Posts Tagged ‘captains’

Good evening from the Florida Sea Base.  I’m usually saying, “good morning” but, as mentioned a couple of days ago, I am trying to shift my schedule to make these posts in the evenings.  If you are reading this with your morning coffee on Saturday, bear in mind that it was written on Friday.  I am trying to avoid terms like “today”, “tomorrow” and “yesterday”.  If I use those terms, just look at the date on the post to make sense of my time references.  (This is probably more confusing to me than to you.)

As the news coverage of the misery, loss of property and loss of lives caused by Hurricane Isaac continues, my whining of preparations and recovery from Tropical Storm Isaac are almost embarrassing.  While the toll from Hurricane Isaac will likely continue for another day or so, the good news is the potential drought relief the system may bring to much of the mid-west.  Please keep the survivors of this catastrophe in your prayers.  It could have been us, and next time it might be.

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The weather is very seasonable at the Florida Sea Base with highs in the low 90s, lows in the low 80s, mild to moderate breezes and a 20-30% chance of rain every day which usually amounts to a little 20 minute shower somewhere nearby.

Several more staff members departed Friday and a few more depart Saturday.  The captains are busy as well.  Captain Lou (Louise) of S/V Blue Planet was working feverishly Thursday to assemble a new roller furler to install as a staysail.  She is leaving the boat here but departing for a little while.  She flew back from California to get Blue Planet off the dock for Tropical Storm Isaac.  Captain “Joe” (Giuseppe) is scheduled to arrive today (oops, I mean Friday) with his lovely wife, Rose, to take S/V Rosso di Sera, back home to the west coast of Florida for the remainder of the off-season.    Captains Mike and Kelly have been working on S/V Endeavour and S/V Silent Harmony to prepare them for the return to Captain Giuseppe’s home dock.  (After delivering Rosso, Captain Giuseppe will return for the other two boats.)  Captain Harman has been working hard on S/V Dutch Love.  He is considering making the voyage from the Florida Sea Base to the Honduran island of Roatan on more time.

The staff worked on cleaning up the scuba area, pulling carpet out of the Thomas Building and stripping the Galley.  Captain Rich Beliveau took the day off.  I worked with the staff in the scuba area, placed a $49,000 with Aqua Lung for 2013 scuba gear, and worked on general emails and Divemaster Academy files.  I also cleaned the cockpit up on Escape and moved my personal scuba gear to a more accessible location in the scuba lockers.  I am going to TRY to sleep in a little tomorrow (I mean Saturday); we’ll see how that works out.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713
Aboard S/V Escape 



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Spring has sprung at the Florida Sea Base.  Here is our line-up for the weekend:


* One Sea Exploring crew for S/V Calypso Gypsy with Captain Lance and crew.


* One Scuba Liveaboard crew for Schooner Conch Pearl with Captains Denny and Holley, Scuba Instructor Dave Ball and Divemaster Mike Roesel.
* Coral Reef Sailing crews for  S/V Silent Harmony with Captain Guiseppe and S/V Silver Crow with Captain George.
* One Sea Exploring crew for Schooner Yankee with Captain John and crew.


*Six Coral Reef Sailing crews for S/V Excalibur with Captain Michele, S/V Misty Shoals with Captain Bryan, S/V Chanticleer with Captain Scott, S/V Spindrift with Captain Joe, S/V Midnight Dragon with Captain Jim, and S/V Lady Nell with Captain Luke.
*One Sea Exploring crew for Schooner Jolly II Rover.  [I apologize but the captain is not listed on the schedule.  I’ll ask Captain Rich the next time I see him.]
*Five Scuba Adventure crews with Scuba Instructors Richard Goldman and Meghann Michalski and Divemasters Scott Patton, Mark Whitson, Ed Miller, and Steven Raymond and co-captains Dennis Wyatt and Christy Clemenson aboard BSA Centennial Eagle, and Scott Costa and Zac Woodmancy aboard BSA Adventure.

Addie Summer handled the check-in desk yesterday while Dr. Ellen enjoyed a day off.

Just a reminder, if you are looking for a spring/summer job, check out yesterday’s post.

