Posts Tagged ‘texas’



in Staff, Weather  •  0 comments

My Honda Civic, 4′ x 6′ utility trailer, and I arrived safety in Midlothian, Texas sometime around 15:00 (3pm) Sunday.  During the drive, I took a one hour nap at a rest area on I-10 near Tallahassee and a 20 minute nap at the Flying Jin Gulfport, Mississippi.  At least I think it was Gulfport.

I rolled out of bed at 05:30 Saturday with the intent of packing, loading and going to bed around dinner time.  Then get up at 02:00, hit the road 03:00, and make the 22 – 24 hour drive to Texas.  But I was packed and loaded by noon.  Kyle, Preston, Runowich, and Ian (also a D/FW resident) moved my loaded trailer by hand from the Scuba Chickee to the driveway so I could connect it to the car.  I was wring wet with sweat so I took a shower, threw a few final items in the car and headed for the Mother Country.  When I went to bed Sunday I had been up for 39 hours, minus the hour and twenty minutes of napping done in the driver’s set of the Civic.

Blah, blah blah.  What about the Florida Sea Base Captain Steve?


Saturday was the first day that the construction crew was NOT hard at work since they began over a week ago.  I’m not sure if they need a (much deserved) break, were at a point where permission to continue was required from a Village of Islamorada building inspector, or needed materials.  Regardless, they have been making phenomenal process.  I think the building inspector was out on Friday to check progress.  You never know if that is good or bad.


I was lead to believe this would be a quiet week or two regarding tropical weather development.  I checked this morning and Invest 92L is approaching the Lesser Antilles and expected to track south of Cuba and Invest 93L has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to track into northern Florida. That makes me think of the Jimmy Buffet song, “Fins”.  To paraphrase, storms to the north, storms to the south.

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I’m glad I didn’t wait to make the drive.  There is very heavy rain along most of my route today.  I drove in the rain from Shreveport, Louisiana to the house yesterday.

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Former staff member John Livres sent me a brief email to confirm my worry; Dr. Jeff Masters has sold Weather Underground to the parent company of The Weather Channel.  All of the above graphics are courtesy of Weather Underground.  I’m sure the sale was a huge financial success for Dr. Masters.  The impact on the rest of humanity  is inconsequential.  I am very disappointed.  The eventual loss of the Weather Underground radar graphics will have a negative impact on our weather monitoring options at the Florida Sea Base.  We will work around it.  I guess I was busy that day and didn’t the the blog.  Shame on me.


If you are contemplating submitting an application for the 2012 Divemaster Academy, please do so immediately.  If you cannot send in the application all me or send in an email to let me know of your interest.  If you have submitted an application you should have received an email from me recently; if not call or email me.  i will try to send an email to those who have already been selected for the program tomorrow with instructions on how to properly sign up for the PADI Divemaster and Dive Theory online training courses.

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


Texas Drought

in Scuba  •  0 comments

This is a great article that I saw yesterday on The Weather Channel website.  Depleted Texas Lakes Expose Ghost Towns, Graves is worth reading.  I have been scuba diving in several of these lakes.  Pat and Mel Fousek, PADI Course Directors and corporate employees, live on Lake Whitney.  (I located a stolen Ford Mustang in about 80′ of water at Lake Whitney back in my law enforcement days.)  As a PADI Wreck Diver specialty instructor, I realize that history and anthropology can be a part of any dive, not just on wrecks.  The main attraction at Squaw Creek Reservoir near Granbury, Texas was the remains of a flooded ranch house.  Reading this article and reminiscing makes me want to load up my gear and go diving in some limited visibility Texas lakes!  Diving is where you find it and I have many very memorable dives that took place in mud-holes.

I remember years ago when Lake Travis, near Austin, Texas, got very low and divers found the remains of another diver who had been missing for 30 years.  (Don’t quote me on the 30 year part.  I don’t remember for sure, but the diver was missing for a very long time.)  Several of my relatives, the Letney clan, lived in the part of Jasper County, Texas that was flooded to form McGee Bend Dam and Reservoir.  In 1963 the “lake” was renamed Sam Rayburn Reservoir in honor of the long time US Speaker of the House.  It is the largest body of water contained wholly within Texas, with a capacity of 3,997,600 acre feet and covers 114,500 acres.  (Sorry for the tangent.  Thanks Wikipedia.)

Captain Rich and I worked on spring staff hiring yesterday.  If you are interested in working in the scuba or sailing departments this spring, you need to call Captain Rich or me ASAP.  I have just a couple of openings.  I’m not sure if Captain Rich has any.

I am on my way to Fort Lauderdale this morning to pick up my lovely bride.  Then I have a doctor’s appointment and a few stops to make on the way back.

Have a great day.

