2008 Summer Cruise
Today is the last day at sea on this leg of the trip. Tomorrow morning we will arrive in San Diego for a two night visit. We will drift off the port doing maintenance and drills until mid afternoon. We cannot go in to the dock until late afternoon due to a passenger ship being in our berth. We must wait until the passenger ship sails.
The crossing of the Pacific was fairly routine with the weather very good for all but two days of the trip when the wind and seas picked up causing the ship to roll. We have had many days of overcast skies. Some of our procrastinating cadets have not finished their celestial project because of these overcast skies. Hopefully for them, the next few days will be clear so that they can finish their celestial project.
Over the last few days, cruise has been winding down with lots of tests and assessments. Most of the cadets will not realize how much they have learned this summer until they have had time to sit back and reflect on the past two months. They have done well.
After San Diego everyone will begin packing their belongings, cleaning their rooms and getting the ship ready to go into the shipyard for maintenance in San Francisco. The trip is short and there is lots to do so everyone will be busy. We will go directly to the drydock in San Francisco.
As soon as the ship is resting on the blocks of the drydock, the Texas contingent aboard the "Golden Bear" will be released. A shipyard crane will pick up our bags from the ship and set them on the dock. The cadets will then load them on the busses which will transport us to the airport in Oakland for our flight back to Houston.
This will be the last report for this cruise. I have had a heavy workload this summer which has prevented me from being as faithful in writing these reports as in the past. I apologize to all of the parents and friends for that. As usual, it has been my pleasure to teach and work with your sons, daughters and friends this summer. I wish them only the best as they continue to pursue their sea going careers.
Captain Jack Smith
Posted: Monday, August 11, 2008
Today was a partial day of rest. The annual Sinbad games were held today. The Sinbad Games are our version of the Olympics. The games are a competition amongst the Divisions on the ship in fun things that seaman might have to do in their everyday jobs.
The Plumbers Nightmare is probably the favorite of the competitions. A team of five cadets will tackle the task of repairing a mangled pipe of undetermined length rigged with a huge variety of leaks, holes and malfunctioning valves. The cadets are given a box of miscellaneous tools, parts and gaskets to attempt to seal up as many leaks as they can in thirty seconds before the water is turned on. Once the water is turned on the cadets have five minutes to seal enough holes to bring the pressure up in the pipe. Due to the water spraying out of the holes, the cadets get soaked and it is difficult to work with salt water running into your eyes. At the end of the time limit whichever team has the highest pressure wins. Joseph Sebes, Travis Warden, Mark Farrar, Mark Scott were on the winning team. It is interesting that a bunch of deck cadets won an event designed for engineers. They added a new twist to the competition by using their t-shirts to tie around some of the leaks to increase the pressure.
Another favorite is the Lifeboat Crank because the whole Section participates. The lifeboat is lowered to the rail and each section races against the clock to hand crank the lifeboat to its stowed position. Zachary Trede won the hawser toss where a ship's hawser is tossed about twenty feet to land around the ship's bitts.
Another event that always has a large cheering section is the Bos'n Chair Relay. A crane is raised about 30 feet off the deck. A single line is led through a block attached to the crane. Four cadets race against the clock by tying a bowline knot around their waist and pulling themselves up to the block.
The heaving line toss was won by a California cadet Darius Rogers. However Kevin McDonald and Donavan Peterson were a close second. In this event a heaving line is tossed about forty feet between the two horns of a bitt and into a bucket.
The cadets have been growing mustaches for about three weeks in anticipation of the mustache contest. Jonathan Bush won for the best mustache overall category.
After the games a barbeque was held on the after deck. By the time the food was served, everyone was hungry and ate heartily. As the sun was setting, Theron Pfeifer and Brendan Hayes-Morrison entertained with their guitar playing and songs.
Thanks to our meteorologists Roy Robbins and Jeff Harris for giving us good weather for the games.
It is not all fun and games aboard ship today. The Watches still had to be stood and the professional and practical training classes had to be held. Today was the first day of training classes for two groups. Beginning Rules today were Scott Stock, Asher Branecky, Tell Borkorney, and James Gregory. Putting their chart plotting instruments to use again were Zachary Clark, Graham Forshee, Bretland Smith-Sawka and Malcolm Landon. In the practical training class, firefighting class began today. Getting suited out in bunker gear were Jonathan Schiappa, Kendall Allen, Blasé Connick and Edward Cullins.
Today was a good day for morale.
Captain Jack Smith
Posted: Monday, August 11, 2008
We are heading 018T at about 12 knots and are about 1500 miles south of San Diego. We are well clear of Hurricane Hernan. It is sunny and the sea is a little choppy from the passage of the storm but not a problem.
It has been a very good week of training both for our deck and engineering Cadets with classroom studies, on the job (watch) training, normal maintenance repair and cleanliness duties, and some good fun for all. I have been able to get some good one on one time with many of the Cadets and listen to their issues and desires for our program at TMA and for their careers in the maritime field.
Here on the GOLDEN BEAR our engineers have made major repairs to a main engine jacket water cooling system, rebuilt a small boat diesel engine, manufactured and replaced numerous hand rails and safety rails, trouble shot and repaired an alarm panel malfunction for the bridge, and found a troubling intermittent problem with a life boat battery charging system. If you stood still on the weather decks for very long this week you either got scrubbed, painted or both.