The wind should be decent today but building back to 20 knots tonight and for the next several days.  We have a chance of rain tomorrow and Monday.  Highs should be near 83 and lows near 72 for the next several days.

Have a great weekend.

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



We had a 40-50% chance of rain yesterday.  There were some light scattered showers on the mainland and a decent line of showers over the Gulf Stream but no precipitation at the Florida Sea Base.

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Richard Goldman was in the pool from about 0900 to about 1630 (4:30 pm) working with staff members working on their PADI Open Water Diver certification course.  Richard allowed me to help a little with out-of-the-pool issues like swim checks, issuing gear, and running a few errands.  He is determined to carry the burden of this offering.  He was kind enough to join me for dinner across the highway at Habanos Oceanfront Dining.

The dredger showed up for 2 or 3 hours yesterday and then bugged out.  Some people just can’t grasp our urgency.  If Captain Rich Beliveau and I were assigned the task we would be out there 24 hours a day getting it done.  I wonder if we can talk the guy into teaching us how to use the equipment?  The local contractors have  captive audience.  Frequently, they are the only act in town.

Captain Rich Beliveau and Captain Bruce Payette worked on their boats yesterday.  In the late afternoon I think I saw Captain Tom Gaunt arrive aboard S/V Juan Caldiz.  If so, welcome home Captain Tom!

Enjoy your Sunday.  The Pro Bowl is on today.  Im not sure it qualifies as a real football game.  I doubt that I will make time to watch it.

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

Last night was the first of two dinners held annually to show the appreciation of the Florida Sea Base for our charter captains.  There’s so much that could be said about each individual captain that it would likely make a book.  “Thank you” is not enough.  But most of the captains are doing what they want, living the dream, so to speak.  They know there would be no Sea Base without them.

The Atlantic/Caribbean basin is busy with Tropical Storm Harvey, Invest 97, Invest 98 and Invest 99.  Invest 97 is the one of most concern to us at this point.

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The local weather is as forecasted.  The 40% – 50% chance of rain has been a reality.  This is holding our temperatures in the 80s.  The jellyfish invasion is still with us.  It was interesting listening to the captains discussing whether the numbers are decreasing or holding steady.  I think most of the captains that I heard felt the situation was gradually improving.

That’s all I have time for this morning.  I have to be at Flakeys by 0730 for day 2 of my second Instructor Development Course audit.  Stay safe.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape 

Shortly before 1700 EDT yesterday, Invest 90L was upgraded to Tropical Storm Don.  The good news is T/S Don poses no threat to the Florida Sea Base and, at this time, is expected to primarily a rain event when it makes landfall in South Texas/Northern Mexico.

Yesterday's initial posting of T/S Don.

Today's 0500 update.

The ocean conditions were too much for the Scuba Certification crew to conduct their open water training dives.  The Scuba Adventure crews (who were on much larger boats) were able to get in their scheduled dives.  We will do what we can to get the Scuba Certification crew caught up over the next two days.

The sailing programs continued per usual.  The captains have done an incredible job this summer insuring that our participants are safe and having a great time.  Sitting at anchor with a 50″ metal rod overhead during a lightning storm can be intense.  The captains have to keep the participants safe and calm.  We have over 40 captains serving an independent charterers to the Florida Sea Base.  Steering that ship is Program Director Captain Richard T. Beliveau.  He is a super-hero.

Captain Holley sent me this photo from the Scuba Liveaboard vessel Schooner Conch Pearl.  Great catch on the opening day of lobster season!!!

Scuba Instructor Megan Ware front row center.  Dive Boat Mate Spencer Olson top left.

According to the National Weather Service, our winds are expected to remain fresh and generally out of the east for the next few days.

Today…East to southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Tonight Through Saturday…East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Sunday…East to southeast winds near 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Monday…East to southeast winds near 10 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

It will be a challenging day for the divers.  It’s all about attitude; if the dive staff and captains keep a positive attitude it will be a great day.  So here we go!

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape

Welcome to the first day of spring 2011!

