Posts Tagged ‘horizon’

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

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

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

Sunday was a great day for diving at the Florida Sea Base.  We had a serious rain at breakfast time, but once that broke it was sunny skies and calm winds.  There was tremendous visibility on the reefs for the scuba divers and the Coral Reef Sailing snorkelers.  I drove BSA Explorer again with the triple crew from Missouri.  Divemaster Dave Rumbaugh joined us today so Kodiak Hengstebeck could have a day off.

Our first stop was Long Key Ledge.  The divers reported seeing 4 sharks in the 6′ to 8′ range.  Our second stop was Pillars of Atlantis.  The current was ripping at this site.  Some of the divers reported the dive as “awesome”.  Most complained of the strong current.  Many said it was the best coral formations of the week.  After doing a one hour dive at each site, everyone was hungry.  We relocated the dive boat to a site named Lob 10.  We ate and played water games for an hour and a half or so.  Then we returned to the base.

In my spare time I decided to search “Florida Sea Base” to see where ranked.  On Google it was second.  On Bing it produced a sublist and was second on that list.  If you stuck with following “Florida Sea Base” it was 7th.  I couldn’t find it on Yahoo search.  Interesting to me.  I’m sure it doesn’t matter much to most of you.

All remains quiet regarding tropic storm development in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico for the next few days.  It’s almost TOO quiet if you know what I mean.  The “experts” still think we are going to have a very busy season.  They also suggested that it might be packed into the latter months of the season.  Not having storms in the early part of the season is good for our program and participants.  Getting hammered in September and October makes it tough on our permanent, year ’round staff.  But I guess it’s tough for us no matter when the storms come.  One thing that might help a lot would be if we could move at least two of the big boats to our hurricane canal, secure them and shrink wrap them.  Without the shrink wrap, the boats will collect leaves from the mangrove trees.  These leaves contain tannin which stains the deck and other surfaces of the boats brown.  It is VERY difficult to clean.  It has been more and more common to see boats (usually big yachts) shrink wrapped for the off season.  It think I saw an episode of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel where Mike Rowe was shrink wrapping yachts.  I should follow-up on this idea.  Things like this are why I don’t sleep well some nights (I’ve been up since 04:30 this morning and was up at 02:00 yesterday morning).

The oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and it does creep at little further east on occasion.  I used the internet tools available to me this morning and the nearest beached oil is at Carrabelle, Florida, 663 miles (straight line) from the Florida Sea Base.  Capt. Harold Ochstein from our Eco Adventure offered this information.  2244_what_to_expect_in_southflorida There is no expectation of any of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon site reaching the Florida Sea Base any time soon – if ever.  Hopefully the flow will be stopped in the next month or two.  The impact from this disaster will last for years, many, many years.  Even after everything looks to be alright, there will be millions if not billions of gallons of oil lingering on the sea floor long after I’m dead and gone.  This catastrophe is so huge that I wonder if any of us can comprehend the true extent of what has happened.

Today’s weather at the Florida Sea Base is going to be great.  Maybe a little rain this morning (like yesterday) but most of the day will be sunny with very mild winds.  Diving and snorkeling will be superb.  There is nothing on the radar now, but after sunrise the heat will start to generate energy and we will like see some building of isolated but very tall cloud formations.  Some of these will result in rain and maybe a little lightening.  I haven’t chosen our dive sites for today.  I will wait as long as possible and see where (and if) storms are forming and then we will do our best to go where the weather’s best.

I need to make preparations so I’ll sign off for now.  I hope you had a good night’s sleep and enjoy whatever today has in store for you.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The weather is benign at the Florida Sea Base but a tropical depression formed yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico almost due south of Apalachicola, Florida and was designated Invest 95.  The system is moving west and will have some impact on the Deepwater Horizon site and will likely push oil further towards Texas and definitely deeper into the Louisiana marsh lands and bayous.

