We are pounding through growing seas on our way to the Azores! We made a quick trash stop in Norfolk, Virginia (anchorage G). I was a team member on most of the operations today, so I thought I would write a post on my day from start to finish.
Some background information, the companies rotate through different duties each day( deck and engine cadets rotate independently). Today, Delta deck was on maintenance. My day starts at 0600 when the quarterdeck announces, “reveille, reveille, reveille.” I climb down from my top bunk and put on my blue Carhartt pants, a blue undershirt, light blue chambray, and steel-toed boots. In my pockets from the day before are my rigging knife, leatherman, screwdriver, adjustable crescent wrench, foam ear plugs, clear safety glasses, work gloves, wheel book, pen, and flashlight. I also snag my Z87-rated sunglasses, hard hat, and my rain defender jacket because I know it will be windy. Being unprepared is not a good look for maintenance or any time on cruise. Fully weighed down by the gear clipped to my belt, I climb up the stairs to the main deck and have breakfast. As a regiment, we muster on the 03 aft enclosed deck at 07:10 for announcements and general accountability. Deck maintenance almost always musters on the leeward side under the lifeboats, so at 0750, Delta deck cadets were ready to go. The Bosun is in charge of deck maintenance, so he deligated a list of jobs to be completed. With the sea and wind conditions predicted for this afternoon, the big task was securing for sea. With the TSSOM rolling, anything that can move, will. By tieing chairs, printers, and extra parts ect. to the deck, we avoid injury and damage. The pilot for the trip to the anchorage was scheduled to board at 0830 so the pilot’s ladder was already out. The anchor is always prepped for release in case of propulsion or steering failure, so it must be monitored in 30 min shifts once the devil’s claw is taken off. The pilot (a ’93 MMA grad) came aboard safely, despite some considerable chop.
My anchor watch started at 0900. After I was relieved, I stood by while some MIDN lowered the anchor; the call from the bridge was 6 shots on deck. The anchor held nicely, and the ship swung into the wind. The next job was offloading trash so a midsized crew boat came alongside to take garbage via crane. I was quickly double bagging trash in the Shipboard Recycling Center to not keep the boat waiting. Then we carried the still odorous garbage to a cargo net, I then clipped the net to the safety hooks. Finally, the bosun on the controls would send it over the side. After the last net of trash went over the side, I went down to the port side, where a steward was leaving via the accommodation ladder. The pilot on the smaller boat did an impressive maneuver, holding his port quarter of the twin-screw pilot boat firmly against our hull while the crew member stepped off. Finally, it was lunchtime!
After lunch, I was on the bow with another freshman, each with a fire hose in hand, washing the anchor chain as it was brought home. It was definitely the highlight of my week. In order to wash down the anchor chain, the entire shipwide fire station system must be pressurized, and so my next activity, with three other freshmen, was examining the 50 fire stations for any hoses that were full of air or water. If a valve starts to fail, water or air can leak by. One particularly leaky valve filled an entire hose which needed to be emptied into several 5-gallon buckets. Next maintenance, the valve will be replaced. Next, as an entire maintenance company, we stowed the pilot ladder for a bumpy trip to the Azores! After a full day, we broke for dinner.
Writing this all out makes it seem like a crazy busy day, but everyone on this ship is constantly moving, doing their part in making it work. Cooking, cleaning, repairs, watch-standing, and getting rest are daily responsibilities. I am planning on putting together a group of interviews to get more perspectives on life aboard the TSSOM, so look forward to that. For many students, myself included, this is the first transatlantic crossing by boat! I am super excited, and it will be fun to get into a rhythm during the crossing.
If you have any questions about the cruise experience/ cadets everyday life, that you would like possibly answered in a blog post, please send me a brief email with your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will probably not receive a response directly but keep returning to the blog for an answer!
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