I am currently knee-deep into phase one of my “firstie” summer (refer to Dakota for the detailed schedule), and week one is complete.
Myself and four shipmates are shadowing at Sector New York, located on the ever-lovely Eastern edge of Staten Island. What do Coasties do on land, you ask? My first four days have provided four very different answers. Hope you enjoy the following tales!
We shift heavy things around the decks of million-dollar sailboats.
Correction: we offer advice and criticism as the owner shifts them around, watching his own precious boat lean closer to the waterline. As a Naval Architecture student, this makes sense – but I empathize with reader confusion. In the maritime world, vessel stability is the end-all, be-all of floatation. If your vessel is not stable, poorly-distributed loads or strong weather can lead to capsizing.
So why shift weights? Starting with weight in the center of the boat and shifting it to an outboard edge creates a moment (Force x Distance) similar to what it would experience due to strong winds, waves, or twelve curious passengers. In short, we are seeing how far one edge of the boat will lean towards the waterline under a specific amount of stress. If a certain amount of the boat’s hull stays above the waterline during this test, you have a (stable) winner. Lecture over.
We open container boxes to find the prize inside.
How do you choose which containers to open? After all, the port of New York receives 3.8 million annually, according a trusted source (Chief).
The answer: send a cadet to stand in the middle of the road and hail passing tractor-trailers. But not to worry, my intimidating 5′ 7″ stature and yellow safety vest were plenty authoritative. By hour two, I was testing the size of my britches and flagging two trucks towards me at once.
We have tea-time with Filipino Captains while going car-shopping.
The ten-deck (ten-story, if you will) Roll-on, Roll-off “Ro-Ro” vessel pulled into Bayonne, NJ waving the Panamanian flag. The entirely-Filipino crew welcomed us onboard, ushering us to the wood-paneled lounge as they dished out refreshments and record books. Safety of Life at Sea, “SOLAS”, was the purpose of the inspection. From the bridge of the Ro-Rom, we could see eye-to-eye with Carnival cruise line’s ginormous Anthem of the Seas, tied neatly to an adjacent pier.
Inside the vessel, I had just selected my favorite BMW X-model when we decended a ladder to a deck full of Jaguars. At that point, I decided to not be picky. Moments later, daydreams were interrupted as one of the luxury cars came barreling past, to close to cadets for comfort.
But there are worse fates than being demolished by a Jaguar. Demolished by a tractor-trailer comes to mind, for instance.
We honor fallen shipmates.
This morning was dedicated entirely to a 5k around base, commemorating the lives and sacrifices of post-9/11 fallen Coast Guardsmen. There was no better way to conclude my first week at Sector.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to week two!