February 24, 2001
At 0800 Eastern Standard Time, the Training Ship Empire State was located at 41 degrees and 47 minutes N Latitude, and 070 degrees and 23 minutes W Longitude. She was at anchor in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts. The air temperature was 21 degrees and water temperature 40 degrees Fahrenheit; skies were mostly clear; winds were from the North Northwest at 32 knots; barometric pressure was 1029 millibars. Seas were rolling to eight feet. Depth of water beneath the keel was 73 feet.
The ship will ANCHOR in Cape Cod Bay, 0930 FRIDAY 23 FEBRUARY, and remain anchored while cadets take final exams.
She will ENTER the EAST END of Cape Cod Canal at approximately, 0940 SUNDAY 25 FEBRUARY.
She will TIE UP to the MMA DOCK at, 1054 SUNDAY 25 FEBRUARY.
Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American.
--El Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz
Never a dull moment on Sea Term, when one thinks he has it in the bag Mother Nature steps up and says otherwise. We planned to sit peacefully at anchor, complete exams, and relax; well we managed one of three, the exams have begun. However, the force seven winds (32 knots) are generating wonderfully sickening eight-foot rollers, breaking waves, foam and spray. The passing seas raise the bow high on the crests and drop it into the troughs, hauling on the anchor chain. Cadet Navigators, who had anticipated leisurely fixing the position, are now working overtime. Dragging one's anchor is a bad thing and "fix" information may be the first indication that the ship is moving.
Despite the vagaries of winter weather, homecoming eve is always the most intense time of Sea Term. We can see the twinkling lights of Sandwich and Sagamore and other surrounding towns that are home and haunt to all. Lookouts have the long glasses glued on the beach searching for familiar faces among those walking there. People who have never gone to Scussett Beach are drawn like moths to the flames; they flutter around at water's edge seemingly transfixed by the white apparition, barely visible in the distance. These are families and friends as anxious as we about tomorrow.
The ship is supercharged and tense. Final exams and inspections loom, many are dealing for the first time, with the emotions of homecoming, and stirred among this volatile mix, the seniors. They are cool, composed leaders setting the example. But let me tell you, theirs is the toughest row to hoe. Just beneath that polished veneer of confidence and poise, rests the knowledge that the run is nearly over. The college years have evaporated nearly as fast as the morning mists and when the ship is fast tomorrow, they will march down the gangway and into the real world, real jobs, and real responsibilities.
The Sea Term, and particularly the concluding hours of it, is trying, but homecoming is also the great equalizer. The exciting trip through the canal, the cheering crowds, the camaraderie that results from shared adventures has no match, and no one wants to miss out. However, some do. Our Crew Team departed in Florida, but they will meet us and share in the arrival joy.
But, the baseball team is not as fortunate. Their bags are packed and when final exams are graded, they board the launch and head for the airport. (weather permitting) I know, some will view their going to Florida in winter as a treat but consider this; these dedicated young men and their coaches forgo not only the homecoming celebrations, but any restful time at home, they return next Sunday night and begin classes on Monday morning.
In the world of college sports, pre season training is absolutely essential for success. Football training is year around but practice begins in August with the ritual of two a days. Pre season practice for college baseball begins in January, just as we fire the boilers and head to sea. The ship is a wonderfully practical setting for teaching many subjects but batting, fielding, and pitching isn't on the list and our team misses that.
Their abbreviated practices last only one week, but team members began preparing early last year. They rolled out the "Mutt Wagon" and sold hotdogs, sodas, and raffle tickets all year long. The money they earned pays the transportation, lodging, and training expenses for the spring trip. That commitment alone, makes each of them Superstars. They have my best wishes. GO BUCS! The season starts today.
Well folks, I am off to the bridge. I must see if Empire State has decided to fly south...don't want to be left behind, you know. See you tomorrow...Pierside.