Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bridge visit south of the Azores islands.

5/31/2016 Update from Laurel:

We are just south of the Azores islands and seem to have run into some light showers, but otherwise everything is swell and the seas are calm!

With some time to kill, I had the pleasure of visiting the bridge and chatting with some of the cadets about just how they get the old Empire State to port.  They were very friendly and great at explaining all manner of business that happens up there! Many of the things they showed me, aside from the “parking break,” sounded simple in theory but clearly required lots of special knowledge. 

So, what’s up there exactly? The bridge looks like what you might expect, with several computer monitors and a nice old ship’s wheel. On the computer screens, an electronic chart coordinates all sorts of information, from our position, course and speed to the location of other ships in our area. There’s also a large box that tells our direction so that the cadet who is steering can correct or turn the ship as needed, hopefully avoiding small sailboats or whales. An ancient telephone also exists for chatting with the guys and gals in the engine room. It's rotary, so I may be one of the few people aboard who still remembers how to use it!

We’re due to putter past Gibraltar around midnight tonight, perhaps enjoying some late evening views of Morocco’s Atlas mountains. Check back in soon for more updates on our progress!

Heading towards Gibraltar

We’ve changed our course en route to Gibraltar as there seems to be a storm or two worth avoiding. We’ll miss the Azores but it should be smooth sailing as we cruise past Spain and Morocco in just a few days’ time. At the moment, there is nothing but blue waters and the occasional sailboat sighting!

Everybody has been very busy with coursework for their classes, which are focused on building a solid understanding of the daily operations aboard the ship. Throughout the day, students study subjects such as navigation, rules of the nautical road, and engineering – all of which require hitting the books in the evening. I see them study so I know how hard they are working, taking the occasional break to play Battleship or Chess.

The weather has been blustery but comfortable, so long as you’re wearing coveralls or a light jacket on deck. I'll be in touch soon with more info as we head towards the strait! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Norfolk, VA

5/23  Update from the ship's librarian, Laurel Angrist:

We’re back after a nice break in Norfolk, VA where everyone had a chance to stroll down the quiet tree-lined avenues, sample some tasty southern fare and enjoy a few lovely nights out on the town! It was wonderful just to stretch our legs and meander amongst the old-fashioned town houses and shaded public parks.

Some among us opted to visit a museum or two to immerse ourselves in the local culture and marine life. Nauticus, the naval history museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art were two standouts!

A large contingent of cadets also headed further afield to nearby Virginia Beach where the bustling waterfront area came to life with the first rays of the summer sun. Nice sand and excellent local beers made for a fabulous time ashore.

Now begins our long stretch across the Atlantic, hopefully avoiding some blustery weather and swells. Stay tuned for more updates soon as we make our way across the pond.

SST 2016 Photos 1

A few photos from Laurel.  Please check out SUNY Maritime College's Facebook page or the library's Facebook page for additional photographs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


5/17/2016 update from ship's librarian, Laurel:

We’ve had a mini Caribbean getaway these past few days, sailing around Bermuda! The calm Caribbean waters have been ideal for practicing our turns and getting into the swing of things at sea. In other words, we’re cruising (putting all thoughts of fine-sand beaches and rum punches aside)!

Taking advantage of the first summer rays, we held our first “Sunday-at-Sea” barbeque out on the sun deck. It was quite a feast that the saintly folks at Chartwells put together including steaks, veggie burgers, baked potatoes etc...  Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves! Fun and games continued on into the evening, despite a few groans about the beginning of classes and all the upcoming work.

Looking ahead, we’re due to reach Norfolk, Virginia by roughly 6pm tomorrow (May 18th). It should be a nice break for all, with quite a few museums, waterfront sights along with nearby Virginia Beach a short bus-ride away.

Look out for more updates and a few pictures coming soon!


5/14/2016 update from the ship's librarian, Laurel:

The views off of Montauk have been grand! Dropping anchor each night, we’ve puttered around here by day in order to fulfill our important training and safety requirements. Everyone seems enthusiastic and it’s been a great start to our summer sea term!

So far, training has involved making sure all know where to report for “standing watch” as well as some firefighting training. Part of this involves cadets donning full firefighting suits and blacked-out masks to simulate fire-and-smoke conditions, then crawling on all fours to find their way out of a room. Occasionally they bump into one another, but all remain safe in their helmets.

Up on deck, we've had several “man-overboard” drills. A dummy (Oscar) was tossed in and needed to be rescued from the open water using a small orange fast-rescue boat. All went well!