Posts Tagged ‘newton’




It’s been 12 days since my last post about the Florida Sea Base.  I’m not sure what my record is; I missed some days last summer while in the Dominican Republic for the PADI Course Director Training Course and I missed about 2 weeks a couple of years ago when I sailed to the Bahamas for about 2 weeks.  I received this nice mail a few days ago:

Hi Steve!

Wondering when the blog entries are going to return. I miss reading about the Florida Sea Base. The last blog entry I see is for Jan. 31. Hope you are well!
Andy Nissly
Lancaster, PA


Thanks Andy; I’m back.  As I detailed before my departure, I was on a road trip, including a stop in Slidell, Louisiana to check on the construction progress of our latest Newton 46′ Dive Special, BSA Sea Scout.  I had a meeting with the sales manager, Brian and foreman, Tommy.  It was a productive meeting.  The boat was originally scheduled for completion on 15 March 2013.  They said they are about 2 weeks behind schedule due to the  weather, so the boat should be ready on April Fool’s Day.  The hull and lower deck have been molded but not yet conjoined.  I provided Tommy with a list of electronics that will be shipped to him for installation along with photos and diagrams from Captain Christy Clemenson showing how we wanted the helm laid out.


From Slidell I drove to Dallas.


I spent Saturday and most of (Superbowl) Sunday in meetings with the BSA National Aquatics Task Force, of which I am a member.  As always, Chairman Pat Noack had prepared a lengthy agenda.  With awesome input from American Canoe Association Chief Operations Officer (and Task Force Member) Chris Stec, we were able to prepare requirements for a BSA Stand-Up Paddleboarding award.  The requirements were presented the next day to the BSA National Health and Safety Support Committee for adoption.  I do not have an official release date for the award, but I expect it to be available this summer (2013).  Mr. Bill Hall led the charge on changes to the BSA Lifeguard program.  Most were minor changes to stay in step with YMCA and ARC standards.  Probably the single biggest change is the addition of in-water ventilations.  This will be at the 2013 national Camp Schools.  Revisions were also discussed for the Swimming Merit Badge.


Monday was Health and Safety meetings; there was the Medical Team meeting, followed by the Publications/Education Team meeting, followed by the Health and Safety Safety Team meeting (not a typo), followed by the BSA National Health and Safety Support Committee Meeting.  Whew!  I want to sincerely thank Mr. Bill Hurst, H&S Committee Chair, for allowing me to attend these meetings.  I have become a permanent guest of sorts.  So much happens in these meetings that effects the operations at the Florida Sea Base that Florida Sea Base General Manager Captain Paul Beal feels it is in our best interest to be represents.  I was even listed on the agenda this time and asked to give a brief synopsis of our 2012 program seasons.  A revised Incident Reporting folder has been disseminated to all BSA local councils.  The members discussed fatality and injury summaries for 2012.


Tuesday morning I attended the BSA High Adventure Committee meeting with Florida Sea Base General Manager Captain Paul Beal.  There were many representatives from the three National High Adventure facilities, plus Captain Beal’s boss and his boss’ boss.  John Clark (GM of Philmont Scout Ranch and Director of High Adventure) and John Green (Group Director Outdoor Adventures) are incredible leaders of the BSA.  That’s not kissing up; that’s pure truth.  I sincerely admire both of these men for what they do every day for the BSA.  High Adventure rules!  Enough said.


Tuesday afternoon I attended the BSA Outdoor Programs Committee meeting.  The good news is that the National High Adventure programs are doing exceptionally well.  Unfortunately, many of the local council camps are struggling.  A plan has been devised to help the local camps improve their program and their bottom line.


It was chilly when I left for Dallas.  It is W-A-R-M.  Here’s the national Weather Service forecast for the coming week:

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southeast wind 10 to 15 mph.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. South wind 10 to 15 mph.
Wednesday Night: A chance of showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. South wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Thursday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. West wind around 5 mph becoming north after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 78. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Friday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 67. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 77. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 62. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. Windy.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 59. Breezy.
Washington’s Birthday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 73. Breezy.
Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 67. Windy.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 74. Breezy.


I drove through the gate of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base around 13:30 (1:30 pm) Tuesday.  About an hour later Captain Rich Beliveau drove out the gate, headed to a new adventure in North Carolina.  We got to chat for a few minutes before he left.  There wasn’t much to say.  What do you say when you’re loosing one of your best friends?

