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cadet blogs

A Lovely Labor Day Weekend

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo Labor Day weekend is one of my favorite long weekends in the fall school year because it still feels like summer and the outdoor activities are endless! This Labor Day weekend a group of eleven of us left on Friday afternoon and drove to New Hampshire. We pitched a tent, made a fire, and went to bed earlier so we were ready for our hike the next day. On Saturday, we woke up early and drove to the bottom of Mount Washington. We started the hike at 0730 and ended around 1500. It was numerous hours of beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, and great friends. I had so much fun climbing up and down the mountain and it was a great day to do it! The weather was perfect, not too hot, but not too cold. After our hike we went back to the campsite ate good food and relaxed. Sunday morning we went tubing down a river, which was a great way to relax and unwind from the previous day. Sunday night we decided to drive back to the Academy because the weather report was calling for rain. Monday I went to the beach with friends and soaked in the rays (almost felt like I was at home).

 

Without a doubt, this was one of the best Labor Day weekends I have had and I was so fortunate to be with my very best friends. I will always remember the hike and cherish the experience of being able to hang out and live with all of my friends. It’s hard to think that in eight and a half months we will all be saying our “see you later” and the unknown of when we will be seeing each other again will set in. I remind myself everyday to enjoy every moment of this place because I sometimes take it for granted and it won’t be this way forever.

 

More about Sara.

 

Back-to-School Blues Following an Incredible Summer

(Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Back-to-School Blues: (Noun) The act of going back to school when all you really want to do is go to the beach, soak up some rays, and forget that school even exists for the time being.

 

Unfortunately, the back-to-school blues are a very real thing here at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The whole corps of cadets is lucky to participate in different summer training schedules every year and we are always upset when our time comes to an end. But before I jump into how sad I am that the school year is starting, why don’t I tell you a little bit about what my 2/c summer had to offer.

 

As a 2/c at the Academy, everyone is required to be a cadre in some shape or form. And before you ask, not every cadre is some mean, yelling 20-something year old, making the incoming freshman do push-ups or as we like to call it, “push deck.” There are several types of cadre including: Swab Summer, AIM, CGAS, Eagle, and the best one – Waterfront. I was lucky to be chosen as a waterfront cadre this summer where I spent my days teaching the swabs anything and everything that had to do with sailing. Being a cadre for three weeks was definitely a learning experience not only for the swabs, but for the cadre as well.

 

However, the highlight of my summer came from the Coastal Sail Training Program. In this program, groups of six to eight cadets and one to two safety officers are assigned a yacht and a port call schedule for about eight days and the cadets are in charge of sailing to each destination every day. Not only is this program a learning experience for leadership and followership, but it was also so much fun! We sailed to places that I have never been to before including: Block Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and other famous places in New England. This was a great way for everyone to be able to bond with their classmates and learn more about each other, while also learning more about nautical science.

 

Of course there were many other things I had a chance to do this summer including getting my pistol marksmanship (and shooting a gun for the first time), becoming Rules of the Road qualified which is a test every cadet must get a 90% on before they graduate, becoming proficient at driving the T-boats down at waterfront, and also spending at week at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City where we learned more about the aviation side of the Coast Guard. Also, on my three weeks of leave in the beginning of the summer, I got to spend a week in California visiting my best friend who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and also spent a week in Virginia Beach with my family.

 

Needless to say I had a very busy, but interesting summer this year so I am very sad to see it come to an end. However, I decided to try out for the women’s varsity soccer team this year instead of run cross country so I am excited to see how our soccer team does this year! School on the other hand…that’s a different story.

 

As always if you have any questions about anything feel free to email me! Samantha.E.Corcoran@uscga.edu.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Cadre Summer: Coastal Sail

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hey there CGA blog readers. As promised, I said I would write a blog about my coastal sail experience. Coastal Sail is a program with two objectives in my mind. First, we have to learn how to sail a 44-foot sail boat on our own. Second, we have to learn the most difficult type of leadership: leading peers.

 

The Coastal Sail program is two weeks long. The first few days are spent learning how to set sails, what lines control what, how to moor up to and depart from a dock, and recover a man overboard. Also, we load on all of the food we will need for the voyage. After that, we set sail. The voyage is from the Academy to Block Island, Block Island to Falmouth, Massachusetts, Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket, Nantucket to Hyannis, Hyannis to Woods Hole, Woods Hole to Newport, Newport to Stonington, and Stonington to the Academy. As you can see, we sailed a lot. We pulled into a different port every day, so we never had to sail at night, and we got to see some of every port.

 

I can’t say I had a favorite port. Every one of them was unique and cool. I’ve been to some of those places before, but seeing the marina side was totally different. I loved walking around the piers, seeing the different types of boats and people. I spent every port call with my buddy doing pretty much the same routine. We go for a run first to get a sense of the scene. Then we would walk around looking for ice cream spots and people watching. After we got ice cream, we would check out the boats, talk about the ones we would want, and imagine a life with enough money to afford some of the gigantic yachts we would see. I had a ton of fun in port, and my “routine” is a little bit of an oversimplification, but it makes the point.

