Friday, May 31, 2013

Flipper, ahoy!

Dolphins!  Off to starboard!  That was the call that rang throughout the ship yesterday morning, just before lunch as we were heading somewhere past Cape Hatteras.  Even afterwards, during formation, the more curious cadets would break rank to point over the rail at the arching fins and sprays of ocean water coming off of the dolphin pod playing along with our course.

We’re making great time up to Newfoundland with the Gulf Stream at our backs.  Cadets are alternating between reading about St. John’s in guidebooks, trying to answer the question of the day (“How many species of mammals are indigenous to Newfoundland?”), studying for midterms, and completing Q’s and Cel Nav homework.  A few are tarting to burn the candle at both ends, but most are in good spirits with a little extra coffee, chai tea, or cinnamon sugar pretzel from the snack bar late at night.  Even a bit more exciting is that word on the MUG path says we’ll be having our first official Sunday at Sea tomorrow!

As for the Med Care Provider class held in the library, from my station over at the Circulation Desk I’m learning all about taking a patient’s vitals.  As for a creative back-story or imaginary scenario during today’s lesson, I’m happy to report that Cadet Sporing (who’s “story” was that he fell off one ship and landed on a fishing vessel) was successfully rescued by his classmate, Cadet Archie Williams (who just happened to be on the fishing vessel… with a stretcher and a neck brace).  I hope they’re getting extra points for creativity.

Until next time,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'll Take "Ship's Life" for $200

"I'll Take 'Ship's Life' for $200"

Midterms are definitely underway now that we’re back in the routine of things; I can tell by the number of students staring blankly into their tomes of technical literature, hoping that something might stick in the 13th hour.  At least, I think they’re studying around their copies of The Hunger Games and Master and Commander.  Some are taking leisure reading breaks right now, while others are still working on perfecting their belt kicks and lunges with Insanity (just outside the library’s door).  Ivan, the dessert chef on board, has definitely been making us some comfort food lately, whether or not we have midterms to work on.  Today’s special treats included some delicious bread pudding and warm apple cobbler.

Weather is definitely warm with a side of muggy, and we passed Jacksonville, FL somewhere far off the port side around lunch time.  For a little extra diversion, I’ve restarted the heated Jeopardy! game from last Summer Sea Term, and many are using it as a learning experience.  If a student doesn’t know the answer I’ll show them the reference book which they can use to find it; that way they’ll learn a little more along the way. 
(Here’s a sneak peak for tomorrow:
“Ophidiophobia is the fear of what?”)

 With Newfoundland just around the corner, if there are any parents, friends, or loved ones out there who would like to send mail to your special cadet, officer, crew, or librarian, please send letters only to:



C/O Avalon Customs Brokers

80 Water Street

P.O. Box 5774

St John’s, NL

Canada A1C 5X3

Speaking of mail, another shout out today comes from Cadet Adam Gray, who would like to tell his girlfriend Alexia Grant that he’s sorry for not receiving your letter in New Orleans, but is looking forward to seeing it in Newfoundland (he hopes)!

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Onward to Newfoundland!

Onward to Newfoundland!

After three days of eating, two-stepping, and wandering through New Orleans, everyone is back aboard the goodship TSES VI and bound for Newfoundland.  New Orleans was all that it promised – and more – from the delicious seafood, local delicacies, music, to the history, we can safely say we did it all.  The French Quarter with its modern influences on timeless history and architecture was the local hotspot for most cadets, while the more adventurous headed to the neighboring districts of Bywater, Marigny, and the Garden District.  Yours truly made well on my 3-day streetcar pass and wandered from Frenchman Street to Magazine, and everywhere in between!  The undisputed favorite?  Café du Monde’s beignets, and an iced café au lait!

Wasting no time getting back underway and into the routine, we’ve restarted classes and had a little “outdoor time” during today’s abandon ship drill.  Of special note was today’s Med Care Provider class, during which lucky Cadet Haas volunteered to be the victim of a back injury demonstration, donned a lovely neck brace, and reposed aboard a stretcher to demonstrate to the class how to properly care for such a patient.  Performance well done, Mr. Haas; I’m sure your agent will be hearing from Hollywood soon.

Also, Michael McGuinn says “Hi Mom!”

Until next time,


PS – Don’t worry if your cadet hasn’t written since New Orleans; it looks like we may be experiencing technical difficulties with the email server again… standby.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Laissez les bon temps rouler

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Waking this morning, we quickly discovered that something new was on the horizon… land!  And not just on the horizon either; literally to our port and starboard sides.  We’re now in the heart of the Mississippi River and in a few short hours we’ll be docked near the French Quarter of New Orleans.  In preparation for their time in NOLA, cadets have been given port guides and maps of the area, recommending the “must sees” and the “must avoids” of the area.  Luckily, the latter is only a couple of points long.  I’ve been trying to teach some cadets the foreign language that Creole and Cajun cultures have introduced to the area (even an urban one), including:

Where y’at – How are you doing, answered with “Aw-rite”

Fais-do-do – A Cajun dance party

Beignet – The most delicious fried doughnut (liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar) you’ll ever have Vieux Carré – Another term for the French Quarter Laissez les bons temps rouler – Let the good times roll!

We’ll see how much of it sticks in a couple of days…

In the meantime, we’ll be heading ashore soon with ample access to cell service and wifi; however, the shipboard connection continues to suffer from serious downtime.  Please be patient with your cadets who are just as frustrated that they do not

have the instantaneous email service enjoyed at home.  I’ll be back after departure from New Orleans, with more to share on our experiences in the Big Easy.   Au revoir, mes amis!

