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Captain's Log for Thursday, 10 February 2000

As of 0700 Eastern Standard time, 1200 GMT and ship time, the Empire State was underway from Barcelona, Spain and enroute to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. She was located at 35 degrees 57 minutes North Latitude, 017 degrees 48 minutes West Longitude, steering course 270 degrees true at 15.5 knots. That position put her approximately 200 nautical miles north of Madeira. The weather was mostly cloudy with winds out of the west northwest at 2 knots. Barometric pressure was 1033 millibars of mercury. The air temperature was 60 degrees and the sea water temperature was 61 degrees. The depth of water beneath the keel was 2701 fathoms.


I want to take this opportunity and respond to our most loyal fans who follow our every move through out the Sea Term. For those readers who don't know, we are academically linked, via our WorldWide Classroom, to a number of middle schools in the Northeast and teachers have customized parts of their curricula to correspond to our Sea Term travels. Cadets from Massachusetts Maritime Academy visit these schools prior to our departure and indoctrinate participating classes with the "Learn-Do-Learn" philosophy that is central to success at MMA. Then, the Cadets and students exchange letters, post cards, trinkets, and etc. from the various ports that we visit. Mail that we receive includes questions about every part of life out here. Some are very complex and show that the students have gone well beyond in their research, but most questions are insightful for their simplicity. I like those questions best because we often overlook some of the obvious things that are still important.

Students from the Decas School in Wareham, MA always have excellent questions. First, let me answer the ones about myself. I am 47 years of age and have always enjoyed the sea. That love motivated me to attend Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where I actually went to sea for the first time. I was 18 then and a 4/C Cadet. I graduated from MMA in 1974 and sailed as Third Mate aboard a huge oil tanker. I traveled around the world delivering petroleum products and seeing the sights while perfecting my ship handling skills and learning the more detailed aspects of the shipping business. I took a break from the hectic pace and joined Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1981. I intended to work here for only a short while and then return to my tanker. I didn't go back. Teaching our Cadets in the classroom and leading them to sea was pleasing and I stayed. I worked to advance my qualifications and I have been the Captain of our Training Ship for the past four years.

Steve asked me if I liked all the cleaning? That answer is simple. No! But let me say that life at MMA and aboard ship quickly taught me the importance of caring for possessions and equipment. No one likes to clean but cleanliness is a crucial part of running a squared away ship and essential to any business. We insist everyone clean up after themselves. Cleaning your own room and keeping it squared away will make your life more comfortable as well. I survived the cleaning chores and learned to accept responsibility too.

Kevin's questions about the weather caused me to reflect on the best part of life at sea, where I see new things every day. We are currently enjoying light winds and gentle northerly swells, but that can quickly change. Before nightfall we could be scaling mountainous waves in a forty-knot gale. The deep ocean is unbelievably powerful and it exhibits rugged beauty and color. Sunset and sunrise are often exceptionally beautiful and the clarity of the sparkling night sky cannot be duplicated ashore. (Light pollution beaming heavenward from the larger cities and towns, diminishes the brilliant starlight.)

Brendan is interested in our scientific experiments. We consistently monitor seawater temperature, salinity, plant and animal life and compare our findings to data recorded by other scientists. Differences are noted and the changes are discussed and explained. Keen understanding of the sciences such as meteorology, astronomy, and oceanography, is essential if one yearns to work at sea.

Finally, many students ask; "What's it like to be Captain." Well, the whole job of being the Captain is difficult to answer. Mostly, I administer ship's business and personnel. It is a busy job that requires many hours all day, every day, at sea and in port. Of course I don't direct everyone on board, but I do discuss issues with department managers and they pass down our decisions. While the ship is in close proximinity to land, I have to work on the Navigation Bridge with the Mates and Cadets. When in crowded harbors, I often direct the ship's movements myself.

The Sea Term is demanding but all the hard work is worth it. We visit unique places, develop lasting friendships, work at something we love, and see beautiful sights. Coupled with the fact that Sea term introduced us to many new friends like you, and it is easy to see why I say "Captain" is the best job in the world. I look forward to going to visit Kevin, Steven and Brenden's class this spring. I know I will be asked to visit more(like Gina Andrade's in Falmouth). Study hard...and you too can be "Captain". See you again tomorrow.


GEOGRAPHY: Washington, D.C. is located at approximately 39 degrees North Latitude. That parallel of latitude runs through what European country. HINT - The cadets visited this country during Sea Term 2000.

SCIENCE: Cadet Ryan was kayaking in Cape Cod Bay before she left for Sea Term. In the evening she noticed that some barnacles and fish in the shallow areas of the Bay seemed to light up . What is this called?

HISTORY: In what year did explorer Leif Ericson discover North America?

MATH: The Training Ship Empire State is traveling at a speed of 15 knots. Disregarding the elements such as - wind and current - how long will she take to travel 1500 nautical miles? And how long will she take to travel 1500 statute miles? HINT-1 nautical mile/hour equals 1.1516 statute miles/hour.


GEOGRAPHY: The deepest part of the Persian Gulf is just 300 feet, making it the shallowest. In fact, at low tide it appears as if one can walk from Saudi Arabia to Iran.

SCIENCE: The Atlantic is more saline than the Pacific. This is mostly due to increased erosion, higher surface evaporation, and the influence of very saline seas such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

HISTORY: It established a wide distribution of navigation and ship plans around the world. This proved invaluable for countries that did not possess such tools...and gave them the opportunity to launch explorations too.

MATH: 32 quarts

February 2000
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