Posts Tagged ‘deepwater’

We were expecting sunshine and warmer temperatures yesterday at the Florida Sea Base.  What we got was heavy overcast and temperatures in the high 60s.  Tomorrow will be better with a high of 75, maybe even a little higher.  It has been very nice with the air conditioning turned off for a few days.

Today was pretty routine until about 12:30.  Capt. Bert Hubby called me from the Florida Keys Dive Center.  I don’t know the details, but they were a staff member short for their afternoon scuba trip.  So I volunteered Laura Kuras who got there as fast as she could and I covered her afternoon assignment.

Capt. Rich is working very hard on staffing for the Christmas season.  He recently had two or three folks that he was counting on withdraw.  I think he’s in decent shape, but if you are an experienced FSB staff member and want to work Christmas season, call Capt. Rich today or tomorrow at 305-394-0365.  Starting Thursday he will be gone for a couple of weeks.

As with other island nations effected by Tomas, the damage and fatality reports from Haiti continue to grow following the passage of Tomas.  Haiti is now reporting 20 fatalities related to Tomas.

Congress is still holding hearings regarding the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.  A statement was made yesterday that they have (so far) found no evidence of any conscious decisions to put monetary savings before safety.  That’s amazing; I just heard the little 10 second bleep.  What I heard was that the investigators for the US Congress cannot find any evidence that any of the companies operating in conjunction with the Deepwater Horizon oil platform ever decided to take a safety risk to save a few bucks.  Really?  Either the companies are SAINTS or the investigators are incompetent.  I can believe that there were small safety cuts that may or may not have contributed to the blow-out.  But NONE period is simply amazing.  I wonder if any of the investigators interviewed any of the surviving workers on that rig.  I have a suspicion that they have a few stories to tell of safety concerns ignored or implemented to save money.  But obviously I am mistaken. Click on this link for more information.

The consensus seems to be that the 2010 hurricane season is over.  It’s amazing that we had such an incredibly active hurricane season with no US landfalls.  I honestly felt we would see a major hurricane in the Keys this year.  I am VERY glad that I was wrong.

Thnks for reading.  I hope you have a good day.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Several of the full-time staff of the Florida Sea Base met yesterday to set attendance projections for 2011.  Our final figures show 2011 being a record season.  In 2012 we may hit the absolute maximum number of participants that we can serve in a year – around 12,000.

Th remnants of T/S Colin may reform and threaten Bermuda and possibly Canada but should pose no threat to the Florida Sea Base.  A tropical wave, Invest 92L, in the southern most part of the Caribbean may also develop but is forecasted to make landfall in Nicaragua before it can intensify very much.  Our weather is still doing great with a few spotty showers here and there.  Some small but heavy cells are between the Florida Sea Base and Miami this morning.

The “static kill” efforts at the Deepwater Horizon site seem to be working.  It’s not over yet, so keep these efforts in your prayers.

Tonight is the first of the appreciation dinners for our charter captains.  The festivities will begin on base at about 17:30 when Capt. Rich hosts an annual debriefing of sorts; an opportunity for the captains to give us feedback on their opinion of how the year went, how we can improve, what they liked and what they didn’t like.  Then the group will relocate to the Islamorada Fishing Club (not to be confused with the Islamorada Fish Company) for a nice dinner.  The IFC is open to members and there guests. They have very good food, rather high prices and sometimes slow service.  We frequently use this venue for special occasions like the Tarpon Tournament dinners and some full time staff functions.

Capt. Denny Webb and Capt. Holley Whitley, owner/operators of the Schooner Conch Pearl, have graciously offered to take any of our available staff for a dive on the USS Vandenberg on 22 August.  The Conch Pearl operates in our Scuba Liveaboard program.  Check out their website.

Today is Thursday and I expect to be in the office and around the base all day.  I am scheduled to have a brief coaching session with one of our seasonal staff members this morning.  It’s nothing serious, just an opportunity for improvement.  The staff is still doing a great job.  I think Dominic Alesandrini returns from the National Jamboree today.  It will be great to have him back. Steve Martin, father of Capt. Scott Martin who is the Program Director at the Brinton Environmental Center, is on his way back from Jambo with the 26′ Dusky powerboat that was the centerpiece of our display.  I want to thank Mr. Ralph Brown, owner of Dusky Marine in Dania Beach, Florida, for loaning the boat to us.  We didn’t have any spares to pull out of service for Jambo so he was kind enough to loan us one.

I hope you have a great day.

