Monday, June 30, 2014

Farewell to Cobh

Blog 6/29

Thanks to all parents and friends for your warm wishes as we begin cruise B! Today we set off for training to commence just a few miles off port in Cobh, in the (for now) calm Irish sea. Once we embark, the cadets will begin “man overboard drills,” which the less experienced sailors among us are certainly looking forward to. In the past, they involved a dummy nicknamed “Oscar,” who was unfortunately lost at sea.

The less sea-worthy among us are a bit sad to leave Cobh, but we definitely made the most of our time in port. Today, I ran into a number of our cadets en route to Blarney Castle, a short train and bus ride away from Cobh. As history goes, the foundations of the castle were laid by Cormac MacCarthy in 1446, but it was actually Queen Elizabeth I who introduced the word “blarney” into the English language. Although her emissary, Sir George Carew, tried his best to persuade the MacCarthy chieftain to accept the authority of the English throne, his efforts were met with professions of loyalty and flattery of the Queen, but with little agreement to English rule. In response, Queen Elizabeth I is said to have cried “This is all Blarney. What he says he never means,” and the castle from then on became known as Blarney Castle. Legend has it that smooching the stone at its summit will give its kisser the gift of eloquence, making them smooth at flattering speech and storytelling.

While a number of our cadets now possess the “gift of gab,” some of us preferred to wander the grounds around the castle, where you can find the historic “Rock Close” built by the Jeffereyes family in 1703. Between its walls are homes built by the first Irish cave dwellers, perhaps still mystically inhabited, as well as an ancient Druid stone circle, and a number of caves. A hundred meters or so above this lies the wishing steps, a place where all your wishes are sure to be granted - provided that you can walk up and down them with your eyes shut without falling and breaking your neck.

My wishing done, we returned to the immediate grounds around the castle, where we explored the “Poison Garden” and met some rehabilitated owls on view from the local “Animal Magic Wildlife Rescue Center.” More about their stories can be found at And speaking of rescues, I will need to locate my lifeboat before the drills begin. Can someone tell me - again - which side is port?


[editorial note:  Don't worry readers.  We informed Laurel which side is port!]

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cobh: The Changeover

Dear Readers,

We are happy to introduce Laurel Angrist, our librarian for the second half of Summer Sea Term 2014.  Apparently, the changeover happened without a hitch.  Her first correspondence to us is below (with photos).  This is her first cruise, so please be gentle with her!


Hello to all friends and parents of those traveling aboard the T.S. Empire State VI! As the new (as in, fresh-off-the plane) librarian for cruise B, I look forward to getting to know all of your kids in the coming weeks aboard the b-split training cruise. So far they are a lovely bunch with great sense of humor!

Those of us traveling on the 45-day B-split cruise arrived on the 25th in Shannon, Ireland and were bused right over to port to meet the ship, which looms large against the quaint little houses of Cobh. The cadets seem to have settled in nicely, with not a hint of jet lag on any of their youthful faces. I’ve spotted many of them at liberty exploring some of the port’s small museums and cultural attractions, eating fish and chips, and - this won’t come as a huge surprise - indulging in a pint of Guinness (or five). 

One of the more educational outings in port today featured a visit to the National Maritime College of Ireland, where a group of cadets had the chance to tour the school, which afforded a chance to test out an insanely realistic-looking bridge simulator for navigating ships under a range of weather conditions. The “rolls” felt very real even to the officers, and the trip seems to have been fascinating on the whole. The campus, which is right across the bay from us, also boasts a wave-and-wind pool for lifeguards practicing rescue drills. 

Cobh is lovely town, despite its unlucky history as the final departure point for passengers traveling aboard the White Star Line’s RMS Titanic. One of the more popular museums in town so far has been the “Titanic Experience Cobh,” which takes visitors on a realistic trip aboard the confines of the ship as if they were actual passengers. My entrance ticket was for one Elizabeth Doyle, age 24, who unfortunately was lost at sea. Although I have yet to gain my sea legs aboard a ship being steered by youthful cadets almost half my age, I will try not to look at this experience with any particular feelings of foreboding.

The weather has been more or less predictable since we arrived; it rains in the mornings and late afternoon, but we’ve had a good amount of blue sky during the day. Tomorrow is our last day in port before training exercises commence and I begin to open our library for book loans and evening movie hours. Please tell your cadets to stop by and say hi (I’m also taking movie recommendations) and be on the lookout here for more exciting news about our progress!

-- Laurel

Thursday, June 19, 2014 stop Cobh

Update from ship's librarian, Oleg:

The Empire State VI  is bunkering in Gibraltar.  The Engineering cadets are responsible for that task.  As it is standard procedure, smoking is secured all over the ship.

Mid-terms are underway for first class cadets.  The second and third class cadets are taking their finals as well.

First class deckies are preparing for CWO (cadet watch officer) watch.  Guidelines for preparation for said watch have been distributed via thumb drives.