Yesterday started off a little rough; several staff members overslept.  So I reminded them of my policy – I will wake them up ONCE.  The second time I have to wake them up they will be unemployed and off the premises by noon.  Simple yet effective.

Also during the morning meeting I was informed by Megan Ware that a (barely) adult participant in her crew was very ill.  I took him to Mariners Hospital ER in Tavernier, but they did not have a doctor with the right specialization to treat him so they transferred him to Homestead Hospital on the mainland.  I visited him just before dinner and he was doing much better.  He is scheduled to fly home tomorrow if the doctor releases him from the hospital early enough.  His condition was NOT scuba related.

In the good news department, Capt. Dennis Dugas (S/V Wandering Star) and Capt. Harman Harkema (S/V Dutch Love) have returned o the Florida Sea Base, safe and sound, to join the spring fleet.  It’s good to have both of them back.  They provide exceptional adventures for their crews.  Laura Kuras is getting the hang of the Scuba Commissioner position.  She has almost completed the daily schedules for the remainder of the spring scuba crews.  The newbies on the scuba staff (James Funnell, Jess Arms, Mike Roesel and Justin Cardiff) have caught on quickly and are doing great.  The old timers have been good role models.  Jack Moorman has been doing a great job for Capt. Rich as part of the sailing staff.  But he has decided he would rather work on the scuba staff for the summer so he is working with PADI Scuba Instructor Kyle “Tex” Beighle (who has also been working on the sailing staff this spring) to complete his PADI Rescue Diver certification before the end of spring so he can transfer over as a Dive Boat Mate.

The weather is great; we have cooled down about 2 degrees.  The wind is a little strong, but is going to lay down sooner than previously forecasted.

Capt. Rich is taking the day off.  He certainly deserves it.  It’s time for me to beat feet to the morning meeting.  Hopefully everyone is awake, alert and enthusiastic this morning.  (Insert smiley face with devilish grin here!)

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

When your Troop, Crew, Post or Ship registers for a High Adventure program at the Florida Sea Base they are issued a “crew number”.  I realize that using the term “crew” can be confused with a Venture “Crew”, but it was decided long before my time that, in keeping with a nautical theme, the participants would be called crew members.  As a matter of fact, it is possible that the Florida Sea Base (1974 at it’s inception on 1980 at our current facility) was using the term “crew” prior to its use by the Venturing Division of the BSA (reorganized in 1998).  For those of us who are professional mariners, the term can be even more confusing because we consider “crew” to be professional mariners below the rank of Captain who are working on a vessel.  (In 1980 the USCG did not require the use of licensed captains and crew member on they types of boats we were using so “crew” was not as confusing.  The law requiring the use of licensed captains on small passenger vessels went into effect in 1993.)

Regardless, upon registration you become a crew and are issued a crew number.  It is critical that you include your FSB crew number on any correspondence including medical forms, rosters, waivers, emails and even when making phone calls to the Florida Sea Base.  People call or email and identify themselves as John Doe from Troop XXXX in Anytown, USA.  Unfortunately that does not mean much to most of us working here.  The FSB crew number tells us volumes.  All correspondence is filed by FSB crew number.  Very few people on our staff have access to the reservation system so we have no way of looking up your name or unit number to cross reference is to an FSB crew number.

What does the FSB crew number tell us?  Here’s the breakdown.

The first 2 alpha characters designate your adventure.  (CR = Coral Reef Sailing, SE = Sea Exploring, SA = Scuba Adventure, SC = Scuba Certification, SL = Scuba Liveaboard, EA = Eco Adventure, FA = Fishing Adventure, OI = Out Island, KA = Keys Adventure, BA = Bahamas Adventure, etc.)

The next one or two alpha characters represent the day of the week you will arrive.  (S = Saturday,  SU = Sunday, M = Monday, T = Tuesday, W = Wednesday, TH = Thursday, and F = Friday.)

These alpha characters are followed by 6 digits that are the date your crew is scheduled to arrive at the Florida Sea Base.  (051511 = May 15, 2011).

The last 1 or more alpha characters designate whether you are a single or multiple crew.  (A single alpha character means you are a single crew, two alpha characters mean you are a double crew, three alpha characters = triple crew, etc.)