Capt, Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

IF the forecast holds, the Florida Sea Base will not be effected by what was Tropical Storm Colin.  At 20:05 EDT Tuesday the storm was downgraded by the National Hurricane Center to “a trough of low pressure”.   The system is still forecasted to track east of the Bahamas and will be monitored for potential redevelopment.  As of 02:05 EDT there were three tropical waves in the Atlantic and Caribbean.  One of these bears watching but will pose no threat for at least several days.  Our local weather remains to be very good.  We do have a few spotty showers creeping into the area, but nothing of significance.  We had a 10 minute shower yesterday morning during breakfast.

The “static kill” operation at the Deepwater Horizon site started at 16:00 Tuesday.  From what I am reading, there does not appear to be a “Plan B” if this fails.  The site is blessed with decent weather.  Let us pray that this maneuver is successful.

Simply because it continues to be an issue with arriving crews, I want to remind everyone that Coral Reef Sailing, Scuba Adventure, Scuba Certification, Scuba Liveaboard, Out Island, and Keys Fishing Adventure do NOT spend a day in Key West as part of their Florida Sea Base adventure.  If you are registered for one of those programs and want to go to Key West, you will need to come a day early or stay a day late and make your own arrangements for visiting Key West.

I was permitted to drive BSA Explorer yesterday with three crews on board for their final dive at the Florida Sea Base.  I want to thank Mike Patten for being my First Mate for the trip.  The divemasters on the boat included Christy Clemenson, Brittany Haury, Paul Lipsky and Kevin Wilson.  Kevin just arrived last night to fill in for Meghann Michalski who is bailing out on us early this summer.  We went to a spur and groove reef formation named Three Peaks.  The divers attained a maximum depth of 50 – 55 feet and stayed down for about 40 minutes.  The water temperature was 86º and the visibility was 70+ feet.

Also in scuba related news, I would like to congratulate Meghann Michalski and Christy Clemenson for recently receiving the Master Scuba Diver Trainer certification from PADI.  MSDT is the second level within the PADI instructor hierarchy.  If Christy’s parents are reading this, I think it is my duty to let you know she is considering legally changing her name from Clemenson to Awesome.  James Bond introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond”.  Christy wants to be able to say, “I’m Awesome, Christy Awesome”.  She explained to me that she feels it is only fair to warn others of her “awesomeness”.

Today is another scuba arrival day (only three more after today).  We are hoping for an uneventful check-in, but little glitches do tend to present themselves.  Ellen will be prepared.  She is our official “first impression” of the Florida Sea Base.  She greets all of the arriving crews with enthusiasm and she is very good at resolving most of their check-in issues.  I usually get the call when their is a major issue.  (I’m the bad guy.)

I will miss the early part of the check-ins.  The full time staff is meeting this afternoon to set our assumption for attendance for the 2011 programs.  This in turn controls our budget assumptions and limitations.  The Florida Sea Base is essentially self sustaining.  We do get donations from time to time.  But almost all of our income is from campers’ fees.  There is no “subsidy” from the National Council or elsewhere.

Here we go again.  It’s opening day at the Florida Sea Base for about 100 newly arriving participants.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The weather is still very warm at the Florida Sea Base.  We have an increased chance for some rain today (40%) but if we get any rain at all it is likely to be spotty.  Tropical Storm Colin is working its way slowly to the northwest and we will continue to monitor it.  The “Ship’s Intensity Model” is predicting the winds will top out near 68 mph three to four days from now.  The National Hurricane Center is predicting a 20% chance of Colin becoming a Category 1 Hurricane on Saturday.

T/S Colin - Weather Underground

I’m glad that it is not headed to the Gulf of Mexico and I hope BP can take advantage of this good fortune and get the Deepwater Horizon well shut down before the next storm.

Yesterday was a good day here.  The skies were a little overcast at times but we missed the rain.  It was warm but nothing like back home in Texas.  Speaking from personal experience, when the weather is 104+ back home it’s like being in a dry sauna.  You literally breathe the hot air into your lungs.  The highs are forecasted to be at 100+ for the next week.  I remember when I used to bail and haul hay for a living at this time of year.  Brutal.

I get to drive one of the dive boats this morning.  I will be back before noon.  As long as we are able to dodge the rain, we should have flat seas and great visibility.  The water temperature is 86º F.  That’s great for the divers and snorkelers but it is hard on the coral reefs.  The corals are very temperature sensitive.  This winter’s record setting cold water temperatures (as low as 60º F at Molasses Reef) and now very high temperatures is making life very difficult for the corals.

