As of 0700 Eastern Standard time, 1200 GMT and 0700 ship time, the Empire State was underway from Barcelona, Spain, homeward bound to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. She was located at 41 degrees 42 minutes North Latitude, 069 degrees 35 minutes West Longitude, steering course 333 degrees true at 16 knots. That position puts her approximately 30 nautical miles southeast of Chatham, Cape Cod. The weather was overcast with light and variable winds. Barometric pressure was 1035 millibars and steady. The air temperature was 29 degrees and the sea water temperature was 41 degrees. The depth of water beneath the keel was 576 feet. The ship is riding on calm seas, alee of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
We're steaming just off Cape Cod this morning and heading to safe anchorage before the snow flys. I plan to be swinging comfortably on the hook in the lee of Provincetown before the snow turns into freezing rain later tonight. What a nasty way for the weather gods to welcome us home; its not like we were in the Caribbean or anything! Tomorrow we will reposition to an anchorage at the mouth of the Cape Cod Canal's East (Sandwich) end while we administer the final exams for this portion of the trip. Sunday we will enter the Canal at 0800 and will tie up, on time, at 0955 at the MMA dock.
I guess I will have to accept the fact that the 2000 Sea Term is nearly over. The end always comes with mixed emotions for me... and for everyone aboard. The cadets are especially anxious to be home, retelling the stories of their fabulous adventures. But there is another side to them that plainly says: sail on, visit another new port, this is fun!
Those who really yearn to be home usually vent their displeasure with the daily routine in satirical articles and poems published in the ship's newspaper, the General Alarm. To them, expressing even an inkling of a desire to continue this voyage would be tantamount to a grade school student voting to cancel summer vacation. They are tired. The ship's constant rolling motion takes a physical toll and when coupled with the grueling agenda, the desire to perform well in classes, and the requirements to stand watches safely and properly, the combination becomes tremendously stressful. So naturally they want to go home and rest.
There are others, however, who are reluctantly returning to "ordinary" college routine. For this group, being at sea is what they want to do for a career and they love it. Expressing a desire to "keep on sailing" brings a puzzled look from their peers. "You want to stay out here?" is the incredulous question asked. Left unsaid is: "What's wrong with your home life that would make you want to stay out here in a tiny bunk with 80 roommates, away from TV, cars, newspapers, pizza, and telephones?" The reaction is predictable, so the cadets who truely understand the opening lines of Masefield's famous poem; "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the shore..." never admit their secret sailor desires. And while these predominant ideas are rarely published in the ship's student newspaper, they are clearly written in the eyes of those cadets, and in the spring of their step, and in the smile on their faces. They want to be here. And they want to stay out here.
Life at sea is simple by design; you work, eat and sleep. The days are ordered and neat because structure is essential for survival. You are surrounded by the most beautiful panoramas nature can deliver. Every porthole and every rail has a gorgeous water view. Life at sea is replete with challenges but there are significant perks and genuine rewards for everyone. For example, life at sea provides a warm, comfortable bed for me and my office is only ten feet away so, there is absolutely no commute. Then at precisely 0600 every morning, a very polite young person calls to relay the latest weather conditions and invite me to the bridge for fresh, hot coffee. How does that compare to the annoying racket of the typical radio alarm clock and the cackling voice of an unknown weatherman? Later, I stroll the one hundred feet to my favorite "restaurant", am greeted by smiling galley cooks with a hearty "Good Morn'in Captain!", and choose from no less than three delicious breakfast entrees. Life just doesn't get any better than that.
Soon that simplicity and the accouterments of this most basic world, will evaporate. I will be up much earlier to make my own coffee and to be sure that my son Joe, gets on the bus. At sea, there are no TV's, but soon 57 channels will add to the confusion. Decisions, decisions; Does it sound familiar? It will be tough to relinquish this luxury but somehow I think we might survive. See you tomorrow from Cape Cod Bay.
I've attached a list of things that landlubbers can do to recreate the life of a cadet at sea.
How to Simulate Shipboard Life - For Ex-Sailors Who -Really Miss
"The Good Old Days"
1. Sleep on the shelf in your hall closet.
2. Replace the closet door with a curtain.
3. 6 hours after you go to sleep, have someone whip open the curtain,shine a flashlight in your eyes, and mumble: "whoops, sorry wrong rack".
4. Build a wall down the middle of your bathtub, and lower the shower head to chest level.
5. While showering, turn off the water while soaping.
6. Put "lube oil" in your humidifier, and turn it on "high".
7. On TV, watch only old movies in the middle of the night, have your family vote on a movie to watch, then show a different one.
8. (for Snipes) Leave the lawn mower running in your living room for 24 hours.
9. Have the paperboy give you a haircut.
10. Once a week blow compressed air up your chimney, watch the soot land on your neighbors car, and laugh while he curses you.
11. Buy a trash compactor, but only use it once a week. Until then, store the trash in the other half of the bathtub.
12. Wake up at midnight and have peanut butter on stale bread.
13. Make up your family menu for a month in advance without any regard for the inventory of food on hand.
14. Set alarms to go off at random times. When they go off, run into your yard, grab the garden hose and wet down your house.
15. Once a month take every appliance apart (whether they need it or not)and put them back together; hoping you do it right.
16. Invite about 85 people, that you don't really like, to stay with you for about 2 months.
17. Install a 6" fluorescent light under your coffee table, then lie under it to read a book.
18. Lockwire the lug nuts on your car.
19. Once a week, throw the cat in the pool and shout "man overboard". Then run into the kitchen, sweep all the dishes off the table, and yell about not having the place "stowed for sea".
20. Use 17 scoops of coffee for 8 cups of water, let it stand for 6 hours with the grounds still in the pot, and then drink it.
ANSWERS FOR FRIDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2000
GEOGRAPHY: The north east region of Spain.
SCIENCE: Astronomy. The cadets applied Astronomy when they performed celestial navigation exercises.
MATH: 127 feet.