February 14, 2001
At 0800 Central Standard Time, the Training Ship Empire State was located at Bienville Street Wharf, New Orleans, Louisiana and taking various services from the pier. The air temperature was 68 degrees Fahrenheit; skies were mostly cloudy and foggy; winds were from the East at 02 knots; barometric pressure was 1016 millibars and steady. Relative Humidity was 96%.
The workings of the human heart are the profoundest mystery of the universe. One moment they make us despair of our kind, and the next we see in them the reflection of the divine image. Charles W. Chesnutt, (1858-1932)
Roses are red,
the Oceans are blue.
Click on the heart,
we've got something for you.
Underway for home at last! New Orleans (or as they say here - N'awlens) was a great port with more to do than we had time to try. St. Thomas was as close to Paradise as you can get on this earth (and will win the Cadet Oscar for Best Port of 2001, I'm sure). Curacao was foreign, different and friendly (though we wore out our welcome by the time we fixed everything). Yes, Cruisin' in the Caribbean is the best way to spend winter in New England, but for all of it... on this day of hearts... our hearts are home with our loved ones, and we are glad to be on our way back. Happy Valentine's Day to all at home. This Valentine's Day is the first time in years that I was able to actually give a Valentine to my wife in person. Usually, I am out here on the Sea Term, but this time she visited me in New Orleans :).
This morning was the last accountability muster "nose count" of the sea term. We have a tradition at MMA: just before sailing, every single human being embarked is physically sighted and checked off by an officer. This morning's count matched the sailing list, but I doubt anyone would have wanted to stay behind in the Big Easy. Gethome-itis is a disease that seems to have swept over the entire crew. Everyone was up early today, pacing the decks, watching the river roll southward, and cursing the weather.
We were slightly delayed leaving the wharf today, because of The Fog.
The fog comes
on little cat's feet. It sits looking over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
The impenetrable mist that restricts visibility may be attractive to poets like Carl Sandburg, but it is the bane of a mariner's life. It will slow the ship to a crawl and keep the Master prisoner in the wheelhouse. It will keep a ship in port, particularly a busy riverport like NOLA. Silent fog will disturb the sleep of countless sailors. They toss in their bunks as the ship's whistle blasts out their location, and they listen involuntarily for a reply from some other nearby ship, coming closer, imprisoned in the gray veil. No, fog is not my friend.
Finally, at 0951 Central Time - almost two hours late, we slipped our lines. Coming hard to port, we did an abrupt left face into the river and began to roll down with the Mississippi toward the sea. The down bound trip is very unlike the ride up. Coming upriver to New Orleans is a slow motion dance with the river, turning with her at the bends and waltzing past the little towns. Down river is a tango. Fast paced, quick steps dodging the slower, matronly barges attended by little tugs. We race past the levees, ferries, and swamps, hurtling toward the shallow delta. To keep steerageway (the ability of the rudder to direct the ship) we maintain forward motion of 10 knots on top of the river's average speed of 8 knots. Doing 180 degree hairpin turns with 17,000 tons of steel, rocketing past slower traffic moving upriver, and all the while watching the treacherous eddies that want to suck you into the soft mud, is an E-ticket ride at any amusement park in the land!
Hearty souls work here, but gracious. They know him, the impetuous Ole' Mississippi. He demands his due. As gray gives way to bright, I see them churning silently by, moving slowly, deliberately, respectfully. Propellers have replace poles but the scene is a page from Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi.
"The river's earliest commerce was in great barges--keelboats, broadhorns.... In time this commerce increased until it gave employment to hordes of rough and hardy men; rude, uneducated, brave, suffering terrific hardships with sailor-like stoicism; heavy drinkers, coarse frolickers in moral sties like the Natchez-under-the-hill of that day, heavy fighters, reckless fellows, every one, elephantinely jolly, foul-witted, profane; prodigal of their money, bankrupt at the end of the trip, fond of barbaric finery, prodigious braggarts; yet, in the main, honest, trustworthy, faithful to promises and duty, and often picturesquely magnanimous".
Now, as we join other river boatmen in the stream, has much changed? I think not. Clements portrayed us well. He describes early river men, and those of today, and mariners of the future in the same breath, not from his knowledge of man but from his knowledge of river. As I watch barges and boats warping by on waters embarrassed by dirt levees and breached by steel bridges I know what he knew. We do not change the river for long, but we are changed by it, forever.
Our stay in New Orleans is over and many of my young charges are likewise changed. We have honed their skills and experience has tested their hearts. They are ready for the final exams, which have already begun. In hours the Gulf, tomorrow the Straits of Florida, and then we follow our racing hearts northward, home.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY....See you tomorrow from somewhere closer to there.
Before I return to my duties, I thought to include some tourist pictures of our visit to this historic city perched on a big bend of the Mississippi, courtesy of 2/c Megan Kearns, Wareham, MA and 3/c Angela Abbot, Sandwich, Ma. Enjoy!
QUESTIONS FOR THURSDAY 15 FEBRUARY
Empire State is steering course 000 degrees true when the radar operator reports two contacts. Contact A bears 000 degrees true and is at a range of 8 nm. Contact B bears 090 degrees true and is at a range of 6nm. What is the distance between contact A and contact B? Hint: Draw Empire State and the contacts in a right triangle.
Earth's atmosphere is divided into 6 major layers. In what layer does the weather occur? Name the remaining five layers.
One often hears reference to "Cajuns" and "Creoles" when speaking of the people of Louisiana. From what nationality are they descendents? The Cajuns migrated to Louisiana from a northern location. What is that place called today?
In 1847, Henry W. Longfellow wrote a poem that depicted the expulsion of the French Acadians from their homeland. What is the title of that work?
ANSWERS FOR WEDNESDAY 14 FEBRUARY
10 1/2 DIVIDED 1/2 = 21/2 DIVIDED BY 1/2 OR
21/2 x 2/1 = 21
The room is 21 feet in length.
Gulf Coastal Plain.
April 30, 1812.
Seventeen, Louisiana became the eighteenth state.
It was called the Orleans Territory.