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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Looking Forward, Living in the Moment

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Well, it’s 238 days until graduation! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by this semester—it’s almost October. I am looking forward to the changing seasons, New England cider, sweater weather, and foliage here at the CGA.

 

This semester I am finally taking electives, including Managerial Psychology, Negotiations and Conflict Management, and Information Technology in Organizations. Soon, we will be receiving our capstone projects for the management major, which is another milestone toward graduation. Commissioning physical exams, final papers, capstone, it’s all coming together here, and before we know it, we will be ensigns! Having said that, it is still important to live in the moment and enjoy the rest of the Academy—this is the last time that our class will be together all at once.

 

Lately, I’ve been getting involved in my local church off-base, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I am participating in bible study on Monday nights, and meeting with the Navy Chaplain across the river that is the same denomination as me. I sure do miss Chaplain Dickens, but I’m still learning more about the Christian faith and United Methodist polity through my local church. I can definitely see myself becoming a part of the local United Methodist church regardless of where I go next year.

 

I’m also taking Advanced Golf for my physical education elective, and I golf a couple of times per week. Golf is a game that you can never master, but it is certainly great to be outside with friends enjoying the New England fall weather. If anything, it has taught me patience and persistence. It’s finally becoming real for me, graduating that is, and it is unbelievable that the shopping list, or list of ensign assignments, will be available in November. This is when the Class of 2017 puts down our choice assignments, and right now I’m thinking of a fast response cutter on the East Coast.

 

More about William.

 

Graduation is Fast Approaching

(Academics, Athletics, The Cadet Experience) Permanent link
Daghir Photo I am happy to say that the year has picked up to its usual tempo, complete with more homework, less sleep, and more things on my to-do list than I can actually articulate from memory. If there is one thing I have learned between this school and yoga is that all you need to do is take a deep breath and start at the top of the list. This week is a little hectic because it is not only a four day week, but it is in fact spirit week, completely devoted to the football game we have coming up on Saturday: Bears versus the Mariners. Merchant Marine Academy and Coast Guard Academy rivalry is something that is ingrained in us constantly for about the first month of school and then we take a year off and wait to start alllllll over. It should be a fun time, even with the required morale events like our pep rally and actual attendance of the football game.

 

But enough on required morale, the real excitement stems from the prospect that I will be getting my billet list (the list of all available jobs for me to choose from) sometime very soon, possibly tomorrow! I will then have a little less than a month to put together my top picks, of which I will submit and wait. I will be following the same timeline as OCS for this, so my billet night, the night when I figure out where I am going, will be with the OCS class that will be graduating in November! I will be graduating on December 16th! Something that I also just found out this week…

 

So in addition to preparing for graduation and figuring out all of the real world aspects of my life that I will be in charge of very soon, I have been staying busy with a plethora of activities. Lacrosse just started this week officially for the fall, and although I will not be playing in the spring, I am looking to get one last season of play in, especially while the weather is nice. My teammates are really an amazing group and since my classmates have graduated, I would say that I feel even closer to my lax girls. We have started practicing every day and working with our lifting coach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In addition to lacrosse, I have been doing community service at the New London Homeless Shelter on Wednesday nights, where a group of cadets brings dinner to the people staying at the shelter.

 

School is a lot of fun, my schedule is nice and not too packed although this is a bit deceiving as I am actually signed up for a lot of extra work in the form of independent studies. I am taking scuba, of which we have completed three in-pool dives and, after one more, we will be venturing out to the open water. For my independent studies, I am doing an analysis of a treaty that we are working on as chair of the Arctic Counsel with Canada. Basically the treaty will make it so that countries will be permitted to conduct Arctic research in other countries’ Economic Exclusive Zones, a practice that is currently being exercised by some and not others. The paper will hopefully be used to outline the Coast Guard’s role in the application of the treaty and also look into similar historic events in which countries in the Arctic worked through treaties even in tense political times, giving us an idea of what to expect. The other study I am completing is a continuation of my summer work with GIS in which I will be finishing my Geographic Response Plans for the sectors New York and Long Island Sound. I like to be busy because it makes the time go that much faster, taking me closer to graduation! Sorry about another lengthy post. GO BEARS!

