Due to some technical difficulties at sea, this blog is being posted several days late.
Into the Great Wide Open
Bridge Watch in the Caribbean Sea
At 0715 this morning, our deck watch team assumed the responsibilities of the Bridge Watch for the final time of this cycle before our arrival in Buzzards Bay. While stationed on the Quarterdeck, 4/C O’Toole learned how to complete the Detex Route that needs to be done every hour by the cadets on the rotation here. As of the beginning of this watch, there were still no sign of other vessels within the range of the Kennedy’s radar. Due to the fact that the ship was moving at 18.4 knots with following seas (~80 rpms of the prop), there was evidently more swaying of the bow of the ship. As a result, keeping the ship on the desired heading from the helm was made somewhat more difficult. From the port side Bridge wing, cadets on maintenance could be seen giving lifeboat #4 a new coat of fluorescent-orange paint using their paint rollers.
Latitude: 15 degrees 19.507 minutes North
Longitude: 75 degrees 41.555 minutes West
COG (Course Over Ground): 295.5 degrees
SOG (Speed Over Ground): 18.4kts
During the shift, 1/C Dutari (MTRA) took the time to explain how to properly read each thermometer (a pair of which can be found on both bridge wings in a white-vented case. Though the United States still uses the Fahrenheit scale, he said that the majority of the rest of the world logs temperature data using degrees Celsius. Since one of the sets of thermometers (wet &dry bulbs) was in direct sunlight, he said the shaded pair on the starboard side would be more accurate.
Port Side: Direct Sunlight
Dry Bulb: 97 degrees F/36 degrees C
Wet Bulb: 82 degrees F/28 degrees C
Starboard Side: Shaded
Dry Bulb: 85 degrees F/29 degrees C
Wet Bulb: 79 degrees F/26 degrees C
At approximately 1100, 1/C Martins arrived on the Bridge and made preparations to take over as the Cadet Officer of the Watch (COOW) and relieving 1/C Amenabar. To do so, she read the relief notes drafted during our watch cycle and took inventory of the status of the Kennedy before assuming her post.
Dinner Relief on the Bridge (1700)
During the forty-five minutes of the dinner relief Bridge Watch, the vessel ALORCA was spotted by a cadet on the starboard Bridge wing and was then reported to the COOW, 1/C Malone, who was able to determine our range of visibility from the sighting of this ship (~9nm).
AIS DATA: Alorca (1710)
Bearing: 030 degrees
Status: “Underway Using Engine”
According to the course that has been charted for the Kennedy, our ship will be passing to the North of Honduras over the Cayman Ridge (South of Cuba) before heading through the Yucatan Channel. One of the mates remarked that we will be passing East of the Cayman Islands, which she’d heard has excellent places for reef diving. Within the near future, we will be making way over the Yucatan Basin. In addition to marking our past position using fixes from GPS data, the DR of our ship is also recorded on the charts in the Navigation room. DR, or “dead reckoning,” is where the Kennedy is calculated to supposed to be based only on our heading and speed (this doesn’t account for wind, currents, other variables).
Latitude: 16 degrees 01.250 minutes North
Longitude: 77 degrees 31.737 minutes West
Speed Over Ground (SOG): 17.3kts
Steering: 288 degrees (Per Gyro Compass)
The Moonlight Mile
The Last Deck Watch 1930-2330
During the final four-hour deck watch of this cycle for our team, 3/C Pourier (MTRA) was working in navigation to determine the Kennedy’s estimated time of arrival in Tampa Bay, Florida. By measuring the length of ocean that still needs to be crossed (872.9nm) and accounting the current speed of the ship (18.1kts), a rough estimate can be calculated.
872.9nm (distance remaining)/18.1kts = ~48.5 hours till arrival
By using a pair of compasses and the previously logged position data, 3/C Pourier was able to take the fix on one of the charts by using the scales for distance on the perimeter of the chart. Since this was taken using GPS data, a triangular mark is made over the fix. Also working in Navigation was 1/C Dutari (MTRA), who was using fixes taken from three stars (example: Capella) to triangulate the past position of the Kennedy.
As the watch drew to a close, the rising of the full moon above our horizon could be seen from the bow. In the wake of the ship, the lights of thousands of bio-luminescent zooplankton could be seen sparkling in the waves breaking on and around the hull. Bright flashes from what could have been jellies could be seen just before the bow passed over them. The shadows cast by magnificent frigate birds could be seen before they perched on the forward mast to rest for the night.
It has been 37 days since we first began.