Thursday 07 February, 2002
Thursday 07 February 2002
At 1200, EST the Training Ship Empire State was located 27 nautical miles southeast of Isla Saono, Dominican Republic, 17 degrees and 41 minutes North Latitude and 068 degrees 25 minutes West Longitude, steering course 090 degrees true at a speed of 17.8 knots/Rpm 86 turns. The weather was partly cloudy, winds from the east at 08 to 12 knots, air temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit, barometric pressure was 1019 millibars, seas were moderating from the east, sea injection temperature was 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Depth of water beneath the keel was 2500 meters.
"Duties are not performed for duties' sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty- the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself." Mark Twain
Back to the breaking news of yesterday. When I left you yesterday afternoon, we were moving slowly westward escorting the weathered sailboat and her hard-pressed skipper to more cordial waters, out of the force six winds and ten foot seas. She was riding comfortably, one hundred feet to port and we were preparing to send an away team to replenish depleted fuel supplies, to remedy pressing mechanical problems, and with food and drink to refresh the skipper.
Then, as I feared, the situation became more urgent. The resolute skipper fell victim to exhaustion and became unable to continue. Commander Pat Modic, the Staff Watch Officer, reported that the yacht nearly collided with the Empire Stateand as I looked from the bridge wing, the skipper appeared to doze and nod off at the wheel. We were forced to act before reaching the shelter of Cabo Beata.
The well-schooled cadets were organized and ready. The Officer of the Deck called the boat crews together for final safety briefings and off they went. Within minutes, the rescue team acted to stabilize the dangerous situation, put our professionals aboard, take the wheel, and tend to the skipper's needs.
Commander Jim Taddia and Commander Matt Mahanna operated the deck machinery, while Commander Chris Zola and Commander Bob McMurray and Nurse Sharon Sylvia handled the boat. As our rescue boat approached the sailboat, the deafening roar of the wind and sea caused the yacht skipper to misunderstand the instructions and the rescue boat was forced to abort the first attempt and go around. It came about for a second pass and our crew leaped to the pitching decks of the wallowing sailboat. Adam Seamans (Maine Grad, USNR, MMR), Pat Donovan and Dale Harper - all accomplished ocean sailors, took control. The third approach put engineer Mark Stevenson, and cadets with forty gallons of fuel, bottled water, snack food and candy bars, aboard.
The skipper was in bad shape, suffering from acute exhaustion and dehydration, and barely able to comprehend the seriousness of his situation. His boat was in disarray with significant weather damage; torn sails, flooded bilges, and gear, including an anchor, adrift throughout the cabin and cockpit.
We rapidly determined that major mechanical problems, coupled with the poor physical condition of the skipper, ruled out any thought of his remaining at sea. The boat would have to be taken into port. In these troubled times, unannounced arrivals at any seaport in the world will cause concern, so the United States Coast Guard, San Juan vectored us to the Dominican Navy for routing instructions and clearance. However, none of their officers spoke English and the Spanish language skills of our licensed staff were inadequate. But, as usual, the cadets had that "minor" problem under control. Cadet 1/C Alejandro Pinzon, a Deckie from Panama City, Panama, stepped forward and took the mike. He talked with Commander Camacho of the Dominican Navy and in no time, Cadet Pinzon had everything straightened out.
We finished the rescue operation at 2230, when the Dominican Navy had the sailboat safely in-tow and the exhausted skipper resting comfortably in their wardroom. The event from start to finish, consumed some eighteen hours and carried us miles backward and north of the intended track. But the delay did wonders for morale, well over one hundred tired and applauding cadets lined the rail at 2300 when we finally hoisted the rescue boat home to her cradle. The officers, crew, and cadets performed exceptionally well today, and their actions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the sea service. They can be justifiably proud of a job well done. I am certainly proud of them.
This real world experience played out unrehearsed before us and served to galvanize the lessons that cadets are taught time and again. Going to sea is serious business. The environment is absolutely unforgiving and he who ventures out with inadequate plans and provisions is at great peril. Today's lesson was a lecture in reality and I am banking that none will soon forget.