 

More about Lucy.

 

Summer Recap

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Dow Photo Hello there! It’s been a while! I have been super busy experiencing many different things this past summer as a second class cadet.

 

After the Cape May Company Commanders (who train the recruits coming into the Coast Guard for a living) were with us for a week showing us the ropes on how to be cadre, we earned our second class shoulder boards! Once my relaxing three weeks of leave were up, it was back to the Academy for a week of Rules of the Road (ROTR) class where we are taught a curriculum that we will be able to use toward our 100 ton license when we graduate (as well as being a knowledgeable mariner). A few weeks later, I departed on Coastal Sail with my classmates in my cadre section on a Leadership 44 sailboat. We sailed around southern New England, to ports like Newport, Woods Hole, and Martha’s Vineyard. It was the best experience to date at the Academy, because we chose the route we were to take and what food we would eat — it was an unforgettable and unique leadership experience. Next, we traded our lifejackets for cadre gear for our turn trying our hand at leading swabs. There were ups and downs during cadre summer, but I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. As a whole, second class summer brought forth challenges to our class, but more importantly helped bring us closer, and I met new people that I would have never thought I would be friends with before. To top off the summer, our platoon placed third in sea trials, showing just how much we have improved, both as a cadre section and as a company.

 

With school and Windjammers in full swing, it’s hard to find time in between my classes, which are now almost all engineering-specific, and daily rehearsals but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My classes this semester are Fluid Mechanics, Electric Circuits and Machines, Principles of Naval Architecture, Maritime Watch Officer, and Thermodynamics (as well as Tennis as my final Lifetime Sports class). Although they are challenging, they are directly relatable to my major, and we have a great support network, between teachers, firsties and some of my best friends in the Nav Arch department! I’m excited for our new Windjammers show this year because our theme is pop music and it sounds super cool.

 

This summer made me realize just how much knowing your classmates helps. Although you might not always see them, you know you can count on each other whenever you need them, whether it’s a laugh, a hug or a pep talk.

 

Go Bears! Beat KP!

 

More about Emily.

 

The Boat

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo “C’mon, guys. Let’s get back to the boat.”

 

A chorus of groans and grumbles erupts from our group as we reluctantly make our way back to the USCGC Barque Eagle. Her masthead lights subtlety overlap the New York City streetlights, yardarms extended in an evening greeting. New York City was a heck of an awesome time. Loaded down with souvenirs, full stomachs, and fond memories, we crawl into our racks to get a few hours of sleep before our transit out from the Hudson River to New London, Connecticut.

 

Eagle usually gets a bad reputation because the work is hard and living conditions aren’t luxurious. However, being Eagle cadre turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I definitely learned more in those three weeks as cadre than in my ten weeks underway as a 3/c. While it may have been fun to yell at the swabs while they did push-ups, it was a much more applicable form of leadership to talk them through climbing the masts. Stress is put upon you in a different way, because your assignments, besides guiding the swabs, include collateral duties such as navigation briefs and log-keeping. Plus, the port calls weren’t a bad deal at all. I saw two free Broadway shows in New York City. And I saw my mom. That was pretty awesome.

 

I’m definitely going to try to get back onto Eagle next summer. But, before that, I need to get through this semester. I will let you know how that goes. Expect another entry soon if I’m not consumed by papers and reading assignments!

 

More about Olivia.

 

Not Your Typical Summer Vacation

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo Here at the Coast Guard Academy, it’s advertised that your summers are going to be much more than the average three-month poolside summer. After my first summer and “real Coast Guard” experience, I’m happy to report that that is not false advertising.

 

A bit of background: for third class cadets, half of our 11-week summer experience will be spent aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the only tall ship still actively serving in the United States military. The other half is spent at an active duty Coast Guard unit, either a small boat station or a cutter carrying out the missions of the USCG. So as school came to a close, my classmates and I received our summer assignments to units across the globe and subsequently reported in following the conclusion of exams, with half going to the Eagle and the other half (myself included) headed to our summer posts. And without further explanation, here is a rundown of my exciting 3/c summer.

