Sunday 03 February, 2002
Sunday February 03, 2002
At 1200, EST the Training Ship Empire State was located just a field goal west of Georgetown, Grand Cayman in the harbor. She was swinging on the port anchor with five shots out. (1 shot equals 15 fathoms) The weather continued to be excellent; skies were clear, winds from the northeast at 3 knots, air temperature was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, barometric pressure was 1022 millibars, the humidity was 80 percent, sea injection temperature was 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Depth of water was 30 feet beneath the bow, 300 feet beneath the stern.
"Do, or do not. There is no "try" - Yoda ("The Empire Strikes Back") - The Patriot Empire!
Yesterday's training session went as planned and I am happy to report that everyone escaped the sinking ship successfully; much to the delight of the 3/C cadets who were convinced that their lives depended upon it.
I wrote about the required lifeboat qualifications earlier and by now, everyone has seen pictures of the boats that cadets operate. Nearly all the readers have seen "Titanic" or other movies that depict disasters in which people fight to gain space in decrepit looking, open containers labeled "lifeboat." Let me assure you, that scene has changed.
We carry a variety of lifeboats aboard, (with more than enough seats for everyone) all certified by the United States Coast Guard, but the most impressive ones are totally enclosed. When seen bow on, these brightly colored (International Orange) craft closely resemble great pumpkins, without the toothy smiles. Don't let the appearance fool you.
These boats are 25 feet long, almost 10 feet wide, weight nearly four tons empty, and have ample space for 50 people. They look like great pumpkins because of their round bottomed, self-righting design. That makes them inherently stable and easier to handle in rough seas. The molded hull and the external hardware (marine stainless steel) have been designed to withstand the fury of the open sea. Consequently, they are tank like and tough. They are propelled by water-cooled marine diesels. Freshwater cooling eliminates hull openings; making the craft even more water tight, and diesel fuel is far less volatile than gasoline. The entire external perimeter is equipped with drooping lifelines, easy handholds at eye level, for anyone who might find himself or herself in the water and the propeller is shrouded for safety and added maneuverability. These expensive little machines have none of the luxuries that one would find on a pleasure craft but they are reasonably comfortable. The "pantry" is stocked with food and water, the "medicine cabinet" contains emergency medical equipment, and we are busily filling young minds with the right stuff to make it all work. What a combination. We have no intentions of using these little yachts for anything more than training. However, we practice just in case.
Today is Sunday so the cadets are taking a well-deserved break. Chartwells talented chefs were up early preparing the feast and soon the delightful aromas of warm bar-b-que sauce and hot coconut oil will permeate the atmosphere from stem to stern. The starboard lookout reported sighting a large squadron of attack gulls circling overhead, so the word is out.
I must be cautious; the recipe of abundant food and warm sunshine does pose significant risks; the deadly combination has been known to render some comatose even before kickoff, especially when the Chippenhammer Band is off playing another gig.
The TSES "extreme games" are at throttle up. We continue to have some offensive linemen who can't let go. They lost badly in the previous hoop tourney but I will give them credit, dribbling the football is somewhat difficult. Maybe they will perfect the art before next Sunday.
Then we have jousting. The defensive linemen who sufferred setbacks are now challenging the volleyball squad. Something tells me that they have grossly underestimated their opponents.
Others are preparing the Sea Term Sea Taxis for service. The senior class has been doing a remarkable job and to break the traditional, no good deed goes unpunished rule, I decided to send them ashore today. Grand Cayman is an absolutely beautiful Island and they should see it now, before real world demands make the trip more difficult.
Our "fleet" of motor whaleboats will carry them to the wharf in style, and the operation will provide opportunities to perfect small boat skills. I sense that most are headed to the oceanfront resorts for dinner and the Superbowl. Do you suppose there's a party goin' on?
Well folks, I promised myself that I would tour the ship and then load test a hammock. A small nap now, may prevent a fill scale crash later.
"Do, or do not, there is no "try."
See You tomorrow from somewhere in the Trench.
Take a Chance By Cadet 3/C P.D. Calder
We are often faced with difficult decisions and different people react to the challenges in different ways - some respond well, others do not. Some thrive on complicated circumstances; others fall on their faces. It is unfortunate when people are faced with issues to which there appears to be no correct answers, but it is worse when one is forced to take a decision that goes against the very fiber of his being. I have often said: "Never let principle get in the way of doing what is right" - no matter the circumstances.
Some of the most difficult choices occur when risk is most apparent; How far are you willing to go to get what you want? What are you willing to sacrifice? I have found that the greatest victories come when one is willing to risk everything. How one deals with tough choices is the best test of character. I saw a quote pasted on the main deck bulkhead a few days ago. It said "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not ships are made for."
To do great things, one must take risks. In life, one regrets what he failed do more than what he did. The worst one can do, when faced with tough choices, is make no choice at all. Be decisive, even if it takes time to make the decision, then be confident in it. To paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, envy not the man who stands on the sidelines and points to things that went wrong, but the man who fights and tries, even if he fails. That is the idea that I would have everyone consider. As Roosevelt also said: "It is hard to fail, but it is far worse to have never tried to succeed." So, go ahead and try. What's the worst that can happen?
QUESTIONS FOR MONDAY 04 FEBRUARY
MATH: The Cayman trench is approximately 24,700 feet deep. Express the depth in scientific notation.
SCIENCE: How do modern sextants direct light rays from the celestial body to the eye of the navigator?
GEOGRAPHY: The island of Cuba hangs like a giant scimitar (a curved, single-edged sword of Oriental origin) above some small islands south of it. The United Kingdom owns these islands. Name them.
HISTORY: As the ship steams east into the Caribbean Sea there are many islands before us. Our history includes times when we possessed some of these islands. Which islands did the United States gain by war with Spain in 1898? Which islands did we buy from Denmark?