Posts Tagged ‘off’



The Boy Scouts of America turned 102 yesterday.  Happy Birthday to us!

I haven’t heard any news from the base so I hereby declare all is well.  Warm temperatures and a chance of rain continues in the Nation Weather Service forecast:

Thursday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 77. Northeast wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Thursday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. Northeast wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. Northeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Northeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Saturday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 66. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Sunday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 74. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 67. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Monday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 79. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Monday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Tuesday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Tuesday Night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 70. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Wednesday: A slight chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 81. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

I am taking the next four days off to spend with my family and work on my PADI Course Director Training Course application.  I will be traveling to Slidell, Louisiana Monday to check on the progress of the 36′ Newton Dive Special we have under construction.  I will try to post a photo or two Monday night.  I hope to be back to work on Thursday at the latest.

Here’s a new photo of my 6 month old granddaughter, Josie:

Click to enlarge.

Have a GREAT weekend.

Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Enjoying a few days off.

Surprisingly, it worked out.  I actually got to take the day off yesterday.  I got up yesterday morning and wrote my daily (well, very near daily) post and then laid back down for about an hour and a half.  Then I spent a while straightening up below decks.  (I’m a slob to begin with.  When I go more than a week without a day off the boat can become worse than messy.)  Then I cleaned up and drove to Florida City (the tip of the mainland) for a free oil and filter change at Largo Honda.  I had my trusty dusty MacBook Pro with me and took advantage of the wait (and the dealership’s free WiFi and very nice waiting area) to research Irene and our local marine and land weather forecasts.  While on the mainland I tended to a few other chores and bought gas for about 12 cents a gallon less than the cheapest price I could find in the Keys.

While driving back to the Florida Sea Base I stopped at West Marine and exchanged a pair of swim trunks that had blown a non-critical seam.  My next stop was at the grocery store.  Then I headed back to the base.

Captain Rich hosted the 2011 Captains Dinner v2.0 last night.  It started with an end of year debriefing at the Florida Sea Base and then moved to the Islamorada Fishing Club for dinner.  Our captains are VERY fortunate to have Capt. Rich as a boss.

Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s posting on Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog:

Irene’s impact on the Bahama Islands
Irene is making a direct hit on Crooked Island (population 350) in the Bahamas, and will continue west-northwest and hit Rum Cay (population 80) and Cat Island (population 1700) late tonight. These unfortunate islands will bear the full brunt of Irene’s 115+ mph winds and 8 – 13 foot storm surge, and suffer major damage that will take months to recover from. Major damage is also likely on Long Island (population 3000) and San Salvador Island (population 1000.) Shortly after midnight tonight, winds at the capital of Nassau, home to 70% of the population of the Bahamas, will rise above tropical storm force, and increase through the night. By late morning on Thursday, sustained winds will peak on Nassau at just below hurricane force, 60 – 70 mph. Nassau will miss the brunt of the storm, and I expect the airport should be able to re-open on Friday. Winds on Grand Bahama Island in Freeport will rise above tropical storm force late Thursday morning, and increase to a peak of 45 – 60 mph late Thursday afternoon. Grand Bahama will also miss the brunt of the storm, but Abaco Island to its east will likely experience Category 2 hurricane conditions Thursday afternoon. However, Abaco will probably miss the right front eyewall of Irene with the strongest winds and highest storm surge.

Long Island is one of the locations Captains Mike and Kelly Lucivero like to frequent in the off season.  The Abacos is where the Florida Sea Base Bahamas program is based.  The programs have concluded there so our concerns are with the captains, their families and vessels.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

We still have scuba participants at the Florida Sea Base (Islamorada base).  The wind conditions may make diving very challenging today and tomorrow.  Today may be okay if the wind holds from the north.  If the wind clocks to the west later today or tomorrow there may be no diving.  (Nor sleeping for people on the docks as west winds jerk the boats around in the slips and makes sleeping very challenging.)  The National Weather Service marine forecast reads:

TodayNorthwest winds 20 to 25 knots and gusty…except near 25 knots and gusty off the upper keys. Seas 6 to 8 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms…except numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms off the upper keys.
West to northwest winds 20 to 25 knots and gusty…highest off the upper keys. Seas 6 to 9 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms…except numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms off the upper keys early.
Southwest to west winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 5 to 7 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Friday NightSouthwest to west winds near 20 knots. Seas 4 to 7 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Southwest to west winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms. 
Southwest winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
MondaySouth to southwest winds near 10 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.

In addition to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Depression 10 sprung to life overnight in the Atlantic.  The forecast tracks have it going almost due north and hopefully won’t be any threat to land masses.  Only two and a half more months and this hurricane season will be concluded.