We are experiencing a small snafu with staff housing for the weekend.  It appears that we have so many United Methodist Scouting conference attendees this weekend that we must use one of the staff dorm rooms for the conference.  So three or four guys will get to spend the weekend in the scuba dorm.  Not a biggie; I stay in the scuba dorm during the nasty hurricanes; pretty comfy.

Tuesday was drug testing day for some of the seasonal staff.  All seasonal staff members are tested and enrolled in a random drug testing program at no expense to them.  For most of our staff it is a US Coast Guard requirement.  Since we have to do it for most of the staff we decided to have 100% participation.

I haven’t made time to get a full debriefing on what the staff have accomplished while I was gone but I will post about that tomorrow.

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




in Staff  •  0 comments


Wednesday I left the Florida Sea Base at 03:30ish.  I drove 922 miles to Slidell, LA.  My moving time was 13 hours and 28 minutes.  I took 1 hour and 7 minutes of break time (including one potty stop where I managed to deal with 20 emails – true multitasking!).  The total elapsed time from the Florida Sea Base to the Hampton Inn in Slidell, LA was 14 hours and 35 minutes.  My moving average was 68 mph and my total average (including the breaks) was 63 mph.  My best fill-up was 41.9 mpg.  (My Civic is NOT a hybrid.)

I ran into some very nasty weather in the Florida panhandle including blinding rain and some serious wind that made staying on the road a real challenge.  I was forced onto the shoulder TWICE by 18 wheelers.  The Escambia bridge is on the east side of Pensacola, FL; the wind was coming from the south (hitting us broadside) and gusting to 50 mph as we crossed.  The Civic was so light that a few times it felt like I was floating.

When I crossed the Florida/Alabama state line the temperature dropped dramatically behind the front.  I had to turn the a/c off and turn on the heater.  By the time I got into Mississippi it was warm enough to shut off the heater.  It was just a little cool when I arrived in Slidell yesterday but this morning it was only 34°F.


I only received to reports from folks back at base  yesterday.  The scuba staff were conducting an inventory of our emergency oxygen kits for the dive boats.  Captain Rich had a conference call with the Sea Scouts.  He has been very involved with improving the relationship between the Sea Scouts and the Florida Sea Base.  I hope there are no negative repercussions with Captain Rich’s departure.


I will meet with the nice folks at Newton Dive Boats this morning.  I have a list of electronics and diagrams (thanks Captain Christy) showing how we want the bridge arranged.  Then I have a 10 hour drive to Dallas.  Today will be another LONG day.


I will post when I can.  It is challenging when I’m traveling.  Captain Rich is making a mad dash to North Carolina and back this weekend to take a load of stuff to his new 4 bedroom house which sits on 9 acres.  What a change that will be after living on a boat for so many years. 🙂

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
In room 311, Hampton Inn, Slidell, LA




in Scuba  •  0 comments


Newton Dive Boats is currently building the fifth Newton Dive Special ordered by the Florida Sea Base.  It will be a sister ship to BSA Explorer pictured below.

Click to enlarge.

The last accomplishment of the Saturday session of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee was to name the new vessel.  We have boats named Scoutmaster, Eagle, Venture Scout, Scouts Honor, Scuba Scout and on and on.  The last 46′ Newton was named BSA Centennial Eagle in honor of the BSA’s 100th anniversary.  2012 is the 100th anniversary of Sea Scouting.  Admiral Charles Wurster, National Commodore of Sea Scouts, sits on the FSB committee and was present at the meeting.  Mr. Keith Christopher, National Council Outdoor Programs/PropertyDepartment Manager, Fixer-of-Everything-No-One-Else-Can-Fix and Advisor to the Sea Scouts was also present.  I suggested we name the boat something Venturing or Sea Scout related like Ranger or Quartermaster.  Admiral Wurster and Mr. Christopher liked BSA Sea Scout.  In honor of Sea Scouting’s 100th anniversary, it was agreed unanimously by the committee, BSA Sea Scout is shall be!

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



in Scuba  •  0 comment


A woman died on Thanksgiving when the dive boat was struck by a rogue wave off Pompano Beach, Florida.  The vessel was capsized and the lady was trapped underneath according to ABC News.  There was probably nothing mechanically wrong with the boat.  I assume the captain was experienced and competent.  Based on my personal experiences with the USCG I feel certain the vessel was up to federal standards.  This tragedy should remind us to be ever vigilant; no one ever expects to be taken out by a rogue wave.


