Archive for January, 2016

WEATHER

Thursday was a very nice day; Friday, not so much.  The Florida Sea Base woke up to totally overcast, grey skies with a line of showers approaching from the west-southwest.

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But it could have been worse; the showers passed us on the ocean side (south side) and despite grey skies, we were spared from rain.

It’s foggy again this morning.  We have a slight chance (20%) of rain today.  The forecast is for sunny skies and a high of 82.  It’s time to crank up the air conditioning again.

CONFERENCE

The National High Adventure group departed Friday.  But before leaving, several spent the afternoon fishing, taking the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course or just sight seeing.  A new adult conference group comes in tomorrow or Monday and the cycle of life continues.

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

 

08Jan

BEAUTIFUL DAY

in Weather  •  0 comments

FOG

Fog is a very rare creature in the Florida Keys.  Yet yesterday we awoke in a fog bank on the T-dock at the Florida Sea Base.  Many people asked what this strange smoke was.  Most had heard of fog, but no one ever expects to see it here.

The cool morning gave way to a warm, but not hot, sunny afternoon.  The T-dock was a bee hive of captains working on boats, preparing for the soon to arrive spring season.  Spring starts in late February at the Florida Sea Base.  It is a wonderful opportunity to escape the cold and go sailing, snorkeling, diving, fishing or camping.

RESERVATIONS

I spent most of the day in the engine compartment and bilge on S/V Escape.  Pirates didn’t have engine rooms and were the better for it.  And the bilges were tended by the imprisoned crew members of captured vessels.  It was a simpler, dirtier, disease ridden time.  It doesn’t really sound all that great.

Come visit the Florida Sea Base this spring and be a modern day pirate for a week.  You’ll probably never even see the bilge.  2017 registration opens 15 January 2016.  Start your adventure at www.bsaseabase.org.

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

Here’s the rundown on how yesterday morning went:

I got out of bed around 7 am.  (Not a bad start.)  It was a little chilly in the boat so I slipped on socks (my feet get cold easily), sweats and a shirt.  I went into the galley to get a drink and behind me I heard it – drip, drip, drip.  It was raining extremely hard and I had a leak.

If you think about it, boats have a lot of holes in them.  People have written books to describe all of the holes.  Holes in the bottom, holes on deck, holes in the sides, big holes for masts and tiny holes for screws.  Wherever there is a hole there is a potential leak.  Leaks on boats are common, hard to find the the source and can be expensive when the water causes damage.

It was easy to find the drip.  SPOILER ALERT – I never found the leak.  The water was dripping into an electrical outlet – not good – so I felt I should do something right away.  Find a towel, put it in the path of the leak and at least the water is no longer going into the electrical outlet.  That’s better.  But the drip is really more of a stream.  The first towel is quickly soaked.  I try a chamois instead.  Better, but it too is soon soaked.  Grab another towel and another chamois.  Ahh, that’s better.

So the immediate issue is under control – the boat is not going to burn down because of an electrical short.  But wait, there is a little trickle of water going behind the cushions.  So I dried that up but saw that the trickle continued into the storage below the seats.  Aha!  Another bodacious mess.  I unloaded everything, clean and dry the inside of the storage area (about 2’x6’x3′).  By now I am sweating profusely and contemplating switching from sweats to shorts but decide there is no time to waste.   The storage space is still damp so I decide to use a fan to accelerate the drying process.  Good plan, poor execution.  Plumbing parts, electrical parts and general boat parts are piled everywhere.  I did not see the quart bottle of teak oil.  I hit it with the fan, propelling it into the storage area.  It’s a plastic bottle so no big deal.  Right?  Well, it was a very old, brittle plastic bottle and it shattered, sending teak oil throughout the storage space.  And to top that off, there’s a 2″ hole in the bottom of the storage that drains directly into the bilge.

Now I’m in the engine compartment with oil absorbent diapers cleaning up the teak oil.  Once that was under control it was back to the salon to clean up that mess.  I used a commercial degreaser to clean the storage space, dried it and thought I had finished that part.  But noooo, the degreaser left an oily film so I scrubbed the storage space again with soap and water.  Much better.  Now back to the bilge.

I clean the bilge with soap and water and vacuum all the water out.  Now I hear a hissing noise.  The fresh water lines run through the bilge in the engine room.  There are 4 Ts in this small space and yards of hose.  After a solid 30 minutes of looking, I find the leak.  I tightened the hose clamps on all 4 Ts and replace the broken clamp that is allowing the water to leak.  Done.  EXCEPT, I still haven’t found the location of the water intrusion.  Too bad, it’s lunch time now (yep, 5 hours to soak up a little rain in the boat).

Is anyone interested in buying a boat?

