Archive for March, 2013

31Mar

ALMOST!

CONNECTIVITY

We were “this close”.  The computer gurus finally had the resolution to our internet/email/server connectivity woes; the fiber optic cables had gotten dirty during the remodeling of the Galley.  Fiber optic specialists were called to the Florida Sea Base from the megatropolis of Miami.  They planned, executed and voila – still no connectivity.  They said they would come back today and try again.

SAILING / SCUBA

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Saturday was a day of participant transition at the Florida Sea Base.  We had a huge luau last night.  Despite the minimal staffing, everything went great and the participants experienced another magical evening.  To top it all off, the sunset was spectacular.

Photo by Capt. Steve Willis

Photo by Capt. Steve Willis

WEATHER

The coming week should be much more seasonal than last week.  We should have lows in the low 70s and highs in the low 80s.  We have a 10% chance of showers daily.  Winds should be 10 to 15 knots.

Enjoy your day.

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

SCUBA

The Florida Sea Base staff members get tired of me constantly commenting about good v bad.  Our weather improved yet again yesterday (good).  But the wind clocked more to the east (bad).  The Scuba Certification crew enjoyed two great dives yesterday.  The surface conditions were a little lumpy, and the water temperature had dropped about 2 degrees, but the visibility was great at Davis Ledge and Davie-Crocker Reef.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I took video and some still shoots during the dives.  This pair of French Angelfish were found on Davie-Crocker Reef.  You can see the Scouts diving about 60′ away in the background.

SAILING

I did not cross paths with anyone from the sailing side of our business yesterday afternoon.  They had two crews in for shore leave.  They must have had an awesome day or I would have heard otherwise.

NEW ROTATION

Today will be a very busy day for Office Manager Susan Mahoney.  Five Coral Reef Sailing crews, one Scuba Liveaboard crew, and one Sea Exploring crew will be checking in today.  Another set of five Coral Reef Sailing crews, one Scuba Liveaboard crew, and one Sea Exploring crew will be checking out today and preparing for tomorrow’s return home.

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

 

29Mar

10 MINUTES

in Program  •  0 comments

Ten minutes; that’s all the time I have this morning.  We are still without internet, email and server connectivity in the Program Office and have NO idea when service will be restored.  Some of the leaders and summer staff are getting anxious and frustrated with us.  Believe me, we are NOT ignoring you on purpose.  We are struggling to work around the issue.  Try to imagine if the shoe was on your foot.  It is tough these days to run a business without access to these systems. 🙁

The wind dropped dramatically yesterday afternoon and made our second dive of the day our best this week.  The Florida Sea Base Scuba Certification crews went to two patch reefs, Captain Grumpy’s and Rocky Top.  Scuba Instructor Richard Goldman rates Rocky Top as his second favorite dive at the Florida Sea Base.  Scuba Instructors Richard Goldman David Kirkenir, Steven Raymond and I have certified 18 PADI Open Water Divers in the past two days.

The Scuba Adventure crews logged two dives yesterday aboard BSA Eagle and BSA Explorer.  The wind was near zero for last night’s dive for some of the Scuba Adventure crews.  Timing is everything.

Five sailing crews were in for shore leave yesterday.  When the dive boats returned to the Florida Sea base harbor, the Scouts were enjoying a leisurely sail in the Hunter 170s.

The wind has picked up again this morning but not as bad as the past several days.  The wind is forecasted to clock to the east which will impact the scuba diving.  Conditions should be near perfect for sailing.  We expect a lot of sun again today and a high around 75.

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

28Mar

BETTER

in Program  •  0 comments

WEATHER

We are struggling a little with near record low temperatures.  The skies were clear at the Florida Sea Base yesterday but the wind was still ripping in the morning.  The wind dropped significantly in the afternoon.  It is up a little this morning, around 15 knots from the NNE.  It’s 59°F but should warm up to 70 this afternoon under clear skies.  We are expecting sunny conditions through Saturday.  The wind should remain at a tolerable 10 to 15 knots for the rest of the week.  Temperatures are creeping up very slowly.

SAILING

The sailors are doing well.  They too have weather challenges but have more flexibility within their program than do the divers.  But cold is cold and it has been pretty cool at the Florida Sea Base.  Six crews were in for shore leave yesterday.  One of the scheduled events for the crews is volleyball.  We apparently had two very dedicated players who managed to head-butt each other during the game.  One was transported to Mariners Hospital for a lacerated forehead.  OUCH!  He will be fine but no more in water activities for the rest of his week.