The deck cadets have spent hours in aft steering learning and demonstrating their ability to properly steer the ship using the "trick wheel" and the non-follow-up mode lever. The trick wheel directly controls hydraulic fluid to the rudder positioning piston. The non-follow-up mode lever moves the pistons and stops their movement by direct input verses the wheel that moves the rudder piston in direct ratio to the movement of the wheel. The helm on the bridge and trick wheel in after steering are much like using the steering wheel on a car while the non-follow up lever is similar to the joy stick control on a video game that must be put back to center to stop the motion. Cadets must be proficient in all methods of steering, the proper commands and responses, and pass a test where they diagram and explain the functions of all the components of the rudder/steering gear and hydraulic system.
The senior deck Cadets have been standing their final watches during this segment of the cruise as Cadet in charge of the watch. This has tested their total practical watch and navigation training as they prepare the ships position reports for the Captain and supervise all activities on the bridge and changes to the engineering status based on the Captains directions and the plan for the days training. Since we are a training ship there is much more taking place during a normal bridge watch than would take place during a normal underway watch of a vessel simply transiting from point A to point B. This means that the Cadets get much more of a challenge in their watch duties on the training ship than during their commercial cruises. But we do not get to do the loads and discharges of liquid or dry cargo or containers that they will experience on a commercial cruise so both are needed parts of the whole training experience for our Cadets.
Today we are holding the Sinbad Games as the Cadet divisions and sections compete in teams and as individuals in races, relays, tests of skill, and just fun stuff to highlight some of the teamwork, seamanship and practical skills they have learned on their cruise. Before the training day started a double event that included timed events of rowing for five kilometers on the rowing machines in the gym and then running for five kilometers on the main deck pitted many of our top athletes both cadets and staff against the clock. This was a good event that showed who had been doing their cardio workouts during the cruise.
The seaman's relays followed at 0900 on the formation deck (04 level aft) as teams of four in life jackets, helmets, knee pads, gloves and goggles performed a series of timed relay events around the stack. The funniest part of this event was the one legged hop, with the ships roll it is hard enough to stay up on two feet but to traverse the deck with only one leg is harder than anyone thought. The deck crawl was the slow part of the relay as the Cadets tried to move a fast as they could without getting a bare knee on the rough non-skid surface of the deck. Many had to stop to adjust their knee pads so they would not end up with raw spots on their knees.
It was amazing to see all the enthusiasm and teamwork of the Cadets and every team contained both men and women. At the end of the final leg of the relay the last person had to retrieve a large bolt, washer, and nut from the bottom of a large 55 gallon drum full of water and properly assemble the washer, bolt, and nut combo to complete the event. We saw that the team with a tall person as the anchor seemed to do better at that segment than the teams with shorter anchor who had to almost dive into the drum to reach the bolts on the bottom.
After lunch the heaving line toss for accuracy and search for King Neptune were fun and exciting events but with classes still going on we have been pressed to get the fun events into the schedule. We plan to wrap up the day with a barbecue on the fantail with ribs and chicken for supper. Everyone is excited to be close to the end of cruise but especially our seniors who can see their goal line of graduation just a short time away.
We are on track to arrive in San Diego on Thursday afternoon. At least every five years a ship must enter a dry dock for a hull inspection and fresh paint for the bottom. The GOLDEN BEAR will enter the dry dock in Oakland, California at first light on Monday, August 18. It is a great opportunity for our Cadets to get to experience this major event in the life of a ship and see a ship maneuver over the floating dry dock and then see the dock float up to engage the hull and lift her clear of the water.
Our TMA Cadet's baggage will be lifted first from the ship by crane over the dry dock wing walls to the pier and the Cadets and staff will board their buses about 0800 and proceed directly to the airport across the harbor for return to Houston.
Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2008
The cadets and staff aboard the USTS GOLDEN BEAR have kept a careful watch on what has developed into Tropical Storm Hernan. The storm is tracking northwest at around 10 knots, south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The crew have altered their course to the east, allowing for Tropical Storm Hernan to pass ahead of the ship. In addition, the USTS GOLDEN BEAR has increased speed so that the crew will still make their scheduled port arrival in San Diego. All necessary actions are being taken to ensure the safety of the cadets and staff while minimizing any effects that the storm might have on the vessel.
Posted: Monday, August 4, 2008
As the ship was docking in Tahiti, there was a dance troupe dancing on the dock to Tahitian music. The men wore loin cloths and the women had grass skirts and halter tops on. The cadets who were lining the rails were having a grand time watching and calling to the dancers. To everyone's surprise, when the gangway went down the troupe came aboard the ship and entertained the cadets on the quarter deck. To end their entertainment, they invited some of the cadets to dance with them. That was quite a welcome party. Everyone enjoyed our stay in Tahiti. The cadets took advantage of the beaches, resorts, and some even had enough money left over to shop.
We are now on our way home. We left Tahiti two days ago and are now back to our normal shipboard routines at sea. We will arrive in San Diego on August 14 to clear Customs and Immigration and for a recruiting party for our CMA friends. After a short two night stay, we leave for our final port of San Francisco where the ship will go into the shipyard for maintenance and we will depart to return to Texas.
