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Massachusetts Maritime Academy - MMA cadets depart for sea term in the dark Admissions - MMA cadets depart for sea term in the dark

Photo By Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Glow sticks, Lite-Brite-style signs and a relatively balmy temperature of 43 degrees gave this year's Massachusetts Maritime Academy sea term send-off a unique feel as the T.S. Kennedy headed south for its six-week training cruise.

"There were very inventive displays of light," Academy President Adm. Richard Gurnon said of the signs parents made for the school's first-ever sea term departure in the dark.

After being delayed 12 hours because of wind gusts of up to 35 knots, the ship left the dock at 6:37 am.

"The only thing that stops us is wind," Gurnon said of the change in plans. The itinerary includes Curacao, possibly Barbados hinging on receiving diplomatic clearance, Colombia and Miami, Fla. If Barbados doesn't work out, another U.S. port will be substituted.

The head count of 600 cadets and 98 staff and faculty was slightly reduced from what it had been for the planned Saturday departure because of illnesses and family emergencies.

There seemed to be less excitement than usual from the cadets on the railings, likely because of the 4:30 a.m. reveille and the prolonged anticipation for departure.

On land, some parents and significant others wiped away tears when the horn sounded and the ship slowly pulled away. Once it had turned in the right direction, the crowd offered one more vigorous wave.

"It still doesn't feel real," Tracy McGraw of Wareham said of her daughter Wesley Fehskens' departure. McGraw said she was equal parts excited, anxious and nervous, since Fehskens had never been away from home for so long.

Nancy Keaney of Centerville saw off her 20-year-old son Michael, who enrolled as a spring transfer last year and is still considered a freshman until he completes the sea term.

"It's bittersweet," she said of the milestone, which brought back memories of her late father, a 1952 MMA graduate who joined the Merchant Marine and later served in the Navy.

"I know he would be so proud of my son," she said.

Article written by Christine Hochkeppel/ Cape Cod Times
January 13, 2014

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last updated 1-13-2014 by