Captain Steve
Aboard S/V Escape 

What a day.  0300 – up.  0330 – computer on, coffee making, day officially started.  Blog post, emails, IDC assignments, start packing for Texas.  0700 – in the office.  Expense report, DMA paperwork review & filing, create distribution lists in Outlook, jump start the GMC (it’s been sitting too long), organize the GMC for the trip to Texas, wash and dry two loads of clothes, call the National Office re VPN (I don’t know what it is, but I have it), visit with Kyle Moran, later visit with Laura Kuras.  1000 – on the road.  Subway for brunch, then on to the IDC update.  1600 – drive to Key Largo.  Pickup car dolly, get gas, ATM withdrawal.  1730 – back in the office.  Finalize expense report, work on invoices, emails.  1930 – on the boat.  Put away laundry, sort the fridge, more packing, take a jacket?  Take drugs for a major headache.  I’m pooped.  And stressed.  And tired.  Oh yeah, I already said that.

Although Ophelia has strengthened to hurricane status, she is well north of us and no threat to the Florida Sea Base.  Phillipe is forecasted to weaken and turn north.  It looks like I may be driving through a (mostly dry) cold front between here and Texas.

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Dr. Jeff Masters posted some worrisome news yesterday regarding the Texas drought.  Click HERE for the full article.  The bottom line is possibly 9 more years of drought.  That would be disastrous.

I hope to get out of here today, but there is a decent chance that I won’t be able to leave until Sunday.  I wish I was going to be here for the beginning of the dredging project but I am really looking forward to be gone for a while.

I may not be able to post for a few days once I get on the road.  So stay safe and I’ll post as soon as I can.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape 

Some of the PADI Divemaster Crew Packs and supplemental training materials went out yesterday, with more trickling out daily.  With most of the candidates being college students, one of the issues is to insure that UPS will deliver to their college address.  Laura Kuras and Kyle Moran are handling the shipping on my behalf and I certainly appeciate their assistance.  More information about the 2011 Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy can be found by clicking on the LINKS page of this website and scrolling to the bottom.

Today I’m headed back to the IDC audit.  We will wrap this up on Friday.  If all goes well I will leave here sometime Saturday (Sunday at the latest) driving my GMC truck with the Honda Civic in tow.  [Capt. Dennis, if you are reading this, I may need a place to stay Saturday or Sunday night, but only if you allow me to take you and Dr. Ellen to dinner.]  The plan is to drop the GMC at my parents’ place for my dad to use and then I will drive on to Dallas in the Civic for the BSA Aquatics Task Force meeting being held the following weekend.  I will stay in Texas for a few weeks bouncing back and forth from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to rural southeast Texas to do chores for my parents.  It is a 5 hour drive each way so I will be planning my travels carefully.  I may also make a side trip to Houston to inspect a schooner that has expressed interest in our Sea Exploring program.  Capt. Rich said he may fly in to Houston for the inspection as well.  When I leave Texas,I may stop in Louisiana to talk with Newton Custom Boats and then proceed to Orlando for a week at the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association show.

Ophelia is back as a Tropical Depression but is forecasted to go north rather than west and therefore should not pose a threat to the Florida Sea Base or Bahamas.

Click on image to enlarge.

Locally we continue to have a 30% chance of showers daily with lows around 80 and highs around 85 for the remainder of our forecast period.

Have a great day.

Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape 

This is my last chance to visit “the Mother Country” again until September so I was planning to depart from the Florida Sea Base very early Wednesday morning and drive about 24 hours to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  Do to weather concerns, I am moving that up a day and will bug out of here this evening or very early tomorrow morning.  I haven’t decided if I am going to stop somewhere along the way or just gut it out.  Either way, it is a long drive.  Anyway, the whole point is that it may be several days before I post again.  We have a Team Meeting on 17 February so I will be back before then.  Now that I’m thinking about it, I will get two more opportunities to visit Texas before September.  I have an Aquatics Task Force meeting in Dallas in March (but will be there for only 48 hours) and I will make another very brief trip in late July or early August.  However, it is extremely unlikely that I will get to see my parents on either of those trips.

Speaking of the Mother Country, Clyde Clark said he receive a text message from Chrystene that she and Dustin have arrived safe and sound in Amarillo, Texas.

Capt. Dennis Wyatt was kind enough to help me relocate my storage trailer to the middle of a fire ant bed on the FSB property that I like to refer to as the East Remote Parking Area.  Thanks for your help Dennis.  I hope you recover from the ant bites before departing for Belize.

I will post again when I can make the opportunity.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape (but leaving very shortly)

Texas.  The Mother Country.  The Republic.  Home.  A lot of people despise (maybe too strong of a word, but probably not) Texans as cocky, boisterous, braggarts.  From my perspective, we simply take pride in our State, our families, and our colorful history.  I’m pretty sure it is a misdeamor to tell a Texas Tale without embellishment.

Saturday I was driving from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex to my parents place in the extremely rural, piney woods forest of Jasper County in far southeast Texas.  While driving along I was passed by a car with a bumper sticker that you probably won’t see in many other states.  It read, “The bigger the hair, the closer to God”.

