Tuesday morning was the last FloridaSea Base scuba trip aboard the BSA Tarpon. She is being retired and will be sold. She has been a great war horse. I went on yesterday’s final dive. I have made 100s of dives from this platform with a cast of characters that included Captain Hal MacMinn, Captain Dennis Wyatt, Bert Hubby, Milly McCoy, Joshua C. Tipton, Justin Maharaski and many, MANY more staff members and participants. It was a sad trip. As we backed from the slip for the last time, Captain Ed Miller shouted from shore, “Captain Dennis should be here”. Captain Hal and Captain Dennis were the two long-term operators of the BSA Tarpon and each adopter her as his own. In memory of Captain Dennis, the theme from Spongebob Squarepants was blaring as we left the harbor and “YMCA” was being sung and danced to as we returned. (No, he’s not dead, just missed.)
The BSA Tarpon is a 1994 Corinthian Catamaran built in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Captain Sam Wampler, founder of the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base was very fond of tarpon fishing as was the vessels benefactor, Frank Heckrodt. So it’s no surprise that the vessel was christened BSA Tarpon. Anyone interested in purchasing her should contact Captain Keith Douglass at Keith.Douglass@scouting.org or 305-664-5613. The vessel is powered by two 300 horsepower Suzuki outboards. Asking price is $125k. That money will offset about 1/3 of the cost for another Newton 46 Dive Special to replace her.
There is a lot of concern in the Florida Keys regarding now Tropical Storm Isaac. But there is always hope, and in yesterday morning’s Wunderblog, Dr. Jeff Masters wrote, “Given the tendency of the models to predict a track too far to the north for this storm, and this season’s general steering pattern that has already taken two storms into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, we should not be surprised if TS Isaac takes a more southerly path than the official NHC forecast, and potentially become a threat to western Cuba or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.” Dr. Masters posted again yesterday afternoon and wrote :
Latest model runs for TD 9
The latest set of 12Z (8 am EDT) model runs for TD 9 are fairly unified for the coming three days, showing a west to west-northwest track to a point just south of Hispaniola. Most of the models then predict a more west-northwest track across Southwest Haiti and into eastern Cuba, as TD 9 responds to a small trough of low pressure over the Southeast U.S. A notable exception is our best-performing model, the ECMWF, which keeps TD 9 south of Hispaniola, and takes the storm more to the west over Jamaica by Saturday, and then into the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba by next Tuesday. We’ll have to wait another day to see where the center of TD 9 consolidates before judging which model solution is likely to be correct; reformations of the center closer to bursts of heavy thunderstorm often cause the center point to shift around in the early stages of development, leading to large changes in the forecast track many days later.
As of 02:00 this morning (the most recent update), we are still within the “cone of error” (we joking refer to it as the “cone of death locally” because The Weather Channel sometimes over-sells the drama of these events).Your prayers are appreciated.
The bad news at 02:00 is the National Hurricane Center is forecasting Isaac to cross Hispaniola as a category one hurricane. Haiti just does not need any bad weather with an estimated 400,000 people still living under tarps since the 2010 earthquake. The good news for us is the storm might be disrupted a bit as it crosses the island. Part of my concern is the potential for rapid intensification between Hispaniola and the Florida Sea Base. A mandatory evacuation of non-residents from Monroe County would mean the last Scuba Liveaboard participants and the staff would have to depart early. But it is still a little premature to pull the trigger on that. ”Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” With that in mind, I contacted the leader of our final Scuba Liveaboard crew yesterday to discuss the situation and options.
The Wednesday scuba rotation is complete for the 2012 summer season. The participants are headed home today. We still have crews on base including a Scuba Certification crew under the tutelage of PADI scuba instructors Dan Bauer and Captain Sargon Smith. We have a 30′ diameter by 10′ deep pool that we use for scuba training. I happened into the scuba area yesterday afternoon while the crew was taking a cool down break. The air temperature was around 90º and the water temperature was about 102º. Getting OUT of the pool to cool off just doesn’t sound right.
Here’s the upcoming forecast from the National Weather Service:
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 93. Southeast wind around 10 mph.
Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 83. East wind around 10 mph.
Thursday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. East wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 83. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 82. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Saturday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 81. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Sunday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 80. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Monday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Monday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 80. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Tuesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
I boarded Escape around 19:30 (7:30 pm) yesterday. I noticed that the tide was unusually low and was wondering if that was a sign of impending weather. I woke up at 01:38 this morning to go to the bathroom. When I laid back down I thought I noticed lightning in the distance so I turned on my iPad, pulled up Weather Underground, checked the radar, and yep, we were about to get smacked again. It was a small but very intense cell with very strong winds from the southwest. Fortunately, the center of the cell was actually a bit to our west. Some of these winds are challenging on the boats tied in the slip. The boat does well when it can swing and stay pointed into the wind. But Escape was shuddering (especially the main mast) from the wind coming at an angle that she was not engineered to handle. As far as I know, there was no damage on the base, just a rodeo ride in the slip for a bit, then back to sleep.
Make it a great day. I’ll do what I can to keep you posted on the weather. By the way, the next system, Invest 96L, has the potential to be much larger than TS Isaac. But it is projected to turn north and east into the Atlantic like Gordon did a few weeks ago and should miss Florida completely. ’Tis the season.
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Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
PADI CD #39713
Aboard S/V Escape