Rollin’ down the river,


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Leeward Rail

"The Leeward Rail"

Judging by the title of today’s blog, you might think that cadets are feeling a bit green with mal de mer.  Not the case!  Today on my way to lunch, I decided to take the long way up top to Boat Deck when what to my wondering eyes should appear but dozens of cadets with their phones to their ears!  Yes, indeed; we’re within cell phone service (mostly).  Good thing too, since our delayed email system has been getting cadets antsy for news from home.  (Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten an email back from your cadet yet – the delays seem to be unpredictable but eventually everything gets through!)

Cadets have wasted no time in all getting in synch with their class schedule and the arrival of Q’s.  Q’s – or quizzes – test each cadet on a specific area of knowledge.  Some Q’s might cover firefighting, or fastboat rescue, or perhaps shipboard lines and equipment.  Gleaning from their coursework, notes, library books, and asking the mates about their topics, students are finding in-depth answers to every real-life question such as….

--What two things would you normally secure in the event of a fire?

--What types of portables are found on this ship and where are they located?

--Name and explain the various methods by which fire spreads.

Things are starting to heat up here, and not just with classwork.  The further south we go the harder the goodship TSES needs to work to keep our climate controlled at a comfortable temperature.  The library is leading the unofficial “Coolest Spots on the TSES” poll at the moment, at a barely balmy 81°F.

Today’s shout out comes from Cadet Noah Collins, who would like to say hi to Grandma Bobbie: “I love you!” he says.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 17/18: School Days, School Days

(From Ship's Librarian, May 18th, 2013)
It’s been a flurry of activity during the past day, and to make matters just a touch complicated, email has been down due to planned power maintenance ashore.  Never fear, dear readers; all is well aboard the hearty TSES!  Yesterday, classes started and just like on the first day of school on land, cadets were rushing to find their classrooms, to get from “class a” to “class b” in time, and still have time to fit in dinner between their first bouts with homework.  Just think of trying to find your own classroom on the first day of college, except then imagine it’s on a rocking and rolling ship!  The library even has a classroom now.  Today’s topic?  Knot tying!  Even the best modern technology can’t replace a good bowline, square knot, or half hitch.

Some cadets were in their “work parties,” (which sounds much more fun than it probably is) yesterday too.  Cadet Archie Williams reports that “Any day working with a plasma torch is an awesome day,” which is a great attitude to have for repairing tools and metal in supply rooms, all the while trying not to light one’s shoes on fire.  “Metal, brawn, and a plasma torch” – inspirational words to live by.  Thanks, Archie!

On top of classwork, yesterday we ran a very successful fire drill.  It took barely any time at all for cadets, crew, and officers to muster (meet) at their assigned stations once the alarm sounded, and luckily for all it was a breezy, warm day at sea. No sign of dolphins, turtles, or other sea creatures just yet, but hopes are high that some might surface once we get further south past Florida.  

As for working out, the students’ Insanity group has added a P90X routine, and good thing to judging by the desserts that are coming out of the galley.  We officers have likewise started our routine just in the nick of time.  I’d like to think everyone’s just preparing their stomachs for the delicious cuisine to come in Louisiana.

Speaking of Louisiana, if you’re inclined to send a letter or postcard (no packages, please!) to your favorite cadet, crew, or officer, please send it to: 
Name (i.e., Cadet John/Jane Doe)
c/o Inchcape Shipping Service
2450 Severn Avenue
Ste 108
Metairie, LA 70001

Until next time,

Friday, May 17, 2013

SST 2013 - NOLA Bound

Well, we're mostly underway now heading south for Louisiana, by way of running a few circles in the Atlantic and practicing a few drills. Classes officially start tomorrow for the cadets, and since we've departed they've done an excellent job settling in with their work groups. I'd like to give a special shout out to Cadet Thomas Sippel from Rochester NY for his and his engineer team's work helping to get the library up and running with the ship's server!

The library is now all unpacked, and dozens of your cadets have already filtered in. The weather has been windy, but warm, and I'm sure they're enjoying their time on the sundeck. When not about the ship, cadets have started their work out regimen including - encored from 2012 SST - Insanity. Better known as the most intense cardio aerobic program known to man, cadets have been spending upwards of 50 minutes outside of the library in one of their lounges doing push ups, sit ups, high knees, and more purely for the purpose of personal wellness. Maybe it's time for some officer/crew to get our own Insanity team together... hmm...

Oh! And for those of you who may be wondering about my sign-off yesterday with "Books," here's the story. Last summer I was having a conversation with a fellow officer of mine, and he told me this great story about nicknames on ship: popular ship culture has it that (back in the day), the radarman would be "Sparks," the chef "Cookie," and the librarian... "Books"! And the name kind of stuck since then; it's also a lot easier for the cadets to remember.

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SST 2013 - Welcome from your Ship's Librarian

Hello and ahoy from the goodship, EMPIRE STATE VI! It is my pleasure to be your ship’s librarian again this summer, encoring my position from the second half of 2012 SST. After a rigorous send off from Throgg’s Neck (thank you to all who came out to say farewell!), we headed south and out to our current point off of Montauk where we’ve been completing some drills in preparation of our journey south. Everyone is in high spirits and eager to ask questions about life aboard the ship. I’ve gotten everything from “Do you know where the Ship’s Store is?” to “I hear you have a copy of the Hunger Games trilogy!” and “What movie is on for tonight?” Besides drills, cadets have jumped right into classes and are starting to “learn the ropes” of life aboard ship before seriously getting underway.

As for some of the niceties aboard, the weather has been windy and meals filling. Parents and loved ones, don’t worry about not getting that email from your cadet just yet – the email server has been a bit cranky since departure but is sure to find a remedy soon. We have our course set to arrive in New Orleans in just about 10 days, so please be patient – there’s a lot happening aboard before then! Stay tuned to the library blog for all of the updates.

Until next time, fair winds and following seas!

Liz (aka Books)