Friday, May 28, 2010

The Odyssey of “Empire State VI”: En Route to Greece

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, May 24-26)

May 24:

We are back at sea and going nowhere. By that I mean that we have moved the ship about 5-10 miles away from Malaga (very clearly in view) and are at anchor while we do drills (they even lowered the lifeboats today). If we were to just go full steam ahead to Greece, it would probably take us only a couple of days or so to get there. “Empire State VI,” much like Odysseus, is going to take a long and leisurely route before we finally raise the Hellenic lands. This scenic tour of the Mediterranean is going to test the navigation and piloting skills of cadets… particularly when we encounter the Sirens and the Clashing Rocks.

May 25:

Today we fell out of sight of land and are now in the middle of the giant salt puddle known as the Mediterranean Sea. Today nothing really noteworthy happened (we haven’t met any Krakens, Sirens, or seen the Clashing Rocks yet), but I did happen to have my first official meeting with the Captain. The Captain wanted to talk about some of the content to put in my port guide for Greece. There is apparently going to be a three island tour offered, as well as a tour of the Acropolis. All surrounding this will be two receptions. One when we anchor at Andros, and then a huge reception on the ship on the night of the 6th. Alumni and industry leaders will be there. In addition, once we are in Piraeus we will be offering tours of the ship, etc.

May 26:

Allow me an indulgence to express my annoyance at doing concentric circles around lovely islands without any intention of stopping there. Majorca, which is the island we are circling now, is a beautiful island, and, according to one of the officers, is a “really great port.” Of course he thought I was joking when I asked him to pull over the ship so we can get out, even for half a day….Weather has been humid and growing hot. The seas, however, have been especially calm as we do our concentric loops.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Liberty in Malaga

The Empire State VI arrived at its first port, Malaga, on the morning of Friday May 21.
(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, May 21-23)

Friday May 21, Liberty in Malaga: After coming into Malaga, the inspection went well and liberty was granted starting at around 10:30 a.m. One needs a liberty card to leave and exit the vessel. I´m very happy to have my ticket to freedom right here in my pocket. Students have been let out in waves, and no matter where I went today, I kept bumping into some. I did a random walk through the town (very windy and warrenlike) and decided to go to the Alcazaba and the Castille de Gibrafalo. Both of these are Moorish ruins that provide excellent views of the town. I have already been back and forth to the ship, the ship is moored perhaps a mile and a half away from the main city but once you are in the city, everything is in close proximity to each other. That´s it for now. I have to decide what to do for tomorrow. I think I might be doing an outing to one of the towns nearby.

Walk up to the Castille de Gibrafalo.

Saturday May 22, A Day Trip to Ronda: If you ever get a chance to go to Spain, go to Ronda. The scenery alone is gorgeous. Ronda is the largest in a series of fortified towns in the mountains and probably the most awesome in its location being set upon a gorge that is crossed by a cliff. The town itself was about an hour and a half bus ride out of Malaga and it goes straight up into the winding hills. This town is known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting, an inspiration for Hemmingway, and also where Orson Welles had his ashes scattered.

Ronda´s Gates

Ronda, a town on a cliff

Ronda´s ¨New Bridge¨ spans a deep gorge.

Sunday May 23, A day at the Alhambra: Our destination was the fabled Alhambra, the citadel of the last Moorish kingdom of Spain. Our tour guide was a man named Frederico who was fluent in about four languages. His erudition really impressed the cadets and crew that were on the tour, but even more impressive was the Alhambra itself.

The Alhambra

Frederico our tour guide with rapt cadets and crew

A ceiling of the Alhambra

Images of a ship at sea

A calm day at sea

Using the Sextant

Joe Williams, Ship's Librarian with the Azores in the background

A Sunday barbeque at sea

Life boat

Cadets learning to tie knots

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Raising the Azores

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, May 17)
May 17: In the morning we finally reached the Azores. These dramatic looking, mist-shrouded islands rose pretty much straight from the sea and are dotted with rural communities and bustling towns. Today, on the whole, was a quiet day in terms of activity in the library, probably because everybody wanted to look at the Azores (we stopped the ship here for a while), and also because the heat problems in the library have been continuing. At my request, they have brought fans that will be installed on the walls in the library. This should help with air circulation.

Stormy Seas and Setting Sights on Land

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian, May 13-14)
May 13: Right now, we are encountering some fairly heavy turbulence and nobody is allowed to go out on deck. I do not think it is extreme weather, but it’s heavier than it's been since we started sailing. It is very cool to look at however, and any photo I take of the water does not do it justice. The library was very quiet all day due to rough weather. Reports of sick students throughout. This a.m. Captain came with two crew to secure library.

May 14: Ship rolled heavily though most of the day then finally settled by the midevening. We are one week out of Spain and should raise the Azores over the weekend. Reference questions have now begun to turn a bit more toward our first port of call with students asking of things to do in and around the port. Those using the library seem to be here for study.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ship Departs, May 10th

The Empire State VI departed Fort Schuyler on the morning of Monday, May 10. Follow the journey with periodic updates from the Ship's Librarian.

(Excerpts from the Ship's Librarian)

I boarded, climbed to the cabin deck, and then hung around outside as I waved to the little people ashore.

Tug boats came in, pulled us off the pier, and now we are cruising along the Long Island Sound heading toward Montauk. At Montauk, the cadets and crew will be performing one more quality check before we make the crossing.

The crossing itself should take about 10 days or so with the ship going at an optimal speed to conserve fuel. I can’t imagine how they used to make these crossings in sailboats just relying on wind power – it must have been so much quieter!