Archive for September, 2013

30Sep

PHILMONT

in Staff  •  0 comments

The full time staff of the Florida Sea Base (minus 2) have descended upon the Philmont Training Center.  It is a long travel day from FSB to PSR.  Getting to either one is a chore.  Leaving one to go to the other is tough.

We are safe and sound – for now.  During our reception we were warned that the black bears are unusually active on the property right now.  I was told they had to kill one of the bears last week because it had lost all fear of humans and was too much of a threat.  We were cautioned to be watchful, especially at night, and to watch the trees for surprise arial ambushes.  That’s what you want to hear just before you have to walk across the campus in the dark!

Training starts at 08:00 tomorrow.  Good night.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Currently a long way from the ocean

Most of the full time staff members of the Florida Sea Base are in the process of packing for a week long trip to Philmont Scout Ranch for our annual Staff Planning Conference.  This is the time of year when we work on long term opportunities for improvement.

In the meantime, Laura Kuras is at the Florida Sea Base selling used scuba regulators, BCs and tanks.  If you are interested in used equipment, please contact Laura at fsbscubagear@gmail.com.  I don’t want her to feel lonely while everyone is away.

There will also be a few other seasonal employees on base, mostly facilities employees.  Most of the people on base will be contractors working on the scuba training complex and new Ships Store.

The weather is very unimpressive in the tropics right now.  There is a small chance of showers every day this week at the Florida Sea Base with lows around 77 and highs around 87.  This is very typical for early fall.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™

The deadline for applying for the 2013 Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy has passed.  However, we still have some openings.  Please pass the word if you know of anyone who might be interested, is Rescue Diver certified and has at least 40 logged dives.  Most of our scuba staff are graduates of the DMA and a lean academy means a struggle in hiring enough divemasters for next summer.

How wonderful to see this graphic posted by the National Hurricane Center at this time of year!

atl_overview

I am in Texas and while I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with family, work continues to occupy much of my time.  I am working hard on preparations for the PADI Instructor Development Course that starts in about 3 weeks.  Captain and PADI Course Director Bert Hubby has been a BIG help.  I am still apprehensive about my first time out of the chute on my own, but Bert has been a good mentor.

The staff members at the Florida Sea Base are making preparations for our trip next week to Philmont Scout Ranch for our Staff Planning Conference.  I will join up with the others at D/FW airport for the flight to Albuquerque and the drive to PSR.  I will keep you inform of any non-confidential developments.

I have not received any updates on the construction at the Florida Sea Base.  No news is good news; right?

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Prepping for the IDC

The construction continues at the Florida Sea Base.  Yesterday the Florida Sea Base Facebook page posted this photo of the Ships Store being demolished to make room for the new scuba training facility.  The Ships Store will be relocated above the Quarterdeck and the floor space should be doubled for your future shopping experience.

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Watch out!  Early this morning The Weather Channel reported that, while the track is still uncertain, they feel the most likely scenario is for Invest 95L to follow the track of Ingrid into eastern Mexico.  However, the forecast models still suggest the system may be pulled to the east towards Florida.

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Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Landlocked in Midlothian, Texas

 

WEATHER

Colorado has been slammed by a 1,000 year flood.  Mexico has been smacked on both coasts simultaneously by tropical systems and is also dealing with massive rainfalls, flooding and mudslides.  Meanwhile, it has been quiet at the Florida Sea Base.  But that may change in the next week or so.

In this morning’s Tropical Update, The Weather Channel reports that the National Hurricane Center is giving Invest 95L a 40% chance of developing over the next few days.  This system is currently sitting in the Caribbean near the Yucatan Peninsula.  At first glance it appears 95L would follow a similar path taken by Hurricane Ingrid (technically a tropical storm when it made landfall) which drove into the Gulf shore of Mexico Monday.  However, a dip in the jet stream may lift 95L to the northeast, targeting Florida.  It is too early to have a handle on how (or if) this system may affect the Florida Sea Base.

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TRAVEL

My fall travels are progressing.  I had a very nice visit with the ALWAYS entertaining Wyatt’s.  But the visit did have a sullen component.  Under pressure from Ellen and his mom, Captain Dennis parted company with his beloved pizza delivery scooter.  We loaded the Taiwan Golden Bee onto my trailer and I brought her to greener pastures in Southeast Texas where she can romp and enjoy the pavement under her tires once again.  My dad was thrilled to be on a two wheeler once again and the 81 year old hillbilly will certainly be turning heads as he makes his way to Walmart in the land of jacked up, one ton, 4 wheel drive, diesel smoke belching, redneck limited edition monster trucks.