Safety notes from the Regiment office are being added to the Plan of the day.  Cadets are receiving reminders such as "Always use handrail when ascending and descending ladder wells" by Cadet Miranda and "Always wear PPE and carry rates at all times" by Cadet Shaw.

As the change over is fast approaching, many students are making their travel arrangements from JFK.  Some are carpooling while others make alternate plans.

The ship will be berthing at the Cobh Passenger Terminal (for cruise ships) at the end of the month.

Shout out from Anonymous: "Hartford Whalers, we're #1!"

That's all for now.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Training in the Mediterranean

A report from our ship’s librarian, Oleg:

While drifting in the vicinity of the Balearic island, Mallorca we conducted an exercise with the Spanish Coast Guard. Their helicopter hovered over the ship and deposited a training item and then proceeded to pick it up.

The plan is to return to Gibraltar on Sunday to bunker. Fire drills and abandon ship drills are conducted on a frequent basis. For some fire drills, cadets roll out fire hoses and spray water on the deck to help prepare them for this kind of emergency.  In addition to this hands-on training 3rd classmen are also required to view fire safety training videos at the library.

 As final exams approach, the weather remains fair and general morale is high although some cadets show some traces of homesickness.  To help combat this some students play chess and other board games in the library. A foosball table just stationed outside of the library sees a lot of action as well.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Strait of Gibraltar

An update from our ship’s librarian Oleg,

The Empire State VI approached the Strait of Gibraltar on Tuesday. We were able to obtain a cell phone signal there so the ship was full of students rejoicing in the opportunity to use their cell phones in order to contact loved ones at home.

The plan is to circle the island of Mallorca at low speed, to allow the cadets plenty of time for navigation practice. We will then head back to Gibraltar for bunkering and proceed to set course for the Strait of Cobh.

Shout out from Cadet Whitney Taylor: “I love you, AC”

Mailing Address in Cobh:
Cadet John/Jane Doe
TS Empire State
c/o Burke Shipping Cork
Westlands House,
Cobh, Co. Cork.

Monday, June 9, 2014


We docked at Tenerife, which is the largest populated Spanish island and also the largest island in the Canary chain. Everyone enjoyed the Tenerife port and the weather treated us very well.
Some cadets explored the capital city of the island, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, by foot, bike, and skateboard. While other cadets headed for the beach. The ship was not docked near swimmable waters so a bus ride to the area was required. The Regiment  also organized an excursion to Teide National Park which is centered around Mount Teide, the highest mountain of Spain. At the park, some cadets participated in activities such as diving and went on a jeep safari expedition.

 We left Tenerife at 8am on Sunday, and are now back in the Atlantic.

The sailing plan is to complete some circles in the Atlantic and then enter into the Mediterranean Sea where the cadets can conduct some piloting and navigation exercises - afterwards we'll be heading to Cobh, Ireland.

Now that we are back at sea everyone has resumed their regular duties.

Special greeting from Cadet Mercante: "Hi MG, love".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cruise Photos

Dear Readers,

We at the library received a wonderful surprise today when the mail arrived.  Oleg had mailed to us prior to the departure from Baltimore a collection of photographs he took during the first part of Cruise A.


Monday, June 2, 2014

The Empire State continues her approach towards the Canary Islands.

Friday, May 30th, 2014 -Sunday, June 1st, 2014.

Updates from the ship’s librarian, Oleg:

The ES VI experienced some rough seas on Thursday into Friday, as a result, her progression was slow and steady, about 5-6 knots.  Many students recuperated in their berthing.  Others ventured out for the library’s late night showing of the “Avengers” movie.

Along with the rocking and rolling of the ship, midterm examinations are underway.  Mate John Winarski’s Maintenance and Repair class had their midterm exam in the library on Friday.  Midterm exams are expected to last into next week.

Cadets are constantly maintaining the ship.  Every morning, weather permitting, many are scraping, chipping and painting her.  Additionally, the fire prevention team weighs and refills fire extinguishers.

Many cadets welcome any sun time they can get to in order to work with their sextants.

The first Sunday at sea saw a lot of barbequing (steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream galore! Oh yes, and salads) along with some relaxation.

A Catholic service honoring the Ascension was held in the officer’s lounge.

Uniform inspection for cadets, in anticipation for arrival in Tenerife, will be conducted on Monday morning.

During the weekend, there wasn’t much rocking from the seas; however, we were all treated to some rolling. The overhead announcements “ship will reverse its course in five minutes, prepare for heavy roll” was helpful in preparation for the heavy rolls.

On an unrelated note, we were called upon to conduct a save today.  Apparently, a 42 foot catamaran was taking on water and needed assistance.  Fortunately for them, another vessel closer was able to help them out and ES VI was released from the task.

We’re expected to arrive at Tenerife this week.

Cadet Joe Maulo sends a shout out to his parents: “I love you Mom and Dad”

That’s all for now.

Mailing Address in Tenerife:
Marmedsa Noatum Maritime
S5 West Med
Avda.Anaga, 45-Edif Oceano bajo
38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Attn. Cadet John Doe
TS Empire State.