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cadet blogs

What’s Important to You?

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog entry to procrastinate from doing actual work. However, in writing this entry I’m also being productive, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

 

Throughout high school, my life revolved around my next track meet. When will my next conditioning day be? What am I going to eat the night before? How can I schedule my schoolwork around it? Granted, I had an awesome time competing and I wouldn’t change anything about it, but I was also missing out on the little things—lunch with friends, a Friday night movie, and countless weekends. Plus, sometimes I was putting track ahead of schoolwork. Although I never failed any classes, it would’ve become a bad habit if I had let it continue.

 

I guess the point of this spiel is that, over time, my priorities shifted quite a bit. Honestly, I’d much rather be free to do my own thing on occasion than be confined within extra obligations. It’s not exactly the most militaristic mindset, but we’re still in college and it’s important to enjoy these years. Having fun and making the most out of the time we have; that’s what’s important to me.

 

More about Olivia.

 

The Great Boat Race

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Another October breezes by at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I barely realized the month was over until, well, writing this blog in fact, because this is the first time I’ve taken a breath to reflect on the events of this past month. For this post I’m going to focus a little more on my major – Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. In my graduating class, there are only 23 of us. I really love that it is a small group. For our Principles of Naval Architecture class, our first truly nav arch specific class, we have a three hour lab every week. This week we started a three week long lab where we are going to create our own boat. This lab is called “The Great Boat Race” because for the last session of the semester we will compete against other lab groups to see whose boat has the best overall mission efficiency. The goal is to carry as many sodas (weight) as possible while still moving at a decent speed. We are using programs such as Orca3D to design the hull. At first we started looking at a double catamaran design in order to make our ship light and fast, but unfortunately due to dimension restraints on beam width we could not make two hulls fit with room for soda cans and space in between. So, we decided on a planning hull and we are in the midst of designing it right now. ShopBot is going to cut out our boat using a plastic material and then we will epoxy/paint it to get some aesthetic points. Fingers crossed the race will be a success!

 

More about Hannah.

 

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.

 

The Cadre Experience: Waterfront Cadre

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo The cadre experience has truly been one in a million. It is hard to fathom the impact that we have already had on these kids and how much their lives are changing each and every day. I don’t know if they can see themselves growing but I know that I can. Every single day they learn something new and grow closer as a platoon, as a company and as a class. It’s also hard to imagine that I, as only a junior in college, have the power to shape the outcome of someone’s life, of their future and their aspirations. This being said, I do, of course, take this job very seriously and am so very invested in the success of these swabs, this Class of 2020; after all, they are joining my Coast Guard and I want them to be prepared to do so.

 

I am unique in the sense that I am waterfront cadre so I don’t spend all of my time up in Chase Hall with the swabs in my platoon. Instead, I am down at Jacob’s Rock, the sailing center, preparing lesson plans, sailing AIMsters around in the Colgates, and teaching swabs about safety and the joy of sailing. I didn’t know very much about sailing before I became a waterfront cadre and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity not only to learn how to sail, but to learn how to teach others to sail as well. I have always loved being out on the water and so I thought that this would be the perfect fit for me and I was right. Teaching the swabs about sailing and being out on the water has been an invaluable experience. I never really wanted to yell at anyone or be mean and that certainly hasn’t changed. Sometimes I worry that I’m not the stereotypical yelling cadre that I should be, but I know that that just isn’t me and everyone has a different leadership style. I love being able to teach and talk to the swabs from every different company in a professional and relaxed learning environment.

 

I know this summer is all about being a swab, but sometimes I think that even they forget that they’re people too. I also get to sail the AIMsters around on the larger Colgate sailboats, which are an absolute blast to sail. Telling them all about the opportunities they could have here at the Academy is both fun and exciting and I hope maybe slightly influential, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Overall, being cadre had been one of the craziest and most rewarding experiences of my life and I can’t wait to see how the Class of 2020 continues to grow and develop. 2020, you’re half way there and you have so, so, so much left to look forward to. Just remember, 2018 will always have your back!

 

More about Cece.

 

Fourth Class Experiences

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sukcha Photo It has been a while since my first post. There are exactly two more weeks left before I leave for summer leave. I am truly excited as I will be spending my entire summer break with two of my very close friends in Clearwater, Florida.

 

There are many things that I have done and experienced throughout my year as a fourth class at the Academy. Let’s start with the Pistol Team. In my first year on the team, I have traveled to quite a few places including West Point, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Fort Benning, Georgia. It was a lot of fun to compete with the top teams in the nation. Fortunately, with the help of my friends and coaches, both military and civilian, I made it to the Pistol National Collegiate Championship.

 

In addition to pistol, I have also traveled with the Academy’s Glee Club. I am truly happy to be a part of this wonderful group of young, talented vocalists. We traveled a lot to entertain people throughout the country. I was lucky to be a part of a few performances in New York City and Quincy, Massachusetts.

 

And in my whole life, I had never yet experienced a snow day. It was fantastic playing in the snow. (View my photo gallery to see the fun pictures!)

 

During the holidays, I am not able to return to Malaysia due to the expense of the flights. However, I have wonderful friends who invite me to their houses. So far, I have been to Maryland, Virginia and soon to Florida. I will keep travelling whenever I have chance to see more of what the world can offer.

 

More about Saranjoe.