Everyone is working hard to finish assignments and projects. Westin Harrison, Brian Herbert, and Larry Buskirk will be finishing their celestial project in the next few days if the skies remain clear. Christopher Kubala was on the Comms watch today and prepared our weather reports. Jordan Higgins, Jonathan Bush, Kevin McDonald, and Joe Sebes presented their fire plans today and their practical training class will practice putting out fires using their plans tomorrow. Drew McKinney, Keith Scott, Sean Beck, and Christopher Urbanosvsky have been on watch guiding our ship closer to home each day. Kurt Heitmeier, James Park, Samuel Russell and Curtis Wilson have passed their steering assessment. Passing the steering assessment is necessary to pass cruise. Sean Kelly, Rolando Maydon, Jacob High, and Vincent Riley have been busy working on painting the after house so that it is nice and white for the reception in San Diego. David Little, Ryan Maas, Adam John, and Brent Elrod will take their final exam in the Rules of the Road class tomorrow. Likewise Seth Leo, Jared Engberg, Louis Gutierrez, and Michael Leners will take their final exam in chart plotting class. Landon Malcolm had the unpleasant job of separating all of the trash generated on board today. As is his usual, he had a smile on his face and was happy and joking with everyone who brought their trash in. In addition some of our more industrious cadets are taking a correspondence course from Rabbi Kessler through Galveston College to satisfy the diversity requirement in the core curriculum. Amanda McCall coordinates the program on the ship. Part of the course involves writing a paper based on different films.
Our Superintendent, Admiral Allen Worley joined us in Tahiti. He will ride with us to San Diego to observe our work aboard the ship. So far he has visited the engine room and was on the bridge observing when we left Tahiti and yesterday on the 8 -12 watch. Today we had our Sunday BBQ on the back deck, and he was working in the serving line.
Everyone is looking forward to returning home in just two short weeks.
Captain Jack Smith
Posted: Monday, August 4, 2008
After a week aboard the USTS GOLDEN BEAR of the California Maritime Academy (CMA) it is exciting to report that from the perspective of the Superintendent the summer training cruise is going very well. There are 284 men and women on the ship, 56 officers/faculty and staff and 228 Cadets. There are Cadets from TMA , CMA and MMA (Massachusetts Maritime Academy) who are all working well together in a fully integrated training program. All of the students are gaining solid seamanship and engineering training from professional officers and faculty as well as experience in living at sea and making interesting port visits that expand their international social understanding and appreciation of the global economy and linkage through maritime commerce. They all seemed to enjoy their visit in Tahiti and some even purchased the world famous Tahitian black pearls but the best part was the beautiful water, great seafood, and fresh tropical fruit that was available. It was also a good place to practice speaking French but they focus on tourism and everything seemed to be printed in both French and English.
I have been able to observe Cadets standing the engineering watch under the supervision of Chief Buddy Fredrickson (TMA faculty) and followed a Cadet through his check list of engineering orientation requirements and got to discover with him the major components of the engine and auxiliary machinery spaces, steering gear room/shaft alley, the emergency diesel room, and the auxiliary boiler space. I had been there before but it was fun to follow a Cadet through the discovery process. He learned that the ship uses the main engine jacket water (cooling water for the engine) as a heat source to operate the freshwater evaporators under normal steaming conditions. When the ship slows down, the jacket water temperature drops to the point that steam from the auxiliary boiler must be used to heat the sea water passing through the evaporators to generate fresh water for the ship. When you are operating a training ship you need to have many days at sea and that means you may not cruise very fast and so the auxiliary boiler is necessary which is in itself another good training opportunity for the engineering Cadets as they get to experience both diesel and steam systems during the course of the training.
Every deck Cadet gets an engineering officer orientation opportunity and every engineer Cadet gets a deck officer orientation opportunity during the course of their sophomore summer training cruise. This not only builds better understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the other functions taking place on the ship but helps prepare the Cadets for the potential situation when they must fill in temporarily for someone who is sick or injured at sea. This cross training has also inspired some Cadets to pursue a dual qualification and be licensed as both an engineer and deck officer.
I joined the Cadets on watch on the bridge this week under the supervision of Captain Jack Lane (TMA faculty) and observed some of our senior Cadets instructing the sophomore cadets in the proper voice commands and procedures as the helmsman steering the ship. They each learn how the steering console and rudder system operate and go through as rigorous series of helm orders actually turning the ship to officially demonstrate to the mate on watch their capability. They are "signed off" for this training demonstration on an STCW (Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping) check list. Almost every watch function on deck and in the engineering space have an official STCW check list that is evaluated and signed off by a licensed officer for the student's training record book that will ultimately be certified by the Superintendent of their Maritime Academy and forwarded to the US Coast Guard before they can be issued their 3rd mate or 3rd Assistant Engineer license.
