MMAwave picture space picture February 06, 2001
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At 0918 Atlantic Standard Time, the Training Ship Empire State was located at 18 degrees 15 minutes N Latitude and 64 degrees 50 minutes W Longitude and housing anchors to depart Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The air temperature was 80 degrees and water temperature 78 degrees Fahrenheit; skies were partly cloudy; winds were from the East at 03 knots; barometric pressure was 1016 millibars. Seas were calm.

St Thomas harbor: How about this for a commute? Our motor whale boats made this trip over a hundred times, ferrying people to and from the beach.


If you have no confidence in self you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won even before you have started. Marcus Garvey

I am writing this Captain's Log as we depart the beautiful harbor at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and I am very pleased to report that the stop proved very successful. Aside from the air conditioning plant, which remains out of commission, things are fine.

We always begin each liberty evolution concerned with our ability to manage every aspect of the port call- particularly from the safety perspective. Putting over 400 young people ashore in a foreign land can be of concern. St. Thomas brought a special challenge. Operating our own boats at all hours of the day and night comes with some risks. The payoff in acquired skills and cadet confidence, however, is well worth it. We experienced no personal injuries but someone's pride is smarting because an expensive UHF radio slipped from a hand and went to sleep with the fishes.

Captains Eric Robinson, and Rob Ripley, both MMA graduates, were wonderful hosts. They functioned as the Jacks-of-all-Trades, not only did they arrange for us to anchor in the inner harbor, they served as excellent tour guides and as our Pilots too. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone on St. Thomas who treated us so well, especially our "last minute agent" Colleen Coombs. She was super! We could have asked for no better.

Carnival Destiny... no, I did not stow away. I was sorely tempted, but she is no match for this Grand Ole' Lady so I happily returned. As promised, here are the details of the visit. I know many of the readers vacation aboard fantastic liners like Carnival Destiny, but very few are permitted onto the navigation bridge. I wish each of you could see it. What a place! The phrases, "state-of-the-art", and "high tech", certainly do it no justice. All of us have seen shuttle launches and the arrangement, the functions, and the design of the bridge on Destiny closely resembles something from NASA Mission-Control.

Captain Ripley escorted Mate Luke Catarius and me aboard, where we were immediately met by ship's security and taken up eight decks, by elevator. The bridge was fully enclosed with darkly tinted glass that slanted outward to the overhead. The bridge wings, also glass enclosed, had clear glass decks that extended outward beyond the gunnels. The functional design permitted the Watch Officer to view line handlers and work on the pier far below. That was eye catching, but the main engine and thruster control systems were truly impressive.

Sailing was scheduled for 1700, and at precisely 1701, the Captain came to the bridge. We exchanged pleasantries, but he was clearly anxious to be off for St. Lucia and quickly set to work. He ordered: "Let go all lines", and they were hauled aboard in less than three minutes. I expected him to take a position at one of the three computerized "joy sticks" which make possible any combination of main engine speeds, rudder angles, and thruster speeds and vectors. However, the Captain elected to forgo their use. Instead, he merely activated the stern thrusters, and in the blink of an eye, had the stern thrusting smartly sideways. Then, he energized the bow thrusters and more slowly pushed the nose away from the quay. Once he achieved the desired stern angle, he applied astern power and cleanly backed 950 feet of luxury into the stream at a speed of precisely 1.5 knots. With the ship properly positioned, the Captain energized the bow thrusters to port, stern thrusters to starboard and effortlessly twisted to the desired heading where he applied ahead pitch to the main propellers and moved out of the harbor. Just incredible, completed in no more than fifteen minutes from start to finish.

We tend to do things more slowly since we are running a training ship, but that performance was humbling. Had Empire State been departing the dock, we would have needed the assistance of two tugs, and bringing in the lines alone would have taken 20 minutes. Isn't it just amazing what the combination of modern technology and old-fashioned money can do?

Well folks, St. Thomas is a pleasant memory and we have the best ahead. See you tomorrow from somewhere nearer to NOLA.

Snorkeling in St Thomas.: 3/c Missy Devalles (Fairhaven,MA) and 2001 Sea Term correspondant Megan Kearns (Wareham,MA) just before they venture underwater.



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64 square feet - 8 square feet = 56 square feet

The difference is 56 square feet of canvas.


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