monitoring of diving injuries and the study, treatment and prevention of fatal outcomes and long-term consequences of diving accidents.

I attended two presentations made by Dr. Denoble during the 2012 DEMA show, “Chronic Diseases and Safety of Diving: Results from the DAN Members Health Survey” and “Sudafed, Viagra and Oxygen Toxicity”.  (I commented on the second presentation in my last  post.)  The last morning of DEMA  morning I happened to run into Dr. Denoble in the A-Plus Marine Supply booth on the trade show floor.  I introduced myself, told him a little bit about the Florida Sea Base and told him I appreciated his presentations.  This started a conversation that lead to my concern about youth divers and psychotropic drug use.  That lead to Dr. Denobles interest in statistics involving young divers.  He said he was very interested in starting a dialog.  I am optimistic that this will become very beneficial for the safety of the Scouts diving at the Florida Sea Base.


My son is one of the corporate officers (and the music and audio genius behind) Rockshow Comedy.  They will release a new Scout appropriate comedy DVD tomorrow starring Tim Hawkins.  You can see a preview on their website or search “Tim Hawkins” on YouTube.  If you go to you can purchase the DVD, purchase a download, or both.  The comedy shows are usually performed in churches and are very family friendly.  This is a great gift idea. offers a preview of their comedians, ticket sales, and the opportunity to book Tim Hawkins for your own show.  Tim’s YouTube videos have had over 37.6 million views.  Enjoy!

Click to enlarge.

My son, Aaron, playing drums with the Tunafish Band in a 2008 Tim Hawkins concert.


Captain Rich mentioned yesterday that the Florida Sea Base will offer Coral Reef Sailing style adventures from St. Thomas in 2014.  In response to one of the posted comments, there are no plans to include Florida Sea Base scuba programs in the USVI for the time being.


I have been invited to discuss the possibility of writing an article or blog post for the American Health Journal. I will try to follow-up on that once the Divemaster Academy has concluded.

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


Steve’s Away

in Sailing  •  6 comments

I’ll try to bring you up to speed on the ongoing of the Florida Sea Base.

The galley project is almost complete. John and crew have been doing amazing work in there. I saw the fire marshal, fire installation guys and the county inspector in there yesterday. So I’m guessing all went well.

Rooms 9 & 10 as well as the Thomas Building have been rehabbed with ceramic tile. I haven’t personally seen the Thomas Building but the two rooms look great.

The Newton is still broke. It isn’t a big fix just a pain in the butt. I’ll get it going next week before we need to have the boat. We’ll start splashing all of the other boats getting them back to Sea Base as well. The BEC has the Tarpon, after they are finished with it we’ll be selling her off. I may have a buyer for it where I do part time work. You can never have too many boats (not).

Probably the biggest news I have on the sailing end is that Sea Base will soon be expanding, announcing “Sea Base St. Thomas” tada!!!!

Captain’s Mike Lucivero, Alan Robinson and yours truly invaded the quaint little island of St. Thomas. Captain Carol (my wife) soon to be RN Carol made a joke of us three going to the Virgin Islands BUT it isn’t scout appropriate so we’ll leave this alone.

Anyway our trip was very successful. Seems our old Coast Guard inspector from Islamorada was recently stationed there and just happens to be a pretty good friend our mine. He showed us all the good spots to go and places to avoid. So mark your calendar for the sign ups coming in January.

This adventure will be a combination of sailing, snorkeling, fishing (not eating them, I’ll explain) and hiking the Island of St. John.

The fishing; seems the fish have a disease called ciguatera. Parrot fish eat reefs that are diseased. Needless to say everything gets infected. The tuna and dolphin are ok, but most of everything else isn’t.

Captain Carol and I will head to the island one more time mid December on a semi vacation/ semi work trip. Carol wants a vacation, I can’t sit still.

Well that’s about all for now, take care and have a great Thanksgiving.

Captain Rich



in Scuba  •  0 comments


The 2012 DEMA show concludes Saturday morning and I will be jetting back to Dallas.  I will return to the Florida Sea Base after Thanksgiving.  I had an incredibly busy 4½ days at the show.  I attended classes in PADI Standards Update, Risk Management, Project AWARE, Website Development and Improvement, Social Media, Chronic Illnesses, Aging Divers, and some things I am too tired to remember right now.

The PADI classes are open to non-PADI members.  As we were finding our seats for one of the classes, a young woman confided to me, “These classes are much better than the ones at SSI (Scuba Schools International) where I work”.  Maybe she’ll cross over.

I saw several of my PADI Course Director Training Course (CDTC) classmates including Curtis Wilson who was my “dive buddy” for the course. I also spent time with several PADI employees (many of whom are Scout leaders or former Scouts), Samantha “Sam” Merrill, Divers Alert Network employee and volunteer Scouter, and some former students from PADI Instructor Development Courses that I worked with while preparing for the CDTC.

I placed significant equipment orders with Aqua Lung and Divers Alert Network.  I discussed new products with several companies.  The only disappointment at DEMA was that I wanted to order some low pressure steel tanks and none of the manufacturers are making the tanks in the size that I wanted.  Oh well.


PADI has released a beta version of a new online social media venture named ScubaEarth.  It is, or will soon be, linked to Facebook.  it looks a lot like Facebook but also allows a person to log their dives, drop pins on a Google map of the locations they have dived, save information like serial numbers for all of their dive gear, and carry on Facebook-like conversations with other divers.  This program is open to all divers, not just PADI divers.  Check it out!