As you can see it takes time to schedule and evaluate each Cadet during the course of the cruise and it is imperative that Cadets be physically, academically and emotionally prepared for their opportunity to demonstrate their STCW requirements in each area. Some of these are able to be done in the classroom, the simulator, the laboratory, or the ship sitting at the pier but many must be performed with the ship underway and fully manned which is an important aspect of summer cruise in the total training program. Our Cadets are getting good opportunities here on the GOLDEN BEAR to meet their STCW requirements. Additionally this week we have provided training in enclosed pace entry procedures, where the Cadets learn how to open, and in an enclosed space such as a holding tank inside the ship, properly ventilate the space and sample the air to insure it is safe for breathing, and how to enter and inspect the tank observing proper personnel safety procedures.
I have also been able to observe the Cadets learning proper procedures and operation for the boatswain's chair, used for working aloft of over the side which requires safety harnesses, life jackets, hard hats, goggles, tending lines and basic knowledge of knot tying and safety gear. Cadets repaired a leaking pipe in a classroom space which required welding. This was not just a demonstration of their knowledge of how to repair and weld the pipe, which they have learned in lab back at school but proper procedures for doing hot work on the ship. The preparation for the area to protect the painted walls and floor tiles but how to properly disable the fire detection and automatic sprinkler systems to prevent inadvertent alarms or water damage. They established communications with the bridge Cadet watch officer, who disabled the necessary systems in that area and notified the work team that they could proceed. This was a good lesson in the necessary coordination for doing routine repair work on a ship at sea for both the engineers and deck Cadets.
This afternoon the Cadets will get a short break from the normal daily training routine as the cooking staff prepares an outdoor barbecue on the fantail (after boat deck) and everyone gets a chance to eat supper outside in the fresh ocean air. As I have moved about the ship this week the Cadets have all let me know that one of the best parts of being at sea is the beauty of the ocean and waves. This may not be the life for everyone but for most of the Cadets this summer they have confirmed their love of the sea. The weather is excellent and we are right on schedule for our stop in San Diego.
Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2008
Today we had our normal weekly fire and boat drills. Drills are held weekly so that in case of a real emergency, we have trained people to respond. At today's drill, a simulated fire was in the engine room control station. There are fire emergency plans for all of the spaces on board our ship so that in the event of a real fire, a plan to fight the fire of attack has already been formulated. At the drill the Emergency Squad suited up in their full bunker gear, put on their SCBA's and went to fight the simulated fire. They had it out in short order.
Meanwhile the lifeboats are being readied in case we have to abandon ship. Drew Mc Kinney and Ben Riddick are in charge of preparing the starboard boats and two California cadets are in charge of preparing the port boats. The boats are brought to the embarkation deck ready for loading when needed. All of the boat engines are started and run in forward and reverse for a few minutes.
After the simulated fire is out, we have boat drill. Everyone musters at their lifeboat station or liferaft station to drill in their duties in case we have to launch the lifeboats and liferafts. Today all cadets responsible for launching the liferafts were instructed in the procedures to launch the liferafts. The quickest and easiest way is to just toss them over the side and pull on the inflation cord. When the rafts are inflated, the crew members can either jump into the water or climb down the side of the ship to get into the rafts.
This ship has a davit to launch the rafts with as well. The raft is picked up by the davit, swung over the side of the ship, inflated in the air and then swung alongside one of the upper decks of the ship for loading and then it is lowered to the water. That way all of the raft's occupants stay dry, which is a very important part of survival. When all of the equipment is put back in its normal secured for sea place and condition, three blasts on the ship's whistle tells everyone that drill is over and our normal activities can be resumed.
After fire and boat drill today, a man overboard drill was held. A dummy, "Oscar" is thrown over into the water. The ship is put into a Williamson turn and the fast rescue boat is launched as the ship turns. Everyone tries to keep an eye on "Oscar" so he can be found and rescued. As soon as the fast rescue boat is waterborne, it races off to pick "Oscar" out of the water and bring him back to the ship. Drills are very important so everyone knows their duties in case a real emergency occurs.
Captain Jack Smith
The following is another engineering update for this week received from Chris Rabalais:
We have set sail from Tonga headed toward Tahiti. Cadets enjoyed meeting the locals and learning about their culture. There were many sights to see including blow holes, the king's residence, and Capt. Cook's landing spot.
Now that we are back underway a new rotation for engine cadets has begun. Cadets Paterson and Lawrence will be on watch. Cadets Palmer, Johnson, Dearman, and Haines will be on day work most likely dealing with an issue found with the number 10 cylinder head on the port engine as we prepared for departure from Tonga. Cadets Lentz and Fitzgerald will be in class.
The 1/C engineering cadets are also starting a new rotation as we head toward Tahiti. Cadets Strack, Ngande, and Cullen are Cadet Watch Engineers, making sure the power plant is in good operating condition. Cadets Trevino, Skillern, and Rabalais are on the daywork division. Cadet Trevino is working on the main engine, and Cadet Rabalais is aiding the freshman in their PT studies. Finally, Cadets Caskie and Anastasiadis are in the classroom learning about electrical power.
The voyage is half way over and although all are enjoying their at sea experience, they look forward to seeing friends and family soon.
Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2008
We are at sea again. We have crossed the International Date Line going in an easterly direction since I last wrote. The date line jogs around Tonga so that the Tongans are on the same day as their neighboring islands. Since that is where we were going, we did not change our date when we crossed the dateline. This morning we sailed from Tonga and tonight we are retarding our date one day so that we will be on the correct date for the position of our ship. All of this means that we will repeat today, tomorrow. We still have four hours to advance our clocks to be in the right time zone when we arrive in Vallejo.
