Posts Tagged ‘tropical’

The Divemaster Academy is hosted each year by the Florida Sea Base.  The 2010 Brochure contains many of the details.  The Divemaster Academy (DMA) was started in 2004 by Capt. Bert Hubby, Milly McCoy, and me.  In previous years, the Florida Sea Base had a hard time finding scuba professionals (Divemasters and Instructors) with Scouting backgrounds or who were familiar with the Scouting culture.  We went through some difficult staffing times and dismissed several Divemasters who just could not get into the Scouting way of life.  I was able to convince the General Manager that while expensive, training Eagles Scouts to be Divemasters was easier than converting Divemasters into Scout role models.  And the Divemaster Academy was born.  The Florida Sea Base spends about $1,200 per candidate to train up to a maximum of 16 Divemasters at each Academy.  The Academy is held once a year, in December, when many of the interested, college attending applicants can attend.  The 2010 DMA dates are listed on the brochure.  The DMA is opened to basically anyone who meets the prerequisites, but Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients do get preference.  There are frequently more than 16 applicants so I review each application, conduct email and telephone interviews and do my best to select the top candidates.  Some years we have had as few as 6 or 7 candidates accepted into the program.  We are looking for QUALITY, not QUANTITY.  If accepted, the DMA is essentially free.  You will sign a contract agreeing to work the spring or summer season at the Florida Sea Base for the usual compensation (currently $265 per week plus room and board).  The Florida Sea Base provides everything except transportation, the membership fee which is paid to PADI and some other incidentals.  Again, refer to the brochure.  Also, in the very near future I plan to post Frequently Asked Questions about the DMA.  If you are interested in applying for the 2010 DMA please download the 2010 DMA application and mail it to the address on the application.  If you have questions, please email those to  Please don’t submit your questions to this blog.  You can click for a copy of the Academy Application.

Yesterday’s weather was windy and rainy.  The sailors went sailing and the divers went diving but it was rough.  Invest 94 became Tropical Depression 5 at about 19:30 last night but as of 05:00 this morning it appears to be out of our lives and moving towards the Louisiana/Mississippi border.  Our radar is clear and the winds are down to 10 knots or less.  With only 13 days of program remaining, we have at least some chance of finishing this season with nice weather.  “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

I will be spending today in Miami.  Our BSA insurance is not “in network” in the Keys.  We get to drive 1.5 – 2 hours to see in network doctors.  A day of lost work, tolls, $36 in gas, parking, lunch, insurance co-pay, all add up to an expensive doctor’s visit.  By the time I drive up, see the doctor, and run a couple of errands I will do good to get back in time for dinner.  That’s part of the price you pay for living in paradise.  Even the nearest in network ER is on the mainland.  I don’t mean to sound like I’m whining.  I’m just telling the truth.

I’m going to get cleaned up and hit the highway (yeah Miami rush hour traffic!!!).

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

The weather is still very warm at the Florida Sea Base.  We have an increased chance for some rain today (40%) but if we get any rain at all it is likely to be spotty.  Tropical Storm Colin is working its way slowly to the northwest and we will continue to monitor it.  The “Ship’s Intensity Model” is predicting the winds will top out near 68 mph three to four days from now.  The National Hurricane Center is predicting a 20% chance of Colin becoming a Category 1 Hurricane on Saturday.

T/S Colin - Weather Underground

I’m glad that it is not headed to the Gulf of Mexico and I hope BP can take advantage of this good fortune and get the Deepwater Horizon well shut down before the next storm.

Yesterday was a good day here.  The skies were a little overcast at times but we missed the rain.  It was warm but nothing like back home in Texas.  Speaking from personal experience, when the weather is 104+ back home it’s like being in a dry sauna.  You literally breathe the hot air into your lungs.  The highs are forecasted to be at 100+ for the next week.  I remember when I used to bail and haul hay for a living at this time of year.  Brutal.

I get to drive one of the dive boats this morning.  I will be back before noon.  As long as we are able to dodge the rain, we should have flat seas and great visibility.  The water temperature is 86º F.  That’s great for the divers and snorkelers but it is hard on the coral reefs.  The corals are very temperature sensitive.  This winter’s record setting cold water temperatures (as low as 60º F at Molasses Reef) and now very high temperatures is making life very difficult for the corals.

I have been interviewing applicants for the fall staff.  I can only hire two people and I have several EXCELLENT applicants.  This is going to be a tough decision and I may have to borrow Meghann Michalski’s basket of ping-pong balls to resolve this.  [That may warrant a brief explanation.  We have 200+ Scouts at the morning and evening flag ceremony.  When the crews are dismissed from flags they go directly to the Galley for breakfast or dinner.  To help stagger the dismissal and better control the stampede for the food line, Meghann labeled ping-pong balls with the FSB staff members’ names.  When a ping-pong ball is drawn, that staff member’s crew is dismissed from flags.]  I would consider using a dart board, but I don’t have one.  (Because I’m afraid I would wind up throwing the darts at the staff members when they stand in my doorway and ask me questions that 18+ year old human beings should be able to answer for themselves.)  Do any of you parents remember “lawn darts”?  They were gigantic metal darts that you threw into the air and tried to make them land inside a hula-hoop.  Over time, the game evolved so that the objective became how close you could stick the dart to your best friend.  Then I guess some kid got impaled and then the lawn darts were recalled.  What a shame.  I miss lawn darts.  (From hiring staff to lawn darts.  If there are any mental health professionals reading this they will likely be concerned about that progression.  But its just the way my mind works.)

The BSA Explorer is calling me.  Be careful out there.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Invest 91L has reached tropical depression status with a closed circulation and 35 mph winds.  The good news is the system is not forecasted to reach hurricane strength and it should travel between Bermuda and the Bahamas.

Credit National Hurricane Center

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning.  I am “off” today so this may be brief but I wanted to bring everyone up to date on the tropical development – or at least what the “experts” seem to be saying at this point.  A new wave emerged from Africa yesterday.  There is speculation that this new wave will kill or devour 90L.

From Weather Underground

The above graphic was copied from Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog dated 30 July 2010.  In the same blog, Dr. Masters commented on the wave that is south of the Dominican Republic.

Tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean
A tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean, south of the Dominican Republic, is moving west at 15 – 20 mph with no signs of development. The wave is under a high 20 knots of wind shear, due to strong upper-level westerly winds from an upper level low centered north of Puerto Rico. This shear is expected to remain remain high through Saturday. By Sunday, when the wave will be approaching Nicaragua, the wave will be far enough away from the upper level low that shear should fall to the moderate range, 10 – 20 knots. Some development is possible on Sunday, but the wave will have only about a 1-day window to develop before its westerly motion brings it inland over Nicaragua on Monday. NHC is giving this wave a 10% chance of developing into a tropical depression by 2pm Sunday.

So we’re not sweating the Caribbean system and 90L and the new African wave are too far out to be overly concerned about at this time.  Locally we are expecting another VERY warm day with light winds – great for diving but a little challenging for the sailors.

Since I’m posting this a couple of hours later than usual this morning I decided to check the comments part of the site and was pleased to find the following compliments of Capt. Dennis and Jon Dobson:

Just a reminder to all Staff: don’t stick your pinkie finger into a hermit crab’s home. The pincher claw will create a blood blister on the end of one’s finger. It seems to hurt a lot. Dunking the attched hermit crab into salt water will only made the hermit crab squeeze tighter thusly hurting more. Shaking the crab appears to make the crab more angry. Also–when screaming for help from Captain Dennis don’t scream “Captain Steve!! Captain Steve!! Hellp! Get this thing off me! Help!” Be aware of the rescuer’s name. Also, I, John Dobson, would like to personally and publicly thank Boat Mate Dan for leaping to my assistance with his Spyderco knife. I did believe he was going to cut my pinkie off, but he attacked the claw. And thanks to Program Office Manager Ellen for her sympathies. And thanks to all the Staff at the July 31st Staff Meeting for their kind comments and subdued laughter. Also thanks go to Captain Rich who reminded me “If you aren’t going to be smart…you’ve got to be tough.”

The actual quote is “If you’re going to be stupid you better be tough” which is attributed to Capt. Mike Lucivero.  One of Capt. Mike’s participants had a stack of bumper stickers printed with the quote and Capt. Mike’s name.  Anyway, it seems like some of the staff are learning life lessons.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

It has been nice not worrying about tropical weather development since T/S Bonnie, sort of like a mental nap.  But nap time is over, the tropical weather is back in the news with two systems worth watching.  They are still a long ways off and may not effect us at all.  But we will be watching them closely.

Credit - National Hurricane Center

At this point, the closer system is forecasted as having less chance of development and has not been formally classified as a tropical wave.

Yesterday was very quiet here both weather-wise and programatically.  So I took a little time to clean the hoses and tubing in the salon air conditioner on Escape and Capt. Rich went lobstering for dinner at Capt. Carol’s request.


I’m running short on time this morning.  I did not receive any updates from the Jambo staff so I’m sure they are very busy and having a great time.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

As noted yesterday, T/S Bonnie made landfall in Miami and had very minimal effect on the Florida Sea Base.  It is VERY difficult to not be frustrated with the “science” of weather forecasting.  For three days the forecast said the center of Bonnie would come very close to the Florida Sea Base.  Even as Bonnie was coming ashore in Miami (90 miles away) the data available on the internet showed it to be on track to hit the base.  Since it came ashore about 10:30, it seems reasonable that the 05:00 or 08:00 update could have updated the location and track.

This is not unusual, but that makes it no less frustrating.  Most people in Miami were caught unperpared and those of us in the Keys spent untold man-hours in preparation and – in our case – the kids missed a day of normal program.  About 30 minutes after Bonnie made landfall the “forecasters” corrected the path.

So what’s the good news?  The staff at the Florida Sea Base were being lulled into a false sense of security by a lack of tropical weather.  Now they understand that my “be prepared” speeches are real.  The facilities are a little better prepared for future severe weather.  The newer captains got a taste of how crazy it will be when the real deal happens.  I suspect that there will be some additional purchases of line, chain, hardware, fenders and other storm necessities in the coming week.  It even gave me the motivitation to clear my decks and revisit my level of preparation.  (I really want to add some mid-ship cleats.  Maybe I can make time for that next week.)  In the end, the management, staff, captains and participants all handled the situation exceptionally well.

The weather is fairly cooperative at the Florida Sea Base this weekend.  In a perfect world the wind would lay down to 10 to 15 knots and clock around to the north or northeast.  It’s GREAT to have so little to complain about.

Capt. Steve
Posted from Coconut Grove

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  As noted in today’s headline, Capt. Rich and Capt. Steve (that’s me!) are at large on the high seas in the vicinity of the Florida Sea Base.  While we are not relieved of our daily responsibilities, our command posts have been relocated from the Program Office to BSA Adventure and BSA Explorer respectively for the remainder of the week as we substitute for the usual captains, Tom and Carl.  This is indeed a dangerous situation for the upper management of the Florida Sea Base as Capt. Rich and I are both enjoying being out of the office in mid-summer WAY too much.  Anyone out there interested in a Program Directors job?  And if Capt. Tom and Capt. Carl are reading this, you MIGHT have jobs when you get back but Capt. Rich and I may just have to relieve you for the remainder of the summer.

The water was flat and swimming pool clear yesterday.  The triple crew on BSA Explorer this week is from Missouri.  While this was for many their first saltwater dive, on the most bio-diverse reef in the Florida Keys with absolutely perfect conditions (calm seas, no current, 80 feet of visibility and sunny skies) the divers were very calm – almost complacent – as they returned aboard the boat.  I heard one kid say “that was awesome”.  We had to prod comments from most of the rest.  The dive staff for this crew includes Christy Clemenson, Harrison Plunkett and Kodiak Hengstebeck.  They need to get this crew fired up or I may leave them all at the dock this morning and go by myself!!!

Tropical Depression 2 made landfall in south Texas yesterday afternoon.  Flooding is already monumental in south Texas and northeastern Mexico from Hurricane Alex.  “Devastating” is not a big enough word to describe the plight of the residents of these areas.  Remeber that the American Red Cross can always use you financial support.  The remainder of the tropics remain quiet for now.  Here is the forecast for Islamorada from the National Weather Service in Key West:

Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 90. Southwest wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 81. South southwest wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

If you go back to my post on 27 June 2010 you will see a photo of the S/V Calypso Poet with serious mast damage.  I am VERY happy to report that the Poet is repaired and scheduled to resume her Coral Reef Adventure duties on Saturday.  Capt. Joey has been working like a mad-man to get her back in service.  Many other members of our seasonal staff and captains in our fleet have assisted with manpower and/or donations.  I would list them all if I could.  The effort to restore the Calypso Poet to the fleet has been “a family affair”.  Welcome back Capt. Joey!!!

My morning started at 05:30.  Basically I was praying, asking God (if it was His will) to let me fall back asleep for an hour; it was NOT His will.  So I got up an found that the forward air conditioner was not performing as it should.  By 05:40 I was in the engine room cleaning (mostly) mud and a little grass from the sea strainer that serves the a/c.  It seems to be working better now.  I didn’t sleep well last night so usually I would be a little grumpy.  But everything will probably be okay since I will be on the water instead of in the office.

Speaking of being on the water, I’ve got to remember to take some sun protection for my lips with me.  I can tell they are a little burned after being out for just four hours yesterday.  I think it was to years ago when my lips and the tops of my ears developed a sensitivity to the sun.  It seems strange to me but I bet a dermatologist could explain they reasons.  So sunscreen and a hat for the ears and sun balm for the lips today.  I’ll be reminding the crews from Missouri to reapply sunscreen frequently this week.  Missouri; isn’t that the “show me” state?

That’s all for now.  I still have a lot to do before we cast off.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Good morning from the Florida Sea Base.  Here are two excellent posts from Dr. Jeff Masters that you should make time to read.

The first one is very optimistic for the Florida Keys for the forecast period.  (But also reminds us that we could have a very bad situation on our hands IF the oil spill gets into the Loop Current.)

The second one explains the interaction of a hurricane on the oil spill.  It also notes that the first tropical wave of the 2010 season came off the African coast yesterday (Sunday); a reminder to those of us at the Florida Sea Base to keep a daily watch on such events.

Since the weather effects our personal and professional lives daily, the full time staff of the Florida Sea Base spends a lot of time monitoring television and internet weather forecast data.  (I have a TV in my office that stays on the Weather Channel.)  For the time being, we will have the daily forecast, short term forecast, long term forecast, marine weather forecast, tropical forecast and Deepwater Hoizon forecast to monitor.

Remember to check back here and at the Florida Sea Base’s official site for updated information on the weather, the oil spill and other urgent news affecting the Florida Sea Base programs.

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

Just a quick blurb this morning.  If you are not a close watcher of tropical weather (it seems to be a huge part of my life for about 6 months out of each year) you may not be aware that before storms become hurricanes, tropical storms or even tropical depressions, they are sometimes designated as “Invest” followed by a 2 digit number which is reused and usually in the 90s in our part of the world.  So Invest 98 is a weather system sitting out in the Atlantic right now.  I have attached a diagram from Weather Underground with various computer models on the storms forecasted track on it.  You will see that the system poses no threat to the Florida Keys for the foreseeable future.  But now you know what an “Invest” is and our staff members and participants can be assured that we do our absolute best and use several US and international resources to stay as well informed about our pending weather as possible.

Invest 98 is currently NOT a threat to the Florida Keys.

Invest 98 is currently NOT a threat to the Florida Keys.