Scuba diving is a risky endeavor.  The Florida Sea Base is very conscious of these risks as we take your 14 year old 60 feet underwater in a beautiful but alien environment.  Thanks to the foresight of the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base, the support of the Florida Sea Base Advisory Committee, the Boy Scouts of America High Adventure matching fund, and several VERY generous individual donors, we have invested about $1.5 MILLION in dive boats since I became the Program Director in 2002.  Our FIFTH Newton Dive Special is under construction in Slidell, Louisiana.  Dive boats are a part of scuba safety that is frequently overlooked by divers; taken for granted I guess.  Divers are taught about nitrogen narcosis, decompression sickness, barotrauma, embolisms, oxygen toxicity, hazardous marine life and other scuba diving risks.  But dive boat safety?  That’s the worry of the vessel owner, dive operator, captain, crew and the United States Coast Guard.  Or is it?


I will be on the road again Sunday and Monday, making my way back to the Florida Sea Base, and probably won’t get to post again until Tuesday evening or Wednesday.  I have attended a week of BSA committee meetings in Dallas, spent another week at the BSA Aquatics Workshop in Arkansas, and a third week at the DEMA show in Las Vegas.  I have spent hours working on the Divemaster Academy and preparations for our first PADI Instructor Development Course.  I have answered 100s of emails and phone calls.

But I have had the opportunity to spend a few days with family and many evenings like a real person instead of watching TV alone on Escape or sitting in the office until 9 pm working because I have nothing else to do.  Now its time to return to my chosen profession of overseeing another year of over a thousand “other peoples’ children” making over ten thousand dives incident free.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Stay safe in the malls!

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713



in Weather  •  0 comments


Senior Marine Weather Forecaster Chip Kasper sent an email yesterday regarding potential impacts from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy on the Florida Sea Base.

Winds should hold from the northeast or north through Thursday night.  It looks like they probably will back out of the north-northwest  (~25-30 knots) on Friday, and then northwest (20-25 knots) Saturday as Sandy’s expanding cyclonic circulation moves north of the Bahamas.  Diminishing (but still fresh) northwest breezes likely will persist into Sunday, before a veering back to north ensues early next week.

As I have mentioned dozens of times in past posts, the harbor at the Florida Sea Base is very vulnerable to west winds.  Forty-eight hours or more of westerly winds at 20 to 30 knots is not great.  It could be MUCH worse, so we will take it!  Another GOOD note is dry air feeding into the west side of the system.  That is good news for the Keys but VERY bad news for Haiti.

Long term, the European model shows the system intensifying after passing Florida, potentially becoming a very strong storm and slamming into New York.  The US computer model shows the system veering to the east towards Bermuda.

Last night he National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm watch for waters outside the reef line (about 3 to 4 miles offshore) from Craig Key to Ocean Reef.  This morning the watch has been expanded to include the shore and bay side of the Keys and extended north to Jupiter, Florida.  The Florida Sea Base is about a mile and a half east of Craig Key and is included the warning area.  The Brinton Environmental Center is 50 miles west and NOT included in the warning area.

Click to enlarge.

500 AM EDT WED OCT 24 2012


 Yesterday’s 5pm NHC update had Sandy wiggling a tad to the west, a concerning change.  The 8pm update had the storm traveling nearly due north.  The forecast line will likely continue to wiggle.  Hope for the best!  The 5am update looks a little better.  Wiggle,wiggle.

8 pm – Click to enlarge.

5am – Click to enlarge.

I may not have time to post an update tomorrow.  I will be relocating from the D/FW to SE Texas this morning.  That puts me 4.5 hours closer to the Florida Sea Base.  I will decide Wednesday evening/early Thursday morning if I am going to drive back for the storm.  If I drive non-stop (except for gas and potty breaks of course) I can make it from there to the Florida Sea Base in about 19 hours.  Yahoo!!!


General Manager Captain Paul Beal has confirmed that the order for Newton #5 (name pending) has been placed and the first payment submitted.  Hopefully the vessel will be ready for an early spring delivery.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713




The Hybrid Light / BSA #8 car placed 26th in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Kentucky.  I lifted this graphic from the Hybrid Light site:

Click to enlarge.