The cadets enjoyed Tonga. It was a new and very different culture than most of them had ever experienced. Most of them gathered in groups of five or six and hired taxi's to take them around the island to the different attractions. The attraction they found most interesting was the blowholes on the opposite side of the island from us. These are holes in the coral formations near the beach or land. When a large swell or sea comes crashing in, the water is trapped under the coral and shoots up into the air through the holes. It was a sight to see these naturally occurring water fountains. Each one was different and very beautiful.
There were banana and coconut plantations everywhere. There were green coconuts in the tops of the trees and plenty of coconuts lying on the ground if someone wanted to eat one. As a second crop, the Tongans grew taro, tapioca, and sweet potato below the bananas and coconuts. There was an area that had trees similar to our oak trees. These trees were filled with flying foxes, which were really just huge bats. They roosted in the trees hanging upside down and when disturbed would fly off. They were about the size of a large seagull.
Tonga is going to celebrate the coronation of a new King on August 1. The cadets were able to see the outside of the king's house by looking through a fence. The house faced the ocean and looked like a very large beach house, One could drive by the royal tombs, there was a large statue of each king and the one queen above their tombs. The local cemeteries for the commoners were very interesting. They were right next to the road. There were dump truck size mounds of dirt throughout the cemetery, then there were lots of flowers and decorations on the graves and behind this a large quilt was hung up. The quilts were very elaborate and show quality. The flowers, decorations and quilts were put there out of respect for those who had passed on.
Some of the cadets ended up at a beach resort that was supposed to be for swimming and surfing. Swimming could have been possible if one was careful to stay away from the sharp edges of the coral. The beach was very pretty. There was a small cave there to explore. One could relax on the beach or listen to a three piece band play on the verandah while waiting for a dinner of local delicacies. The dinner plates were made from the stems of banana trees and about 18 inches long. The dinner menu consisted of roasted pig, raw fish, raw octopus, baked fish, a chicken spaghetti dish, green salad, potato salad, and taro, sweet potato, and tapioca roots. For desert there was watermelon and breadfruit pudding, another local delicacy.
There were some beaches and diving on the next island and some of the cadets took a ferry there. On the last day the cadets discovered a cave with a fresh/mineral water lake in it that they could swim in. The water was cold and they had a good time. Tonga was a fun port.
Captain Jack Smith
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We have left our first port behind and are at sea again. While we were in Noumea, most cadets chose to travel about 30 minutes to the beaches. The beaches at the Baie Des Citrons were the most popular. There were some nice restaurants and disco's there also. The water was very cold for us Texans. In Noumea, the most popular spots to visit were the maritime museum and the grocery store across the street from the ship. The grocery had the usual items that can be found in a grocery plus a deli where the cadets could buy sandwich makings and drinks for somewhat reasonable prices to take to the beach with them. We arrived on Saturday and Monday was a national holiday, so almost everything was closed during our stay. This may or may not have been unfortunate because the prices of everything were extremely high.
For the past two days we have been experiencing head winds from the east and those winds combined with our ships speed has given us winds in excess of 30 knots blowing across our decks. The wind has hampered the never ending scaling and painting on the outside of the ship, but there is always other work that needs to be done. Tamara Talley was replacing the vinyl baseboards that line our passageways. Brent Elrod, Jared Engberg, and Louis Gutierrez were painting inside the stairwells that take us between the decks on the ship. In Practical training, Edward Cullins, James Fiore, Robert Lloyd, and Christopher Fleming have been practicing on the proper handling of mooring lines, stoppers and heaving lines. Amanda McCall was the Cadet Watch Officer on the bridge when we left Noumea.
CMA has a tradition of the sophomore cadets sewing a canvas sea bag during their first cruise. This tradition has evolved from the days of sailing ships when sailors had to either make or repair the sails of their ship. The cadets use a leather sailor's palm to push a triangular needle with waxed twine through several layers of canvas. There are several stitches that can be used. At the end of cruise, the best bags are judged and prizes awarded to the winners. Sewing canvas is almost a lost art but it is fun for the cadets and they get to keep the bag that they make. Graham Forshee, Jacob Lamar, and Mark Scott, have been working hard on sewing on their bags. Katie Quintana is making a purse that is decorated with initials and flowers. Samantha Cibelli and Michael Bordenave have become so skilled at sewing that during their work time they are sewing new covers for some of the winches on the ship.
Captain Jack Smith
This morning we arrived in Noumea after a 14 day transit of the Pacific Ocean. For most of our cadets this is the longest time that they have been away from their parents and friends.
The trip inbound began when we picked up the pilot. The inbound trip was interesting. It took about three hours from the time we picked up the pilot to arrival at the dock.
To bring the ship into port from the sea involves a lot of cadets. Standing by the anchor on the inbound trip was Luke Grundmeyer. Assisting to tie up the bow were Troy Baker, Glen Younger, Jeff Harris, C. J. Jackson, Wayne Allen, Michael Bordenave, Samantha Cibelli and Michael Collie. Tying the stern to the dock were Chris Tiefenbrunn, Roy Robbins, Brian Herbert, Christopher Jones, Angel Rodriguez, Stacie Jeffers, Matthew Warren, William Wilson, Ryan Thornton, and Gene Tuttle.