I’m back in the metroplex today.  It was a long day for a short visit with my folks; drive 5 hours, visit 5 hours, drive 5 hours.  My folks are doing well, all things considered.  I sat in the living room directly across from my dad as he held the tube that’s protruding from his bladder and through a hole in his stomach, grimacing with pain and telling me how he’s in excellent heath.  He’s recovering from prostate cancer; hopefully the tube comes out Monday.  Other than that he is in excellent health, walking two miles aday (even with the tube) and improving his time almost daily.  I think his current time is 36 minutes.  My mom has almost total dementia.  The doctors say the dementia was caused by radiation and chemotherapy used to cure her breast cancer and later her lung cancer.  For example, she knows I’m her son and that she loves me but she doesn’t know my name.  Physically she’s doing well; she takes no medications and probably walks more miles in a day than my dad does.  She walks in circles inside the house.  She can sometimes communicate in single sentences but can’t really engage in conversation.  Its obvious the she is very frustrated at times.

Capt. Rich, Dustin and EJ have been doing my work back at the Florida Sea Base while I’m with my family for a week.  Those of you who read this blog remember that we had a booming fall season for selling used scuba gear.  As the sale slowed, a friend of the Florida Sea Base, Mike Miller of Mike’s Scuba in Pennsylvania, bought the “leftovers” from our inventory.  Somehow Mike misunderstood my travel plans and scheduled a truck to arrive at the Florida Sea Base Tuesday to pick up the equipment.  Laura Kuras had packed the BCs and regulators into boxes and isolated the scuba tanks before she left at the end of the Christmas season.  Capt. Rich, Dustin and EJ worked Saturday (a scheduled day off) to load 113 tanks and the boxes of BCs and regulators onto pallets and to shrink wrap them.

We are expecting snow today in the DFW area.  It’s 72 and sunny today at the base.  Ten foot ceilings and ceramic tile floors are great in the Texas summers.  But right now my feet are cold!  (I hate cold feet and cold ears.)

Steve Martin (Capt. Scott Martin’s dad) and his squadron of Florida Sea Base angels have begun arriving at the base.  Steve organizes a posse annually to come to the Florida Sea Base and the Brinton Environmental Center to contribute hours of labor to improving the base facilities.  The wives will have the grounds looking like a botanical garden before they leave.  The attendees change from year to year so I will get a list of all the workers when I get back.

I probably won’t post another article until Thursday.

Capt. Steve
Shilvering in the Mother Country

I literally have only a few moments this morning.  Here is the latest on Tropical Storm Alex.  It is no threat to the Florida Sea Base but if you live anywhere along the Texas coast you need to read this update from Weather Underground.

Hi, Dr. Rob Carver filling in for Jeff on the late shift again.
As of the 11PM EDT advisory, Alex is once more a tropical storm moving to the W-NW at 6 knots. According to the CIMMS wind shear estimates Alex is experiencing less than 20 knots of shear, so it’s in a favorable location for intensification. The NHC forecast track has Alex moving to the W-NW and making landfall in northern Mexico.

Disagreement between the forecast models
As of 300EDT, there are roughly three different sets of forecast solutions for the forecast models. CMC/GFS have Alex making landfall along the Texas coast north of Corpus Christi, but south of Houston. GFDL/HWRF have Alex coming ashore near Brownsville. UKMET/ECMWF/NOGAPS/NGFDL show Alex coming ashore well south of the Rio Grande. As was the case yesterday, the difference between the CMC/GFS and UKMET/ECMWF forecast lies in the interaction of the trough with the area of high pressure in the Gulf that’s currently steering Alex. Upper-air data from the Gulfstream IV should help refine model forecasts.

What does it mean?
The CMC/GFS/UKMET/ECMWF are all very good global models so it’s hard to discount one model in favor for another. If you live along the Gulf coast from Tampico, MX to the Texas/Louisiana border, it would be very prudent to review your hurricane planning and preparations. I still think the chances of Alex directly interfering with oil spill recovery efforts are low.

04:00 Computer Models from Weather Underground

I Have to run but I’ll post more later today.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Yesterday I drove 1,000 miles and I still have over 500 to go.  I will be visiting family in Texas for the next few weeks.  The Thanksgiving holiday is the only holiday we get to take off at Sea Base.  We work every other major holiday of the year.  The BSA doesn’t allow us to accrue our vacation time or holidays and doesn’t give us comp time for the hundreds of hours of overtime hours and weekends we work during spring and summer program seasons.  If you add 4 weeks of vacation plus 11 federal holidays, plus the overtime we put in, getting two or three weeks off at Thanksgiving isn’t as much as it might otherwise sound.  This is not a complaint, just fact – part of the price to get to work in the Keys.

As always, I have brought work me.  My primary work focuses are on the 04 December FSB Committee Meeting and the Divemaster Academy and winter programs.  I will post something as often as possible.  Stay warm and dry – and stay tuned.