Happy MLK Day!!!  If you are fortunate enough to have today off, please make the best of it and do something special; maybe even something to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I am working today but I don’t have much planned other than closing out spring hiring, reviewing any scuba medicals that come in, continuing to research AEDs to buy for our fleet of Newton Dive Specials, and whatever other opportunities present themselves.


The Florida Sea Base Scuba Liveaboard (live as in “I live on a boat”, not live as “live from New York, it’s Saturday Night”) program is another idea brought to the Florida Sea Base by my friend and mentor Captain Bert Hubby and yours truly.  I think it was 2001 when Captain Bert and I went about searching for a scuba liveaboard vessel to purchase to lease to bring to the Sea Base scuba programs.  Our two top choices were a 97′ sailboat with a swing keel that would let us operate in the shallow reefs of the Keys and a 104′ aluminum crew boat used in the off-shore oil industry.  Long story short, we did not buy a boat.  But we didn’t give up on the idea.

In 2002 I became a full-time employee of the BSA as the Program Director at the Florida Sea Base.  I supervised the scuba and sailing programs.  Captain Bert and I started looking for scuba liveaboard boats that the base could charter.  That didn’t work out because we couldn’t get owner/operators that were already in the scuba liveaboard business to understand what we were trying to accomplish from a Scouting perspective.  We were not convinced that hot-tubs and all you can drink rum punch was going to help us on our mission to build strong character.

The Florida Sea Base has an internal communications system that is quicker and deadlier than Al Gore and other inventors of the Word Wide Web could ever imagine – it is known as the Coconut Telegraph.  Word made it around the Florida Sea Base fleet that I was interested in chartering a scuba liveaboard.  Another long story made short, Captain Denny Webb and his wife Holley Whitley, purchased a vessel, named it the Schooner Conch Pearl, and the rest is history.  We now have three scuba liveaboards working in our summer program.

The boats are certified by the US Coast Guard to carry 12 passengers for hire.  The boats are crewed by two captains and two divemaster who also serve as deckhands.  Have you ever thought of working on a scuba liveaboard vessel?  PADI posted this article recently and I thought it was worth sharing.  Most scuba liveaboards hire Scuba Instructors or higher.  The Florida Sea Base is very rare in that you can work in this position as a Divemaster (a step below Instructor) to gain experience before moving into the big leagues.


Talking about Scuba Liveaboard reminds me that I should remind you that reservations for 2015 programs are open until 15 February.  The Scuba Liveaboard program is one of our most preferred and fills quickly.  You can access the reservations system at


NFL football to be specific.  Sometimes technology is a good thing.  I watched parts of Sunday’s games while working onboard Escape.  I enjoy watching good sports, but I am certainly NOT a fan(atic).  The Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will play in the Superbowl on 02 February.  I will be in Dallas (Irving, TX) for day two of the BSA National Aquatics Task Force meeting.  We are scheduled to conclude at 15:00 (3pm) Dallas time.  The best part is I MAY be able to watch the game with my son.  (I really don’t care about the game.)


We have been enjoying cool, sunny afternoons but very chilly mornings.  I started worrying a little when the wind shifted to the west yesterday evening.  West is usually a bad sign of what’s to come.  After dinner I checked the forecasts (while watching the Seattle/San Fran game) but they did not indicate there was anything afoot.  Maybe it was a false alarm of sorts.  At o4:30 our current conditions (per the NWS) include calm wind, 57°, decreasing cloudiness and a forecasted high of 75°.  [Side bar:  Back at the family homestead in Texas, it is currently 32 with a forecasted high of 73.  Many areas typically have a 20, 30, 40° or more temperature swing daily.  Locally we will have an 18 degree temperature change today.  It is not uncommon for us to go a week with a 2 or 3° change, and 5 to 10° is more our norm.   Bearing in mind that all things are relative, it’s not just that 57 feels cool to us, it is the drop of 20° that makes it feel like we have stepped into the walk in refrigerator.]

The most important part of all of that is we will be sunny, in the mid 70s, and have a gentle breeze today.  Winter is so harsh!

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


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