Posts Tagged ‘liveaboard’


Scuba Liveaboard

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I realize a lot of non-scuba diving parents are sending their kids to the Florida Sea Base.  I think its great that the parents are supportive of the kids.  But, I would like to encourage the parents to try scuba for themselves.  It can be a great family activity, even if you don’t come to the Florida Sea Base.  I first poked my head under water in the azure waters of the southern Mediterranean Sea in 1961.  I still go diving when circumstances permit.  And now that I am getting back down to my fighting weight, I hope to make more opportunities to get back underwater.

I entitled today’s post “Scuba Liveaboard” because I get a lot of calls from parents of kids who are signed up for the program but they don’t know how to pronounce “liveaboard”.  That word doesn’t pass spell check and was invented by the scuba industry.  It is frequently mispronounced as “liv”; as in “this is a live broadcast”.  The proper pronunciation is “layhv” (according to; as in “I live on a boat”.  Instead of living in on-base housing, the participants live on the boat; therefore they live aboard which the scuba industry merged into liveaboard.  I hope that’s at least as clear as mud.  Liveaboard diving is considered the ultimate style of dive trip for hard core divers.  Since you do not have to return to shore each day for housing, you can travel to more distant dive sites and you can dive more frequently.  One of our recent scuba liveaboard crews came back to base dived out.  By the last day of their trip they asked if they could spend the day sailing.  They were exhausted from all of the diving.  Which is another advantage to the Scuba Liveaboard program – more options.  Dive, snorkel, sail, fish or lounge; the choice is yours.

When I originally proposed bringing the Scuba Liveaboard program to the Florida Sea Base we discussed the rigors and challenges the program would present the participants.  (And before I go any further, I need to give half credit to Captain and PADI Course Director Bert Hubby for being my partner-in-crime.)  This is the Florida National HIGH ADVENTURE Sea Base and Scuba Liveaboard is the most adventurous of our scuba programs.  We were not sure if the program would sell.  Most of the divers attending the Florida Sea Base are inexperienced.  So we thought we might open that program only to those who had previously participated in the Scuba Adventure program.  But that would be impossible to enforce.  So to make a long story a little shorter, the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base conspired with Captain Denny Webb (Schooner Conch Pearl) and our Scuba Liveaboard program was under way for 2005.  In 2008 we added Scuba Liveaboard #2 by popular demand.  This year we added Scuba Liveaboard #3 and Scuba Liveaboard #4 is under serious consideration for 2012.  One of the advantages of the program is it allows us to bring more kids to Sea Base with minimal impact on our near capacity dormitory space.  But it is one of our most expensive programs and is very challenging logistically.  We already have a sufficient waiting list to fill SL-4 if we decide to pursue that option for 2012.

Saturday saw the arrival of one Scuba Liveaboard crew and four Coral Reef Sailing crews.  Four Coral Reef Sailing crews were in for shore leave.  Four Coral Reef Sailing crews and one Sea Exploring crew returned to base for Luau.

The Scuba Adventure and Scuba Certification crews on Sunday rotation completed their last dive on Saturday morning.  The Wednesday rotation Scuba Adventure crews completed two dives and the Scuba Certification crew completed their pool training and one open water training dive.  The wind continued to build through the afternoon and I had to cancel last night’s dive.  The wind is scheduled to drop to more comfortable levels this week:

Sunday…East winds 15 to 20 knots…decreasing to near 15 knots during the afternoon. Seas beyond the reef 4 to 6 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 2 to 3 feet…subsiding to around 2 feet. Nearshore waters choppy…becoming a moderate chop. isolated showers.
Sunday Night…Northeast to east winds near 15 knots. Seas beyond the reef 3 to 5 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef around 2 feet. Nearshore waters a moderate chop. Isolated showers.
Monday And Monday Night…Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas beyond the reef 2 to 4 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Isolated showers.
Tuesday…Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas beyond the reef 2 to 4 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. isolated showers and thunderstorms.
Wednesday And Thursday…Northeast to east winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas beyond the reef 2 to 4 feet. Seas higher in the gulf stream. Seas inside the reef 1 to 2 feet. Nearshore waters a light to moderate chop. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.