In port we observe a different routine. Our ships company is divided into three divisions. One division is granted liberty, one division works and one division stands watch. After morning room inspection, the liberty division can go ashore. The work division's work is usually finished by noon and then they can go ashore. The watch division is required to stay aboard the ship to handle the routine ship's business and any emergencies that may occur.
Down in the engine room, Thomas Palmer has spent the last few days working in the ships tool room on logistics duty, tracking tools being checked out and returned. Division 4 has been on watch and had little to report until today when they switched over the main engines on the 0800-1200 watch. David Dearman and Matt Johnson have been on day work. In the Practical Training rotation, Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Palmer, and Joshua Lentz have been hard at work with their studies. The 1/C Texas engineering cadets are also working hard. Albert Caskie and Nick Anastasiadis just started standing watch in the engine room. Chris Rabalais, Aaron Trevino, and Randall Skillern are hard at work learning about electronics, from their instructor Mr. Rigg. Ben Strack, Tim Cullen and Elvis Ngande are getting into the daywork routine. Cadets from all three of these groups have been hard at work on the Start Air compressor. Each group has had their chance at getting the beast back up and running. All the engineers have been busy during their free time studying, and completing STCW sign offs. On Wednesday there was the first professional training test, and all feel confident of their performance. The engine report was submitted to me by Chris Rabalais.
Captain Jack Smith
It was not too many years ago that when a ship left port, the only means of communication was by having a radio operator on board who could send and receive messages in Morse code. Due to the cost of carrying a radio operator and advances in technology, ships no longer carry radio officers. These duties are now done by the ship’s deck officers. Every ship now carries a satellite system called Global Maritime Distress and Safety System or GMDSS. This system was designed for emergency communications when ships at sea are in distress. Included in this radio satellite system are radios which have the capability to communicate anywhere in the world. While in school, each cadet is trained and certified as a GMDSS operator. One of the watches that the senior cadets stand on board this ship is a communications watch which includes operating the GMDSS equipment on board. James Gregory, Milam Bokorney, and Brendan Hayes-Morrison have recently been assigned to the Communication Watch. Our cadets are still required to learn Morse Code and be able to send and receive messages by flashing light at four words per minute. This was a distasteful chore to learn when I was in school too many years ago to count, and our cadets still grumble about passing the test. Congratulations are in order for Katie Quintana, Shannon Peters, and Andrew Zeigler who passed the Flashing Light Exam with a 100% score on the very first try.
Christopher Kubala is doing very well in his celestial navigation project and will probably be the first of the seniors to finish. Kevin McDonald, Ben Riddick, and Jonathan Schiappa are doing very well in their Rules of the Road Class. Each day the tanks are sounded on the ship and the stability is calculated. As the fuel is burned and as the needs of the ship such as weather change, ballast is added or pumped out. Working on the Ballast Safety team this past week have been seniors Joel Soileau, Emerson Loga, and sophomores Bret Smith-Sawka, Landon Malcolm, Joseph Cacciola, and Zachary Clark.
Tomorrow morning, we arrive at Noumea, New Caledonia. It has been a long passage across the Pacific. Many cadets can't wait to go ashore in their first foreign port.
Captain Jack Smith
Today's report will be from the engine room. This ship has two main engines to propel her through the water. The two engines are linked together to turn one shaft and one propeller. We usually operate on only one engine to conserve fuel, which is very expensive. We can make around 11 knots with one engine and about 17 knots with two engines.
Since our main mission is training, we are in no particular hurry to get to the next port. We spend most of our time at sea. In addition to the main engines, there are many auxiliary systems that must be tended to. A ship is like a small city or hotel and as such must provide all of the services required. We have generators to make our electricity, evaporators to make our water, a holding tank and sewage system to take care of our sewage; we have tanks for fuel, tanks for ballast, tanks for water. We have lube oil systems to keep everything lubricated. We have refrigeration systems to keep our food either cool or frozen; air conditioners and heaters to keep us comfortable; hundreds of pumps and miles of piping going everywhere Our engineers operate all of that equipment in addition to doing mundane things like changing light bulbs and taking care of our plumbing needs.
Captain Jack Smith
Following is the report I received from Chris Rabalais when I asked what our engineer cadets were doing the past few days:
The past couple of days have been quite eventful, we have celebrated the fourth of July and crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, cadets on the 8-12 watch, as well as a few others who came down to the engine room on their own time, changed over the engine we were running. This is one of the many STCW (Standardized Training Certification of Watch standers) signoffs that cadets are working to complete this summer. Cadet's Dearman and Johnson were present. In professional training Cadet Trede learned about how to safely enter an enclosed space. During day work Cadet Lawrence learned how to change over boilers. Of the first class cadets, Strack, Gander, and Cullen just started their watch rotation. Cadets Trevino, Skillern, and Rabalais are on the day work crew, and Cadets Caskie and Anastasiadis are all on the Practical Training rotation.
