Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chickens and Sharks and Groundhogs, Oh My!

Well, our final Sunday at Sea has come and gone.  There are rumors that we may have a final celebration next weekend just ahead of the ship’s return, but just in case – we were all served a healthy dose of steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs last night!  And don’t forget the sundae bar!  Speaking of food, outside our beloved Sunday at Sea, don’t be surprised if your cadets might want a nice big meal when we get back to shore – some of the menu items are becoming more… creative… with fewer days ahead of us to eat what’s left in the reefers.  This librarian can report that the “chicken fried steak” was most likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Luckily for my sweet tooth, desserts still continue to amaze and today we had a 1-year Anniversary chocolate pudding cake with chocolate icing and piping for MT chair Mate Anthony Palmiotti and his wife, Engineer Yeoman Kathleen.  Congratulations, you two!

Coming up this week are the final dress inspections for cadets before we come into New York.  We want the ship and everyone aboard to look their best for you all on Monday, so there’s extra chipping, scraping, and painting to be done, and more shoes to shine and uniforms to ready.  In the meantime, the Jeopardy! game is more competitive than ever; it turns out cadets know WAY more about sharks than I thought they would as I celebrate our own version of “Shark Week.”  I’ve been forced to change out the question twice daily because each is answered within the first 20 minutes of posting!  (They really like reading the “Encyclopedia of Sharks,” too!)  Here’s an example for you: “The great white shark has been known to display what kind of behavior, also known as “spy-hopping”?”1. 

Cadets are also enjoying news from the Olympics in their downtime and, as always, the evening movies.  Tomorrow night we’re scheduling the classic “Groundhog Day,” which is ironically how many students are describing the past few days as we continue across the Atlantic on the goodship TSES.

Signing off,

Answer 1: What is “standing” vertically in the water to survey its surroundings? 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Are We there Yet?

Still steaming along out here in the Atlantic, I was told earlier that we have officially crossed our half way point to North America! Unfortunately, between here and there, an intense fog has rolled in bringing with it chilly moist weather; oh, and also our fog horn is now sounding every 2 minutes per CG regs, day AND night. I try to think of it like summertime crickets chirping in the evening back home, yet still… its “WOOOOOMMMPPP” doesn’t quite sooth the same way.

The fog and “ice hazards” (a la TITANIC) have forced us to change course a bit and stay on the Atlantic-side of any upcoming channels once we get closer to land. In the meantime, there’s an ongoing epic battle of chess between engineers (kudos go so far to Cadet Jordan Rose) and deck students are finishing up their voyage plans.

I’d like to send out a very special and happy birthday shout out to Cadet Taylor Maercker for July 30 (I hope comes to the library before then!) from his Mom and Dad. Herman “Herm” Woolfrey wishes his mom and sister a very happy belated birthday as well, and says “Hi” to his grandparents and dad too: “Miss and love you all!”

Friday, July 27, 2012

2300 and all is well... again

Another day down, another day closer to shore!  We’re continuing our arc north into colder weather with our sights set towards Canada.  I can tell that cadets are getting more and more ready for home by their reference questions, which includes information on popular music, the heat wave back in the States, and Olympic medal counts. 

Speaking of shore, there are two shoutouts today from cadets to loved ones.  Sara Ballard says “Happy Birthday to Scotty Ballard!  To my family, I miss you guys!  Looking forward to talking to you all!”  To Jill Davenport’s grandma who is going in for surgery soon, Jill would like to say “Hey Nan, miss you, love you, and I’ll see you in a week!”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Holly Jolly Sea Term

Today was just a very backwards day it seemed.  I think it’s probably because we’re all just trying to get 
The routine for underway is back into effect, complete with the usual lifeboat drills.  After mustering for about an hour, we realized our course is taking us more north than we expected; it looks like we’ll be doing a high arc over the north Atlantic and head due west once we come in line with New York.  Of course, that’s always subject to change but one thing is certain: the heavy jackets and beanie caps are back in fashion!