Northeast is much better for the divers than north winds.  And 15 knots is very good wind for the sailors.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Capt. Rich and I have agreed on the (almost final) schedule for the Scuba Liveaboard vessels for this summer.  The 60′ Schooner Conch Pearl (Captains Denny and Holley) is currently scheduled to carry Scuba Liveaboard crews that arrive on Saturdays.  They will be docking on Stock Island and diving primarily in the Lower Keys.  Scuba Liveaboard crews arriving on Fridays will be aboard two 41′ Morgan Out Islands, Silent Harmony and Enveavour with Captains Mike and Kelly.  Scuba Liveaboard crews arriving on Tuesdays will be aboard the 45′ Gulfstar ketch, Adventure, and 41′ Morgan, Lady Nell II, with Captains Hans and Luke.  Crews arriving Tuesdays and Fridays will be docked in Key Largo and diving primarily the Upper Keys.  As with all things Sea Base, these plans could change for a multitude of reasons.  From a crew preparation standpoint, the only difference will be that you should consider bringing two first aid kits if you are on the split boats.  We have been using both single and tandem vessels in the Scuba Liveaboard program for two or three years now and get rave reviews from both formats.  Crew members on the split boats can move from one boat to the other if they want and you will raft-up frequently for meals and camaraderie.  You will generally dive the same sites at the same time but you can split up if the crew wants and dive separate sites or one boat can scuba while the other boat goes sailing or fishing.  The flexibility is awesome and up to the crew and your captain.

The Coral Reef Sailing crew from Misty Shoals came in for shore leave yesterday morning.  Lady Nell II, Calypso Poet and Adventure returned yesterday afternoon for their luau.  No new crews arrived.

The wind laid down enough Wednesday night for the Scuba Adventure crews to get in their night dive.  Yesterday morning the wind started building again (of course) so we got the divers off the dock as early as possible and loaded with enough tanks to do three dives.  The wind increased to 18 knots but clocked a little further west and this allowed most of the divers to get in their three dives.  No one can ever accuse of us of not trying to meet our customers’ expectations.  It’s good that we managed to get the night dive in on Wednesday because a cold front came through last night bringing thunderstorms and lightning.  Today has a significant chance of rain.

Click photo to enlarge.

The line of heavy rain and thunderstorms shown above (courtesy of Weather Underground) ran up the Keys like it was driving on US 1 from about midnight ’til 03:00 this morning.

Make it a great day.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

I am generally an early riser so I have been using that time to write my daily blog before making my way into the office.  With the end of season approaching I am going to try a different tact.  I’m going to write the post each evening.  I’m not sure what I am going to write about after the season ends.  I always welcome comments from readers and I will be happy to post your comments or stories about the Florida Sea Base if you want to send them to me.

Today was HOT at the Florida Sea Base.  For the last several days our “feels like” temperature has been in the 104º F range.  The high pressure system is starting to move a little and we have a small chance of rain tomorrow and a little better chance for Sunday.  The wind is forecasted to remain in the 10 to 15 knot range through the forecast period.  That is barely enough for the sailors to sail and is calm enough for good diving conditions. The National Hurricane Center is not showing any tropical activity.  It would be a nice way to end the season but there is still time for ugly weather to show up.

Capt. Alex Bergstedt, Scuba Commissioner, had the reins of the scuba programs today.  The next-to-the-last Scuba Liveaboard crew checked in today.  They will have a great week aboard the Schooner Conch Pearl with Capt. Denny Webb, Capt. Holley Whitley, and the scuba instructor this week, Capt. Scott Costa.   The Scuba Instructor position on the Pearl was split between Kyle Lippenberger and Sargon Smith for the rest of the season.

Capt. Alex also sold a couple of sets of used scuba gear today.  We are selling used BCs for $100 ($25 less than previous years) and regulators for $250 ($125 less than previous years) or a combo BC/regulator for $325.  The same setup would cost you $900 or more even at a discount dive shop.  Shipping is $7.50 per item and we have to charge sales tax (sorry, but the Florida Comptroller slap us on the wrist for failing to do so a few years ago).  There is a flyer with more details posted at  Click on “Used Scuba Equipment Sales” to see the flyer.

I did engine room chores this morning including servicing the house batteries, cleaning the sea strainer for the air conditioners, and replacing the thermostat for the aft a/c unit.  Th aft a/c is still acting up a bit but I hope it’s only because the water and the air temperatures are so high.  This is an ongoing problem.

Three of the true “oldies but goodies” of the Coral Reef Sailing program are headed north along the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida to the respective homes Sunday morning.  The flotilla includes Capt. George Clements and his wife Tabby on S/V Silver Crow, Capt. Giuseppe Passanisi and his wife Rose on S/V Silent Harmony, Capt. Gerald Dowling and former staff member Andrea Jones aboard S/V Miss Jerry and Capt. Bob Morris, his wife Kim and a friend on S/V New Dawn.  These three captains must have about 45 years of experience in the Florida Sea Base Coral Reef Sailing Adventure.  Fair winds and following seas – I wish you the best.  Capt. Bob submitted the following comment:

It’s not quite 0630 Sunday. I’ve done one last check on weather between Sea Base and Tampa Bay (south St. Pete.) It appears I’ll be motoring back home! At least it will be i n nice weather. I’m accompanied by my new (May 1) bride, Kim and a friend. We’ll be shoving off as soon as I retrieve my dinghy, which I almost forgot!