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I will be on the road again today for a visit to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex (about a 2.5 hour drive).  I will post again when I get an update on the construction progress at the Florida Sea Base or if some other event warrants.

Footnote:  I learned Sunday that 5 of my ancestors were signatories to the Mayflower Compact in 1620.  I thought that was pretty cool.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Hanging out with my dad in “The Jewel of the Forest”, Jasper, Texas

12Sep

OFF THE ROCK

in Weather  •  0 comments

TRAVEL

Today’s the day I get off the rock!  This must be what it feels like to get paroled.  The problem is, my parole will be revoked in a few weeks, I will be captured, possibly beaten, and drug back to the rock.  Oh well, live for the day!

I have to tend to a few last minute items before I can leave, but then I have an afternoon doctor’s appointment in Miami and a 5 hour drive to the Villa del Wyatt in Lady Lake, Florida.  It will be great to visit with Captain Dennis and Dr. Ellen.  I may not post Friday or Saturday, or maybe another day or two after that.  But I will find a way to so do if circumstances warrant.

WEATHER

Locally – wet.  Not bad, but we are getting spotty showers that you have to work your way around.

There are no new threats of immediate concern in the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.  Interestingly, as Invest 93L moves west and possibly north, I could conceivably be arriving in Southeast Texas just as rain from the system arrives.  The area really needs the rain, but if that scenario plays out it will be less than ideal for my personal plans.

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The system highlighted in yellow is trying to work its way towards Florida.  It is not expected to develop much over the next five days but I’ll keep an eye on it as best I can.

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CONSTRUCTION

Monday the poles to the volleyball court were removed.

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By Wednesday most of the sand was scooped out of the volleyball court and set aside.

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So far, that seems to be it.  They don’t ask for my input and when I volunteer it they dismiss it.  (That is part of why I must go away for a while now.)  I am sure the project is on schedule and under budget! Before lunch it rained for a few minutes.  I don’t recall seeing any workers after that.  But there were a few puddles in the sand.  It still didn’t look like a swimming pool, but it sort of looked like a beach, a very shallow beach. 🙂

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

11Sep

WET

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1,300

Yesterday’s post was #1,300.  I never meant for this to happen.  I have been reprimanded for “self inflicting work” in the (not too distant) past.  I started this unofficial communication because of the large number of repetitive questions I received for years.  The blog seems to help.  I wish the Florida Sea Base has a media geek, but alas.  I wish I didn’t have to bear the costs of site out of my own pocket.  But I write and support this blog as another way of giving back to Scouting.  I realize this blog does not have a huge following, but it is great to know that some current and former staff members, former participants, participants preparing for a Sea Base adventure, parents of staff members and participants that are at the Florida Sea Base, and maybe a few family members and friends get some benefit from this site on occasion.

With that said, it is the season where I travel a lot.  It is unlikely that I will have any information worthy of sharing for the next several days.  I will check in from time to time with weather comments (especially if anything ugly pops up) and any news that comes my way concerning the the facility or programming.

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

Openings are still available for Class 10 of the annual Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy.  Click on the LINKS tab and scroll to the bottom of that page if you know of someone who might be interested in attending.

INSTRUCTOR DEVELOPMENT COURSE

The inaugural PADI Instructor Development Course now has five candidates plus two instructors working towards their IDC Staff Instructor certification.  We are all working hard to insure Class 1 is a huge success.  If all goes well, Class 2 might happen this coming spring.  Stay tuned.

WEATHER

The rain started around 20:00 (8 pm) last night.

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The Florida Sea Base forecast includes a 60% chance of rain and lightening today (my last day for packing the car before heading out town tomorrow).  While packing may be a little sloppy, I will try to not let this dampen my spirits.  Our head ranger will not allow us to wash our cars at the Florida Sea Base so these “Keys car washes” are generally welcomed events.  High on my priority list is a thorough scrubbing and a couple of coats of wax on the car when I get to Texas.  (1,500 mile drive to the car wash?  Whew!)