Click to enlarge.

Our local forecast is being complicated by a trough that moved in from the north yesterday colliding with the effects of Hurricane Irene to our east.  The wind and waves have been kicking Escape about in the slip since 0445 this morning.

In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen enough to be convinced that Hurricane Irene is a large, dangerous system, I thought I would edit this morning’s post and add this last graphic before shutting down the computer.

Click to enlarge.

I will be heading back to the Florida Keys Dive Center in just a few minutes to resume my IDC audit.  We have another instructor candidate joining us today for some last minute refreshers before the Instructor Exam this weekend.   I am cautiously optimistic that we will be finished with the IDC by noon tomorrow.

Stay safe.  Stay dry.  And hang on to you hat!

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape 


Day Off?

I unofficially have today off.  So I didn’t set the alarm and slept until I woke up.  My brain is awake but my body is wiped out.  I’m going to lay down, turn on the iPod and try to rest (if not sleep) for a while before the phone calls, text messages and emails start pouring in.

The IDC is still underway but my presence is not required today.  I will be back at 0730 tomorrow.  Capt. Bert Hubby is teaching the Emergency First Aid Instructor segment of the IDC today.  In lieu of attending this course (I am already an EFR instructor) I have to complete a $450 on-line course and take written and practical tests in November at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association show in Orlando.

Hurricane Irene continues to be the local topic of interest.  Yesterday’s earthquake is also causing a stir.  We are now clear of the cone of the death, but we will continue to monitor Irene’s track.  The jelly fish are still thick as molasses.

I failed to mention that two former Florida Sea Base staff members were diving at Florida Keys Dive Center for the past couple of days.  Natasha Stanke, now a veterinarian, was diving with her best friend in the world, Nicole, and James Woods was here with a different friend.  Both Natasha and James worked at the Florida Sea Base as divemasters but during different years and had never met.  Natasha’s brother, Ivan (better known as Moose), works in Key West.

After completing my day at the IDC audit yesterday, I returned to the Florida Sea Base and certified Capt. Ed Miller and Divemaster Mike Roesel in the PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty course.  After that I made my way out to Escape and started my first draft of this post around 2115.  I was POOPED.

Pray for the residents of the Bahamas.  They are going to have a terrifying few days followed by months of recovery.  If you are near the forecasted point of landfall of Irene, please consider evacuating.  The worst I have personally endured was Hurricane Wilma as a weak category 3 system with about three feet of storm surge.  We were still here because she was forecasted to only be a category 1 system as she passed us.  We stayed in the Scuba Dorms which are rated for cat 5 winds.  There was nothing fun about it.  My dad evacuated his home, about 65 miles in-land from the Texas coast, for Hurricane Rita.  The house survived, but he returned (as part of the Red Cross Mass Casualty Unit) to almost two months of extreme summer heat with no electricity, no a/c, no refrigeration, no fans, no lights after sunset, etc.

I understand the pains and hassle of evacuating.  If you have a generator, unlimited fuel supply,  enough food and water to last a month and a cat 5 structure two or three stories high you might be okay.  Otherwise, get out.  When the electricity goes out you have NOTHING.  No water (pumps require electricity), no lights, no ATM, no groceries (cash registers – if you have cash – require electricity), no gasoline, no refrigeration to keep perishable food, no electric stoves or ovens.  It’s almost like the stone age.

Also remember that police, fire and medical personnel will NOT be able to respond, assuming there is phone service.  You will be on your own.

Sorry to rant.  Please be safe and please pray for those who can’t escape this storm.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape 


Invest 90L

in Weather  •  0 comments


One model has the system coming right to us.

Invest 90L is not an immediate threat to the Florida Sea Base and may be no threat at all, but we are keeping a close eye on it.  Here is Dr. Jeff Masters comment on the system:

Invest 90L is looking ragged on satellite as it makes its way across the Caribbean islands. While this wave looked ripe for eventual development earlier this week, it has really taken a turn for the worse as it moved across the Main Development Region of the North Atlantic. Today, low level circulation is could favorably be described as less than moderate, and almost nonexistent at higher levels. Today, not one of the global models I’ve looked at (ECMWF, NOGAPS, CMC, UKMET, or GFS) develop 90L, but they are coming into better agreement that the wave’s track will be across the Caribbean islands and into the Gulf of Mexico, rather than up the east coast of Florida. This could be one of the reasons the models are not suggesting development—too much land interaction, not enough time over open warm waters. However, its hard to say that this wave will not show some signs of improvement when it reaches the Gulf. Water will be toasty, moisture will be relatively high, and wind shear will remain incredibly low. Today the National Hurricane Center is giving this wave a 20% chance of development over the next 48 hours. My forecast has been the same for the past two days, right around 20% chance of development over the lifetime of the wave.