 

First Half: Five Weeks, USCG Station Chatham 

 

While half of my classmates sailed on the USCGC Eagle from New London to Dublin and on to London, I spent the first part of my summer at Coast Guard Station Chatham in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. If you’ve seen or heard of the new Disney movie The Finest Hours (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), then you’ve heard of Station Chatham.

 

My first impressions of Chatham were overwhelmingly positive and not only reflective of the station’s focus and dedication to the Coast Guard’s missions but also to the preparedness and readiness of the Coast Guard as a whole. The long history of Station Chatham, dating back to the original lighthouse keepers of the early nineteenth century, is not lost on those currently stationed there, and they do their best daily to continue the storied legacy.

 

And during my five weeks at the station, I learned a lot about how small boat stations operate. I watched and worked alongside the permanent crew as we handled search and rescue cases; controlled the radios in the communications room while talking with boats in distress; and communicated with the overseeing Sector Southeast New England about effective strategies to ensure boater safety. I also had the incredibly unique opportunity to ride on the three special self-righting surf motor life boats that the station uses in its operations. I participated in search pattern patrols, watched as crew teams boarded recreational vessels, drove the boat at high speeds, and even participated in drops and hoists with helicopters from Joint Air Base Cape Cod.

 

One of the most valuable tasks I did at the station was the everyday dirty work with the crew. Working alongside the crew daily to clean boats, scrape glue, paint, sand, cut grass, weed, and do other seemingly menial tasks not only allowed me to bond with them and foster a culture of respect and appreciation but also gave me valuable insight into how hard the Coast Guard truly does work on a daily basis.

 

Second Half: Six Weeks, USCGC Eagle  

 

I learned a lot during my first five weeks at Station Chatham. But even with that experience under my belt, I was still very nervous flying to London to meet Eagle. After group of my classmates on first phase took her from New London to London, the other half of the great Class of 2019 boarded in London to bring her back stateside.

 

Being a part of a transatlantic crossing on a three-masted sailing ship was an experience I will never forget. From London, we set sail for Funchal, Madeira, a Portuguese territory off the coast of Africa. It took us nine days to reach the island from London, and that first leg of the journey was a blur. Memorizing all of the 200+ pinrails and lines on Eagle and beginning the process of helm and lookout qualification made every day a busy one. By the time we pulled into Madeira, it seemed like no time had passed at all.

 

The island was beautiful. It’s hard to describe the sight of a mountainous island spiraling up out of the sea as it appears over the horizon, and as we got closer on our approach to port, we could see just how beautiful it truly was. The entire island was culture overload, with everything from food to soccer to fireworks. The three and a half days we had in port seemed to go by way too fast, and as quickly as we had arrived, we set sail for Hamilton, Bermuda.

 

The longest leg of our journey was the middle one, from Madeira to Bermuda. Spending 18 days at sea without any sight of land is a life-changing experience. If I tried to write down all the memories from the voyage, I would run out of room on my computer. We saw all kinds of aquatic wildlife; got to swing off the ship into the crystal clear water on a rope swing; go on auxiliary space and engine room rounds; stand helm and lookout watches as qualified watchstanders; and participate in sail and line handling evolutions that changed the direction of the sails (and the ship) if the wind direction and speed necessitated it.

 

Eighteen days at sea seemed like both the longest and shortest 18 days of my life. But when we pulled into port and the water changed to the clear turquoise color that Bermuda is famous for, I realized I had never been more relieved to be on land than at that moment that we disembarked. We had four days to rest and relax on the Bermudan beaches, and after a cliff-jumping, pastry-eating, fun-filled vacation, we boarded Eagle to bring her back stateside.

 

It was a quick five day journey and we pulled into Coast Guard Base Portsmouth for the night before docking her in Norfolk, Virginia the following day. I had long dreamed of the day I stepped off of Eagle, but when the time came, I felt a little sad that I was bidding her goodbye. It’s strange, but I (and I believe a lot of my classmates) had forged a bond with the 70-year old sailing ship that brought us safely across the mighty Atlantic.

 

And after a few weeks of restful vacation at home, I’m back here at the Academy for 3/c year. I’m excited to see what the upcoming semester and year have in store. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.