Yesterday we had Summer weather while rounding the Florida Keys. Cadets were able to sunbathe on the fantail. Some were even able to get cell reception to make impromptu calls home. Today, however, brought cool, cloudy and damp weather...a gloomy turn.
We’ll stay off of Tampa Bay all day today conducting anchor drills. Deck cadets will practice anchoring three times, while the engineering cadets down in the engine room will be answering the bells (mariner talk for engine commands). Prior to cruise, all of our deck cadets completed anchoring training in the classroom, in the full-mission simulator, and aboard the training vessel Ranger in Buzzards Bay. None of those experiences will teach them as much as the exercises today.
The Kennedy is ten times larger than the Ranger,and the conditions are real world as opposed to the simulator. When the simulator is programmed for 15 knots of wind the sea’s image is changed, but the feel of stepping out on the wing is very different in real life. When the ship is given an astern bell, the simulator does not show how the propeller wash climbs up the starboard side. Although I look forward to these training days, I find I must bite my lip often if I see the cadets make miscalculations on speed or approach angle. But that is real world training, sometimes a mistake is the best lesson learned.
Tonight we’ll head off toward the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River on schedule to arrive at 0700 on Saturday. Between now and then we will conduct a fire and boat drill, a Captain’s inspection, and a pre-port briefing. We’ll be busy the last 36 hours of this leg!