SCUBA

The divers at the Florida Sea Base completed all of their scheduled dives yesterday.  I was out with the Scuba Certification crews.  Our first dive was at the Pillars of Atlantis.  We had a lot of sand for completing skills without damaging the coral.  It was a fairly strong current, surge and only 10’=15′ visibility.  The instructors were stressed a little, but the participants had a BLAST.  We moved to Alligator Reef for our second dive.  During the drive the wind dropped significantly.  We had about twice as much visibility, very little current and much less surge for our second dive.   I want to thank Captain Alex Bergstedt and Commissioner Laura Kuras for helping out with the Scuba Certification crews yesterday.  Half of our Scuba Adventure crews went to Alligator Reef for their night dive last night.

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

27Mar

WINDY

in Weather  •  0 comments

It continues to be very windy.  The wind has been over 20 knots for a couple of days.  Last night we had gusts as high as 32 knots.  But spirits remain high and the participants are having a good time and definitely a high adventure experience.  Our temperature is 51 this morning with a forecasted high of 65.  The wind may decrease some this afternoon.  (That would help.)

I am really short on time again this morning,  Richard Goldman and I need to confer on the progress of our Scuba Certification crew.

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

I must be brief.  The Florida Sea Base programs are running fine.  The weather is making life a little challenging; it is windy, in the mid 60s and possible on-again-off-again showers.

We still have no internet, email or server access from the program side of the property.  People are doing what they can.  I think we are waiting on parts that we hope will fix the problem.  The parts should be here in another day or two.

The Scouts are having a blast.  I was watching them play volleyball in the rain yesterday.  They did not seem to notice the liquid sunshine.

I apologize for being so short.  In addition to the connectivity in the office the AT&T 3G service in our area has been sporadic for the past week.  I rely on my AT&T air card to make these posts.  I could not connect to any sites last night.  I have a very early schedule today.  Our participants expect us to make a lot of magic today.  But instead of pixie dust and princesses, we have high winds, low temperatures, rough seas, and maybe more rain to turn into magical memories.  That may sound impossible.  But with our talented staff and a positive attitude we can make it happen.

I LOVE MY JOB!!!!!

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

25Mar

COLD FRONT

in Program  •  0 comments

WEATHER

Yesterday I posted the wind (marine) forecast for the coming week.  In my morning rush I failed to notice that the wind is arriving with a cold front.  By Wednesday morning we will be in the 50s.  That is very chilly for us this late in the season.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

We have a very good chance of getting smacked this morning.  The good news is the rain won’t last long.  The wind associated with this front is the bad news.  This is being generated by Winter Storm Virgil.

SCUBA

Captain Sargon Smith, Scuba Instructor Richard Goldman and I completed our PADI Self-Reliant Specialty Diver certification yesterday.  PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer Mark Gilbert was our instructor and Captain Alex Bergstedt was our captain on Scout’s Honor.

The scuba crews stampeded into the Florida Sea Base Sunday.  Due to a snafu, we have two Scuba Certification crews this week.  Scuba Instructors Steven Raymond and David Kirkenir will be leading one cert crew while Scuba Instructor Richard Goldman and I take the second crew.  One Scuba Liveaboard crew also checked in.  They will be on the Schooner Conch Pearl with PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer Dave Ball and PADI Divemaster Paul Mangone.  To top it off, we also had five Scuba Adventure crews arrived.  The scuba staff is spread as thin as is possible.  The dive boat 1st Mates will pull double duty also filling scuba tanks in the late afternoon/evening since we do not have anyone hired for that specific task during the spring.  Scuba Commissioner Laura Kuras will be our lone back-up.  There may be no day off for the scuba staff this week.

SAILING

The sailing staff is likewise slammed this week.  Six more Coral Reef Sailing crews and a Sea Exploring crew checked in Sunday.  The Coral Reef vessels receiving crews Sunday included S/V Barefoot, S/V Comfort Zone II, S/V Dutch Love, S/V Jewel of Athena, S/V New Dawn and S/V Foreign Affair.  The Sea Exploring vessel of the day was the Schooner Yankee.

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

24Mar

BUSY WEEKEND

in Weather  •  0 comments

I just have a few minutes.  I survived yesterday’s PADI Self-Reliant Diver training dives.  We have one more dive this morning and are hoping to leave  shortly after 08:00.

Saturday was a big check-in day; Five Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew.  Today we have six Coral Reef Sailing crews, one Sea Exploring crew, one Scuba Liveaboard crew, 2 Scuba Certification crews and five Scuba Adventure crews arriving.

We have a 40% chance of rain tonight and 20% Monday; not a great start to the week.  The marine conditions are forecast to be pretty bumpy for the week.