 

My true passion during the trip was sailing. I had never sailed before Coastal Sail but I developed a passion for it. I didn’t learn everything there was to know about sailing a boat by the end, but I learned a ton. My passion underway was below decks doing navigation. I liked trying to figure out the optimal course to make us go faster, while trying to keep us in the relative direction we wanted to be going. My most memorable experience underway was sailing from Hyannis to Woods Hole. We were in 20 knots of wind and high seas. Everyone that went below decks was getting sea sick from the rolls, and we were heeled over almost thirty degrees. I spent about three to four hours below deck making sure we weren’t going to run aground, because we were transiting through a lot of shallow water, and with the wind and rolls it was hard to stay on course. It was a rough day. I have no idea how I didn’t get sea sick. But, we ended up making it safely to Woods Hole, so I felt like my efforts were worth it.

 

My leadership developed even more during coastal sail. I had two main lesson learned. First, leadership can be simplified down to accomplishing the mission and motivating people. Most people can tell someone else to do something that needs to be done, but that is only half of leadership. The other half is people. You have to be able to motivate people to want to do their job, and you have to take care of your people. If you can accomplish the mission and if you can figure out how to motivate your people, you will be a great leader. The second lesson I learned was more about what attributes people use to lead. For instance, one of my friends on my boat came into the program knowing how to sail. He had what is called expert power. His knowledge of sailing helped him to lead the rest of us because we didn’t know what we were doing for the first few days. Even after that, we still looked to him for his advice on specific sailing maneuvers. There are many other types of leadership. I’ve seen good leaders and I’ve seen bad leaders. As a result, I’ve tried to make myself the best leader I can be by reading books and reflecting on my experiences.

 

In the end, I loved Coastal Sail. I had a ton of fun, and I learned a lot. I would go again in a second. Looking back over the whole summer, I grew tremendously. That is a testament to the Academy as a 200-week leadership development program – it really works.

 

More about Hunter.

 

Small Boat Station Life

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo For the second half of my summer training program, I went to small boat station Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Officers in the Coast Guard don’t get stationed at small boat stations, so this was the only opportunity I would get to experience one. My friend, Katie Neubig, and I were lucky enough to be stationed together, and we had a blast in our six weeks there. We earned our Communications Watchstander qualifications in the first two weeks and then spent the next weeks trying to get boat crew sign-offs, standing watch, and helping the crew around the station.

 

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we and the crew ran, played ultimate Frisbee, or surfed in the morning before boat checks. The work day went from around 0730 to 1500. Day-workers were done after the work day; people on duty had to stay at the station all night. Katie and I lived on the station, but we alternated which of us day-worked each day, so one of us could technically leave after 1500. Usually we just ended up staying at the station and catching up on sleep, though. We had our fun on the weekends. We had the opportunity to go to Disney World and a NASCAR race. For the NASCAR race, we were given free tickets and went to participate in the flag unfurling ceremony on July 5. It ended up being rained out, but we got to go back the day after in civilian clothes to watch the postponed race since we had the tickets. While in uniform on the first day, we went to victory lane and ran into a group of men who each had a medal of honor. We were star struck. These were real American heroes. We looked one of them up, and found out they’d fought in Vietnam. I think Sergeant First Class Gary Littrell ended up saying, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” the next day.

 

The most exciting thing that happened at Station Ponce while we were there was a migrant case. It is unusual to have migrants around central Florida, but we had a case of Haitian migrants one night. It was a weekend, so Katie and I were off. When we arrived at the station, there was only one crew member there, standing the communications watch. She asked us to come help her and explained the case to us. I relieved her at 2000 and stood watch until 0300 the next morning when Katie relieved me. I found it so fascinating to listen to the case progress over the radio and log all the information I heard. It was awesome to be a part of a real Coast Guard mission.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Great to be a Senior

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrellt Photo It has been a busy, but GREAT start to the year! I finished up the summer at home in sunny Florida and then I was on my way (in my car) back to the Academy. It is great to be a senior, to have a car, to have liberty on Thursday nights, and to hold a leadership role within the corps. I already know this year will be the best year yet! Classes started yesterday so it was a lot of organizing and planning skills to get off on the right foot. I had previously had or met most of my teachers so it wasn’t a huge deal to start school. Although, I do know how the fourth class feel because that was me on my first day three years ago.

 

Last weekend I went to southern Maine with a group of girlfriends and we stayed at my friend’s house. It was a short trip, but I had so much fun! We went to watch Keelan Donovan sing and play the guitar with MamaDear then we explored Portland. We also walked on the beautiful beach and ate a great home cooked meal! It was a great first weekend back with all of my friends. This weekend is Labor Day so the corps will have Monday off and a group of girls and myself are off to hike Mount Washington in New Hampshire! The most hiking I have done was in Hawaii so we will see how this nine-mile hike goes...I might need some encouraging words from my friends half way up! Either way it will be an adventure and I can’t wait.

 

Of course I am staying focused on my studies and trust me the homework has already started. Lots of readings to do before bed so I should probably start that!

 

I hope everyone has a great start to the year and you hit the ground running with schoolwork and sports, but don’t forget to take some time to relax and enjoy the moment (it goes by faster than you think) I am always available for questions at Sara.E.Cantrell@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sara.