In the last Practical Training, the cadets learned rigging from the Bosun, correct log book practices, and focused very highly on the oil purifiers aboard the ship. Cadets aboard the USTS Golden Bear celebrated July 4th on the 6th. All those who did not have watch had a free day, many caught up on sleep, watched movies, fished off the stern, and studied. The day culminated with a BBQ on the fantail, with music supplied by those cadets who had brought instruments. Later in the evening a cadet acted as DJ. Once it was dark 13 parachute flares were set off as a fireworks special. After which a double feature was projected on a screen as cadets reclined on the deck or in lawn chairs enjoying a little relaxation before another busy week.
Greetings, from the eastern Hemisphere. We are really on the opposite side of the world from most of you now. First we crossed the equator into the southern latitudes and today we crossed from west longitude to east longitude.
"A traveler making a trip around the world gains or loses an entire day. To prevent the date from being in error, and to provide a starting place for each day, a date line is fixed by international agreement. This line coincides with the 180th meridian over most of its length. In crossing this line, one alters his date by one day. In effect, this changes his time 24 hours to compensate for the slow change during a trip around the world. Therefore, it is applied in the opposite direction to the change of time. Thus if a person is traveling westward from west longitude to east longitude, time is becoming earlier, and when the dateline is crossed, the date becomes one day later. There is only one time during the day 1200 GMT when the date is the same all over the world." - Copied from Bowditch
Today we crossed the International Date Line at Latitude 07 - 40 S at 0220 in the morning. So we had to change our date. Today began as Sunday but became Monday when we advanced our date 24 hours. So today is Monday July 7. This may seem confusing, but it is easy to remember if you just remember that when traveling west over the International Date Line you skip a day and when traveling east over the International Date Line you have one day twice. Confusing?? Just try teaching a navigation class.
When we crossed over the International Date Line this morning, Luke Grundmeyer was the Cadet Watch Officer and Blasé Connick was the helmsman. Thanks to them we had a successful crossing.
Today has really been confusing date wise. It was supposed to be Sunday so we had a BBQ on the fantail to have a belated celebration of July 4 after work and classes were over. We had watermelon and hamburgers and hot dogs and the tech guy on board, Tom Morgan, made Texas chili for the party. After dark the chief mate fired off 13 expired parachute flares as a substitute for fireworks. Flares are just another form of fireworks so they were fitting for the celebration. It was a pretty sight to watch the 13 red flares fall from the sky into the sea. There was loud music and some cadets danced and everyone had a good time.
The ship has been running on reduced speed today to save fuel and because we are ahead of schedule. Since the vessel is moving slower through the water, many cadets have their fishing lines dragging behind the ship. One California cadet, Darius Rogers caught a small tuna.
Captain Jack Smith
Greetings, from the Southern Hemisphere. Tonight the ship crossed the equator at 1832 at 174 - 22.1 W longitude. Jordon Higgins was the cadet watch officer and C.J. Jackson was the Bridge Team Manager on watch as we crossed the imaginary line. There wasn't a lot of fanfare, but the ship's bell was rung and an announcement was made as we crossed. As if to welcome us to Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross was shining brightly low in the sky about four points off our port bow. The planet Jupiter was also very bright, just a little aft of abeam on the port side of the vessel. We didn't go over a big bump, fall off the earth or pick up speed because we were going downhill. These are all tales that are traditionally told to underclassmen as the equator is approached.
The weather was hot today which made working out on deck uncomfortable. The temperature is not that bad, but the skies are clear, and the sun just beats down on us when we are working. When working on deck, the cadets are having to consume gallons of water to stay hydrated. We are thankful to our engineers for making more water than we are consuming and also for providing air conditioning for us to enjoy when we are not working.
The day workers are learning how to maintain a large vessel. They are chipping and painting all over the ship. Some cadets have even been hanging from bos'n chairs to do their work. Ben Watson has been supervising many work teams. Amanda McCall, Joseph Cacciola, and Zachary Clark are working hard on deck. Matthew Pippin and Jonathan Bush received excellent evaluations for watch standing. Also standing watch this rotation are Christopher Kubala, Mark Farrar, and Latoosa Jensen. The cadets in the Deck Training class have been working on deck for the past two days learning how to properly handle mooring winches, mooring lines, stoppers, and heaving lines. At the end of training today, there were several simulated dockings with the seniors taking turns being in charge of tying up the ship and the sophomores acting as the crew. The cadets in charge today were Jeff Harris, Megan Kline, and Chris Tiefenbrunn. In Professional training, David Little, Ryan Maas, Theron Pfeifer and Glen Younger have been reviewing their knowledge of the Rules of the Road.
We also had fire and boat drill today. It has been an interesting and profitable day.
Captain Jack Smith
Chris Rabalais, and Matt Johnson have agreed to help me with information about what the engine cadets are doing aboard the ship. Here is their report:
Life aboard the USTS Golden Bear is all starting to fall into place. After a few days at sea, the engineering cadets have started getting into the routine of shipboard life. A drill was conducted to see how the cadets respond to emergencies. Elvis Ngande, Timothy Cullen, and Ben Strack have been in control of the Engine Room watches. Arron Trevino has been aiding the 3/C cadets in their Cruise 150 class, and Randall Skillern and Chris Rabalais have been hard at work with the day work teams. Nick Anastasiadis and Albert Caskie have been learning all about the purifiers in the Cruise 350 class. Matt Johnson learned the five tests for injectors and how to perform them during day work. Angus Paterson and Thomas Lawrence in professional training spent the day in the shop learning how to connect and pressure test the connections in copper pipe and Angus Paterson assisted in taking soundings of the various tanks on the ship.