 Along with the theme of colder weather, I’m happy to report a theme of Christmas in July (aka, July 25) broke out aboard around 2200 last night.  A very jolly brigade of 1st Class non-rates made stops in all of the classrooms, mess decks, lounges, and, of course, library, to hand out makeshift packages along the way.  Inside were candy, Starbursts, and fruit flavor packets for adding to waterbottles.  Cheers and thanks to all from Troop City (51 Hold)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mersey River, fare thee well!

 “ ‘tis not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me…”  - Leaving of Liverpool, a traditional chantey

Well, that’s it!  We’re in the homestretch now!  The countdown to NY officially began at 1400 today.   We departed Liverpool this afternoon and have started the long journey home.  In the 12 days between here and New York, students will still be finishing up a slew of quizzes, tests, and bouts of homesickness.

You’d swear everyone had to do the most rigorous PT while in Liverpool the way we’re all exhausted today - I’ve never seen the cadets so tired.  I think it has something to do with the way watches were scheduled, plus changes in times to get underway, plus now anchor watch, and, of course, spending many hours in port.

Liverpool was a wonderful host, a great walking city, and had a very similar feel to a city the size of Philadelphia.  There were lots of new buildings along the waterfront, but it’s still a “working man’s” city and an historic one at that.  The waterfront was very lovely, with lots of museums and restaurants to attract tourists.  Many of the waterfront buildings themselves were originally part of the maritime industry that helped build a bustling city out of Liverpool. 

Warehouses, pump houses, and ropewalks are now museums, eateries, and landmarks.  Also the Beatles are everywhere.  On any variety of Beatles tours I found out that the Fab Four "frequented" nearly every building in sight of the ship.  The Museum of Liverpool and the Merseyside Maritime Museum extraordinary museums to represent the enterprises of the city and a special exhibit on the TITANIC, while the Cavern Quarter just a few minutes away had many restaurants, pubs, and dance clubs in what must have been buildings which were hundreds of years old.  Just around the corner from Cavern Quarter is Liverpool ONE, the city’s best attempt at a high end, outdoor shopping district which literally stretched for miles on miles and offered pretty much any kind of clothing, sports good, book, or music you could dream of buying.

Speaking of music, it’s not just the Beatles anymore.  On any given night while we were in port, there was pub after pub of live music, from modern musicians to rock and rollers  covering the Beatles.  The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is another famous institution, with their hall being a famous landmark. We missed their (free) open air concert on the docks by an hour when we came to dock on Friday night, but they still had performances and special events at their Hall including… a showing of “Casablanca” on Monday!  It was the perfect birthday treat.

There were Beatles references galore, and lots of shopping.  Many of the cadets took scheduled tours to London -- I heard it was a madhouse there with all the Olympics prep, but fun jus the same!  I was pleasantly surprised to hear how many of them went to Buckingham Palace, Paddington Station (just for Paddington Bear), and King’s Cross Station (for Platform 9 ¾).  I was definitely not expecting that of our guys!

On a personal note, I was especially thankful to how everyone on  wished me well on my birthday yesterday, from Captain to Chief Mate to the engineers and deck officers (as well as some of the parents and the cadets).  It was really special to have the ship community to celebrate in different ways!!  I even got birthday cards from my officer friends, and a birthday card from my Grandma!  Thank you so much as well for all of your warm wishes.  (Not to make a deal about in front of cadets since they were mainly "restricted" to Liverpool, but myself and another officer took a 20 mile bike ride along the beach from Seacombe through Wirral [sp?] to New Brighton on Monday - what a great way to see the Liverpool from the water since we had to literally take the Ferry 'cross the Mersey.  And yes, that song is now permanently stuck in my head).

One last note from the ship tonight, which comes as a shoutout from Randolph “Woody” Stephens, who says “Happy birthday Big B, from Liverpool!” to his grandfather.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photos - Gibraltar and After


First images are of Gibraltar, then below are photos of activity on the ship, STCWs, engine room, library, deck, etc.

Elizabeth "Books" Berilla, SST 2012-B Librarian