Archive for December, 2014

31Dec

ALEX BERGSTEDT

in Staff  •  2 comments

Alex grew up, as much as Professional Scuba Bums™ can, at the Florida Sea Base.  He was a candidate in the 2nd Divemaster Academy in 2005 and grew through the ranks to  PADI Instructor Development Course Staff Instructor and USCG captain.  Alex was my Scuba Commissioner for years and essentially ran the scuba programs last year.  He has taken a lot of abuse from me over the years.  The Scuba Commissioner position is a seasonal job and Alex has suffered significantly to be available to work here for 9 months out of the year for so many years.

We completed the open water components of the 11th annual Divemaster Academy yesterday.  Late last night, after class was over, Alex packed up and drove to Orlando to celebrate his parent’s 40th wedding anniversary with his large family.  Alex has been a true friend, giving everything and asking for nothing.  I’m not sure when we will see each other again, but it is a small world.

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Boy Scouts; Florida Sea Base; 2011; Scouts; Topside

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Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

30Dec

OH MY

in Program  •  0 comments

DMA

I did it.  Well, I sort of did it.  I got the candidates and most of the cadre of Class 11 of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy rounded up for a class photo.  Here’s the best shot I got of these “professional” divers:

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I have intentionally failed to tag these individuals in an attempt to protect their future professional aspirations.  My, oh my.

Yesterday the DMA completed two deep dives on the Eagle, the first at about 110′ and the second near 95′.  These were the final two dives of the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course.  Afterwards we headed shoreward and completed a third dive at 25-30′ at a site called Crescent.  The visibility was dismal but the training requirements were fulfilled.

PROGRAM

Sailors are still arriving.  Yesterday was an outstanding day for the sailing crews already on the high seas.

The Scuba Adventure crews completed two dives yesterday and a night dive after dinner.

WEATHER

The wind should be from the east at 10 knots for the next two days with highs near 80 and lows in low to mid 70s.  The chance of rain is 10% or less.

RETIREMENT

My phone was packed away from around 9:00 am until after 4:00 pm yesterday and I did not miss a single call or email.  No one loves me anymore.  That part of retirement is GREAT!!!  Keep those calls going to Joe Angelo, Scuba Director, at 305-664-5625 or Joe.Angelo@scouting.org.  Good job everyone!

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

28Dec

PRODUCTIVE DAY

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PROGRAM

The Scuba Adventure crews, led by Florida Sea Base scuba staff members Ben Aaron, Kari Dahlquist and Tyler Giblin, completed their scuba reviews Saturday morning and made their first Sea Base dive at Alligator Reef in the afternoon.  The Scuba Liveaboard crew, led by FSB scuba staff members Austen Potter and Jake Potter, made their way to Stock Island to board the Schooner Conch Pearl.

The sailing crews that arrived Friday completed all of their swim, snorkel and sail training and were off the dock immediately after lunch yesterday.

DMA

We spent the morning completing Scuba Review and Skill Circuit evaluations in the pool.  We had dinner at 4:00 pm and headed to Alligator Reef for some do overs and for a night dive.

WEATHER

MUCH better than we deserve. 🙂  We have been very fortunate up to this point and looks very promising through Thursday (the end of the current NWS forecast period).  We should continue to have highs near 80, lows of 70-73, a 10% chance of rain WEdnesday and Thursday and generally east winds at 10 to 15 knots.  VERY decent for this time of year.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

27Dec

MID POINT

in Program  •  0 comments

DMA

Class 11 of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy has passed the mid-point of the program.  Today is day nine of 15.  Everyone is doing well.  We have a few do-overs, but those are expected and more of an opportunity for improvement than an issue of concern.

PROGRAM

I was on the water with the DMA when the program attendees arrived and still in class when they went to bed so I can’t say much about their day.  I can say that we have very capable, returning staff members and Captains on payroll for the winter program season and I did not hear any negative comments.  Despite the fact that I am retired, I have worked with all of our current program staff in the past and they are instinctively asking me to help with issues.

WEATHER

We had a glorious day on the water on Friday.  Let me back up.  Yesterday morning was cool and very overcast and we encountered rain on our 45 minute boat ride to the wreck of the Eagle.  However, the rain was light and passed.  It took a while, but by early afternoon we had sunshine and some sunburn.

Here’s what the next two days should bring:

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Click to Enlarge

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

 

 

26Dec

SHORT ON TIME

in Program  •  0 comments

PROGRAM

This afternoon will be very busy for the program staff; 4 Coral Reef Sailing crews, 3 Scuba Adventure and a Scuba Liveaboard crew will check in.  Ellen Wyatt will conduct the check-ins, Scuba Director Joe Angelo will supervise the Scuba Adventure and Scuba Liveaboard staff and Sailing Commissioner Richard Fallon will overseas the sailing staff.

DMA

We are headed back to the reef for three more dives this morning; one Deep dive (hopefully on the wreck of the Eagle) and two Sea and Recovery dives.  Then we have a long day in the classroom that will last into the evening.