Our local weather remains “seasonal”.  The sailing staff handled the onslaught of Coral Reef Sailing crews with great poise and professionalism yesterday.

I got to take my day off.  I slept in until 0545, worked on the engine cooling system on Escape until it got too hot to stay.  Then I went to Key Largo to look at Kawasaki Mules and trailers to haul tanks with.  The drive back was s-l-o-w.  The masses are arriving for the two day lobster mini season.

Lobster mini season is officially a two day event for snorkelers and scuba divers that precedes the opening of the commercial lobster season.  It is the single biggest grossing event of the year for Monroe County.  All hotels have a five day minimum.  There will be THOUSANDS of boaters and divers searching for “bugs”.  Two or three people usually die each year in the pursuit of lobster meat.  People who don’t own a boat will be renting one.  The locals call these people SPORES, Stupid People On Rental Equipment.  Out of ignorance, some of these people will anchor and snorkel in navigable channels, literally run over each other, break and kill coral, kill undersized lobsters and egg bearing females, exceed the bag limit, and then go home.  But the locals will make $$$$$ so it’s all okay.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape


Day Off?

Saturday is my scheduled day off.  I hope to sleep in a little, but that RARELY happens.  I’ll try my best.  Then I’ll see how things are going on base.  If all is well, I have two work related assignments off base.  I was aked to go to the Kawasaki dealership in Key Largo and check out a 600cc 4 wheeler and I need to stop at Key Dives and Quienscence Diving Services to photograph their tank trailers.  Captain Paul Beal, the General Manager of the Florida Sea Base, is considering allowing us to purchase a Kawaski and build a trailer to haul tanks from the scuba area to the sea wall.   This is a definite maybe.

The seasonal staff members are being challanged by injuries and illnesses.  One broke his foot, one may have walking pneumonia, another has a sinus infection, another had an infection lanced on his back, and there are some others that are slipping my mind at this time.  None of these folks can get in the water and that is leaving us very short handed.  We do not have adequate staff housing and certainly can’t acccomodate spare staff members.  When one staffer goes down it causes issues.   We have reinforcements coming on the scuba side, but we are still hurting for the next week or two.  The sailing staff is also in a pinch, especially for tomorrow when they have seven instead of the usual four crews arriving.

Invest 90L is on the (morning) horizon and its forecasted track is a little concerning; 005º shift to the north and she will be knocking on our door.  But it is several days away so we will continue to monitor the situation.

Click to enlarge.

In anticipation of sleeping in, I am going to post this tonight.  Have a good weekend.

Capt. Steve Willis
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 afternoon from the Florida Sea Base.  Just hours after I made this morning’s post NOAA recognized another Invest system, 94L.  We had Invest 92L last week and now 93L and 94L simultaneously.  It looks like it will be and active season in the North Atlantic as predicted.

From Weather Underground

From Weather Underground

We certainly had an active day at the base.  In the morning, Capt. Kim on S/V Rainbow Connection broke a steering cable and was towed in by Capt. Rich for repairs.  This afternoon, Capt. Geoff was unable to start S/V Silent Harmony to return to the Florida Sea Base so Capt. Rich and I towed him in.  Then one of the little sailboats blew out its mainsail and ran aground so Capt. Rich and I towed them back in.  While we appreciate all of God’s gifts, including the wind, we are experiencing just a little too much wind currently.  It will slow down to zero before long and we will be lamenting the lack of wind.  So we do our best to take what we are given and make the best of it.

We received another load of sand for the volleyball court today.  Added to yesterday’s delivery, the court is much better.  If we get really lucky we might get one more load.  We also received a third washer/dryer for the staff laundry.  It’s not connected yet, but we are looking forward to the expansion.

That’s about all for right now.  Tomorrow is my scheduled day off.  I have a lot of personal projects that need my attention.  I may not post tomorrow.  If not, I will certainly be back at it on Sunday.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The strong winds will dominate for even longer at the Florida Sea Base.  NOAA forecasts 20 knot winds from the east through Saturday and 15 knot winds through Tuesday (the end of the current forecast period).  The wind actually shifted to the east-northeast (ENE) yesterday and gave us a very tolerable day of diving.  As I have mentioned before, the wind has been okay for the sailors.  They are reefing sails and staying mostly on the bay side.