Yesterday the Climate Prediction Center posted:

A tropical disturbance currently near the southwestern shore of Mexico is situated in an environment favorable for tropical cyclogenesis. The National Hurricane Center indicates an 80-percent chance of formation of this system during the upcoming five days. Additional tropical cyclone formation is possible over the eastern Pacific during Week-2, although with lower confidence. A tropical wave currently over the Yucatan Peninsula has a moderate chance of development once it emerges over the Bay of Campeche. Regardless of development, the system is likely to bring widespread rainfall to eastern Mexico.

This system has been tagged as Invest 93L.  It is not forecasted to impact the Florida Sea Base, but I just wanted to share because I started talking about this possibility several days ago.  I was able to pick up early on the “environment favorable for tropical cyclogenesis”; but I was wrong thinking it might move east.

There are no significant changes in the tropical weather report since yesterday.  Humberto is now a hurricane, so we did not set a new record.  The track looks worrisome because of the sharp turn to the west, but forecasters say it will meet its demise before posing a threat to anyone.

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PROGRAM

While the summer program season is over, improvements for our coming seasons are underway.  WHAT A MESS!  It’s just like highway construction; detours, inconvenience and ugliness are necessary evils for progress.  The changes being made this fall and winter should improve programming at the Florida Sea Base for the next couple of decades.

SEA BASE IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

In all honesty, I am not sure if a final name has been decided for the new sailing program in the USVI.  The 2014 Sea Base sailing program in the US Virgin Islands is sold out.  Captain Mike Lucivero and Captain Rich Beliveau are in St. Thomas this week to work on some of the details.  Captain Mike Lucivero and Captain Kelly Stickney Lucivero will manage the program.  They will be sailing S/V Ciao Bella about 1,300 miles from the Keys to the USVI over the fall and winter.  It is a long trip against the prevailing currents and winds.

STAFF

Former Florida Sea Base staff member Margarita Olson is back in the Keys for a while.  She has recently spent time mountain climbing in Peru and managing a dive shop on Curaçao.

Captain Denny Webb of the Schooner Conch Pearl was kind enough to share a website with me, check it out.  http://spaghettimodels.com  (It does not have anything to do with young Italian models in spaghetti strap dresses.)

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

 

WEATHER

This is a satellite image from the Gulf of Mexico that I saved early Sunday morning.  You can see that conditions were rather active.

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This was the view on Monday morning.  It looked to me like there was a chance for this area to produce a potentially tropical system towards the end of this week.  That is worrisome for the Florida Sea Base as any system approaching from the west has a potential to hammer our marina and harbor.  This may NOT develop, but it warrants watching.  Overall, the area cleared quit a bit from the previous day, but the strong intensification over the Yucatan Peninsula certainly catches your attention.

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By 17:35 (5:35 pm) The Weather Channel experts concurred.

Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist, The Weather Channel
Sep 9,  2013 5:35 pm ET

– Of most interest for effects upon land at the moment is not Humberto, it’s a Gulf/Caribbean system

This region continues to be an area of interest. Though there are some persistent showers and thunderstorms in the southwest Gulf, and that’s where, if there is much development of a surface low pressure system, it is most likely to occur, the incipient disturbance — the seedling for a possible future tropical depression or storm — is currently over the western Caribbean.

That spin is aloft, without much of a surface wind circulation yet. One might try to form during the next couple of days, though as the system moves WNW and thus over the Yucatan, land will be an inhibiting factor. If a depression/storm were to develop, that’d be most likely over the southwest Gulf later in the week and on into the weekend.

The GOOD news is the experts expect the system to on the western side of the Gulf affecting Texas and Mexico and NOT the Florida coast.

Otherwise, the remnants of Gabrielle have reformed and it is again a tropical storm and Tropical Storm Humberto is expected to be upgraded to hurricane status sometime today.  If that happens, 2013 will NOT set a new record for the latest first hurricane of the season.  Neither of these systems is a threat to the Florida Sea Base.

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Have a great day.  I will be mainland bound shortly.

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

 

09Sep

BUSY FEW DAYS

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SUNDAY

I moved Escape from the Florida Sea Base to Treasure Harbor Marine for safer dockage while I am out of town for several weeks.  The trip used to take 3 hours with the old engine with a maximum speed of 5 knots and average speed of 4.5 knots.  Sunday’s trip was 2.5 hours with a maximum speed of 7.8 knots (motor only) and an average speed of 6.5 knots.

