It rained at the Florida Sea base from about 07:45 to 10:45yesterday.  (I received my free Keys car wash.)  Then we had perfect dive conditions with the captains reporting calm seas and 60′ visibility.  But the wind blew up just as the dive boats were returning to dock.  Captain Bert beat the worst of the wind.  But Captain Carl came into the harbor just as the wind hit peak speeds.  The landed th vessel safety and without incident.  But I wish had had a video to show you.  It reminded me of a cowboy riding a bucking bronc in a rodeo.  Ye-Haw!!!

Sailing Director Captain Luke Knuttel called me around 20:00 (8 pm) and we met on the T-dock to discuss some potential hazards off the end of the dock.  Two vessels from the Florida Sea Base Coral Reef Sailing program were in the harbor, outside the marina.  One was trying (unsuccessfully) to set an 80 pound storm anchor.  The other was tied to a very shaky post; a very precarious spot to spend the night in a blow from the west or north.  The third hazard was a 30′ Hunter.  Captain Luke talked to the person onboard and suggested he move to better holding ground for the night.  The guy said he had chartered the boat in Miami and his contract prohibited him running after dark.  The boat was equipped with very minimal ground tackle.  The biggest worry for the little Hunter and the boat tied to the post is that if either lost their moorage, they would drift into the primary high power lines that run the length of the Keys.

Those of us at the dock had much less to worry about.  But with 30 knots of wind slamming into the side of the boats the night was bumpy and sleep was evasive.

Now that the front has passed, the temperatures have dropped.  The unofficial outside temperature from the incredibility reliable $50 weather station aboard S/V Escape is 66° this morning.  The wind is from the N at 25 to 30 knots.  North is better than west, but we are still living in a thrill ride at the dock.

Today’s forecasted high is in the low 70s.  The wind should start dropping very soon; maybe to less than 20 knots by breakfast.  But the forecast suggests the wind will remain in the 15 knot range, clocking from north to east throughout today, tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night.


This forecast is a little breezy for the sailors, but tolerable; it is on the cusp of too much for the divers.  One of my chores will be to make a call regarding this week’s night divers for the Scuba Adventure participants.  We are going to be right on the line of go/no go if the forecast is accurate.  If the conditions stay as forecasted we will try going tonight.  If the wind drops a little or stays more north than east it will help.  If the wind does clock to east and intensifies to 20 knots I will probably have to call the dive.

I learned a lot of life lessons on my trail to Eagle as a kid.  I can remember (MANY times) as a Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader being told “safety first” as my best Scouting friend, Stuart Mocilnikar and I planned activities at campouts, camporees and jamborees.  (That was about 50 years ago.  They say your long term memory goes last.)  Safety first – those two words can be a monumental burden and, over time, they can weigh you down and crush you.  We certainly want to have fun.  We push the limits of safety in the name of High Adventure.  But there is a line, and for all of you that have to make the call, I feel your pain.

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


2 Responses to “WILD RIDE”

  1. Tim Gaffron says:

    Yes, Safety First! Seems to be a concept that makes some of us the bad guy at times… but my insurance agent appreciates it as I have a $1 Million liability policy through him that he would rather I not have to take advantage of.
    I had to cancel a Crew ski trip last month due to icy roads, and I had pressure from both sides. Not fun.
    While many people think Scout Leaders are immune from liability, I do not want to take any chances on hurting, or worse, somebody’s kid by making a bad decision, so I always err on the side of caution.
    Follow your gut instincts. If there is any question, re-evaluate more closely… and sleep better at night.

    Disappointment never killed anybody!


  2. Rich says:

    Sounds like captain Dennis dugas is back.

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