"Life At Sea: Departure Day finally came! We set sail Sunday morning after the cadets were allowed to get off one last time to say goodbye to their families who had shown up to watch the departure. Before we departed, the entire ship did a sailing muster which is like a very accurate attendance. It was taken so we know every person that is on the ship when we leave. Every day out at sea there is a morning and afternoon muster, so we have accountability of all people onboard.
Last week, I mentioned that on Saturday I would be on maintenance, but my shift got canceled so I ended up having a free day. I used this last second free time to download movies on to my phone and had some much-needed time to relax after having a total of 34 hours as Master At Arms earlier in the week.
On Sunday, after our sailing muster was completed, all the cadets onboard not actively on watch manned the rails of the ship. Manning the rails is a shipping tradition in which everyone lines up outside on the decks of the ship when entering or leaving a port.
Also, on Sunday, I had my first day of maintenance. Maintenance is vital on any ship because out at sea equipment needs proper upkeep and problems need to be addressed and fixed quickly. Maintenance is not only done in the Engine Room but all over the ship. During all work, safety is the number one priority. My first job led me to the baker’s kitchen where a bread cutter needed to be securely fastened down so that it would not move when the ship started to roll. When we work on these projects, we are in small groups of around two to six people.
After that was completed, we moved to a different section of the ship where we joined another group who was trying to diagnose a problem with toilets that would not flush in a small section of the ship. The problem with the system ended up being difficult to find and diagnose. Once we figured out what was wrong, we immediately began to fix it. Maintenance days are one of my favorite days out at sea because of the sense of accomplishment you get when you can diagnose and fix a problem. The fix for the toilets ended up taking a lot of people and time so we all volunteered to stay late and even took turns eating dinner so that they would have working toilets as soon as possible. We were able to fix all the problems and the system is back up and running normally now.
When we departed on Sunday, we immediately started heading down the coast. Our first night at sea we were gently rolling back and forth, the sleep you get when this is happening is the best sleep you can get, it is like you are in a baby’s crib being gently rocked back and forth. As I worked on this blog, I was in one of the classrooms right at the stern off the ship. Because of this, I could hear every rotation that the propeller made and could even feel the vibrations from it. The only way I can think to describe this sound is image you are inside of a large washing machine as it spins, it’s like a repeating loud swooshing sound. This sound can only be heard at the aft most section inside of the ship.
On Monday, I had my first day of training, training days are ones filled with hands on learning supplemented with some classroom time, I know I said maintenance days were my favorite, but training days are also great. The TS Kennedy has a large engineering training space where cadets take apart machinery and equipment, build things, and practice on simulators. When we woke up Monday morning, the seas had increased slightly, and we were rolling and pitching more. But by lunch, the sun had come out and it was already much warmer than it was on Cape Cod. But the sun didn’t last for long. In the afternoon, the conditions worsened. After living on a ship that has been pitching and rolling for multiple days you get something called your sea legs. This basically means your body has adjusted to the movement and you are much more stable walking around and less seasick. Talking about sea sickness…yes, I have already seen multiple people get seasick. No, I have not gotten seasick myself. In a couple of days everyone will have there “sea legs” and feel much better.
As I sit in the ship’s Computer Lab preparing to email this blog back to shore, the rolling has significantly increased.
What’s Coming Up:
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I am back on training. On Thursday, I have my first watch in the Engine Room. In my next blog, I will go into what Engine Room watch is like. Also, I am looking for topics for future blogs so if you would like to see anything, please email them in. It could be anything from what the Engine Room is like to what games are played onboard. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I will be back on Thursday with another."
McArthur, thank you for this outstanding, detailed blog. You provide our student followers with an accurate glimpse of just what it is like to live, work, and learn aboard a ship at sea.
I admire the dedication and commitment that your group showed when you agreed to work overtime to get the toilet problems resolved, even altering your dinner schedule. I am glad that you felt a feeling of accomplishment when the job was complete. I am sure that there were many cadets and crew members who appreciated your hard work. You are a great role model for our student followers.
Followers, please take advantage of McArthur's willingness to let you choose the topics of his upcoming blogs. Please send him an email at email@example.com.