I have been interviewing applicants for the fall staff.  I can only hire two people and I have several EXCELLENT applicants.  This is going to be a tough decision and I may have to borrow Meghann Michalski’s basket of ping-pong balls to resolve this.  [That may warrant a brief explanation.  We have 200+ Scouts at the morning and evening flag ceremony.  When the crews are dismissed from flags they go directly to the Galley for breakfast or dinner.  To help stagger the dismissal and better control the stampede for the food line, Meghann labeled ping-pong balls with the FSB staff members’ names.  When a ping-pong ball is drawn, that staff member’s crew is dismissed from flags.]  I would consider using a dart board, but I don’t have one.  (Because I’m afraid I would wind up throwing the darts at the staff members when they stand in my doorway and ask me questions that 18+ year old human beings should be able to answer for themselves.)  Do any of you parents remember “lawn darts”?  They were gigantic metal darts that you threw into the air and tried to make them land inside a hula-hoop.  Over time, the game evolved so that the objective became how close you could stick the dart to your best friend.  Then I guess some kid got impaled and then the lawn darts were recalled.  What a shame.  I miss lawn darts.  (From hiring staff to lawn darts.  If there are any mental health professionals reading this they will likely be concerned about that progression.  But its just the way my mind works.)

The BSA Explorer is calling me.  Be careful out there.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Saturday was quiet at the Florida Sea Base.  The weather was perfect (a little too warm for those who must have some point of contention).  The staff did their usual great work.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt, Dan Mikalian and Ellen Wyatt drove BSA Tarpon to Marathon so it could be hauled out to have the engine oil and lower unit oil changed.  Capt. Alex Bergstedt assisted.

Capt. Alex Bergstedt and Gwynne Carpenter were able to plug into the live video of the opening ceremonies at the National Jamboree so interested participants and staff could watch.  I appreciate their efforts.

I slept in a bit, made a nice breakfast and in the afternoon I saw “Dinner for Schmucks”.  It was pretty funny and I would recommend it if you like mindless movies.  It did have a moral, but the one liners made the movie.  The plot was very predictable.  This is my kind of movie.  I don’t need to pay for a movie to be made sad, or mad or taught a lesson.  I just want to be entertained for a while, laugh out loud, and leave with nothing more than maybe a little indigestion from the popcorn.

I’m still keeping an eye on the tropics.  We’re okay for now.  The system in the far Atlantic has been officially labeled Invest 91 (a.k.a. Invest 91L or 91L).  It is too far out (about 3,000 nm) to make any reasonable projections but it definitely warrants our attention.  I am beginning to be more concerned about September, October and November.  Those are the months that I usually travel for training and to see family.  It is very difficult to just tie up the boat and leave it behind when SERIOUS weather is threatening.  My mom, sister, granddaughter and I all have birthdays the third week of September so I always try hard to be home then.  I hope I can make it this year.

Back to the present – all is well.  The New York Times has an article regarding the Deepwater Horizon situation.  I hope they get it permanently secured very soon.  And I hope the government, politicians, news media and public see this situation through to the end.  I worry that our A.D.D. society will leave this behind in search of a new shiny object.  The lingering oil and chemical agents will need attention for a long time to come.

Sundays and Wednesdays are big scuba arrival days.  We will have our usual 07:30 staff meeting followed by flags and breakfast.  The remainder of the morning schedule pauses for about a half hour for Sunday chapel services and then it’s back to the regular routine.  A Scout is reverent.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

It is budget time at the Florida Sea Base.  I have been piddling with it for a week or two.  It’s time to start getting serious.  On 04 August several of the full time staff will meet to “forecast” how many participants will attend the Florida Sea Base in 2011.  Those numbers then set our budget in motion.  While we do receive donations on occasion, we are self-sufficient and do not receive any subsidies from the National Office or anywhere else.  It is difficult to focus in the office.  You need to be focused when preparing the budget.  You need to have ADHD on steroids when working in the office.  The “issues” brought into the office in person, by phone and via email change every few minutes, sometimes every few seconds.  So I will likely bring the work onto the boat and work on it in seclusion as much as I can.

The staff members are doing great.  Our Dockmaster, Dominic Alesandrini, has left to represent the Florida Sea Base at the National Jamboree.  Hurry back Dom.  We miss you already.   One of our recurring spring time Scuba Instructors, Dave Ball, is also there.  I will include additional names of current and former FSB staff who are at the Jambo as I learn about them.  John Livres, a 2007 and 2008 staff member sent me an email saying he is working with outside contractors.

Today’s NOAA forecast:

Today: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a high near 92. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Tonight: A slight chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 82. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

The UV is forecasted to be 14 out of a possible 16.  That means unprotected skin will start sunburning after 10 minutes of exposure.  Applying SPF 30+ sunscreen and drinking copious amounts of water will help prevent sunburn and dehydration.  Our heat index will reach 110º F today.