ETA Ponce Pilot Station, Puerto Rico, 1830 7 February 2002.
See YOU tomorrow.
CADETS AND CREW MOST DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE RESCUE
CDR Paul Garbacik, & CADETS Alejandro Pinzon, Matthew Cole and David Constable
CDR Matt Mahanna, & CADETS David Cunningham and Patrick Manning
CDR Bob McMurray, & CADETS Jeremiah Taylor and Aexander Woodworth
CDR Pat Modic, & CADETS Erik Jacobson and Adam Van Etten
CDR Chris Zola, & CADETS Eamonn Bradley and Joe Paulis.
Nurse Sharon Sylvia, & CADETS Robert Healy and Dustin Varnell
Boswain Victor Corderia, & CADET Lindsey Sikora
Seaman David Cardin, & CADETS Hilton Kavanaugh and John Robb
Seaman H. Goodnow, & CADETS Chris Weigler, Andrew Booth, David Boulanger, Kevin Plunkett, Elliott Gabbert, and Mary Walsh
Distress Call - By Cadets 1/C Caryn Arnold and Katelyn Ladden
"Now Hear This! Chief Mate Report To The Bridge, Immediately". Then moments later, "Now Hear This! 2nd Mate Zola Report To The Chief Mate's Office, Immediately". These announcements had the complete attention of both cadets and crew at nine o'clock this morning. We were joking among ourselves and saying that we would be piped to the bridge next. Ironically, the Messenger of the Watch found us and directed us to the bridge where we learned that a sailboat was in distress and we were to document the rescue effort. Other cadets and crew quickly learned of the distress call and lined the rails. We learned that a sixty-one year old man is sailing alone near the Dominican Republic. He has no use of his main sail because it is torn and only 15 gallons of fuel remain. (not enough fuel to get to safety) He has been awake for over twenty-four hours and has not eaten for at least twelve hours. At first, we thought that we would bring the sailboat alongside and lower food and fuel. That plan did not work, however, because the rough seas caused the sailboat to rock back and forth excessively and we could not get close enough to do it safely. Plan B has us escorting the sailboat to anchorage on the lee side of Cabo Beata. There, we will lower a lifeboat loaded with food, water, and fuel and go to the crippled sailboat. Plan B is in progress as we write this message and with luck, there will be no plan C.
QUESTIONS FOR FRIDAY 08 FEBRUARY
MATH: Cadet Licknickis budgeted half of his sea term money for gifts, one-fourth for personal items, and 1/6 clothing. He planned to save the remainder ($80.00) until he returned to Buzzards Bay. How much money did he take on the Sea Term?
SCIENCE: Seawater, slightly alkaline, has a pH of between 7.5 and 8.4. What do the letters pH stand for?
GEOGRAPHY: If the Empire State passes between the Yucatan Peninsula to the west and Cuba on the east what is the name of the closest Cuban point of land?
HISTORY: Jamaica is a large island south of Cuba. At one time, the British established large sugar plantations there and imported African slaves as laborers on the plantations. A descendant of this population became very well known as a supporter for black rights in the United States and the world during the 1920's. In fact, he attempted to establish a steamship line, The Black Star Line, to be used to transport blacks to Africa to give them a new start. He started a newspaper, Negro World, which brought him millions of followers. Who was this early 20th century black leader?
ANSWERS FOR THURSDAY 07 FEBRUARY
MATH: The answer is (2). At 1830 the hour hand has moved half way between the 6 and 7 or
1/2 of 1/12 of the circle.
1/2 x 1/12 x 360 = 15 degrees
SCIENCE: Porifera. They live at or near the bottom of the sea.
GEOGRAPHY: The arrival of hurricanes during the summer months can bring great destruction to the islands in its path.
HISTORY: The Monroe Doctrine, first stated by President Monroe during his seventh annual message to the Congress of the United States of America, December 2, 1823, warned European nations not to consider interfering with the future of lands and governments in the Western Hemisphere.