Some of you are NOT going to like this, but here it is.  Research conduced by the Divers Alert Network (DAN) and Duke University suggests that persons who dive while using pseudoephedrine (products like Sudafed) or PDE5 medications (such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra and some medications used to treat pulmonary hypertension) are at increased risk of oxygen toxicity which results in seizures.  I will try to get more details but I probably won’t have time until after the first of the year.  The MD presenting this information made it very clear that past success diving while taking these medications is NO guarantee of future success.  Divers using the medications are at increased risk of convulsions at depth.  There are documented cases of fatalities contributed to these medications.  if you are using the medications and can’t wait until I make time for further clarification, feel free to call DAN for clarification.

I’ll close with that.  Dive SAFE!

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



in Scuba  •  0 comments


I apologize for not posting for a few days; I am simply overwhelmed.  We have been tasked with completing a program cost analysis, review our year end budget projection, reviewing year end purchasing needs and preparing an agenda for our upcoming Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee meeting, all with deadlines on or prior to 29 November.  In the meantime, Divemaster Academy preparations takes up a part of every day at this time of year and I continue to coordinate with Kyle Moran and Emily Sepeta back at the base on used gear sales.  And to top it all off, I am in Las Vegas at the Dive Equipment and Marking Association Show.


I was pleasantly surprised at the PADI Live program Tuesday night where I learned that the Florida Sea Base was a nominee for the 2012 Project Aware award.  This award “recognizes PADI Retailers or Resorts for outstanding achievement with respect to the aquatic environment”.

In addition, two former Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructors, Brittany Haury (now working in Hawaii) and Brian Sevald were each nominated for the 2012 Top Producer/Continuing Education Certification Growth.  (Some of you may recall that Florida Sea Base Scuba Instructor Captain Christy Clemenson was nominated for that award last year).  This award “recognizes PADI Individual Members for outstanding achievement and commitment to continuing education growth over a 12 month period”.  Way to go!


The weather at the Florida Sea Base is still not too bad.  The Weather Channel is forecasting “cooler” temperatures for the Keys.  The high Thursday will be around 80.  By the weekend it will cool down to 77º.  Brrr!


Kyle Moran reports that the used gear is selling like hotcakes.  If you are interested in buying a used BC, regulator or combo, contact Kyle via email at  When its gone it its gone and there won’t be any more until next August.

I have real work to do.

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


Shake hands, hug or otherwise thank a vet today or tomorrow if you get a chance.  Today is Veteran’s Day but tomorrow is Veteran’s Day “observed” so some folk’s can have an extra day off.  (Like most of you, I’ll be working.)  This is our first Veteran’s Day with no surviving veteran’s from World War I.


I received this comment from Florida Sea Base Rich Goldman:

Heading over to Quail Hill Scout Reservation ( this morning with my chainsaw to meet up with other scouters. Our ranger has a new born and I know that their home has suffered damage from trees falling. I’m told that we have 100s of trees that are down that are impacting the camp. If anyone is in the area of Monmouth County and wants to come out and help, please reach out to our Scout Executive (Lee Marconi – 732-536-2347 x19).


The weather at the Florida Sea Base should be pretty nice the week; highs around 80, lows around 70, 10% chance of showers, breezes at 15 to 25 knots from the east, and the water is 79ºF.


I am headed to DEMA Monday morning.  The weather there will have highs in the upper 50s increasing to the upper 60s by the end of the week, lows from the lower 40s to upper 40s, no rain and light winds.  The water temperature will be, oh yeah, what water?

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



in Weather  •  0 comment
From Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America:

To: All BSA Employees

As you can imagine, a number of our councils in the Northeast are still struggling mightily to recover from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy.  And a Nor’easter is bringing even more weather damage to the region this week with snowfall and other hazardous conditions.

Reports are still coming in concerning any injuries to our people and damage to BSA facilities, and the National Office stands ready to assist in any way we can. We ask you to join us in keeping the councils in this stricken area in your thoughts and prayers. They have a long road ahead of them to restore their homes and property as well as their programs to support our Scouts.

Many of you have asked how you can help. For any neighboring councils that have the people and resources to lend a hand with transportation, supplies, or other immediate needs, we ask that you work through Jim Hans, associate regional director/support for the Northeast Region, to coordinate your relief assistance. For councils in other parts of the country, we believe monetary assistance would be the most valuable resource you could provide at this time.

The worst damage seems to be in several council camps where many trees are down and some have destroyed buildings. Some council offices have had water damage and several staff members have experienced damage to their personal property. Many Scouts and units have probably lost camping gear, uniforms, trailers and other supplies. If you would like to make a donation to aid councils recovering from Hurricane Sandy, please go to theBSA Disaster Relief Fund page for instructions.

Meanwhile, we have already seen tremendous examples of how our commitment to serve others is rising to this occasion. Here are just two examples of many Scout troops that are responding with service. Boy Scout Troop 683 in Pamlico County, North Carolina is establishing drop-off locations for the public to donate non-perishable food, water, and clothing to Sandy victims. And in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Scouts from Troops 109 and 1910 – many who experienced problems of their own from Sandy’s wrath – have assisted the National Guard with people who have lost power and are out of their homes.

I am very proud of how these Scouts and others have volunteered to assist so many people in need.  Let’s all muster whatever support we can to assist our people through this difficult time.


The above was received in an email from Mr. Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.  I tried to copy and paste the email and graphics but it didn’t work too well.  I apologize if there is any weird formatting in this posting.  Please help if you can.

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