Synopsis…A COLD FRONT WILL PASS THROUGH THE FLORIDA KEYS LATE TONIGHT OR EARLY MONDAY MORNING. A LARGE AREA OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES WILL BUILD SOUTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY…THEN PROGRESS SLOWLY EASTWARD THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT.

Today: South to southwest winds near 15 knots. Seas around 2 feet. nearshore waters a moderate chop.
Tonight: Southwest to west winds near 15 knots…becoming northwest and increasing to 15 to 20 knots late. Seas around 2 feet…building to 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop…becoming choppy. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Monday: Northwest to north winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers.
Monday Night: North winds near 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters rough.
Tuesday: North winds near 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters rough.
Tuesday Night: North winds near 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters rough.
Wednesday: North winds 15 to 20 knots…decreasing to near 15 knots in the afternoon. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters choppy…becoming a moderate chop.
Wednesday Night Through Thursday Night: Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop.

But there is good news.  The wind should be from the north on the windiest days.  North winds have much less impact on the wave state on the reef than easterly winds.  So the week should not be a blow out.

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

The primary post for today is below this one but I forgot to mention that we are having yet ANOTHER computer crisis at the Florida Sea Base.  The side of the property that houses the Program Offices does not have connectivity to the internet, email or the BSA network.  Captain Luke Knuttel, Sailing Director, and I are trying to stay caught up by using our cell phones.  Office Manager Susan Mahoney and Food and Conference Director Tim Standfill have to go to the Admin Building to conduct any business.  It is very difficult for us to access any computer data as everything is stored on the FSB server, not on our individual hard drives.  We do not have access to the server.

The General Manager, Director of Program, Administrative Assistant, Financial Assistant, Facilities Director, and Registrar are housed in the Admin Building and have no issues.

This problem is recurring quite frequently on the program side of the base.  It usually takes several days (sometimes weeks) to get it resolved because we have no in-house IT person at our facility.  Who knows, it may be fixed today.  I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, Captain Luke and I will have issues with communications and hiring people, so please try to be patient.  I will move as much of my operation as I can to Escape.  My air card works reasonably well on the boat on my MacBook Pro but it does not work in the office (due to the concrete walls and metal roof I assume).  I can answer emails and check the internet from here.  I even have limited access to the FSB server.  But accessing the BSA email and FSB server remotely are challenging and much slower.  The email system frequently times out faster than I can type my responses.  When that happens the full message is lost and I have to start anew.

Please be patient.  General Manager Captain Paul Beal is very sensitive for our predicament and is doing all he can to get this problem resolved.  He is very empathetic and understanding of our dependence on connectivity to conduct business.  He will do all he can to see that we are back online as quickly as possible.

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

23Mar

LOOKING AHEAD

in Weather  •  2 comments

WEATHER

The following images are from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

Click to enlagre.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Drought conditions at the Florida Sea Base should persist or intensify over the next three months.  Our chances for rain are equally divided between the three categories of above normal, normal and below normal and the temperature should be about normal.  (Click on the WEATHER page for a chart of average weather conditions for the Florida Sea Base by month.)

 SCUBA

The Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification crews logged two more dives yesterday.  They visited two patch reefs, Arno’s and Capital.  Conditions were good, and the Scuba Certification crew members are now certified as PADI Open Water Divers.

The Scuba Liveaboard crew returned to the Florida Sea Base after a week onboard S/V Adventure and S/V Lady Nell II.  Scuba Instructor Steven Raymond reported that the week went exceptionally well and everyone had a blast.

SAILING

Five Coral Reef Sailing crews checked in yesterday while one Sea Exploring crew was checking out.  The sailing staff have been performing “other duties as assigned” for the past week and were happy to be back at the jobs they were hired to do.

SELF-RELIANT DIVER

Scuba Instructor Mark Gilbert is teaching a PADI Specialty Diver Course, Self-Reliant Diver.  Scuba Instructor Richard Goldman, Scuba Instructor/Captain Sargon Smith and I are taking the class.  Scuba divers are traditionally trained to dive in buddy pairs.  Doing so has many benefits.  However, as professional divers we sometimes find that we do not have a reliable buddy.  If I am teaching a beginner scuba class can I rely on a student to be my buddy and potentially rescue me if I have a problem?  Probably not.  Even tough there are several divers in the water, I am, to some extend, diving on my own.  I need to be self-reliant.

We had our classroom session last night.  We will get in the pool this morning and then go to the reef for two open water dives.  We will finish up with another dive Sunday morning.  One of the skills for the first dive in a 200 yard surface swim in full Self-Reliant Diver equipment which includes a pony bottle and other redundancies.  This is may be very challenging for an old man with a titanium femur.  I mention this because I may not (be able to) post Sunday morning.

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

 

 

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