The chief complaint from the Florida Sea Base Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification participants has been that they wanted to do more dives and did not want to spend a non-diving day wandering around Key West. While this complaint was not unanimous, it was frequent and strong. Crews were sent to sightsee in Key West for one day of their program simply because the Florida Sea Base did not own enough vessels to be able to have every crew on the water every day. [When I started working at the Florida Sea Base as a Scuba Instructor in 2000, the crews actually spent two days per week off base; one day in Key West and one day at a third party dive shop. After I became the Program Director for scuba we were able to add enough boats to only require one day off base which translated into a savings of $50,000 per year.] Now that has changed. I mentioned in the 07 December 2009 post that program changes might be made in 2010 for the Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification programs. The changes are being made to allow more diving. This will be accomplished by phasing out the non-diving day that was formerly spent in Key West.
The change will be implemented for the Scuba Certification crews starting in February 2010. In the past, the Scuba Certification crews spent the first three days in the classroom and pool. Day four was spent on the ocean completing Open Water Training Dives 1 and 2. Day five was spent on the ocean completing Open Water Training Dives 3 and 4 (which completed the certification requirements). Day six was spent sight seeing in Key West. The morning of day seven allowed one “fun dive” (non-training dive) and the afternoon was dedicated to completing paperwork, cleaning and checking in scuba gear and preparing for the luau. Day eight was the departure day. The schedule will remain the same EXCEPT instead of going to Key West on day six, the crew will be on the ocean getting in two more “fun dives”. So the Scuba Certification crews will now complete their classroom sessions, pool training dives, 4 Open Water Training Dives and three “fun dives”. This increases the total number of dives from five to seven.
Beginning in May 2010, the Scuba Adventure crews will also have two more dives replacing the former trip to Key West. The Scuba Adventure program currently strives for 9 dives (weather permitting) including one night dive plus one non-diving day sight seeing in Key West. Effective May 2010 Scuba Adventure crews will not have to miss a day of diving. They will now complete 11 dives (weather permitting) including a night dive.
These changes were made possible by the addition of a third Newton 46 Dive Special boat to our fleet. This is a $300,000 custom built dive boat and will be delivered to the Florida Sea Base in April 2010. The purchase was made possible by donations from several of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee members.
We are very excited to be able to add two dives (weather permitting) to the schedule for all of our Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification crews. Obviously this is a very expensive improvement in program. Not only does it require the expense of another vessel, but more Divemasters, Captains and Dive Boats Mates have to be hired. This change keeps the program on base instead of driving the participants 74 miles each way to visit Key West.
Some crews enjoyed visiting Key West and that is still a possibility BEFORE or AFTER your Florida Sea Base adventure. The adult leader will need to make arrangements for the crew’s travel and housing in Key West and include this side trip in their National Tour Permit application.