Lat: 36° 55.2′ N
Long: 001° 12.2′ W
Good Afternoon! We passed through the Straights of Gibraltar last night. The whole experience was completely surreal. On our starboard side was Morocco and the rest of Africa, and on our port was Spain and the rest of Europe! I spent my free time in between activities yesterday, enjoying the warm Mediterranean breeze. In the morning, I was on deck maintenance with the Bosun. Two juniors, another freshman, and myself were tasked with starting the engines on the two RHIBS and all four lifeboats. This job must be done once a week. The lifeboats feel roomy when it is just three people, but they are rated to fit 70 or 90 people. Starting the lifeboats is not difficult; batteries on, switch to “run,” start, then throttle ahead and astern, and you are done. The lifeboats use coolant to cool the inboard diesel engine so we can safely exercise it for about three minutes before it gets too hot. The RHIBs are more complicated as they require us to technically work over the side, even though we are not hanging off the side of the ship, which requires fall prevention harnesses. We run a garden hose to supply water to the engine and let it run for a bit to charge up the batteries. After we finished the job, we were cut for lunch. After lunch, we had a Man Overboard drill, in which everyone musters at their station and we establish who is missing. Boat squad swings a RHIB alongside in preparation to begin search and rescue. It is dangerous to bring such a small boat back to the ship, so Boat Squad stops the simulation there. (as pictured)
We are five days out till Vigo, Spain, where the freshman will switch from deck to engine or engine to deck for maintenance and watch days. There are some students who are very happy doing the activities they are doing now and see the switch as an annoyance. However, this morning I was talking to a deck freshman who really has been enjoying the engine watch and maintenance rotations and has been considering changing majors. Unlike a traditional college, Maine Maritime has specific majors with lots of required classes, so making an adjustment is better done sooner, rather than later. So while it is an uncomfortable adjustment, being able to see both perspectives can change someone’s career for the better!
Of course, everyone is ready to get off again in Vigo but there is lots of fun to be had onboard. In the evenings, there are lots of fun activities, including the popular movie nights run by the Morale Officer. Tonight’s movie is one of my favorites, “The Princess Bride,” a classic from 1987.
4C Odegaard Fields