Admissions - MMA worker returns from sea meets daughter for first time
Photo taken by Cape Cod Times/Steve Heaslip
Deon Santos was somewhere between Jamaica and Aruba — aboard the T.S. Kennedy — when he got the message: His daughter was on the way.
Sailing as a galley supervisor during the Massachusetts Maritime Academy's semester at sea, Santos, 21, was 2,000 miles and two agonizing weeks away when his girlfriend, Mandi Davey, gave birth to 7-pound, 3-ounce Elianna Hazel on Feb. 6.
"It's just amazing. It was the longest two weeks of my life," he said, holding the bundle wrapped in pink and white in his arms.
On Saturday, Santos met his new daughter the way few fathers do — at the foot of a gangplank in front of a cheering crowd. He was the first crew member off the T.S. Kennedy after it made port Saturday morning, and he was greeted at the dock by Davey and the new baby.
Crew members and many of the hundreds gathered around the ship shouted encouragement — "yeah daddy" — as he walked off the ship and into his new role as a father.
From the start, the young couple from Wareham expected Santos to be at sea when Elianna was born — her due date was Feb. 7 — but that still didn't make things easy.
It took three hours for Santos to find out how the birth went and even more time for him to finally see his girlfriend and child via video, Davey said.
The couple chatted sporadically over the next few weeks whenever Santos was in range of Wi-Fi or cellular service, but it wasn't the same as being there, he said.
His absence was filled by family members from both sides, who constantly helped care for Elianna, Davey said.
"Having that kind of support was unbelievable. I'm so grateful for their help, but I'm glad he's home," she said.
Santos was one of 602 cadets who returned to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Saturday morning after more than a month at sea.
The Kennedy traveled more than 10,000 miles, stopping in New Orleans, Montego Bay, Jamaica and Aruba before turning north, said Capt. Thomas Bushy. "It was a very typical, un-surprising cruise," he said.
Article written by Steve Doane/ Cape Cod Times
February 24, 2013
The full article can be viewed at the Cape Cod Times website.
You can also see more pictures of the TS Kennedy's arrival at the Cape Cod Times photo gallery.
Click here to see pictures of the Kennedys' voyage during Sea Term 2013 on Flickr.