Saturday 23 February, 2002
Saturday 23 February 2002
At 1200, EST the Training Ship Empire State was anchored 3 nautical miles east of the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. The weather was cloudy, winds from the northwest at 10 knots, air temperature was 42 degrees Fahrenheit, barometric pressure was 29.77 inches, seas were northeasterly at 3 to 4 feet, sea injection temperature was 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Depth of water beneath the keel was 11.5 fathoms.
"It is said an eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him with the words, 'And this, too, shall pass away.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
This is the last day. According to the cadets, tomorrow only counts as a "wake-up" because waking up will be the hardest thing they will do all day. I would respectfully disagree. First, I suspect that many aboard will have difficulty getting to sleep tonight so waking up may be a moot point. Next, we must coax awake all of the machinery that we idled to administer the exams of the past two days. Our engineers are masters at breathing life into 40-year-old motors and engines, but sometimes even their heroic CPR can't save the day. Then we have to safely retrieve 6 tons of steel from the bottom of Cape Cod Bay. If that doesn't come up, and the anchor has been stuck on the bottom more than once on past sea terms, we aren't going anywhere. We don't have enough chain to let it pay out until we get back home. Assuming we weigh anchor without difficulty, we must enter the second busiest sea level canal in the country and transit the 6 miles of winding wet, to arrive off the Academy dock at precisely 1251. Too early and we must mark time, blocking the canal with our 76 foot girth and 18,000 tons, as we await the 15 minutes of slack water that will allow the two tug boats to push us sideways to the dock. Too late and we will be forced to go right on by, circle back and wait 6 more hours for another window of slack water to open so we can execute arrival.
Hopefully, this description of our plans hasn't overly frightened those of you reading this who are afflicted with terminal worrying disease. Nothing in the above is exaggerated, but I relate the facts to illustrate that the engineers, deckies and navigators all have a full day of work ahead of them after they wake up tomorrow. But there is no dread of that work. Rather, the ship is filled with the excitement of achievement. This has been a challenge for us all.
Obviously, the new freshmen will be smiling the broadest tomorrow. The seniors will hide their glee behind a mask of cool bravado, but they have skillfully lead us on a 8,000 mile voyage to far away places most have never visited. The sophomores; already happy that they are not the slack jawed, bottom feeding freshmen that they were last year; are now halfway through their sea time requirements. The juniors aboard are excited that it is now their turn to run the plant and con the ship. In fact many will try out their new status as leaders on the trip to SUNY Wednesday when we return TSES to her home in the Bronx. Lcdr Ed Rozak and the officers in the Commandant's Division will be happy that they are returning with every cadet safe and sound (there is so much paperwork required if you lose someone and can't find them...). Chief Engineer, Capt' Bill Laffin, won't be visible to any of you who may line the banks of the canal or pack the MMA dock tomorrow, but his smile will surely show in the pit- his haven. His first trip as Chief on a training ship was an unqualified success. All of the professional mariners, the galley crew and staff officers have made valuable contributions to this sea term and I wish I could thank them all here. Suffice it to say that we could not have done this without ALL of them pulling together. The sun tanned faces of Team TSES will reflect the pride of their collective efforts.
Those hard earned tans will be the outward gold medals of Sea Term 2002 for at least a few weeks after we return. Cadets will spend the precious days they have before spring semester starts, showing off their faces to all of their friends and family, basking in the glow of envy, enjoying the pride in their parent's faces as they see what their sea term tuition bought. But of course it is the invisible changes that are much more important. It was what happened in their heads and hearts that should get the accolades, for that is the true measure of this voyage. Wide-eyed 18 year olds, some never before away from home, have worked their way across oceans. Tentative youngsters have blossomed into confident adults, sure of what they want to do in this life, even if some are just sure they never want to go to sea again. Newly minted leaders have championed over self-doubt to face the challenge of commanding their peers. Shared hardships have formed a strong team and created friendships bound with steel that will last a lifetime.
Independence, Knowledge, Self Confidence, and Persistence were the Olympic events scheduled over the last few weeks. Like the athletes you watched on TV this week, I saw in these cadets the same agony of anticipation, the same concern that maybe their best would not be good enough, the same worry that they would fail in the face of their peers and instructors. Every day they faced failure and triumphed over ignorance. Every day they forced themselves awake, trudged from the meager comfort that their rack afforded and went down into the heat of the engine room to work in Dante's employ. Every day they stood still for hours as lookouts on an empty ocean, never complaining. Yes, these men and women have earned your respect. They are all winners.
Thank you for all of your support and compliments on the log entries in this space. It has been a labor of love for you by many at MMA. Be sure to thank 1/c cadets Caryn Arnold and Katelyn Ladden for their beautiful pictures- some of the best ever from sea term- and prose. We are glad you enjoyed the web pages. Thank you to the dedicated teachers and the middle school kids who followed our voyage and kept up with the daily questions; your enthusiasm is contagious. And thanks to all the parents who voted their confidence in the Academy when you sent your student to our college. We are glad you chose MMA .
See you tomorrow from the dock... in PERSON!
Last Day At Anchor
- 1/C Katelyn Ladden
Since leaving the warmth of Florida and sailing to the cold weather of the North, the days have seemed longer and the nights have seemed endless. The anticipation of arriving in Buzzards Bay has been enough to drive everyone crazy, especially since we are only three miles off of Provincetown. Thoughts of jumping overboard and swimming ashore have crossed many minds, but the realization of the freezing water is enough to stop even the best swimmer aboard (I don't believe that anyone is a practicing member of the polar bear club). I have not heard the latest weather predictions from the Weather Channel, and I would be hesitant to believe their reports anyway, but for the past three years, it has snowed while the ship has been at anchor. Hopefully, we can dispel the MMA rumor that it has to snow while we are at anchor before we can go in. The tension is already too high. Finally, the chatter and clamor of the needle guns has ceased, the hammering and chipping away at the rust and paint has stopped, and the polishing and painting of the ship is finished. I can now lie peacefully in my rack and fall asleep without wearing hearing protection to muffle the noise. Instead, there is the hustle and bustle of cadets and crew trying to pack up everything on the ship, from teaching materials to gym equipment; from movies to nuts and bolts. To add to the anxiety, the final tests and exams were taken today, so the cadets are "patiently" awaiting the posting of their grades.
While I lay in bed tonight wrapped in many blankets and sweatshirts, I will remember all those warm moments spent on the beach sunbathing in the hot "winter" sun. It has been a great trip!
P.S. Here are the Winner's of this week's Casino Night: First Off the ship tomorrow- 3/c Parker
$20 - 1/c Simonelli
Sit in Captain's Chair during canal transit- 4/c Diorio Nachos
Regimental Commander for MOFO - 4/c Moore
Breakfast in Bed by Lcdr Rozak - 3/c Gaudenzi
Camera - 4/c Curran
Olive Garden($20) - 3/c Lee
Blockbuster - 1/c Halloran
Gas Card($25) - 4/c Kuy
Ship Store($25) - 4/c Remes
Case of Soda - 1/c Belcher