Sunday, January 13, 2013



The T.S. Kennedy set sail today at 0924 under cloudy but warm conditions.
Loaded with 602 cadets and 101 officers and crew, we steamed down Buzzards Bay en-route to New Orleans for our first port visit.

The annual Sea Term at Massachusetts Maritime Academy is often called a cruise, but it is far from that. Our 602 cadets will work 12-hour days when at sea, as well as one full day while in port.  Observers of our sea term often relate our experience only to the ports. “Where are you heading this year?” is often their first question. Although the port visits are important for numerous reasons such as dumping trash, loading fresh vegetables, adding fuel, it isn't our primary purpose.  The sea days are our single most important function because we bring our cadets through valuable hands on experiences to supplement the theoretical education they received while on campus. Their studies are now a reality in a hands-on environment. Every cadet will gain experience in watch keeping, maintenance, and laboratory training while at sea.

As we head out to sea, the weather looks good. If all goes well we will escape the heavy seas of the North Atlantic east coast, and will slip into the warmer climes without too many sea sick cadets.

My thanks to Captain Howard McVay of Northeast Marine Pilots for an excellent complimentary pilotage job out of Buzzards Bay, and to McAllister Towing for the great tug assist.

FTV 1/13/2013 Oh the Places They'll Go

     Over the next six weeks the Cadets will experience an adventure that most people will never get to experience. Their days will be filled with learning about the life of an oceangoing professional as they sail down the East Coast, into the Gulf of Mexico to visit their first Port of Call, New Orleans, Louisiana.

      The port of New Orleans, outlet of the Mississippi Valley, has been a major port since the 19th century. It ranks among the leading ports of the world; in the United States, it is second only to the Port of New York and New Jersey. Exports account for most of the international trade and include petroleum products, chemicals, iron and steel goods, rice, cotton, sulfur, and lumber. Imports are mainly crude petroleum, sugar, bananas, coffee, and bauxite. Port facilities extend along the Mississippi River and along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, which links the river and Lake Pontchartrain. There are also port facilities along the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a ship canal to the gulf. Much barge traffic moves through New Orleans via the Intracoastal Waterway. The highest part of the city is only 25 feet (8 m) above sea level; parts of it lie below the river level. Thus, floods have long been a threat, and the city is protected by an extensive system of dikes.

     Their next stop is Nassau, Bahamas, located on New Providence Island, Nassau has an attractive harbor, a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture, and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural beauty of the Bahamas has made Nassau a popular tourist destination.

Nassau grew up directly behind the port area. New Providence provides 200 km² of relatively flat and low-lying land intersected by low ridges (none of which restricted settlement). In the center of the island there are several shallow lakes that are tidally connected.

Nassau features a tropical monsoon climate with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year. Summertime temperatures reach about 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) and the winter months have daytime temperatures between 21 and 26 °C (70 and 79 °F), rarely falling below 10 °C (50 °F).

     After they leave Nassau they are heading to Montego Bay Jamaica, which is situated ninety miles south of Cuba and six hundred miles south of Miami, Jamaica is 18 degrees north of the equator. More precisely, Jamaica lies between latitudes 17 degrees 43 minutes and 18 degrees 32 minutes north and longitudes 76 degrees, 11 minutes and 78 degrees, 23 minutes west. The terrain is very mountainous with much of the land rising above 305 km (1,000 feet). The highest point, Blue Mountain Peak, is 2,256 m (7,402 feet) above sea level. Complementing the mountains, Jamaica also brims with valleys and plains. The annual average rainfall is 198 cm (78 inches). Mountainous areas receive almost 762 cm (300 inches) of rainfall each year while sections of the island’s western region get as little as 76.2 cm (30 inches). The annual average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. The hottest months are in the summer, from May to September. The "winter" season (December to March) is appreciably cooler. The heaviest rains occur in September and October and the hurricane season runs from June to November; Natural rivers and springs abound in Jamaica. The fast flowing rivers are used for transport and the production of electricity as well as to provide irrigation for agricultural purposes.

The island of Aruba is a flat, river-less island renowned for its white sand beaches; its tropical climate is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Aruba is about 70 square miles and is one of the Lesser Antilles located just around 20 miles from Venezuela. Aruba is approximately six miles wide and 20 miles long. The climate tends to be mostly dry with an average humidity staying around 60%. Relatively, hurricane free unlike most Caribbean islands Aruba is unique in the fact that it is located just outside what is called the "hurricane belt". This means that based on its location it does not sit in the seasonal path where hurricanes usually form and travel. So, even if you select to visit Aruba during hurricane season, hurricanes for Aruba are not a big concern. Granted no one can tell what Mother Nature will do but based on hurricane patterns, trade winds, and history you can rest easy in Aruba.

As the ship heads south it will travel through many different environments. Try this activity to compare how environmental conditions change from the New England east coast to the Caribbean.

As the ship heads south the climate will change from cold snowy weather to warm sunny conditions. Try this activity to see how this happens.

What do you know about the Caribbean Islands.