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cadet blogs

Three Parts of Third Class Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link   All Posts
Sandri Photo Third class summer at the Academy is divided into three main portions: sailing on the cutter Eagle, experiencing time in the fleet/attending summer school, and going on leave. I was assigned to spend the first five weeks of my summer aboard Eagle followed by six weeks at Station Golden Gate.

 

Eagle was certainly an experience. Our days were filled with double four-hour watches, damage control trainings, working on required tasks such as star shooting and drawing the ship’s firemain system, learning the system of lines so we could help work the ship more efficiently, and of course prepping for in-port duty and liberty. Captain Pulver, the CO, said he wanted to keep us busy, and he definitely succeeded! Here are a few things that made Eagle memorable:

  • My division. Aboard the ship, we attended trainings and stood watches with a group of other 3/c cadets, all under the watch of a 1/c cadet. Although a midnight watch in the engine room may not seem like fun, we made it enjoyable by having discussions and playing lots of games. I couldn’t have survived the five weeks without them!
  • Sometimes, the FS (food service specialist) on duty would make pumpkin cinnamon rolls for people who had the night watch. This always made my night!
  • Spotting wildlife. The Atlantic Ocean is teeming with flying fish, and we would occasionally spot whales or dolphins. It was so exciting to spot them while standing lookout, or waiting during sail stations.
  • The water was colored such a brilliant electric blue around the Caribbean, no wonder there’s a paint color called Caribbean Blue! Not to mention the clarity…you could see directly to the bottom when we pulled into port.
  • Climbing up the masts to pull in or let down sails. The view was incredible, and this was a really special job we got to do.
  • The port calls were amazing. We walked through a 500-year-old fort in San Juan, snorkeled in a natural pool in Aruba, and danced with street musicians in the lively streets of Cozumel.
  • I got to know my classmates better. There are some awesome people in my class who I hadn’t really talked to before, but when you’re together on a 295-foot pirate boat, you get to know each other pretty well.
  • Disconnecting. When you’re underway, there’s no cell service or WIFI access, so we found other ways to entertain ourselves. Sometimes it reminded me of grade school days, in a good way. Frequent time-occupiers included the alphabet game, Never Have I Ever, and writing letters.

 

When we pulled into Miami, we went our separate ways. Three other cadets and I flew to Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California. It was the busiest unit in the Coast Guard last year and is nestled next to its namesake bridge. These are just a few things from my time in the fleet:

  • The enlisted crew at the station was the best that I could ask for. They were able to more than competently get the job done while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere around the grounds. This was especially important because of the high-stress nature of cases around the San Francisco Bay area, and it was neat to see how the crew members manage themselves with little officer interaction. They were extremely knowledgeable and helpful as we worked on qualifying as communications watchstander and boat crew member for the 47-foot motor lifeboat.
  • I definitely got spoiled by Sausalito’s moderate climate and breathtaking views. There was time allotted for exercise almost every day, and I mostly used it to go on runs downtown. Sausalito is a small, artsy city across from San Francisco, and it was beautiful to run through.
  • SAR cases. We got to experience the life-saving service at the heart of the Coast Guard. No matter what time of day, when the alarm went off there was always a crew racing to the docks to save someone. On the days we were on the first responder boat, we would join the crew on cases. By the end of the summer, I had gotten to pick up kite surfers in distress, tow boats, recover bridge jumpers, break in comms watch for a suspected drug interdiction, and so much more.
  • The station dog, Sierra, was always there to take on walks and play with. The crew was allowed to bring in their own dogs too, and once we took three of them on a four-mile walk downtown.
  • Weekends were ours to use as we wanted. I spent time visiting family and friends in the area, hiked Muir Woods, toured San Francisco and spent one weekend working on qualifications.
  • Scary movie night! Somehow I agreed to watch The Conjuring for Scary Movie Monday at the station…never again.

 

3/c summer was definitely the best Academy summer yet. It feels like we packed so much training into the 11 weeks, which were followed by three weeks of leave. After this culminating end to 4/c year, I’m excited to see what the new year has in store!

 

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