WEATHER

NE to E winds at 10-15 knots for the next several days.  Lows around 72 and highs around 79.  A slight chance of rain this afternoon and tomorrow but sunny for a while thereafter.

Gotta go!!!

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

WEATHER

I am up at 04:45 after a somewhat restless night.  The forecast for the passing of this cold front has (so far) been absolutely spot on.  THANK YOU to Chip Kasper and all of the dedicated meteorologists at the Key Wesy office of the National Weather Service.

The front is nearly passed.

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We were very fortunate yesterday.  We experienced 4′ seas at Alligator Deep but they were rolling seas versus breaking seas and the first deep dive of the course was a success.  The 16 candidates were split into three teams with Alex Bergstedt, Rich Goldman and me each leading a team.  Brenda Mallory also assisted with dive as a safety diver.  We did have a few pukers, but they were real troopers and hung in there.

The NWS marine forecast:

Today: Winds becoming north and increasing to 15 to 20 knots this morning…then north winds near 15 knots this afternoon. Seas 2 to 4 feet…with the highest seas west of eastern dry rocks. Nearshore waters a moderate chop to choppy. Scattered showers in the morning…then isolated showers in the afternoon.

Tonight: Northeast winds near 15 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. nearshore waters a moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Friday: East winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Friday Night And Saturday: East winds near 15 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Isolated showers friday night.

Saturday Night Through Monday Night: East winds 10 to 15 knots. seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop.

The north winds should not pose a threat to our schedule.  The east winds could be dicey.

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

The wind flow BEHIND the front is now very critical for the DMA.  We have three mission critical dives scheduled this morning and hope to get those hammered out by mid-afternoon so the candidates can take the evening off.  The cadre has a few hours of paperwork to get done before we can call it a day.

We have three more critical dives on Friday morning.  We will get those done, but they may be our most challenging dives during this class.

PROGRAM

Friday through Monday look to be good sailing days for the Coral Reef Sailing and Sea Exploring crews.  The divers will have a rougher time on those early days as this cold front backs it way to the north bringing potentially rough seas to the reef.

COMMENT

Capt. Steve,
Wishing the DMA a Merry Christmas. Thanks for your dedication to the FSB scuba program. Glad to see Cody Wells from my Venturing Crew 1020 is a participant in the DMA . Our Crew started in 2001 with a Scuba focus. We got certified on South Padre Island in 1999 at Laguna Station. Our first trip to Seabase was Out Island in 2002, then Scuba Adventure in 2003. Unfortunately we had to release a Scuba Liveaboard in 2005. I really wanted to do this :(.
Then another Scuba Adventure in 2007 and 2009? I was fortunate to attend all but the last one.

I want to thank you for your blog I’ve been an avid reader for years. I also looking back appreciate you personally Captianing the boat once on both of our SA!s in 03 and 07! If you ever need anything from the east side of Dallas give me a holler.

Take Care Steve Moore Rowlett, Texas

PS I’m sending a photo of my favorite Christmas tree to FSBscubatraining@gmail.comfor your holiday pleasure!

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Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

24Dec

TRUE GRIT

in Weather  •  0 comment

DMA

Today and tomorrow will be good days for testing the grit of the Divemaster Academy candidates.  The cold front that is causing so many woes across the US will pass through the Florida Sea Base in the coming hours.

Synopsis: LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE NORTHEAST OF THE GULF COAST STATES TODAY. A COLD FRONT WILL MOVE QUICKLY ACROSS THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO TODAY…BEFORE PASSING THROUGH THE FLORIDA KEYS AND ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS LATE TONIGHT AND VERY EARLY THURSDAY. AN AREA OF HIGH PRESSURE WILL BUILD EASTWARD ACROSS THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY…REACHING THE WESTERN NORTH ATLANTIC BY SATURDAY. (NWS)

The Florida Keys are under a small craft advisory.  Fortunately, our Newton 46 Dive Specials are not classified as “small craft” and the course rages on.

Here is the rest of the marine forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: Southeast to south winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers in the morning…then scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Tonight: South to southwest winds near 15 knots…becoming west to northwest by morning. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Thursday: North winds 10 to 15 knots early…then increasing to 15 to 20 knots. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop early…then becoming choppy. Scattered showers in the morning…then isolated showers in the afternoon.

Thursday Night: Northeast winds near 15 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Friday: Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Friday Night through Sunday Night: East to southeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 1 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers.

High Adventure!!!!  As a Professional Scuba Bum I used to live to for conditions like this.  As an OLD Professional Scuba Bum calm seas, 100′ of visibility and 85° water is more to my liking.  Old or not, here I go, and if I’m going , THEY’RE going. 🙂  Today will be a good warm up for tomorrow; we have three dives scheduled on the reef tomorrow morning.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

 

 

WEATHER

Due to my responsibilities to the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy, I have had virtually zero access to TV and minimal time to search the internet for weather information for the past several days.  With that said, I understand there is the potential for some really nasty weather around Christmas that may create travel delays.  While our local weather will remain warm, Christmas may be rainy and could cause some minor delays at MIA and FFL.  The following three graphics are from http://miami.justweather.com/?default=true.

