We had an early wake-up for everyone this morning - 0500 reveille - as we made our approach to the pilot station for the Cape Cod Canal. Breakfast was served at oh-dark thirty as the sun-tanned cadets, wearing their thin officer's jackets, started lining the rails at 0630 in 37 degree temperatures. Arriving a day early, in the wee hours of a cold morning, and the Scusset Beach breakwater was still lined with families and friends, waving wildly and holding their welcoming signs high.
As Captain Howard McVay of Northeast Marine Pilots expertly maneuvered the
ship into the slip, with the assistance of the McAllister Towing tugs, the
hundreds of parents and friends were cheering madly to catch a glimpse of their
cadet. It always brings a smile to my face - but this year the joy of reuniting
with loved ones had a twist - Customs and Immigration clearance first!
It only took just over two hours for 696 cadets and crew to make their customs
declarations to the CBP officers from New Bedford, Newport and Providence. To
keep the cadets 'busy' we conducted a field day - all hands cleaning - with the
warning that they better do a good job. As 1100 approached, and customs was
finished, we decided to let 'em go.
First down the gangway was Steward Cook Deon Santos - a special gift for him
waiting - his recently born daughter. Then the five cadets that 'won' the
privilege to be first down - then the multitudes were piped ashore. But
surprisingly, well not really - in less than 45 minutes the ship was like a
ghost town. After 52 days of high energy activity with people everywhere
aboard, it is over.
I'm thankful to all the cadets and crew for demonstrating discipline and a
cooperative spirit while aboard - and I hope the cadets learned a great deal. I
know they learned how to coexist!