Invest 95 at 02:00 Saturday

I am off today.  This is my last scheduled day off for two weeks.  We have two of the dive boat captains off next week so Capt. Rich and I will have to cover their shifts.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt will probably loose his day off (Sunday) as well.  It’s the nature of the beast this time of year.  There are other assignments that need our attention, but program comes first and Capt. Rich and I have no intent of disappointing our customers.  We work well together and understand that we are both going to do whatever has to be done to make “the magic” work.  We won’t get overtime.  We won’t get a raise.  We won’t get a bonus.  But our customers will get what they paid for.  And if all goes well, “the magic” will appear to happen effortlessly.  There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that happen beneath the magic.  It wouldn’t happen without Capt. Richard T. Beliveau.  I’ve told you before that he is a Saint.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do today.  The 4th of July holiday traffic is usually horrendous so I probably won’t go far.  I’m thinking about going to a movie but I’m not too enthused about going alone.  There’s plenty of work to do on the boat (always) so I may just pick a chore or two and work on those.

The captains at the Florida Sea Base did an excellent job yesterday.  The wind was brisk, but the divers got their dives in and the sailors got to sail.  Even the night dive was a success with Capt. Rich at the helm.  Today’s forecast continues to include small craft warning.  Here is today’s marine forecast from NOAA.

Thursday And Thursday Night…East winds near 20 knots and gusty. Seas beyond the reef 5 to 8 feet…except higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 4 feet. Nearshore waters rough. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms

Here’s the latest projection for Invest 93L.

None of the current forecast models has 93L directly impacting the Florida Sea Base.  One model has it traveling over the Deepwater Horizon site and threatening the New Orleans area; two models have it dissipating near the Yucatan; and one shows it passing the Yucatan and continuing west.

Before I forget (again) I want to thank Capt. Martin Ivy, S/V Tradewind,  for bringing me a nice piece of leftover tuna Tuesday.

The meeting with the DAN officials ended in an agreement to review and edit the contract proposed by DAN.  It was very nice to meet Dan Orr and his wife Betty Orr.  Capt. Larry Zettwoch, a DAN Instructor/Trainer and part time Keys resident was also in attendance.  I have met with Capt. Larry on three or four occasions previously.

So all is well overall.  We are dealing with the wind.  The staff members are doing a great job.  The critiques are good (except we need more shower and toilet facilities for the Coral Reef sailors who return for a day off mid-week).

I had another adult leader stop by the office yesterday to tell me he reads this blog and appreciates my efforts.  And I certainly appreciate that.  Just as a reminder, I own and pay for this site myself.  My son, Aaron, handles all of the technical stuff.  I write this blog on my own time, usually after a 10 to 12 hour work day except on very rare occasions when I hammer something out during work hours.  The OFFICIAL website for the Florida Sea Base is  It is updated fairly frequently with urgent news and registration information.  It is a great source of information about the Florida Sea Base programs and has a link to the reservations website.  The Florida Sea Base Conference Center website is  And please visit our eCommerce site at  Capt. Dennis Wyatt’s book, The Bald Man and the Sea, is still listed but is either sold out or just a VERY few copies remain (like 2 or 3).  This is a funny book to read and will be gone forever when the remaining copies (if there are any) are sold.  You can also call the Ships Store at 305-664-5624.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape @ 04:06 a.m.

I’m sorry for not posting last night or earlier this morning.  The biggest news at the Florida Sea Base is the headline of this post.  Apparently NOAA is satisfied that the oil from Deepwater Horizon poses no near term threat to the Florida Keys or parts beyond and has suspended the offshore trajectory forecasts.  Rease read the full article.

The general weather forecast for the next few days at the Florida Sea Base calls for brisk easterly winds (15 – 20 knots).  These conditins will provide a “high adventure” experience for our participants.  The sailing will be good and the temperatures will be more tolerable.  The snorkeling and scuba diving will suffer, but the conditions will improve in a few days.

