The Past Week and Kiel!
Position: Lat: 55° 20.1′ Lng: 011° 02.7
We have been busy in the last week, and I was on watch for most of it, so let’s pick up from where we left off. The very popular ping pong tournament took place last week, with 4C Cleaves taking first place by just a few points from the runner-up, 1C Joyce. After watching the tournament, I napped for an hour before my first engine watch at 0000-0400. As a 4C, the watch is mostly learning the rounds that the 2nd class is in charge of completing. The rounds are wiper, reefer, oiler, and fuel oiler. Ideally, the freshman shadows the juniors for a round or two and then can complete it solo. The main engine and generators are old and 2nd hand, so they leak a decent amount of oil. Everyone helps with the constant cleanup, but the designated person is the wiper. The reefer round takes levels on the refrigeration system, checking pressures and temperatures. If the Reverse Osmosis plant is running, the reefer also completes that round. The oiler round is extensive, checking levels on most of the equipment in the engine room and other machinery spaces. The fuel oiler sounds tanks all around the ship, marine diesel oil and gear oil also checking the grease on the steering gear. After the rounds have been completed, questions are answered, more coffee is consumed, and leaking oil is wiped, students can trace systems and “connect the dots,” so to speak, about how the systems interact and work together. I traced the Main Seawater and Auxiliary Seawater, which cools equipment (such as the reefers) and other cooling water systems. I also traced the Lube oil system, Jacket Water, and the Central Freshwater System. Another engine room familiarization activity is simply walking around identifying equipment and their purpose; purifiers, heat exchangers, pressure regulators, and temperature regulators.I learned a lot about how refrigeration systems work and how each component furthers the temperature exchange. I also did some boiler water chemistry on watch, monitoring certain levels of chlorides and other chemicals in the water systems we have onboard.
A Coast Guard requirement for freshman cruise is competency in specific topics; safety, emergency equipment and signals, environmental restrictions, and communication systems. Watch officers sign these after a student demonstrates complete understanding. During my last watch rotation, I earned the last sign-off I needed.
I wish I could speak to the experience of traveling through the Kiel Canal, but because of my watch rotation, I was getting sleep during most of the transit, which took sixteen hours. I walked out on the deck during the last lock, which was very cool. The only other locks I had been through were in the Intra-coastal Waterway, where I held a 44-foot Downeast cruiser off the wooden supports. The lock process with the TSSOM was a much bigger operation involving tugs and our high-strength mooring lines. Once we left the lock, we traveled through the busy Kiel harbor out into the bay to anchor for the night. The following day, we came alongside the pier in a German Navy base surrounded by coastal patrollers, destroyers, and refueling tankers. We loaded stores and offloaded trash on the second day. We were running low on food, so we are excited to be fully stocked! The odor from the trash, however, was instantly stomach-turning but nevertheless had to be carried onto the cargo nets.
Once liberty was called, we grabbed a bus and headed to the train station to catch the high-speed train from Kiel to Hamburg. In Hamburg, we enjoyed museums, street food, and electric scooters. We visited the International Maritime Museum, which was fascinating. The museum had to close, but we all agreed we could have spent a week there. The next day I stayed in Kiel and biked around enjoying the scenery with friends, stopping for ice cream and delicious food. I also went grocery shopping for snacks for the trip back to the States.
Today during engineering training, we split off into teams of two. In our teams, we soldered a small copper pipe system with several fastenings and attachments. When we were finished, the instructor pressure-tested our system with compressed air. Anna LaDue and I had a blast and only needed to crank on one fitting to get the green light. In the afternoon, we switched to deck training, where we got our first taste of T-Nav. I had a blast as we found the Latitude and Longitude of ten coordinates and then found some courses. The activity was simple, but I thought it was a fun intro to the world of navigation.
Until a week ago, I had only done two days of watch in a row, so having five days straight was exhausting. At first, your body tries to power through and keep the standard, daylight-oriented sleep schedule, but then you crash and are fully awake from 2300-0700 and are a zombie during the day. On the topic of time, there was a question about time loss. The days absolutely do blend together. Often the challenging part of writing this is separating the days. I usually use my camera roll to figure out what happened when. So much of my time is spent being told what to do, so it is often easier to just do the next thing in front of me. While I would not be able to commit to a journal, writing the cruise blog is a great way to gain perspective and see the big-picture benefits of my time onboard. We do not have specific meals relating to the day of the week, but back in Castine, Taco Tuesdays at the mess deck are a hit.
Getting into the rhythm was challenging, but by day three, I was doing great. Talking with the juniors in the engine room was fun! Obviously, they have been in our shoes, so they help fill in the gaps in our understanding. They also have taken the end-of-cruise assessments, so they ask us questions in the same style about the systems onboard to help us prepare. All in all, I’m so glad for the ability to participate in engineering duties and get that exposure. Thank you for bearing with the inconsistent posting; free time is little and far between as I get more comfortable and do more onboard.
Now, we are heading north toward Belfast, Ireland, and should be there in several days. As always, if you have any questions, please email me at Odegaard.firstname.lastname@example.org. It helps!
4C Odegaard Fields