SEW023011A would be a single Sea Exploring crew arriving on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.  SASU027011CD would be a double Scuba Adventure crew arriving on Sunday, February 27, 2011.  CRM028011ABC would be a triple Coral Reef Sailing crew arriving on Monday, February 28, 2011.

When you call or email with questions, knowing your crew number expedites your call being routed to the person who can best answer those questions.  You will get the best answer without being routed through six different people.  Plus we will know when you are arriving and sometimes there are minor program differences depending on what season you are attending.  Including your crew number with emails, paperwork of any sort, or even during phone conversations allows us to file that information for future reference.

Despite the passage of a cold front, our weather is holding nicely; sunny, 80 degrees, mild breezes.

Our staff did an amazing job of handling another onslaught of Coral Reef Sailing crews yesterday (6 arriving crews).  I failed to mention that a few captains and boats have snuck in during the past two or three days.  Capt. Ted Bezanis (S/V Island Woman), Capt. Jim Disser (S/V Midnight Dragon) and Capt. “Hammer” Kinnard (S/V Jewel of Athena) received crews yesterday.

Today starts the mid-week return of the first round of vessels (S/V Silent Harmony with Capt. Giuseppe Passanisi and S/V Silver Crow with Capt. George Clements).  While the boats are off loading trash, pumping out holding tanks, taking on water and possibly refueling, the participants will be sailing small boats, kayaking, tubing and having a volleyball tournament.  These days are very busy but also a lot of fun for the sailing staff.

Gotta go.  Please read the very brief post below this one regarding Joe Schreiner.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday I mention that my boss, Rob Kolb, had told me the day before that he thought “we” should attend a presentation by Dan Orr at the History of Diving Museum.  Late yesterday afternoon I received confirmation from Rob that “we” means “me”.  So I went to the meeting.  It was very informative and entertaining plus I got to say hello to Mr. Orr, President of DAN, his wife, Betty, and Debra Illes, Museum Director.

Our weather was perfect yesterday and should be just a little warmer today.  It is spring break time in the Florida Keys.  But fear not.  Just like the rest of the US, we still have a significant chance for several more days of wintry weather.  For now, the forecast calls for 80 degrees every day for the next week.  We’ll take it!!!

Today is our monthly Florida Sea Base Team Meeting.  This gathering is for all of the full time staff members (currently 12) to discuss budget, staffing, current challenges, staffing, and status reports from each department.  My single biggest challenge at this time is I need more Scuba Instructors for summer.  I have plenty of Divemaster applicants, but part time Scuba Instructors are more challenging to come by.  Additionally, I plan to discuss maintenance items that need to be completed before summer in the scuba area and get a progress report on the new pool project.

I have heard a lot on the news about the significant number of snow days taken by many schools this winter.  I haven’t heard anything from our registrar yet, but I am a little concerned that we may have some spring and early summer cancellations due to possible make-up days.  I heard one report of a school district that is considering staying in session until 04 July.  Another is going to have school Monday through Saturday until they get caught up.  On the Weather Channel, one school administrator said her district was doing okay with the snow days but all future storms could only happen on weekends or they would find themselves in a bind.

Our Coral Reef Sailing crew returned to the Florida Sea Base yesterday afternoon.  They had been aboard S/V Spindrift for the week with Capt. Joe Wischmeier.  They will be headed home this morning.  Capt. Giuseppe Passanisi (S/V Silent Harmony) and Capt. George Clements (S/V Silver Crow) arrived at the Florida Sea Base dock yesterday in preparation for the onslaught of sailing crews arriving this weekend.  Capt. Tom Gaunt (S/V Juan Cadiz) was also on the dock this afternoon.  Since I have been out of town, I am not sure if Capt. Tom arrived today or has maybe been here for a day or two.  I also saw Capt. Frank Papy on the dock today.  Capt. Frank is a long time Florida Sea Base captain and a legend in the Florida Keys.  He is the author of Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys.

I have to get to the 07:30 staff meeting and then the 09:00 Team Meeting.  What would we do without meetings?

