Captain's Log: Friday, February 20, 2020 - Final Blog

Submitted by Campbell on Fri, 02/21/2020 - 05:00

Hello, Followers -

You certainly have great memories! I have received six different emails reminding me that I promised to share the story of how my first Sea Term ended. After all this time at sea, I definitely would have forgotten.

I already told you that Sea Term 1984 began in the snow and ended in the snow. That wouldn’t be too surprising if we were returning in February as we are in 2020, but the TS Enterprise was coming home to Buzzards Bay in late March, about a week after the first day of spring.

As you can imagine, when your son or daughter has been away for over two months, parents, grandparents, and friends are eager for them to return home. Such was the case in 1984 when a strong coastal storm kicked up with snow, strong wind, and high seas.

As the TS Enterprise steamed towards Taylor’s point, another ship, the Elida, had just delivered Columbian sugar to Saint Johns, New Brunswick. Without any cargo to provide ballast, the ship was riding high in the water. Ballast is something heavy that is placed low in the ship to provide stability and make it less likely to rock from side to side. Once the sugar was offloaded, there was very little to keep the ship steady. That might have been okay if the weather was calm, but when a storm kicked up, it meant disaster. To make matters worse, the ship did not have up-to-date technology so she hadn’t received the latest weather forecasts. Other ships in the area with contemporary equipment for monitoring weather had time to react and respond. The fierce wind and raging sea forced the ship to beach itself onto Nauset Beach in the late afternoon. The crew of about twenty Filipinos were rescued by the Coast Guard.

Are you wondering what the wreck of the Elida had to do with the TS Enterprise?  No, we didn’t see the Elida or come anywhere near her. I don’t even think that the cadets were aware of the situation at all. We just wanted to get home, see our families, and sleep in our own beds.

Back on shore, however, our parents heard radio and television reports about a ship running aground. Since the early reports did not include the name of the ship, the parents that were waiting for us assumed the worse.  Word quickly spread that it was the TS Enterprise that had gone aground.  Frantic parents began calling the Academy.  Don’t forget, this was before cell phones, Instagram, Twitter and all social media. 

Fortunately, there was a happy ending for everyone aboard the two ships. Elida’s crew of about twenty Filipinos were rescued by the Coast Guard and the cadets and crew of the TS Enterprise safely docked at Taylor’s Point.

Over the next week, some cadets and their parents traveled to see the wreck that had caused an hour of panic for MMA families. I think that I remember hearing that over 140,000 people made the trip to Nauset Beach. That was the end of the Elida’s eighteen years of shipping service. After almost two months, she was towed to a scrap yard in Rhode Island, and then to New York where she was cut and became scrap metal. I guess you could say, the Elida was recycled.

Here is a link to a story written six years ago on the 30th anniversary of the wreck. 

https://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20140331/NEWS/403290322

I will ask that a news video be included when this blog is posted.  

This is my final entry into my Captain’s Log for Sea Term 2019. Thank you for participating in Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Follow The Voyage – Share The Experience Program. The cadets could feel your support over the past seven weeks. Because of you, our cadets worked harder and stood taller – even on their most challenging days. 

Whether you are six, ninety-six, or somewhere in between, I invite you to let me know what the Follow The Voyage – Share The Experience Program has meant to you. Whether you followed at school or at home, please let me know what you learned – and what inspired you. I hope to hear from students, teachers, parents, and grandparents.  You may send the emails to ftv@maritime.edu.  I will be sure to share your words with Admiral McDonald and Captain Elizabeth Simmons.

If you are a student, I look forward to meeting you when you’re a cadet aboard the TS Kennedy. Until then, I hope that you will be right back here next year to be a part of Sea Term 2021.

With appreciation for your support,
Captain Michael J. Campbell


view from air of elida
elida on beach color photo
elida black and white