MONDAY

Pre-construction activities begin on the new Florida Sea Base scuba diving training complex this morning including surveyors, a company to relocate the volleyball courts (apparently a multi-day task), and fiber optics engineers to reroute the cables from Admin to the Galley.  I have an appointment for a vaccination at 09:00, a meeting with the Aqua Lung sales rep at Sea Base at 10:00 and Captain Luke Knuttel and I have to be in Key West by 14:00 (2 pm) to meet with the US Coast Guard.  Hopefully we will be back by dinner.

TUESDAY

I have a non-medical appointment on the mainland at 11:00 and will beat feet back to the Florida Sea Base as quickly as possible to get some paperwork finished – especially my expense report.

WEDNESDAY

Hopefully I will be in the office much of the day.  I also have to pack everything for my road trip and connect the trailer.

THURSDAY

I have a little time in the morning for last minute chores.  I have a doctor’s appointment in Miami at 14:00 (2 pm) and then I am on the road to visit Captain Dennis and Dr. Ellen in Lady Lake, Florida.  I won’t get there until close to bedtime so I plan to spend Friday visiting.  I expect to leave very early Saturday morning for the 14 hour drive to the family homestead in Southeast Texas.

WEATHER

Since I have relocated Escape, I no longer have access to TV on board.  The internet is now my sole source of weather data.  It was convenient listening to weather forecasts on the TV while searching various internet sites simultaneously.

The Atlantic is not looking bad for this time of season.

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Tropical Depression 9 was upgraded overnight to Tropical Storm Humberto and is not expected to be a threat to the Florida Sea Base or any part of the US.  It is expected to reach hurricane status on Wednesday, tying the record for the latest date for the first hurricane of the year, 11 September.

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Invest 92L is the left over junk from Tropical Storm Gabrielle.  This system also poses no threat to the Florida Sea Base.

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The marine forecast from the National Weather Service calls for the winds to continue from the east this week.  That’s a good thing.  But there is also a 40-50% chance of rain daily.  Rain and construction don’t mix well.  The exterminating companies put up giant tents over buildings to fumigate them.  Why can’t the construction company put up a giant tent over the work area?

Monday And Monday Night: East winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.
Tuesday: East winds near 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.
Tuesday Night And Wednesday: East winds near 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.
Wednesday Night: East winds near 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.
Thursday Through Friday Night: East to southeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.

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

I intended to depart the Florida Sea Base at 08:00 yesterday to move Escape to Treasure Harbor Marine.  But the rain, wind and lightening started at 07:30.  No worries.  I could delay an hour and still make the tide to get in to Treasure Harbor Marine.  But the weather did not improve until too late in the day.  Now I am vacillating about going this morning.  To go or not to go, that is the question.  The Weather Channel is hinting that the next month will be very quiet in regard to tropical weather.  I will be back in five weeks.  Decisions, decisions.

I checked  the radar at 03:00 – all clear.  At 07:00 the radar is still clear.  The wind is only 6 knots but I need to run the engine so that is perfect.  The local forecast (MiamI) calls for an increasing chance of rain between 11:00 and 14:00 (2pm).  There is also some chance of weather coming from the Gulf this coming week.  Decision made.  I will leave here before 09:00 and – if all goes well – I will be there by noon.

Since it rained most of the day I focused on preparations for the PADI Instructor Development Course that will be held at the Florida Sea base in mid October.  I accomplished quit a bit (pat on the back), but there is still so much to do.  The first time is the hardest.

Near the end of the rain Captain Hans Bockelman entered the harbor aboard S/V Adventure.  I have no idea from whence he came, but I slipped on my raincoat and helped him into a slip.

Other than Captain Hans, the only other person I saw on base all day was Captain Martin Ivey (who was walking down the dock with a fresh – still twitching – lobster tail in hand).

As far as I know, there was NOTHING else going on yesterday.

By the way, do local sports reporters interview the college players live for any reason other than comical relief?  The demeanor and command of the English language displayed by some of these guys cracks me up.  I’m sure most collegiate athletes are intelligent and well spoken.  But like finding just the right hillbilly to interview in the trailer park after the flood/tornado, the sports reporters must hunt out these athletes they interview.  [By the way, I was raised by hillbillies and have lived in four different mobile homes in my life – one was a double-wide so maybe I can claim five trailers – so “hillbilly” is used with nothing less than respect.]

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

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