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Drive time to the Florida Sea Base and Brinton Environmental Center will take longer than the computer mapping programs will tell you.  Add 30 minutes to an hour to your expected drive time.

PACK YOUR BONINE®.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

 

21Dec

CENTER STAGE

in Scuba  •  0 comments

DMA

The Divemaster Academy is the only activity at the Florida Sea Base right now and probably so until the program participants arrive on 26 December.  The DMA candidates and program are right on course at this time.

Saturday afternoon the candidates completed most of the timed water skills including a 400 yard freestyle swim, a 800 yard snorkel swim and 15 minute tread.  They also worked on their skin diving skills.  This was a long, chilly, afternoon in the pool.  We were fortunate to have very mild, even warm temperatures for the past several days or the water temperature would have been much cooler.  Hopefully, a pool heater will be installed and operational by next year.

Sunday will be our first day diving on the reef.  We are scheduled to complete three dives.  The first will be an orientation dive led by the cadre.  During the second dive, the candidates will take turns leading the dives while the other candidates pretend to be inexperienced divers with various issues (assigned by the cadre).  The final dive of the day will be candidates’ first dive towards the PADI Search and Recovery Specialty Diver certification which is a sub-set of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy.

STAFF

Captain Christy Costa, Captain Scott Costa, Captain Dennis Wyatt and Dr. Ellen Wyatt, Ed.D., have joined the onsite staff with many more to come.

WEATHER

Here is our National Weather Service forecast for the coming days:

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Southeast wind 10 to 15 mph.

Sunday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. East wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Monday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Southeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Monday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Tuesday: A slight chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 63.

Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 70.

Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 63.

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 74.

Point Forecast: Lower Matecumbe Beach FL
24.85°N 80.73°W (Elev. 0 ft)

The wind may be just enough of a factor to raise concern about the dreaded gastroenpukulitus.

seasick1

“Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.”

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

19Dec

DEJA VU

in Scuba  •  0 comments

DIVEMASTER ACADEMY

Here we are again, for me, for the 11th time; dèjá vu all over again.  I guess that’s better than amnesia or dementia, both of which I seem to experience on occasion.  What was I writing about?

The candidates of Class 11 of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy are: Adam Hartfiel (Missouri), Barry Bowman (North Carolina), Bo Busler (Maryland), Cody Wells (Texas), Colt Bower (Texas), Cory Lancaster (Texas), Eric Stewart (Virginia), Evy Unti (Illinois), Gracie Mott (Iowa), Gregory St. Amand (Michigan), Lindsay Janke (Minnesota), Matt Brandon (Michigan), Sasha Zabela (Virginia), Trey Black (Texas), Tyler Burns (California) and Tyler Egeland (Wisconsin).

We will meet with Class 11 of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy at 07:30.  I thought one of the benefits of retirement was sleeping in.  Not so (apparently).  When I am here as a volunteer I need to be up no later than 06:30 (usually 05:30 so I can get a jump on the youngsters).  When I’m home I try to stick with my wife’s schedule and she rolls at to 03:45.  If anyone knows of a medical trial where you can volunteer to be placed in an induced coma for 30 days, please let me know.  Thirty days of sleep sounds pretty good.  [I wonder if I could start a 30 day coma clinic?  You know, a nice lobby, peaceful, hypnotic music, a soothing “exam” room, and a back room with a bunch of stainless steel drawers like the morgue to hold the sleeping patients.  Sounds easy.  Maybe Jasper, Texas could become the coma capital of the world.  We have a nice 10 acres to start on.  We could expand if need be.]  Sorry for the side bar.  I am apparently a redneck genius and sometimes these thoughts just have to come out!

The official cadre of the 2014 DMA is comprised of Alex Bergstedt, PADI Instructor Development Course Staff Instructor, Richard Goldman, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (and IDCSI candidate).Captain Christy (Clemenson) Costa, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, First Mate Kyle Moran, PADI Divemaster, and me.  Scuba Director Joe Angelo, PADI Course Director, will be looking on to see how we have run this program in the past.  PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer Kari Dahlquist has been a big help in DMA preparations and will be helping with this class during the first week.  Captain Scott Costa, PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, will be assisting as Second Mate during the second half of the academy.  PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors Tyler Giblin and Brenda Mallory will be assisting when their other duties allow.  Interestingly, Alex, Christy, Kyle, Kari, Scott, Tyler and Brenda are all former DMA grads.  Now that I see how many helper bees we have, I am thinking I may be able to give Alex, Rich and myself a day or two off this go around.  Wow, that would be a first!!!

WEATHER

The weather was incredible, spring-like, on Wednesday and Thursday.  I got a little sunburned yesterday.  The National Weather Service forecast call for highs in the upper 70s, low in the upper 60s, a slight chance of rain Sunday night through Monday night, with 10 knot winds from the NE to SE until it switches to south on Monday and SW at 10-15 knots on Tuesday.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape

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