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

As I mentioned Thursday, the most powerful committee of the BSA, the Health and Safety Committee is currently in session at the Florida Sea Base.  I was involved in a short meeting yesterday afternoon with the Committee Chair, Bill Hurst, the Committee Director, Richard Bourlon and the Aquatics Task Force Chair, Pat Noak, to discuss a few scuba related issues.  The significant issue was confirmation of a minor change to the BSA Scuba Policy dealing with asthma.  The BSA Guide to Safe Scouting (online version) will be updated VERY soon.  This is not an exact quote of the revised policy but it boils down to this.  (1) Persons with active asthma who are using medications to control the asthma are disqualified from BSA scuba activities regardless of the level of control or being granted “clearance” from their local doctor.  (2) Persons who have a past history of asthma who can obtain documentation from their doctor that they have been asymptomatic AND have not used medications to control asthma for at least 5 years will be cleared upon receipt of proper documentation.  (3) Persons with a past history of asthma who have not been asymptomatic or who have used medications to control asthma in the past five years can take a Methacholine Challenge Test, the results of which must show the asthma is “resolved” or that the test was “negative” and not indicative of asthma or reactive airway disease.  The MCT is the ONLY test the BSA (including the Florida Sea Base) can accept.  Spirometry tests or other PFTs cannot be accepted.  There is no exception.  If you fall within the group that has to be tested, it must be the Methacholine Challenge Test.

Capt. Rich conducted staff training with the spring sailing staff yesterday.  Captains Steve Harrison and Dutch Vanderlaan assisted with small boat sailing training.  I mostly hung out the Health and Safety Committee folks.  Paul Beal was off base for the day and Rob Kolb was at the Brinton Environmental Center much of the day.

The weather in Dallas took a very disappointing turn yesterday and may cause major issues with tomorrow’s Super Bowl.  Our weather was pretty tolerable: sunny, 85º, and a good sailing breeze (10 – 15 knots).

Capt. Brian Stolzenberger and his lovely wife, Brenda, were on the dock yesterday making preparations for the spring Coral Reef Sailing season.  Capt. Brian and Admiral Brenda own Misty Shoals and Sudden Impact (unless he changed the name). Capt. Ted Bezanis of Island Woman was also around.  They all report being happy and healthy.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

I have some actual news about happenings at the Florida Sea Base today.  I know, it’s been awhile.  Anyway, here goes.

The University of Miami shark research group was back at the base this weekend.  They caught, tagged, recorded and released 11 sharks on Saturday. Capt. Carol was at the helm for the weekend.  Capt. Bruce Payette visited Sea Base on Sunday.  Capt. Bruce has been a Coral Reef Sailing captain for the last few years.  The sad news is his dad passed away about three or four weeks ago.  The good news is Capt. Bruce seems to be fully recovered from his former illness, has put some weight on, is rested and looking forward.  Capt. Bruce is on the Coral Reef Sailing part of the BSA National High Adventure DVD.  I also heard from PADI Course Director. Capt. Bert Hubby.  Capt. Bert has been in Dallas for a few weeks and said he’s going to extend his stay.  The bad news for us is I had him scheduled to lead the Rescue Scenario for the Divemaster Academy. Capt. Dave Muenzell (S/V New Horizon) is making final preparations to sail to the Bahamas for a few months.

I had a busy day yesterday.  I changed the oil in my truck, filled the fresh water tank on Escape, cooked, cleaned, washed dishes, replaced the light in the fridge (I think I left it on while I was gone), reinstalled the dodger, watched a little football, made a monster DO LIST for today and did a few other piddly things.  Today should be VERY busy for me.  Plus, it’s going to be a short work week.  I will spend Thursday and Friday in Miami for a small surgical procedure.

The wind clocked to the west and picked up a fair amount yesterday.  We maxed out at 74 degrees.  Today’s forecasted high is 68 with the wind shifting to the north.  According to the thermometers on Escape, the outside temperature was 59, the salon was 70 and the aft cabin was 68 at 06:30 – warmer than forecasted.  But the wind in howling and it is definitely going to feel cold topside this morning.

Stay warm.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape