As of 0700 Eastern Standard time, 1200 GMT and 0900 ship time, the Empire State was underway from Barcelona, Spain and enroute to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. She was located at 33 degrees 00 minutes North Latitude, 052 degrees 21 minutes West Longitude, steering course 270 degrees true at 16 knots. That position puts her approximately 600 miles east of Bermuda. The weather was clear with winds out of the southeast at 15 knots. Barometric pressure was 1030 millibars. The air temperature was 64 degrees and the sea water temperature was 66 degrees. The depth of water beneath the keel was 2676 fathoms. The ship continues to ride well on small southerly swells.
The excellent weather continues but we are carefully watching the severe weather that just thrashed the South Eastern United States, parts of New England and Cape Cod. The tornadoes and 45-knot winds would certainly have made our ride very nasty. One never knows what will happen out here in the winter. I am always mindful of those dreaded weatherman words: "The storm passed harmlessly out to sea"... so I decided to sail further west before turning north toward home. Even so, I am concerned that seas will build on the port beam and make our last few days uncomfortable.
When I wrote yesterday, a reader may have had the impression that we were having a terrible Valentine's Day, far from our loved ones. Well, things turned out better than I had expected. First, many onboard received valentines from some of the middle school students that are following the ship. Father Houston had brought a bunch from the Fay School in Southboro, MA and they really added color to our lives. There is nothing like a letter from home to cheer up a sailor's day. Then last night, two very exclusive functions: the annual SGA "Casino Night" and a Saint Valentine's Day Dance.
The Student Government Association, under the capable guidance of Cadet 1/C Brendan Sullivan (Newton, MA), elaborately decorated the mess decks to look "nearly identical" to the impressive game rooms at Connecticut's Foxwoods Resort (well, as close as one's imagination and the middle of the ocean will allow). The cadets, dressed in their finest civilian regalia, purchased "MMA BUCS" at the fabulous exchange rate of 100 MMA dollars to 1 US dollar. (We print the money on our copy machines with pictures of ship's officers instead of dead presidents.) Then the games began. It was rather humorous to watch "gamblers" experienced on previous sea terms coach novices in games of blackjack, poker, roulette or craps. For three hours, everyone had a great time betting "thousands" on the spin of a wheel, the flip of a card or the dance of the dice. Then, with their ill-gotten gain clutched in their hands or their confidence crushed and with empty pockets, the winners and the losers went to the "Auction". The prizes were plain brown envelopes stuffed with real cash, compact disc's, T-shirts, gag prizes, and "Special Privileges". The latter category is always hot, but the envelopes are anonymous and their contents secret. As the bidding progressed, prices for the envelope on the block became highly inflated since it quickly dawned on the crowd that "Buc Bucks" won't be worth anything in the morning, except for their souvenir value.
Some of the winners last night: 1/c Derek Pedro (New Bedford) won the CD player. 2/C Ed Nardone (Lynn, MA) acquired an evening at the Empire State's finest, Five Star Restaurant; he and three friends will dine in sumptuous luxury in the Officer's Mess. Cadet Steve Browning (Weymouth, MA) can now "cut the chow line". Cadet Walter Latta (Maynard, MA) will sit in the catbird's seat. He bought the right to sit in the Captain's Chair on the bridge while we transit the Cape Cod Canal. Cadets Ken Gross (Northborough, MA) and Brendan Lee (S. Boston, MA) bought the "Penthouse Suite." They will move from their mundane accommodations in the former cargo hold to the relatively opulent surroundings of a vacant Officer's Stateroom for a night. 2/C Brett DeWolfe (Westborough, MA) got the most sought after prize - he will be first Cadet to march down the gangway when we moor in Buzzards Bay!
Meanwhile, the Officer and Crew Valentine's Day Dance was in full swing. Our Medical Department Head, Nurse Sharon Sylvia (Falmouth, MA) and Nurse Donna Catabriga, (Wareham, MA) and crewmember Laura Dickie worked tirelessly making beautiful decorations, including an elaborate lighted dome that they centered above the dance "deck". The electricians completed the effect with strobe lights, black lights and brightly colored Christmas strings expertly placed throughout the "dance hall". The DJ's musical repertoire was submitted by many and it reflected the range in ages from crewmembers in their sixties to nineteen year-olds. We enjoyed the classic Andrews Sisters, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. The dance began at 2100, which is near my bedtime, so I arranged to make a gracious and polite departure at 2200 when I was "unexpectedly" called to the bridge. (I was so intrigued though, that I admit I crept back down later to watch.)
As they say, "A wonderful time was had by all!"
See you tomorrow... from closer to home. Four and a wake-up!
QUESTIONS FOR WEDNESDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2000
What is the region of Spain that surrounds Barcelona called? And what is the signature dance of the people of that region called?
According to mythology, what well-known God founded the city of Barcelona?
During the past week large chunks of ice have been floating down the Cape Cod Canal. When you think of large chunks of ice floating you immediately think of Antarctic ice flows. Has there been any changes in the Antarctic ice in recent years? And is this due to global warming?
What was the name of the first ship to use steam in crossing the Atlantic Ocean? It was built in the port of New York in 1818.
The prefix "milli" means______? the prefix "centi" means______? the
prefix "kilo" means_______?
ANSWERS FOR TUESDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2000
GEOGRAPHY: No, a compass does not really point north - not true north, except by coincidence in some areas. The compass needle is attracted by magnetic force, which varies in different parts of the world and is constantly changing. When you read north on a compass, you're really reading the direction of the magnetic North Pole.
SCIENCE: The coldest inhabited place on earth is the Siberian village of Oymyakon in Russia. The hottest place on earth is in Libya where a shade temperature of 58 degree's Celsius.
HISTORY: La Sagrada Familia or Church of the Holy Family.
MATH: Yard. Freezing Point. 100 Degrees.