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Quite the Summer

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Merrill Cline

3/c summer was probably the best summer I’ve ever had. It was exhausting but I guarantee I had some of the most unique experiences I will ever have in my life. For my first phase, I participated in the Academy’s summer ocean racing program. The program is open to anyone who wants to try it, but usually the members of the offshore sailing team are the ones to participate. The team competed in the race around Block Island, in the Annapolis to Newport Race, the New York Annual Regatta, and Block Island Race Week. Unfortunately, I had to leave right after the Annapolis to Newport Race for Eagle second phase, but I’ll get to that later. The first week the team spent gearing up for the season, fixing up the boat, figuring out logistics, and a bit of practicing around the islands near the Academy. We sailed Glory, the Academy’s J44 (a 44-foot sailboat) for most of the program. The race around Block Island began in Stamford, Connecticut and ran up all of Long Island to Block Island. Then we rounded the island and raced all the way back. The race took a total of about 36 hours. That’s right, about nine people lived on a 44-foot sailboat for over 24 hours. We sail in shifts, so some were asleep while others were awake. We all had collateral duties such as safety, sails, the engine, and navigation. I was in charge of buying all the food and making sure the boat was stocked with plenty of snacks which was no easy task when it came to five hungry college boys, two lieutenants, one other girl, and me. Our team finished mid-fleet in the race and then we took the boat back home to the Academy later that morning. The next week we took the boat down to Annapolis to prepare for the main race of our program, the Annapolis to Newport race. We stayed a week in Annapolis, preparing the boat, going to receptions at the yacht club, and some more practice with a brand-new sail. Then we spent the next two and a half days battling rough seas up the northeast coast to Newport, Rhode Island. Many teams dropped out, but we pushed through and ended up coming in second place, not to mention beating all four of the Naval Academy’s boats (another reason why you should come here and not there 😊). After the race was finished, I left summer ocean racing and returned to the Academy where I would fly out to France with my shipmates to meet Eagle (the Academy’s “pirate ship”). I had the amazing opportunity to see Europe and sail across the Atlantic, something most people don’t get to do in their lifetime.

I started my journey in Rouen, France. The crepes were really good, and the architecture was amazing. Soon after, we sailed out of the Seine River and towards the Netherlands. We waved to the people cheering for us on the riverbank and about three days later, we pulled into Scheveningen, The Netherlands. My friends and I took the tram to a small town called Delft and spent hours wandering around town, getting food and ice cream. On the third day we went to Amsterdam and did some more of the same. Our next stop was Terceira Island in the Azores, an island chain off the coast of Portugal and about a third of the way across the Atlantic. The journey from The Netherlands to the Azores took about 10 days. We hit a bit of rough weather and the boat was rocking so much people fell out of their beds! It was only for one night; the rest of our trip was manageable. During our transits, we learned about how to steer the boat, damage control, how to check on the ships systems, and even how to navigate by the stars! The GPS was always “mysteriously” breaking. We were all ready to see land by the time we arrived in the Azores. The island was beautiful, filled with green mountains and farmland, cliffs, winding roads, and deep blue water. My friends and I found some places to go swimming, hiking, and we rented a car to drive around the island. We were granted overnight liberty and my group found a unique Air B&B to stay at called the Banana Eco Camp. We spent two nights camping in a banana forest where we were free to eat the bananas and it was a quiet, peaceful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the boat, and most importantly take a shower that used more than three minutes of water. We used the camp as a base to go explore the island during our three days there. Our time in the Azores was too short, but it was time to cross the pond to Bermuda. This leg of our journey took 12 days, our longest continuous time underway. The seas were extremely calm and wind was hard to come by, but we stopped in the middle of the Atlantic for a swim call. I swam in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing but many miles of water below me. Another once-in-a-lifetime experience that I got from Eagle. After what seemed like a year, we arrived in a very hot and sunny Hamilton, Bermuda. This port call was the most expensive, but fortunately the beaches, the cliffs, and time with your friends is free. We went on a cave tour, got some ice cream, then headed to the beach the first day. On the second, we found a place called the unfinished church, then we went cliff jumping in Admiralty Park and Warwick Long Beach at the end of the day. My camera roll looks like a travel brochure now and I made so many new friends in my class and strengthened the friendships I already had.

This summer was probably the busiest but most amazing one I ever had, but after all that work and travel, we were all ready to go home to our families. Three weeks of relaxing at home sounds about just what the doctor ordered. So that was it! That was my 3/c summer. I hope this gives you some perspective on the great experiences the Academy has to offer. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the Academy, Swab Summer, 3/c summer, or the Coast Guard. Oh, and one more thing, I got paid to do all that.

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