Time to get out of here.  Included in my prayers for today are the people dealing with the flooding in Iowa and the folks working on the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

I was gone for a couple of days and essentially had no news about the Florida Sea Base to report.  But I am back now so here’s the tiny bit we missed.

I would like to AGAIN remind the adult leaders that the Coral Reef Sailing, Scuba Certification, Scuba Adventure, Scuba Liveaboard, Out Island and Florida Fishing Adventure participants DO NOT go to Key West as part of their Florida Sea Base or Brinton Environmental Center program.  You are welcome to arrive in the Keys a day early or to stay a day after your program, but you cannot leave the FSB or BEC program to enjoy a day in Key West.  I am aware that there is outdated information in the Florida Sea Base Participant Guide and on the FSB website.  These are being corrected.  Regardless, it is important that you understand that Key West is NOT a part of the above listed adventures.

Other than that, there is little to report.  T/S Bonnie is long gone.  The wind is down and the temperature is up a little.  There is nothing in the tropics that is likely to develop over the next several days.  T/S Bonnie has also passed the Deepwater Horizon blowout location and the workers are returning to their posts.  Their is speculation that the well MAY be permanently shut down some time next week.  Let us pray.

That’s all I have for now (except a lot of catching up).

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning.  It’s 03:36 at the Florida Sea Base.  I got up to check the 02:00 weather update.  All is well here.  All of the sailboats are docked at Sea Base or in some other marina.  The scuba divers on base completed a night dive last night.  The divers on the Scuba Liveaboard Conch Pearl completed three or four day dives plus a night dive last night.  They are at dock on Stock Island.

Right now we are experiencing the calm before the storm.  There is almost no wind on the Florida Sea Base dock and it is not raining.  I can see the moon through the clouds to our southwest, maybe an hour and a half before it sets for the night.  I checked US and Cuban radars.  There is a large area of gentle rain over Andros Island, Bahamas, right now.  Not much else.  Maximum winds from T/S Bonnie are estimated in the 40 mph range.  The National Weather Service forecast for our area reads:

Today: Tropical storm conditions expected. Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 88. North wind 20 to 25 mph increasing to between 40 and 50 mph. Winds could gust as high as 60 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Tonight: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 80. Windy, with a south wind 15 to 25 mph becoming east. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

So we are expecting some rain and a few hours of fairly serious wind.  The winds should be back to normal by this evening.  We will do our best to entertain the kids on the base today and should be back to normal operations on Saturday.

All of the ships have been ordered off the Deepwater Horizon site until the storm makes landfall in Louisiana.  That will obviously stop the skimming and other oil recovery efforts.

2 a.m. update, 23 July

I have time to get 2 hours sleep before the 07:30 staff meeting.  I will post more details after the storm passes.

09:30 UPDATE – Miami and Fort Lauderdale are experiencing an hour or so of intense rain.  There is nothing more than a light drizzle and very mild winds here.

10:30 UPDATE – It looks like T/S Bonnie has missed us and has made landfall near Miami.  The buoys near Miami are reporting 45+ mph wind speeds.  The buoys in the Keys are reporting North winds at about 15 knots.  We are making plans now to get the sailors sailing and divers diving after lunch.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


Winded Out

in Staff  •  0 comments

We rarely get rained out at the Florida Sea Base, we get blown out by too much wind.  That’s what happened Friday; too much wind.  And weather that interferes with program is always a downer.  But I heard a story that shows there is the possibility of humor even when the chips are down.  I heard this third hand so I’m not sure about the accuracy, but it sounds about right to me.  Charles Harvey is one of our Divemasters who attended the 2009 Divemaster Academy.  Charles, Chuck, Chuckie (he seems to be going through an identity crisis right now) is doing an excellent job.  Apparently he was somewhat puzzled as he was nearing the surface at the end of a dive – it was SNOWING UNDER WATER.  Well, at least for a few seconds it SEEMED like snow.  Until Charles looked towards the surface and saw someone barfing scrambled eggs on top of him.  I know it’s gross.  But it’s true AND it’s funny.  Capt. Dennis needs to include this story in his next book.

Despite the wind, the Coral Reef Sailing boats made it safely on and off the dock throughout the day.  The small sailboats got to do their thing under mainsails only.  There was just TOO much wind for headsails.  The divers had a tough day.  There were long boat rides in search of good visibility and seas calm enough to allow for entries and egresses without endangering the divers.  The dive boat captains (Capt. Carl, Capt. Carol, Capt. Dennis and Capt. Tom) did an excellent job of keeping their divers safe and entertained.