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

WEATHER

The Florida Sea Base is very blessed to have a dear friend in Chip Kasper, Senior Marine Weather Forecaster with the National Weather Service in Key West.  Chip sent this email yesterday:

Hi everyone,
Wind and weather will change quickly during the next 48 hours (through Thursday morning), with a potent, but short-lived northeast blow, some rain, and a few stronger squalls and thunderstorms expected.  Wind and sea likely will subside abruptly Wednesday night and Thursday.  However, a rare, long-period (10-12 second) north-northeast swell will migrate into the Straits off the upper Florida Keys during the Wednesday night-Friday time frame.
Small Craft Advisories are already in effect for all marine zones adjoining the Florida Keys.  Northeast breezes will freshen this afternoon, reaching a steady 25 knots tonight, with frequent gusts near 30 knots possible for a few hours amid rain and building sea.  Attached is a graphic from our experimental Nearshore Wave Prediction System, valid at 7:00 a.m. EST, Wednesday, January 6.  Note significant wave heights exceeding 10 feet in the Gulf Stream between the middle/upper Keys and the Cay Sal Bank.  Conditions will improve rapidly on Thursday.
Please consult the following sources for additional information pertaining to Florida Keys marine weather:
Florida Keys Coastal Waters Forecast:
Hourly Weather Graphs for Florida Keys Marine Locations:
Nearshore Wave Prediction System output:
Best Regards,
Chip K.
Kennard “Chip” Kasper
Senior Forecaster-Marine Program Meteorologist
NOAA/National Weather Service
1315 White Street
Key West, Florida 33040

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As I was writing this post last night, the wind was howling and the boats were dancing in their slips at the Florida Sea Base.  Maybe this will pass in another 24 hours or so.

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CONFERENCE

John Green, BSA High Adventure Group Leader, and many other members of the National High Adventure Division arrive for a few days in paradise today.  What a welcome Mother Nature has in store.  Still, I am sure they will have very productive meetings and make plans to make the best group within the BSA even better.

Don’t get used to this flurry of posts.  The weather is holding me hostage and without TV or a companion, I find writing these posts is the only way I can keep from talking to myself.

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

While it is below freezing back home in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and at our homestead in deep southeast Texas, it is warmer (but still chilly for us), wet and windy at the Florida Sea Base.  We are forecasted to have three-quarters of an inch of rain starting at 2:19 pm and then and inch and a quarter tomorrow.

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The above screenshot was taken from http://www.wunderground.com/weather-forecast/zmw:33036.1.99999.  The wind forecast is for NE winds at 25 knots today and tomorrow.

I know conditions are worse for most of you and MUCH worse for many.  I hope you are warm and dry and surrounded by family.

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

04Jan

HIATUS

in Program  •  2 comments

WELCOME BACK!

I took a while away from the blog and I’m not sure what the future schedule will be (maybe a weekly post versus a daily post), but this is a much more difficult chore since I am not living on base and spend more than 50% of my time helping my dad.  But I have decided to at least try to post for a while and see how things go.  A few people have told me they miss the blog, so here goes.

DMA

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I was allowed to coordinate and lead the 2015 Divemaster Academy.  The DMA staff included Rich Goldman, Captain Christy Costa, Austen Potter, Captain Brenda Mallory, Austin Potter, Taron Soto and Duncan McCarthy.  We had 14 candidates this year.  We had mixed blessings with the weather.  The air and water temperatures were significantly above average.  But the wind was fierce generating significantly high seas which in turn caused very minimal underwater visibility and generally poor diving conditions.  The staff and candidates overcame the obstacles and the course was completed on time.  We had one brief hospitalization for a non-diving related infection and no significant injuries.

PROGRAM

The 2015 winter season has concluded.  The Florida Sea Base hosted more Scouts than typical for this time of year.  I do not have any data on the attendance at the Brinton Environmental Center (Out Island, Keys Adventure and Florida Fishing Adventure) but it was definitely busy at the home campus of the Florida Sea Base.  If memory serves, we hosted five Scuba Adventure crews, one Scuba Certification crew, one Scuba Liveaboard crew, two Sea Exploring crews and maybe (?) eight to ten Coral Reef Sailing crews. The program season starts a week after the DMA start date and by the end the wind was easing up a bit and they enjoyed friendlier seas.  The last of the participants departed this morning.

WEATHER

The warmth has deserted us and the temperatures turned more seasonable today.  We are in the mid 60s to low 70s versus the mid 80s of last week.  So winter has apparently invaded the Keys.

RESERVATIONS

The 2017 reservation lottery will open on 15 January and close on 15 February.  You can get more information at www.bsaseabase.org.  Also, you can download the 2016 Florida Sea Base Participant’s Guide at the same site.

PERSONAL

I will be at the Florida Sea Base for another two weeks trying to get S/V Escape prepared to enter the Coral Reef Sailing program this summer.  I tried to join the fleet last summer but just could not pull it together.  Hope for the best…

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