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Sailing Through Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Wright Photo Hi, everyone! So I know I haven't written in a while but I'll blame it on the amazing and crazy busy summer I have been having. I went on Eagle for two weeks and then came back and did Summer Ocean Racing (SOR) for the next five, which was an awesome experience. There were nine cadets and three coaches on the team. We sailed our J44 Glory in a number of races around New England; including the Newport to Annapolis race, New York Yacht Club Annual, and Block Island Race Week. Anyway, I am just going to give a quick list of the many things I learned/did during SOR.

 

1. Sailing is fun but overnight racing in the Ocean is amazing.

 

2. Changing sails at 2 a.m. is routine.

 

3. Clothes never completely dry out.

 

4. Falling asleep to dolphins squealing is really cool.

 

5. How to cook chili when the sailboat is heeled 20 degrees, as well as through a tack.

 

6. Everyone becomes one great, big family.

 

7. Hot chocolate tastes best late at night on watch.

 

8. That I get paid to do awesome stuff.

 

9. 16 knots is almost planing speed.

 

10. Diesel in the bilge will not clean itself.

 

11. Diesel and tropical-scented Dawn soap is a very interesting combination.

 

12. Sunsets/rises on the ocean is one of the most beautiful sights ever.

 

13. Clean sheets and a stationary bed is another of the most beautiful sights ever.

 

10. Hard work pays off!

 

Summer Ocean Racing isn't for everyone, but I had an amazing experience and can't wait to do it again next year!


More about Erin.

 

A Summer to Remember

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Weeks Photo My 2/c summer experiences have been nothing short of amazing. Since the end of the school year, I have shot pistols, learned the Rules of the Road (ROTR), flown helicopters, practiced conning T-boats, and sailed a yacht to some of the nicest ports in New England! Not to mention, all of this was done with my best friends. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’ll be the first to tell you that I am beyond satisfied with this summer and it isn’t even over yet. All of these activities are covered in the 2/c summer training program, along with Cadre Summer, which starts for me in one week. I could write a novel about my summer experiences but, for the sake of space, I’ll just write about Coastal Sail and the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP).

 

Coastal Sail is a two-week training program for 2/c cadets. We are divided into teams of six or seven, provided a sailing yacht and safety officers, and then sail approximately 280 miles along the coasts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The trip is divided up into nine legs, ranging anywhere from 15 to 40 miles. We spent each night in a different port, some of which were Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Block Island. While underway, each cadet had the opportunity to be Watch Captain (in charge of the yacht) for an entire day. This was an incredible experience for me; it was like being the Commanding Officer of a Coast Guard cutter. As the Watch Captain, I decided when to set sail and when to motor and, along with my navigator and helmsman, successfully navigated the ship from Hyannis to Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts. Other daily duties included mess cook, deckhand, and in-port Officer of the Deck (OOD). For the latter half of my transit, a thick fog descended on the water, reducing visibility to only a few hundred feet. This was a stressful time for me but, from the knowledge I acquired in ROTR, I knew what fog signals to sound and was able to confidently coordinate passing arrangements with nearby vessels. After we safely moored up in Cuttyhunk, we sat down at the table and debriefed the entire day. As a crew, we reflected about what worked and what could’ve gone better. The debrief proved invaluable to me, as my classmates’ advice helped me to better my leadership style and learn more about myself.

 

CATP has been the highlight of my summer thus far. Six classmates and I were flown down to Aviation Training Center Mobile for a week of Coast Guard aviation exposure. This consisted of listening to pilots talk about their experiences, playing with multi-million dollar simulators and, most importantly, actually getting some stick time. I was given the opportunity to fly a Dolphin helicopter (MH-65) for about an hour, which was incredible. The pilot gave me the controls and said to me “The world is your oyster.” I will never forget hearing those words as I took the Dolphin’s controls…I simply felt free. Able to go wherever I wanted. From that point on, I knew piloting helicopters is what I want to do in the Coast Guard. Other memorable events throughout the week included jumping into Pensacola Bay to be hoisted up by the Dolphin, touring the Gulf Strike Team’s warehouse, and also getting some stick time behind the HC-144 Casa Ocean Sentry (fixed wing).

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed it! As always, I am more than happy to field any questions or elaborate on my experiences! Just shoot me an email at Zachary.W.Weeks@uscga.edu.

 

More about Zach.

 

Understanding the Long Blue Line

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Chase Hall bears a striking resemblance to a ghost town during the summer months. Sitting here in the Cadet Watch Office on Sunday duty, I haven’t had much action come my way. The only thing that happened was having someone stop in for a quick visit. He was a Class of 2009 graduate who wanted to look at the Memorial Wall that is located on the quarterdeck. This wall contains the names and images of Academy graduates who died in the line of duty, along with a brief description of their service and whatever event called for their sacrifice. When he returned, I asked him if he had any special connection to someone on the wall. “Yes”, he told me. One of his classmates from 2009 had died in the 2012 helicopter training crash in Mobile and his picture now hung on the wall. On a rainy, quiet New London day, one of this man’s classmates had taken a few minutes out of his undoubtedly busy trip through the area just to see his deceased classmate’s picture.