Sunday was the last day of the first rotation for the engineers. Monday was the start of the second rotation with Matt Johnson, David Dearman, and Thomas Palmer are in Professional Training. John Fitzgerald and Zach Trede are on day work. Angus Paterson and Thomas Lawrence are on watch.
Captain Jack Smith
Our meteorologists, Westin Harrison and Francisco Hernandez, forecast for the day predicted that the weather would be slightly cloudy in the morning with clearing skies as the day goes on. By afternoon they predicted that the afternoon would be good for sunbathing on steel beach.
The seniors have been issued their sextants and many of them are anxious to get started and finished with their celestial project. On deck shooting the stars tonight were Amanda McCall, Joel Soileau, Emerson Loga, and Theron Pfeifer. In Deck Training, the cadets have been practicing lowering the lifeboats. Milam Bokorney, Brendan Hayes-Morrison, Sean Kelley, and Rolando Maydon have worked as the persons in charge of that operation. William Stubbs is steering the ship tonight on the 4 - 8 watch and Tamara Talley is the bow lookout.
Our cadets have been taking many qualifying exams the past few days to make sure they have studied and know what they are supposed to do on watch. Successfully, passing their exams in lookout duties were Vincent Reily, Asher Branecky, and Scott Stock. Passing their Morse Code test were Michael Bordenave, Matthew Glockner and Jacob Lamar.
Yesterday was Sunday. When the weather is good we have a BBQ on the fantail of the ship to relax a bit after the previous weeks work. The menu included barbecued pork ribs and chicken, which were very good and baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob and watermelon. For our entertainment there was music. The cadets just relaxed on the after deck, took pictures, and visited with one and all. This was the first time that most of them have had to just let their hair down since we left Hawaii. The evening was fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Captain Jack Smith
Monday, June 23, began with loading the last of the stores for the ship. By noon all of the ship's officers and cadets were attending to the last minute details to make the ship ready for sea. The sailing board was set for 1500.
Mooring station assignments for sailing were posted. Lawrence Buskirk, Michael Erskine, Troy Baker, Wayne Allen, Michael Bordenave, and Samantha Cibelli would be taking in the lines on the bow. Bringing in the gangway and rigging the pilot ladder would be Kris McEvoy, Drew McKinney, Michael Leners, and James McManamon. Tending the lines aft would be Roy Robbins, Keith Scott, Angel Rodriguez, and Matthew Warren. Standing watch in the after steering room would be Brian Herbert and Christopher Jones.
Finally, 1500 arrived and the drudgery of loading stores and drills was over. The ship slipped her lines and sailed out into the Pacific Ocean. The deep blue color of the Pacific Ocean is indescribable. Normally, we have a long sea voyage before our first liberty port, but not this year. After leaving the harbor and dropping off the pilot, the ship set her course for a short overnight trip to Lahina, HI. For our sophomore cadets their seagoing careers had begun. They were off on an adventure most folks can only dream about. For the next two months they will spend their time standing watches, working on ship's maintenance, and learning about all of the evolutions that take place in the daily life of a ship. In addition, they will experience the cultures of several South Sea Islands.
For the senior cadets and the four of us instructors who are more seasoned sailors, it is good to be at sea again. May this voyage be blessed with fair winds and calm seas.
Captain Jack Smith
Our 2008 cruise began on June 19th with an early wakeup call. The cadets were awakened at 0300 and began loading all the suitcases and gear on the busses for the trip to the airport. We were all checked in and had passed through security by 0700. Many cadets had breakfast while others just lay on the floor and caught a couple of hours sleep while waiting for the flight to be called. The flight to Hawaii was seven and one half hours long. Our group was on two flights this year. One at 0935 and one at 1155. Upon arrival in Honolulu, we loaded all of our gear aboard two busses for the short ride to our classroom for the summer, the USTS Golden Bear, which was docked at Aloha Towers Pier 10.
After getting their room assignments, some of the cadets were given orientation tours of the ship, others went right to work loading the stores for our upcoming voyage, and some began standing watches. All welcomed the end of the day so they could get some much needed sleep and to recover from jet lag.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the cadets continued loading all the supplies needed for a two month voyage.
They were required to attend fire drills, drills for launching the lifeboats and security drills. There were many meetings where the cadets were told what will be expected of them as they train this summer. All of the cadets did a good job in their activities, so they were granted liberty on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Most of them headed to Waikiki Beach. Kristi Westfall went for a swim, but most of her classmates were satisfied to just wade in the surf and get a little sand between their toes. All of them found out how expensive everything is in Hawaii.
Captain Jack Smith
Check this page frequently for updates about the Texas Maritime Academy Cadets as they take their 2008 Summer Cruise. The most recently received reports will be in on the top. Bear in mind that reports may not be received in chronological order.
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