Captain's Log: January 13, 2023

Ships Wheel

Good morning, Followers -

Today is the first day of what we call “Anchor Drills”.  1/C cadets will work in teams to raise and lower the anchor.  It is a very involved process. I will be on the Bridge to watch the drills and provide advice if needed.  I observe closely to assure that the cadets are safe at all times and that no damage is done to the ship.  As you know, safety is our number one priority here aboard the TS Kennedy

If safety is not an issue, I will give the cadets an opportunity to work together to solve their own problems.  There is no point in me dictating every step.  The cadets are well-prepared for their anchor drills and are ready to apply their skills. 

Have you been a passenger in a small boat and witnessed the anchor simply being tossed over the side?  If you have, you may be thinking that our anchor drills will be easy.   I assure you, they will not be.  This is a precision anchor drill.  The anchor must land in a specific location.  Even on a calm day, it’s a challenge. Weather, wind and sea conditions could further complicate the task. 

Usually, we wait to start moving the ship until the anchor comes out of the water.  In Mayaguez, however, the TS Kennedy needs to begin moving as soon as the anchor is aweigh - just off the ocean floor, to prevent drifting into shallow water. 

The biggest piece of advice that I have for the cadets is to watch closely for visual clues and not rely solely on the electronics on the Bridge.  With state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips, it is easy for cadets to forget that their own observations are equally as important as the readings on the instruments in front of them. 

I am also looking for confidence.  There can be no hesitation.

Clear communication is key.  Cadets need to ask themselves, “Is what I am saying helpful?”

After each team completes their drill, their performance will be critiqued.  Not every team will complete their drill today.  We plan to conduct additional drills tomorrow.

I am sure that you are used to cleaning up after a messy project at home or after school.  It isn’t always fun, but it is necessary.  The same will be true today.  The anchor and anchor chain is cleaned before it is brought back inside the ship.  A muddy chain could clog things up.

We also do not want invasive species in the chain locker.  Have you heard of the problem with marine species taking a free ride on cargo ships?  
When these ships leave port without cargo, the large ballast tanks are filled with water so that the ship can keep its balance. When the ship reaches its next port, the water in the ballast tanks is pumped out before the cargo is loaded.  Too often, ballast water delivers non-native marine species to new locations.  Usually, these transported species are unable to survive, but sometimes they take hold and cause havoc in their new home.  Thanks to careful cleaning of the anchor chain, we will not be taking extra passengers aboard the TS Kennedy.

All of this is taking place in Mayaguez Harbor in Puerto Rico.  If you’ve been participating in Follow The Voyage – Share The Experience for a few years, you know that this is always where we conduct anchor drills.  In fact, Mrs. Franks forwarded two emails this week asking me why we always conduct our Anchor Drills in Mayaguez.  This is the ideal location because the port is not too busy.  The depth is not too shallow, but just shallow enough.  The harbor is configured so that it is easy to turn the ship around.  There is also no need for a pilot to enter and exit the harbor.  Why would we go anywhere else?

Speaking of the TS Kennedy's anchors, crew members still talk about the bird that took a ride on our anchors during Sea Term 2018.  That's right, both anchors.  Apparently, the bird couldn't make up its mind so it spent time on both of our anchors before flying away.  I will ask Mrs. Franks to include a photo or two of the bird when she posts my log.

If you or your class does any research on the history of anchors or the problem with cargo ships transporting invasive species, please share it with me via  I want Sea Term 2023 to be a learning experience for our cadets, as well as our K-12 followers.

I’d also enjoy seeing classes design their own anchor drills using classroom objects, please share photos of your drills with me. 

Approach your school day with the confidence and skill that our 1/C cadets will demonstrate during today’s drills.

Captain Michael J. Campbell
Master, TS Kennedy

Sorry, Captain Campbell.  These photos are so great, I couldn't just pick two.

black bird with yellow feet sitting on ship's anchor


black bird with yellow feet sitting on ship's anchor
black bird with yellow feet sitting on ship's anchor
black bird with yellow feet sitting on ship's anchor
black bird with yellow feet sitting on ship's anchor