I did not get to see the race live, but recorded part of it  (the DVR cut off somewhere around lap 110) and watched it Sunday.  Being outside the top 10, the #8 car did not get much air time.  I saw him as high as 16th.  Someone please correct me if I am wrong.  Based on what I could find on the internet, it looks like Lagassee finished the race running, but was probably the last car (27th thru 43rd place cars had withdrawn for various mechanical issues) to cross the finish line and was (maybe) 13 laps down.  Not seeing the last half of the race and poor news coverage of drivers outside the top 5 is frustrating.

The bottom line is the #8 car spent hours in front of 10s of thousands of fans at the track and many, many more fans watching on TV with the BSA logo zipping by time and time again.  We will see how it goes.  NASCAR, Indy car, or dragster, most young men like fast cars and maybe this effort will attack some new youth to our organization.


A team effort including Captain Rich Beliveau, General Manager Captain Paul Beal, myself and the nice people of Newton Boats, an agreement has been reached and a contract will soon be written for the purchase of the 4th Newton 46 Dive Special to be purchased for the Florida Sea Base Scuba Adventure program.  If all goes well, the vessel should be ready on 15 March 2013 for its delivery by sea from Slidell, Louisiana to the Florida Sea Base.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI Course Director #39713

I posted late on Saturday and now early on Sunday.  So look back a day on the posts or some of today’s comments make not make sense.  Sunday should be another generally quiet day around the Florida Sea Base.  If you read yesterday’s post I mentioned a wave coming off Africa.  It did and was designated Invest 91L late yesterday.


The local weather is still very seasonable.  For the next several days the forecast calls for a high of 89-90, lows of 80-81, 20%-40% chance of rain, and moderate west (yuck) winds.

Click to enlarge.

Invest 90L has been removed from the map – again.  The question is whether it is really gone or just taking another holiday.  I believe the rain north of Orlando is the downgraded remnants of Invest 90L.  We will have to wait to see if it traverses Florida, emerges into the Atlantic and intensifies again. Tropical Storm Isaac made its way through the Florida Keys  26-27 August, then Hurricane Isaac hit the New Orleans area on 29 August.  As it dissipated, the storm swept north to Indiana and east to the Atlantic coast and then turned southwest and emerged in the Gulf of Mexico sitting off New Orleans for several days, strengthened and is now crossing northern Florida and has the potential to intensify in the Atlantic and circle south and west into the Gulf of Mexico yet a third time.

Click to enlarge.

While Invest 91L is a LONG way away, the computer models seem to think it will curve north and then back to the west.  YEAH!!!

Click to enlarge.

Leslie has downgraded to tropical storm strength and will have its greatest effects on Bermuda today.  The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will bring us the blow by blow report of its passing.

Most of the rest of the country is much cooler this morning; including Highland Village, Texas (where my son lives) which is reporting 65ºF this morning.  It was over 100º there on Friday.  I realize most of you appreciate “the seasons”.  My favorite seasons include early summer, mid summer and late summer.  I have very little need for fall and I served my time trudging through nasty gray snow in Michigan for three years.  Florida thrives on the snowbirds who enjoy the seasons to a point, but flee south when winter hits.  Most of the people who make south Florida their year ’round residence like it hot, or at least warm.  We will be complaining when the temperature dips below 70.  And most residents will pack up their dive gear in the very near future when the water temperature dips below 80.  (The water is currently 84ºF.)  I will be spending all of the fall in much cooler climates.  I am packing jackets, gloves, watch caps, insulated boots, and sweat suits for the trips to Dallas and Little Rock and hoping for warmth in Las Vegas for DEMA although it is frequently chilly there in November.


Captain Carol Beliveau was kind enough to rifle through her old office (the Dockmaster Office) looking for order specifications from the previous Newton 46 Dive Specials were have procured.  This information will save me hours of work and will help insure that the newest addition to our fleet is outfitted as similarly as possible to the existing boats.  I have not included travel plans to Slidell during the fall to check on the status of the assembly of our 5th Newton.  Visits may not be warranted until after the first of the year, in part depending on how bad the plant was damaged by surge from Hurricane Isaac.


I slept hard Tuesday night after 14 hours of driving.  I haven’t slept much more than 2 or 3 hours per night since.  I woke up at 0400 and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Old habits die hard so I composed this post.  (Did “post” evolve from composition?)  Many people assume that we don’t do much at the Florida Sea base when the kids aren’t here.  That is a misnomer.  I spent so much time working on Divemaster Academy applications, reports and files Friday night and Saturday that I could barely focus my eyes.  As a matter of fact, I considered getting off the boat for dinner last night but decided I shouldn’t drive.  The list of pending projects and stressors would probably be boring to most of you.  Oh well; I’m going to lay back down; maybe I can doze off.

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



in Scuba  •  0 comments

Captain Rich Beliveau said there was a very large turn-out at the memorial service for Captain Joe Maggio yesterday.  (I was at the Newton Boat factory checking on our current order.)  Besides Captain Rich, I think General Manager Captain Paul Beal, Director of Program Rob Kolb, and Registrar Nancy Wells represented the Florida Sea Base at the service.

I did not get a report from the divers, but the wind speed dropped significantly yesterday so I am hopeful that the dives were better than the past day or two.  Last night was probably the night dive at Alligator Reef.

Three Coral Reef Sailing crews were on base for shore leave yesterday and one Coral Reef Sailing crew returned for their luau.

The Newton 36′ Dive Special is coming along, but slower than anticipated.  The delivery date has now been pushed back to 15 May.  We are going to have a very hard time getting the boat delivered and attending summer staff training.  Captain Dennis Wyatt has offered to be on the delivery team.  We may have to build a team around him and Captain Rich and I may have to miss out.  We still have some time, so hope for the best.

Here’s the build sheet.  (I apologize for the glare.  I thought the flash was off.)

Click to enlarge.

The deck has been attached to the hull and Kevin was installing the motor mounts yesterday.  He said the motor would be ready to install yesterday afternoon but did not say that the motor would actually be installed.  (Sometimes you have to listen to what people DON’T say.)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

The combing for the upper deck is cast.

Click to enlarge.

All of the electronics are sitting in the Newton Boats’ office waiting to be installed.

Click to enlarge.

This is a Newton 36′ that is waiting for shipment to Saudi Arabia.  The hard top will be installed after delivery.  Since the vessel is being exported, it does not comply with all US Coast Guard regulations.  Otherwise, I would be trying to talk Newton into letting us take this one now and ship the other one to Saudi Arabia.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I’m back in the Mother Country but things could be better.  I will do what I can in the time I have.  Enjoy your weekend!

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Land locked

BSA photo/videographer Roger attended yesterday’s morning staff meeting.  His partner, Brian, met us at breakfast.  I then introduced them to the scuba staff and off they went.  They took pictures and/or videos of the crews gearing up, loading the boat, diving, eating and playing on the boat, diving, unloading and securing gear.  Today they will be shadowing one or more sailing crews.  Then they will go to the Brinton Environmental Center to take more photos and videos.

The weather was great.  The divers went to Ham, Cheeca Rocks and Capt. Grumpy.  The sailors on shore leave spent the day kayaking, small boat sailing, tubing and playing volleyball.  Today was Captain Teri Wells’ first lesson in operating the tubing boat.

Mr. Scott Wyatt from the IT department of the BSA National Office is on property to resolve some of our computer issues.  I certainly hope he is successful; our internet, network and overall computer system is a disaster.

Captain Rich found time to call Newton Dive Boats.  They said the Newton 36′ Dive Special being purchased for the Scuba Certification program should be ready around 11 May.  We were hoping to have it by 01 May for christening at the Tarpon Tournament.

I didn’t sleep very well Monday night, had a killer headache all yesterday and essentially accomplished nothing.  Today will be better.

I hope you have a good day.

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



This is post #800. Wowy-zowy.

Today’s post will be a photo exposé.  First photos of the Newton 36 Dive Special progress:

Hull completed in the mold.

Deck completed.

Pilot house combing completed.

Second, photos of the sailing beach and chapel seawall:

Sail Beach

Dredge & Chapel Seawall

The sail beach is being used to deposit the dredgings until the water can drain from the sand.  The chapel seawall is coming along nicely.  Pilings will be added to make additional slips for Coral Reef Sailing vessels.

Yesterday was super chaotic at the Florida Sea Base.  Phone calls, emails, scuba medical forms, staff taking US Coast Guard required drug tests, Captain Dennis telling jokes….. That reminds me.  I promised him I would post this photo of me wearing his favorite new head gear.

Shark Helment

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