Capt. Rich is driving BSA Explorer, one of the Scuba Aventure boats this morning.  I am in the office experiencing opportunities to improve.  Capt. Dennis Wyatt is running around showing off his new “Joe Dirt” mullet wig.  And by the way, congratulations to Capt. Dennis whose book, The Bald Man in the Sea, has sold out of it’s first printing.  He found used copies for sale on the internet for over $35.00.

Invest 93L has formed where 92L left off.  This reformation has a chance to develope into Tropical Storm Alex.  Current forecast models show the system staying south of Cuba and there is no imminent threat to the Florida Sea Base.

From Weather Underground

Stay tuned.

Capt. Steve
In the Office

Will 92L affect the Florida Sea Base or not?  Hummmm.  Yesterday morning we had a 10% chance but by yesterday afternoon that was upgraded to 20% by Weather Underground.  Now the National Hurricane Center says the chance of intensification (in the next 48 hours) is “near 0”.  Weather forecasting is a VERY inaccurate science.  If we do get weather from the 92L system, the good news (for us) is it should push the oil from Deepwater Horizon back to the west.  I am not wishing more bad things for our friends and neighbors already devastated by the oil, I am just repeating what the weather forecasters are predicting.  Here’s what the National Hurricane Center had to say at 02:00:


200 AM EDT SUN JUN 20 2010






Capt. Rich and Capt. Carol spent Saturday afternoon and evening in Key West and plan to return to the base before lunch Monday.  They deserve a break.

I realize that several parents of our staff members check this blog from time to time and I apparently caused some concern with my recent post about some of the staff using poor judgement.  I’m not sure if this will make things better or worse, but I’ll add a little to my previous comments.  There was no alcohol or drugs involved and no one was terminated.  The separate issues were not major, but it was one of those afternoons that one person messed up, then a second, then a third and a fourth and as the boss you start wondering if some type of “stupid pill” that only affects people under the age of 25 had been dropped into the municipal water supply.  If so, the effects seem to have worn off and the staff is doing better.

I was off yesterday but heard that we lost another outboard motor.  I was told that one of the two Yamaha motors on the boat being used by the Scuba Certification crew threw a rod or in some other way managed to blow a hole in the side of the motor.  No one was injured and the boat was not far from the base so they limped back on the other motor.  I will follow up with Capt. Alex Holoman today.  Lack of reliability with the outboard motors, whether they are Evinrudes, Yahamas, Mercurys or Suzukis, was one of the motivators for buying our third diesel powered dive boat this year.  Adding that boat allowed us to retire three outboard powered boats. With two months left of our program season, we are now without a back-up in our outboard fleet.  The Spare Time, which is used to take the Coral Reef Sailing participants tubing on their mid-week day, blew a motor last week.  That boat is in Dania, Florida having two new motors installed at a cost of $25,000.  I don’t think we have the resources to replace the motor(s) on the Scuba Certification boat this year.  Both boats were donated to the Florida Sea Base so our initial investment was near zero, but maintenance and engine replacement is very expensive.

It’s almost 05:00.  Sometimes I can’t sleep.  That hasn’t been a problem recently – until tonight.  I’ve been up since 01:00.  I’m going to try to take an hour nap.  I will keep a low profile today.  When I don’t sleep I get grumpy.  The staff does not appreciate a grumpy Capt. Steve.

Oh yeah.  Don’t forget that today is Father’s Day.  Keep Dad in your thoughts, prayers and heart.  My dad is my personal #1 all time hero.  And he is a real life hero as well.  He served in the Korean conflict, flew 226 air combat missions in the Vietnam War, and has served at several domestic disaster sites including ground zero in NYC as a Mass Casualty Expert for the American Red Cross after his retirement from the US Air Force.  He spent over 20 years in the Air Force as a firefighter and is still fighting fires with the local volunteer fire department back home.  He saw me through Eagle Scout years ago and currently serves his local Scout Council as a District Cubmaster.  I love you, Dad.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape