Sunday 17 February, 2002
Sunday 17 February 2002
At 1200, EST the Training Ship Empire State was made fast to pier #30 Port Everglades passenger terminal, taking various services from the shore. The weather has returned to excellent; skies were clear blue, winds from the west southwest at 5 knots, air temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit, barometric pressure was 1020 millibars, sea injection temperature was 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Among the most inestimable of our blessings, also, is that of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support."
The shift of berth yesterday was thankfully uneventful. We made the move quickly, professionally, and with the help of two hardworking tugs. We are now made fast to pier #30 in the Southport or working section of Port Everglades. Unfortunately, we are now a $7 cab ride from the main gate of the terminal rather than a brisk 20 minute walk, but obviously worth every dollar to those squeezing the last drops of life out of liberty time. Cabs were careening around the corner of the pier last night, screeching to a halt, doors popping open, disgorging their cadet fares at the bottom of the gangway. Just in time to win the game of "Beat the Clock", played for high stakes with the Commandant's Duty Officer. We didn't even have any cadets standing on pier #22 at the expiration of liberty, mouth agape wondering where we were! I love it when everyone gets the word and the plan comes together.
Yesterday was overcast, windy, with occasional rain showers. I guess it wasn't such a bad day for Division 1 to have the duty after all. Today is a beautiful beach day and "Sunny Florida" matches its moniker. Cadets in the Liberty Divisions swarmed out to enjoy what they know will be the last fruits of summer before they are transported back to the icy grip of winter in New England. They resemble the revelers of last Shrove Tuesday indulging their passions before the purple curtain of lent closed in. Pilgrims to the shrine of George Hamilton.
Tonight, in keeping with tradition on our training ships, liberty ends early. Freshmen must be back by 2200. They will grumble that the streetlights only just came on. Third class cadets have to cross the TSES threshold not later than 2230, complaining that some middle school kids have later curfews. Juniors have to be here in time to hear the newscasters say: "It's eleven o'clock... Do you know where your children are?" Even those just 3 1/2 months away from a college degree, a license to run some of the biggest ships on the oceans, and permanent independence from outside authority have Cinderella liberty tonight. But I predict that all will be back on time and asleep in time to get us underway with time to spare tomorrow. No matter the attractions of this adult Disneyland that is Ft. Lauderdale, tomorrow we set out for home and nobody wants to miss that date. The siren's call from home has been playing in every ear for some time now. Tonight it may get drowned out for a few hours by loud music in a jumpin' joint on the strip fronting the Lauderdale beach, but the call from there will get louder down here and will pull us along tomorrow.
See you then, from the last leg of sea term 2002: third base to home! But first, lest you think we are all enjoying the day in Florida, check out these pictures and a comment from 3/c Carrie Bettencourt:
Six and a Wake-up
- 3/c Carrie Bettencourt
As exciting and adventurous as it is to go abroad and visit foreign countries, there is always a special, indescribable feeling about returning to the States. The streets are just a little bit cleaner, the food is just a little bit more trustworthy (if you've been to Mexico, you know what I'm talking about. I could tell you stories...uh, anyway), and the public transportation is just a little safer (and more expensive). Besides all of this, perhaps the best feeling is knowing that our friends and loved ones are only a week away. From the most salty sailor to the youngest of the youngies, the general consensus has been, "I just want to see my parents" (sub in family, friends, girlfriend, boyfriend where applicable, and you get the idea).Our arrival to Ft. Lauderdale is no exception.
Some cadets are fortunate enough to call this area home and, before liberty call was even completed, they were down the gangway, signed off, and in the family car heading to their house. For the rest of us, the phone is our connection home. Whether it's a phone card, a cell phone, or an expensive collect call (sorry mom!), it's good to hear our relatives' voices.
For now, we are enjoying our last liberty port of Cruise 2002, using our time, when possible, to go to the beach, the mall, or simply a nice restaurant. We are also taking the time in port to give our training ship a makeover, so that it will be slightly more presentable for our welcoming committee back in Buzzard's Bay. Today, for example, the entire port side is going to be cleaned and repainted (yes, the whole thing, from bow to stern). It's amazing to see the wear that five weeks of sea water pounding against the hull can do to the ship. (It's equally amazing to see how the hard work of six sophomores and fifteen freshmen can get her looking shiny and new again.)
After today, we'll depart from Florida and sail the final leg of this cruise, heading up the east coast and home. For this engineer, there is officially five watches, four classes, two engineroom assessments, two tests, and one lab (or I guess you could call it six days and a wakeup) until this cruise will be at an end and I will be back in Buzzard's Bay, ready to see my family and friends again.