I would like to thank all of the staff and the other captains for making this a FANTASTIC first year for me. The galley and commissary, who kept me well fed; too well! My goal of losing 25 pounds this summer faded with the last sunset. The Coral Reef mates who got my crews to me and took care of them as necssary, as well as assisting with docking and departing. The other captains who made me feel at home and part of the team. Some new friendships have blossomed in the process. You have also assisted with sundry projects, lending tools and advice, and most of all, encouragement. The staff who kept things running so smoothly and doing boring little things like, say, taking care of checks! The crews, without whom none of this would be possible. Last but not least, Kim, who supports my endeavors and stands beside me.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you next year for another great season. Until then, fair winds and following seas.

S/V New Dawn

Back to the office tomorrow morning.  I have plenty of budget issues to keep me busy for weeks.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Here’s a nice view of Category 2 Hurricane Alex before it went ashore in Mexico.  Only one computer model is forecasting any tropical weather formation during the next seven days so we should have a quiet week.  The winds here are calming down quickly.

From Weather Underground

Capt. Rich Beliveau, Program Director, and Matt McClure, Sailing Commissioner, were successful in returning Spare Time from Fort Lauderdale to the Florida Sea Base yesterday.  There was one small glitch.  Dusky Marine in Dania, Florida did the repowering.  During the installation the broke one of the thru-hull fittings.  So as soon as the boat was splashed (taken off the trailer) it began to sink.  Capt. Rich and Matt managed to plug the hole temporarily and we will get a permanent fix in place today.

Yesterday’s scuba check-ins went well under the superb direction of Ellen Wyatt. The Coral Reef Sailing staff did an excellent job under the management of Capt. Dutch Van der Laan and Dom Alesandrini.  Dom also prepared 225 new snorkel bags for use by the sailing and scuba participants.  Some of the existing bags were VERY well worn and should have been tossed last year.

Captain Mike Lucivero and Capt. Kelly Stickney-Lucivero has committed to another year of Scuba Liveaboard programming.  We will have three scuba liveaboard crews each week next year (up from two this year).  Next summer is a 13 week schedule as I recall.  We have full bookings for the three rotations (39 crews) with 32 of the 39 “confirmed”.  That means seven of the crews have not actually made a down payment and may cancel.  If you are interested in participating in Scuba Liveaboard in 2011, check the Florida Sea Base website frequently for openings.  They will go very fast.

I am running late.  More later.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Today was the final official day of staff training for the scuba staff at the Florida Sea Base.  The morning was spent on handling and filling scuba tanks.  The afternoon was spent with a question and answer session with the Florida Sea Base health advisor.  All of the scuba staff had very good questions for the doctor and I think they were impressed with his explanations.

We also had one Scuba Liveaboard crew and four Coral Reef Sailing crews arrive.  Sargon Smith will be the Scuba Instructor for the Scuba Liveaboard crew which will be aboard Schooner Conch Pearl with Captains Denny and Holly.  I did not get a copy of the Coral Reef schedule this morning so I apologize for not being able to list the personnel assigned to those crews.  One Sea Exploring crew returned today and had their luau tonight.  They will head for home tomorrow morning.

I took compressor filters and a replacement compressor fill hose to the Tuesday Scuba Liveaboard crew who are out on S/V Endeavour and S/V Ciao Bella.  Captains Mike and Kelly were in good spirits and reported that the water conditions are like a swimming pool; 81 degrees and calm seas.  I also spoke with Scuba Instructor Meghann Michalski who says she is having a BLAST.

The top filling at the Deepwater Horizon site has officially been declared unsuccessful.  BP is working on another attempt to cap the well.  The ONLY good news that I can offer is that the Florida Sea Base and the Florida Keys remain oil free.  The water here is incredibly clear for this time of year.  The tourists are literally PACKED into the Keys for the Memorial Day weekend.  If you are arriving in Miami, Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach airports and driving down to the Florida Sea Base or Brinton Environment Center on Saturday or Sunday, I suggest you add at least an hour to you predicted drive time.

We pray for the flow of oil to be stopped soon and the quickest recovery possible for the areas that have been affected by this disaster.  I do not wish this tragedy on anyone.  I thank God for sparing the Florida Keys for so long.

It is WAY past my bedtime and I have a staff meeting at 0730.  More news tomorrow.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Four scuba programs are currently offered at the Florida Sea Base: Scuba Adventure, Scuba Certification, Scuba Liveaboard and the Divemaster Academy.  This article will include the first three programs.  The Divemaster Academy is only offered in the winter and will be discussed in future blogs.  Click on READ MORE.