EHre’s the morning report on Invest 93L from Weather Underground:

Credit: Weather Underground

Capt. Alex Bergstedt and Matt McClure are off today.  I am “recovering” from yesterday afternoon and last night.  Without being too graphic, I will just say that I have spent more of the last 12 hours on the toilet than off.  I haven’t felt “bad”; no nausea; but I obviously found some type of bug somewhere, somehow.  I’m doing my best to stay hydrated.  I fixed dinner on the boat and ate well (although it was a challenge to not burn anything while running back and for to the head).  Things seem to have slowed down so maybe the worst is over.  But believe me, I will do my best to not stray far from the bathroom today.

We received one load of good sand for the volleyball court yesterday (we need three more).  We expanded from one to two courts this summer and we are having some growing pains.  I expect the courts will be in pretty good shape about the end of summer (of course).  The courts are in near constant use.  I think we could cut out the sailing and diving and just have volleyball and hammocks under the palm trees and most of the kids would still have a blast.

Some of you may remember that 50 feet of chain disappeared from a bucket on the dock by my boat while we were delivering the BSA Centennial Eagle from Slidell, LA to the Florida Sea Base.  I am very disappointed to report that no one has acknowledged borrowing the chain.  Capt. Dennis Dugas of S/V Wandering Star even snorkeled around the dock to see if the chain somehow fell out of the bucket and into the water.  No luck.  I spent $154 to replace the chain.  The new chain is secured on my boat.  When I was a kid this situation would have been considered theft.  But in today’s society it is apparently my fault because I presented some otherwise honest person with too much temptation and caused them to take the chain.  Shame on me.

It’s time to hit the shower and prepare for another “opening day” at the Florida Sea Base.  So far, we remain oil free, there are no imminent threats of hurricanes for the next week and only 60 days of summer program are left.  Time flies when you’re having fun!!!

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape


Taking a Day Off

in Staff  •  0 comments

I slept in this morning until 07:00 – late for me.  I thought I would do a little composing while I was making my do list for the day.

It’s challenging for Capt. Rich or I to take a day off during the program season at the Florida Sea Base.  We have a very competent staff and great staff leaders; that is not the issue.  I think it’s probably because we have new crews arriving and departing every day, all of the staff members, captains and most vendors have our cell phone numbers, and we physically live on the base.  A sub-issue caused by the every day arrivals is that it is very easy for us to lose track of what day of the week it is.  So even if I tell everyone that I am going to take Saturday off, they forget today is Saturday and call me anyway.  Or if I am trying to do laundry or work on my boat or if I’m messing with my truck and a staff member or participant sees me they don’t really care that I’m “off”, they just want their question answered or their issue resolved.  It’s even worse for Capt. Rich because he has 40 plus captains and mates from the Sea Exploring, Coral Reef Sailing and Sea Exploring programs that have him on speed dial.  So we will see how the day off goes.  First on the list is to fix a nice breakfast for myself.  I’ll follow up with you later in the day.

Okay; so the day went like this.  After writing the above paragraph I fixed breakfast, wash dishes and straightened up the salon & galley areas of Escape.  Then I received a phone call from a couple who wanted a boat that I was helping a friend give away.  That took until noon.  I had lunch at the Florida Sea Base (salad and baked potato bar).  After lunch I changed the linens on the bed and then watched an episode of the TV show “Chuck” that I had downloaded from iTunes.  Then I tried to take a short nap but the phone kept ringing so that didn’t work.  I spent a little while messing around on the computer.  Then I went to Smuggler’s Cove for dinner and had a Cuban dish called Mojo Pork; pulled pork over black beans and rice.  It was excellent.  I was joined by Captains Mike & Kelly and Scuba Instructor Teri from the Tuesday Scuba Liveaboard program.  And now I’m back aboard Escape.

Capt. Rich and Capt. Alex are off tomorrow.  I have a few things to discuss with the staff at the 07:30 meeting.  Thanks for reading.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

ALMOST everyone was off today at the Florida Sea Base.  Andy set out some breakfast items, Clyde dealt with the Sea School folks and Sarah had to put together a food order for the Coral Reef Sailing crew that arrives tomorrow.  Oh, Kathleen and Logan worked in Admin.  As far as I know, everyone else enjoyed a day off.  I saw Ranger Joe riding his sail board, Capt. Carol was working on nursing school assignments, Capt. Kelly was working on the lesson plan for the upcoming Eco Adventure crew.  Capt. Mike spliced some dock lines and prepared S/V Ciao Bella for tomorrow’s Coral Reef Sailing crew.  Capt. Rich is still in St. Petersburg.  I worked on S/V Escape, picked up my laundry, and picked up my dinghy outboard.  I have just a touch of a sore throat so I took some Nyquil and I am headed to bed.