Capt. Rich spent Friday afternoon in Key West visiting with Captains Skip and Deb Bradshaw from the Schooner Pirates Lady and I think he also met with Capt. Bill Malone, owner of the Schooner Jolly II Rover.  Sailing Commissioner Matt McClure and Scuba Commissioner Capt. Alex Bergstedt had the day off.

I comment on the weather almost daily.  If you click on the Weather page of this site it gives average monthly air and water temperatures and some other helpful information.  I recently added the Links page.  The page alignment is giving me a fit, but it still has some useful information.  (I will ask my computer wiz son to align the spacing one of these days.)

I am off this morning but thought I would get this posted as early as possible.  It’s going to be another tough day for the divers.  The wind is trying to lay down a little, but not enough to really help.  NOAA’s forecast:

Today…East winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy. Isolated showers.

Tonight…East winds 15 to 20 knots early…decreasing to near 15 knots late. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 6 feet…subsiding to 3 to 5 feet late. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters choppy…becoming a moderate chop. Isolated showers.

Today is the last day for the Sunday rotation of the Scuba Certification and Scuba Liveaboard crews.  I am always disappointed when the weather is uncooperative on anyone’s last day.  Even though I obviously have no control over the weather, I almost feel like I should apologize.

Ending on a positive note, the cap is still holding this morning at the Deepwater Horizon site with no major negative consequences so far.  Billy Nungesser is the president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. He was quoted as saying, “For the first day, we’ll be pulling more oil out of the Gulf than is leaking in.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s a very long tunnel.”

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday the oil flow was halted from the Deepwater Horizon drilling site.  This is not a permanent fix, but any interruption of the oil flow is great news for the world.  This is a temporary fix and oil will likely flow again soon.  But hopefully this device will help reduce the amount of oil being discharged into the Gulf.  There is a decent summation from  Click to follow the link.  The report is too long to copy here.  As I said, the best part of this is they have finally made a step towards getting this mess under control.  Maybe a baby step.  And definitely a temporary step.  But a positive step – at last.  And that is encouraging.  We want this flow stopped.

Thursday got off to a decent start with the Florida Sea Base staff in a much improved mood.  The ACA inspection went well.  The only glitch in the day was a squall that come through around 14:00.  The sailboats from the small boat sailing program were overwhelmed by the wind.  The storm lasted about 30 minutes but three of the four small boats needed to be towed in.  No one was hurt.  Two of the jib sails took a beating but everything else looked okay.  Also the night dive was postponed until tonight due to an approaching squall line at departure time.  The divers had an exciting day with 5′ seas.  The forecast for Friday and Saturday calls for more rain and wind but the weather should start settling down a little after that.  Here’s the official marine forecast from the National Weather Service in Key West:

Today…East to southeast winds near 20 knots and gusty. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters rough. Winds and seas higher in and near numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms.

Tonight…East winds near 20 knots…decreasing to 15 to 20 knots after midnight. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 7 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet. Nearshore waters rough…becoming choppy. Winds and seas higher in and near scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Chrystene Matthews, Director of Food Services, and Maria Donovan, Ships Store Manager, bought this cool shirt for Capt. Dennis Wyatt in celebration of his book (The Bald Man and the Sea) selling out of its first printing.

Capt. Dennis Wyatt

It you are not familiar with it, the picture on the front of the t-shirt is his book cover.  VERY cool.

Cathy Hamilton sent this very kind comment:

You guys & gals are amazing! Our troop sent a group down for a scuba adventure. One of our scouts only was able to get Scuba Diver certified. I told him I wasn’t sure you would even let him dive. Not only did he get to dive, you were able to finish his certification for Open Water Diver! That’s going way above and beyond the call of duty! My hat’s off to you and your staff! Thanks for this great blog–I’ve really enjoyed reading it!

Thank you very much, Cathy.  The staff is amazing and we do what we can to make our programs an experience of a lifetime.  I will admit that we miss the mark sometimes; but that is the rare exception.  The vast, vast majority of our crews leave here very satisfied.  And what is really cool is when you connect with that one kid and you literally see them light up.  And if we do everything just right, no one sees the massive effort the staff put into our programs.  When everything goes right, all the participants see is a bunch of staff members having fun in the process of providing a safe high adventure experience that will be a lifelong memory.

With that said it’s time to make some magic for another day.  Today will be tough because of the weather.  But we will find some sunshine and great memories will be created today.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape