Archive for March, 2015

30Mar

APOLOGY?

in Program  •  0 comments

I guess this is more of an explanation than an apology.  I returned to the Florida Sea Base on Thursday (on personal business) and I’ve been trying to post daily on what I’ve seen going on.  Many of you that have read this blog for a long time are used to having the latest news with your morning coffee and my posting times have been somewhat splattered at different times of the afternoon.  Part of the reason for that is now that I am “retired” I am able to sleep.  Therefore I am not up all night writing a post.  Second, despite being here, I am still an outsider of sorts and spending more time working on Escape that hanging with the staff.  And the final reason is I have been taking afternoon heat breaks (lazy breaks is a more honest description) and have been more inclined to write then.

And don’t get used to these daily posts again.  I have to beat feet back to Texas soon and I will be doing good to have enough info to post once a week again.

PROGRAM

There were no crew arrivals today.  In the morning the sailing crews that arrived yesterday were busy preparing to get off the dock and the divers were making preparations for their first dive at Alligator Reef this afternoon.

WEATHER

Gorgeous!  The next five days promise lots of opportunities for serious sun burn, morning lows in the upper 60s, afternoon highs in the upper 70s, 78° ocean water temps, and perfect winds for the sailors.  The divers will have some bumpy seas, but nothing severe.

There you have it; post #1,668.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

WEATHER

The National Hurricane Center will use a prototype surge warning tool starting with the 2015 US hurricane season.  It will look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 7.35.21

If you have any interests in the US Atlantic or Gulf coast regions, please read the full article http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/news/20150318_pa_surgeWarning.pdf.

The local weather at the Florida Sea Base is nearly perfect; sunny, a high near 80 and decreasing winds.

PROGRAM

The Florida Sea Base is in its two heaviest weeks of the spring season.  Five Scuba Adventure crews, one Scuba Certification crew, and four Coral Reef Sailing crews checked in today.  Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification programs end on 12 April and all other programs for the 2015 spring season end on 25 April.

2015 SUMMER STAFF

Slots for the 2015 Florida Sea Base summer staff are near capacity.  HURRY if you are procrastinating on submitting an application.  There are spots if you hurry, but don’t dally any longer.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

WEATHER

It is 65°F at the Florida Sea Base this morning and it is still early enough for the temperature to potentially drop another degree.  We will warm to about 77° this afternoon with partly sunny skies, NE winds at 15-20 knots (fortunately there are no divers on the water until late this afternoon), seas 2 to 4 feet, and a water temperature of 78°F.  The weekly forecast calls for a little more sun, temperatures should rise a degree or two, and the wind should drop to 10 knots by Tuesday.

STAFF

It is very rewarding to see the fruits of the Divemaster Academy and PADI Instructor Development Courses benefiting the Florida Sea Base.  Spring scuba staff members Scuba Commissioner/Instructor Tyler Giblin, Scuba Instructors Taron Soto, Jenna Burton and Amanda Kirk, Divemasters Tyler Burns, Bo Bussler, and Cory Lancaster and Instructor/Captains Scott Patton and Brenda Mallory are graduates of past Divemaster Academies and/or PADI IDCs conducted at the Florida Sea Base.

SCUBA

PADI Instructor Dale Davis, a long time Scouter from the Longhorn Council (my home council) and big supporter of the Florida Sea Base, recently retired from the FAA and is fulfilling his dream of joining the Florida Sea Base scuba staff by being a part of this spring’s team.  Dale is working hard to come up with a plan to bring more scuba activities to the Longhorn Council and I hope there is a place for me to join him in that endeavor.  Scuba diving as a unit or council activity is addressed in the Guide to Safe Scouting.  It is not an easy task, but it is possible.  Scuba is a safe activity when managed properly.  But I believe three Scouts have died in the past 5 years or so while scuba diving at a unit or local activity (none at the Florida Sea Base for the 15 years I worked here).  All of the nit picky BSA rules are there to provide as safe an experience as possible for the Scouts.  Fudging on these guidelines can be (as has been) catastrophic.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

28Mar

YEE HAW

in Weather  •  0 comments

WEATHER

The first strike of severe weather hit the Florida Sea Base dock at about 19:45 last night.  Thirty-five knot winds, rain and lightning put on a show for a few hours.  The temperature dropped behind the front and we awoke to 67° this morning.

The weather will be very nice for the remainder of this week.

PROGRAM

We always hate to see a week of high adventure end with challenging weather.  One tiny bit of good news may be that the participants are better prepared for these challenges near the week’s end.

One Scuba Liveaboard crew, five Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew arrived this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be even more hectic for Program Office Manager Ellen Wyatt.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

27Mar

HERE IT COMES

in Weather  •  0 comments

READERS

Tom Laing posted this comment Friday morning:

Steve:

Each morning when I report to work here in the mid-mid-west, I read the emails and log in to your site. Being of the Baby-Boomer generation, I don’t post much to social media. Reading your blog is like reading the paper, only much more fun. I and my son, who staffed for you last spring, really enjoyed our two Sea Base trips. It’s fun to see what’s happening. I’m glad you’re still writing, even though it’s not as frequently. Perhaps we’ll stop in and say “Hi!” when we’re down on the Keys on vacation this summer.

Tom

Thanks Tom; it is nice to know there is SOMEONE out there.  Retiring (more like semi-retiring because I work more and get paid WAY less) is a bittersweet event.  Writing this blog has been an attempt at maintaining my sanity for the past several years.  Now I realize there is no sanity to maintain and I am less motivated to post!

I can testify to this, people will come and go from the Florida Sea Base management positions for years and decades to come but very little else changes.  And in all truthfulness, that is a good thing.

WEATHER

The local heat index was 95°F on the t-dock of the Florida Sea Base this afternoon.  Holy guacamole!  Saturday’s low is forecasted to be 67° with a ripping west wind.  This WunderMap screenshot was captured at 16:12 EDT Friday and yes, all of these pretty colors are coming this way.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.11.28

PROGRAM

But divers are diving, sailors are sailing and lots of folks are making log entries with reference to intestinal distress or gastroenpukeulitis as singer/song writer Captain Sam Crutchfield calls it.  From staff, to captains, to adult leadership to our youth participants, it is all about keeping a positive attitude and celebrating what Mother Nature has to offer us at the moment.  What’s happening is God’s plan, not ours, and if He would like for us to enjoy a little high adventure ocean weather then bring it on.  (Easy for me to say sitting at he dock.)

Stay safe!

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

 

 

 

26Mar

VISIT

in Staff  •  0 comment

STAFF

This post may be a total waste of time.  It has been nearly two weeks since I posted anything and I’m sure the sporadic postings are having a negative effect on readership.  I arrived at the Florida Sea Base just before lunch time Thursday.  It was a long drive made worse by the failure of the air conditioning unit on my 1991 Chevrolet Suburban that only has 38,000 miles on it.  Within a couple of minutes of my arrival, Assistant Ranger Mike Stolar happened by in the parking lot, followed by Assistant Ranger Rick Kuras, Jr, Sailing Program Director Captain Luke Knuttel, Galley Manager Charles Wozny, Retail Sales Manager Cheryl Kuras, and Galley Mate Tyler Richards.  I moved one load of belongings from the Suburban to Escape and then had lunch on base where I saw many of the seasonal staff that were on base plus Logistics Team Leader Tim Stanfill, Food Services Administrator Captain Rae Murphy and Scuba Program Director Joe Angelo.

During lunch, Captain Luke and Joe were dealing with an issue.  (How I remember those days; it seems like meal times are frequently present challenges for the program directors.)  One of the scuba instructors on a Scuba Liveaboard boat was having back problems.  Scuba Instructor Taron Soto was just getting back to the dock from some staff scuba certification dives and volunteered to replace the fallen staff member.  Captain Luke and Joe were making arrangements to meet the SL boat at sea and make the swap.

After lunch I visited with Program Office Manager Ellen Wyatt for a few minutes and then I went to Escape for a nap.  (I had been up for over 33 hours at that point.)

These coming two weeks are the busiest of the Florida Sea Base spring season.  Scuba Instructor Rich Goldman arrived a little before dinner to augment the scuba staff for these two weeks.  If you read this blog on occasion you will certainly recognize Rich’s name from helping with our annual Divemaster Academy and any time we are short staffed.  He is a Scout’s Scout.  Anyway, Mr. Goldman and I had dinner together at Habanos so we could catch up.

After dinner I crossed paths with Scuba Instructor/Captain Brenda Mallory and Scuba Commissioner Tyler Giblin.  Captain Brenda has been keeping an eye on Escape for me during my long absence.

WEATHER

Bear in mind that I have not been on a boat since November.  The wind was very robust Thursday and I woke from my nap feeling like a seasick zombie.  The weather is going to get worse before it gets better.  From the National Weather Service:

SEAS ARE GIVEN AS SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT…WHICH IS THE AVERAGE
HEIGHT OF THE HIGHEST 1/3 OF THE WAVES. INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE
MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT.

GMZ042>044-270230-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM OCEAN REEF TO CRAIG KEY OUT TO THE REEF-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM CRAIG KEY TO WEST END OF SEVEN MILE BRIDGE OUT
TO THE REEF-
HAWK CHANNEL FROM WEST END OF SEVEN MILE BRIDGE TO HALFMOON SHOAL
OUT TO THE REEF-
453 PM EDT THU MAR 26 2015

TONIGHT
SOUTHEAST TO SOUTH WINDS NEAR 15 KNOTS AND GUSTY
EARLY…BECOMING SOUTH AND DECREASING TO 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO 3
FEET…SUBSIDING TO 1 TO 2 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A MODERATE CHOP TO
CHOPPY…BECOMING A LIGHT TO MODERATE CHOP. SCATTERED SHOWERS AFTER
MIDNIGHT.

FRIDAY
SOUTH TO SOUTHWEST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS…BECOMING WEST AND
INCREASING TO 15 TO 20 KNOTS IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 1 TO 2
FEET…BUILDING TO 2 TO 3 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A LIGHT TO MODERATE
CHOP…BECOMING CHOPPY. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS
IN THE MORNING. WINDS AND SEAS HIGHER IN AND NEAR NUMEROUS SHOWERS
AND SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON.

FRIDAY NIGHT
WEST TO NORTHWEST WINDS NEAR 20 KNOTS…SHIFTING TO
NORTH AND INCREASING TO 20 TO 25 KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 4 FEET. NEARSHORE
WATERS BECOMING VERY ROUGH. SCATTERED SHOWERS IN THE EVENING…THEN
ISOLATED SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

SATURDAY
NORTH WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS EARLY…DECREASING TO 15 TO
20 KNOTS IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 TO 4 FEET…SUBSIDING TO 2 TO 3
FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS VERY ROUGH…BECOMING CHOPPY.

SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY
NORTH TO NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20
KNOTS. SEAS 2 TO 3 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS CHOPPY.

SUNDAY NIGHT
NORTHEAST TO EAST WINDS NEAR 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO 3
FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.

MONDAY THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT
EAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 1 TO
2 FEET. NEARSHORE WATERS A LIGHT TO MODERATE CHOP.

$$

If the forecast holds, Friday and Saturday are going to be “high adventure”.  Ten knots or less is great for the divers.  Ten to fifteen is doable for the divers and great for the sailors.  Twenty to 25 is not so great for anyone.  However, the staff and captains at the Florida Sea Base will do everything possible to deliver the magic regardless of the weather.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

WEATHER

The weather at the Florida Sea Base is much improved this week.  The wind has clocked to the NW at less than 10 knots bringing some relief to the reef.  The water temperature is 76°F.  There is a small chance of rain daily this week with lows near 70 and highs around 80.

While not directly related to the Florida Sea Base, Vanuatu, is a popular dive destination in the South Pacific, not far from New Zealand.  The following information is from Weather Underground.

pam-viirs-mar13

Figure 1. Tropical Cyclone Pam as seen by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi satellite at 10:42 am EDT March 13, 2015. At the time, Pam was a Category 5 storm with 165 mph winds, and was just southeast of Efate Island, where the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, lies. Image credit: @NOAASatellites.

Pam’s eyewall clobbered three major islands of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Friday. Even though Pam had weakened slightly to 155 mph winds, the southern islands of Erromango (population 2,000) and Tanna (pop 29,000) likely took the worst punishment from the storm, due to the fact these islands were hit by the stronger right-front quadrant (southeast) side of the storm. Pam was at its peak strength, 165 mph Category 5 winds, when its weaker left (southwest quadrant) eyewall passed over the eastern side of Efate Island, Vanuatu’s most populous island (population 66,000.) However, since the weather station in the capital city of Port Vila survived the storm and reported winds below tropical storm force, this most populous (southwest) portion of the island may have escaped severe damage. Despite this fact, there is a good chance that Pam will be the most expensive natural disaster in Vanuatu’s history.

SCUBA

The old scuba tanks are totally down.  The demolition team was successful in saving the iconic Ship’s Wheel from the old deep tank.  The old wheel will be attached to the exterior of the new scuba training complex and will likely become a popular photo op.

10441450_895446797144092_1304787092377597599_n

The original wheel is a true work of art.  The new pool also has a Ship’s Wheel, but it is a computer generated graphic printed on tiles.  The original is carved tiles and would probably cost a fortune to reproduce.

“Thanks” to Captain/Scuba Instructor Brenda Mallory and Scuba Instructor Jenna Burton for keeping me posted on the progress.

STAFFING

If you are interested in being a member of the 2015 summer staff at the Florida Sea Base you should submit an application post haste!  You can go to the About tab on this site for contact information if you want to contact a specific hiring manager for specifics.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

 

 

WEATHER

This system is not having any dirt intact on the weather at the Florida Sea Base but I wanted to share it anyway because of its immensity.  This system is impacting most of Texas and is called a Pineapple Express because the system can be traced back to Hawaii (and almost to India in this instance).

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.40.56

I took this screenshot from WeatherUnderground (http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?lat=24.92293549&lon=-80.63190460&zoom=8&pin=Islamorada%2c%20FL&rad=1&wxsn=0&svr=0&cams=0&sat=0&riv=0&mm=0&hur=0), a source I frequently reference on weather conditions/forecasts.

The weather at the Florida Sea Base is very nice this week except for the wind; easterly winds 15-20 knots (with gusts to 25 knots earlier this morning), some scattered showers, highs around 80, lows in the mid 70s, water temperature 76°F at Molasses Reef.  It will be tough for anyone to enjoy the reef this week, but the captains and staff will do everything possible to insure a safe and fun week for the participants.  These conditions are a program director’s nightmare and having adult leadership with positive attitudes can salvage the week.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

PROGRAM

The Florida Sea Base has been relatively quiet from a program point of view.  A week of staff training has concluded and now it’s time to get back to work.

On the sailing side, three Coral Reef Sailing crews will arrive Saturday followed by one more on Sunday and two more crews on Monday.  For the scuba side, one Scuba Liveaboard crew arrives Saturday followed by one Scuba Liveaboard, two Scuba Adventure crews and one Scuba Certification crew on Sunday.

WEATHER

The long range weather forecast looks great for the coming week with lows in the 70s, highs in the lower 80s and some sunshine!

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED
Professional Scuba Bum™

03Mar

OUT WITH THE OLD

in Scuba  •  2 comments

SCUBA

The new scuba training complex was opened at the Florida Sea Base in late August 2014.  Around mid-February posts started appearing on Facebook of the new scuba facility from Google maps.  In this image you can see the new L shaped facility and the two old, circular dive tanks.

10407534_884205978268174_7196630992060128322_n

The scuba training pools what were built in 1979 or 80 are now rubble and being hauled away.

Jenna Burton, PADI Scuba Instructor, sent these photos yesterday.

IMAG0075

IMAG0076

And Brenda Mallory, PADI Scuba Instructor and Dive Boat Captain in Training, sent me this shot this morning.

imagejpeg_2

Let me know when you see a Google map of Florida Sea Base with the old pools removed.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Scuba Director – RETIRED

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