February 25, 2001
At 1200 Eastern Standard Time, the Training Ship Empire State was located at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, secured to the pier with doubled lines fore and aft. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and no one noticed the miserable winter weather.
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.
--Booker T. Washington
"Home is the sailor, Home from the sea."
The 2001 Sea Term will not officially end until Wednesday when the Empire State returns safely (and clean) to our friends at The Maritime College of New York. For the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Cadets, however, IT'S OVER!
Beset by mechanical difficulties that resulted in creature discomforts and schedule snafus, this Sea Term could never have the name "Cruise" appended to it. No, the Cadets may look tanned and fit as they saunter down the gangway, grinning like prisoners who were just pardoned by President Clinton. However, this voyage was more akin to an "Arduous, Mid-winter, Sea Term Deployment" than the Caribbean cruise that many envisioned last December. Of course, from the training standpoint, it turned out better than planned. We continually adjusted to the daily equipment failures and by using good leadership and decision making skills, motivated the cadets to excel at each new task or adjust to the revised plan of the day.
Humans do not like change and it was challenging for the cadets and crew to embrace these difficulties and recognize them for what they really were; opportunities to learn new techniques and improve skills. For example, few if any, of the cadet marine engineers had removed, transported, or reinstalled a huge turbo generator, prior to the casualty in Curacao.
At St. Thomas, our deck cadets honed their small boat handling talents to levels far beyond what they might have expected to attain with practice at B-Bay. The MSEP cadets, studying industrial safety, got far more than they bargained for too, when engine room noise levels went sky high, along with the temperatures and humidity in the berthing compartments.
All aboard relearned that old saying; life is what happens when you are making other plans. To succeed, one must learn to dance to the tune being played rather than pine for the song requested. Besides, these winter excursions are billed as "Hands-On" and there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that we kept every hand busy this trip.
Yes, 2001 Sea Term will go down in MMA lore. Years from now, the participants will regale their own children as they retell the colorful tales of hardship and tribulation, of human spirit and energy rising above adversity. With a little practice their artistic embellishments may rise to the level of my own stories about how I walked two miles to kindergarten, through neck deep snow, on a road that went uphill both ways...Regardless, it is all down hill from here.
There are two other groups that I want to mention. First, several of our shipmates departed cruise and came home early due to family emergencies. To them, please remember that you and your loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers.
Second, I want to acknowledge our student friends and their dedicated teachers. Almost 2000 middle school students follow our every course change, plot each position, and graph the depth of water under the keel for the entire sea term. Special thanks go to Mrs Moe Holden of Bourne Middle School who turns her classroom every sea term into a regimental academy, complete with "salt & pepper" uniforms, earned privileges, and rank awards. Mrs. Sue O'Donnel of Hansen Middle School and Mrs. Karen Holmes of Whitman Middle School both run excellent programs that involve their children in learning with a hands on component that keeps them interested and involved in the maritime world around them. Joining this cast of outstanding teachers of our young people is Mrs. Fuller of Bird Middle School. All teachers who go above and beyond the book to involve their young charges in real activities have our admiration and appreciation. They make learning what it is supposed to be- fun. By any measure, Sea term 2001 was a resounding success. Our mission: Learn - Do - Learn; Boldly Sail Through The World's Intriguing Classroom, Explore Foreign Lands, Make New Friends, and Discover New Things That We Have Not Seen Before!
We succeeded but only with the significant help of our wonderful shipmates at schools throughout the Northeast. You followed our every adventure, sent encouraging mail to every port, and quickly solved the difficult questions everyday. You did a super job!
So from the Captain, the Crew, and especially the Cadets of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy; Fair Winds and Following Seas. See you next year when we again set sail to new places, have new adventures, and make more special friends on Sea Term 2002...
COME CHECK US OUT!