 

From the minute we enter Swab Summer, all of us cadets are told about something called the Long Blue Line. It’s a metaphor for the connection among every Coast Guardsman, past, present, and future. Honesty is revered here, and if I am to follow that virtue, I have to tell you I never really gave much thought to the concept of the Long Blue Line. Yes, it’s pretty cool to remember that generations of inspiring and strong Coasties have come before me, and that generations will follow but that was usually the extent of my reflection. That visit from a past graduate made me better understand the Long Blue Line.

 

This man wasn’t in the Coast Guard anymore and I couldn’t tell you if he had even set foot on base since his commencement. Yet, he is probably a paradigm of a member of the Long Blue Line for that very reason. Being a part of the Long Blue Line is not just saying you’re a temporary part of some rich history, and you had a job where you got to ride a boat or a helicopter, and went to some old school in Connecticut. It is knowing people, seeing how they impact your life, and how they’ve impacted the lives of everyone else in the fleet. It’s acknowledging that you’ll never meet anyone quite like the people you met while you sailed and flew and saved. It’s taking a few minutes to detour out of your crazy life to your alma mater and say “hello” to the memory of your classmate, even after you’ve said “goodbye” to the service itself.

 

There’s a reason people are quick to tell me and other cadets about the people they knew in the Coast Guard, whether they themselves were ever directly involved or if they had family and friends who joined. The thing about the Long Blue Line is you don’t ever lose your place. You could make it your career, or a first job; either way, you’ll touch someone in both known and unknown ways. Because you hold that place, you might very well find yourself in front of the Memorial Wall years after graduation and, because you hold that place, a quiet cadet watch-stander may be contemplating the meaning behind your seemingly simple actions.

 

More about Abby.

 

Pilot Shadow Program Recap

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sandri Photo Last spring, three friends and I had an opportunity to spend a weekend at Air Station Cape Cod for the Pilot Shadow Program. This program is organized by the Academy’s Aviation Division and allows for cadets to experience air station life by hanging out in the barracks and accompanying the crew on flights.

 

I had a chance to ride in an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter out of Air Station Atlantic City two summers ago. The crew carried out an exciting two-aircraft drill. The experience was awesome but with R-Day on the horizon and having limited knowledge of the Coast Guard, I was not considering flight as a possible career path.

 

This time around, we were able to look at station life as a possible future. Some highlights of the trip were flying the fixed-wing CASA airplane through a storm as snowflakes pelted the windshield, doing a door-open flyover of Boston in the MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter, and having lunch with one of the pilots until he was called away on a search and rescue case.

 

I’m still not sure what I want to do in the Coast Guard but the Pilot Shadow Program opened my eyes to a new possibility.

 

More about Eva.

 

2/c Summer Part 1: 100th Week

(Overcoming Challenges, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo When most college students finish their finals, it is a relief. The end of finals week means either going home to see family and friends or going on vacation. Not for us. 2/c summer begins with 100th Week, which marks the halfway point in our time at the Academy (200 weeks). There are some great videos on YouTube that explain it but basically the Company Commanders (CCs) from Cape May, New Jersey, where enlisted Coast Guard members go through basic training, visit the Academy to train the 3/c for the cadre role that they will fulfill later in the summer.

 

On the Monday morning after finals, I was woken up at 0500 to yelling and strangers banging on my door. The voices screamed, “Get out on this bulkhead right now!” My roommate and I ran into the hallway and braced up into the position of attention against the nearest wall. Girls were yelled at for hair and earrings that were not within regulations and guys were yelled at for not shaving. It was like Swab Summer for the rest of the morning; we were given objectives and punished with exercises when we didn’t meet them. It was a lot better than Swab Summer for me though because things were explained to us. We didn’t do anything without a reason. They yelled at us to remind us how it feels. They were harsh with uniform inspections to remind us to respect the uniform and get us out of just going through the motions.

 

Throughout the rest of the week, it became more of a learning environment. The CCs would pull a few people aside to run inspections or incentive training sessions. This gave us the opportunity to practice being cadre and develop a command presence. It was a very valuable experience for future Swab Summer cadre.

 

We also spent time in the classroom working through team-building activities and developing leadership philosophies. I met with the other Eagle cadre, who I will be working with this summer, to come up with a description of how we want to lead and train the Class of 2019.

 

The week ended with a group run, a leadership reaction course and a surface rescue mission. The leadership reaction course provided each of us with the opportunity to lead a small group of people to find a solution to a problem. For the surface rescue mission, we broke into groups and used maps to locate life-size 100-pound dummies and carry them miles to reach a base area. Each task was challenging and brought my classmates together in ways we hadn’t experienced since Swab Summer.

 

Friday afternoon, we renewed the pledge we took on R-Day and earned our 2/c shoulder boards and the privilege to wear civvies (normal clothes).

 

More about Sarah.