Back on the campus of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, Jill Taft, is following the voyage of the TS Kennedy and recalling her own Sea Term as a Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadet.
In honor of the Academy’s 130th birthday today, Jill agreed to answer a few questions about the longest time that she spent at sea. She was kind enough to provide some photos that she took during that trip.
A. longest time that you spent at sea without a port stop /dates: “In 1996 I spent 28 days at sea, slow-steaming from Long Beach, California to Comodoro Rivadavia, an oil port in the Golfo San Jorge in the Patagonia region of Argentina. Once there, we would spend about a week at anchor, conducting lightering operations of crude oil to another tanker. “
B. name of ship/your position aboard the ship: “The ship was the oil tanker ARCO TEXAS owned and operated by Atlantic Richfield. I was the Second Mate. The rest of the deck officers were also from Mass Maritime: 3rd Mate Robert Francis '86 and Chief Mate Tom Pigott '90.”
C. Where was the ship during this time? “We departed Long Beach, CA and headed south, proceeding at around 7 knots far offshore the west coasts of Central and South America until we made landfall north of the Straits of Magellan. We were not permitted to transit the Straits of Magellan because ARCO TEXAS was an oil tanker, so we had to 'Round the Horn to get to our destination on the east coast of South America.”
D. Did you know in advance that you would be at sea for this length of time or was your time at sea extended unexpectedly? If your time at sea was extended, what was the reason for the change? “We knew ahead of time this would be a long sea passage and a great deal of work went into creating the voyage plan. The company did not want us to stop for bunker fuel on the way to Argentina so we "slow steamed" to conserve fuel all the way to Cape Horn. Fortunately, we bunkered once in Comodoro and so could head back to California at full sea speed weather permitting. Most of us had about 90 days onboard by the time we returned to Long Beach, so it was a long tour of duty overall.”
E. What do you remember about this experience? Did the time pass quickly or slowly? “The trip to Argentina was a long time at sea without a port stop, no doubt about it, but it was an opportunity to get a lot of maintenance projects done on the ship, which we ordinarily had only a few days to do when on our regular runs between the west coast of the United States and Alaska. The deck department did a lot of chipping and painting! We crossed the equator and had a very quiet Shellback Ceremony with a BBQ on the ship's fantail. Someone hoisted the "Jolly Roger" as we crossed from the northern hemisphere into the southern ... pretty sure the Captain never found out about that. Overall the weather was very pleasant, until we got to Cape Horn of course, which lived up to its reputation as a wild and rough part of the ocean. Everyone was excited to see Cape Horn. 'Rounding the Horn was a great honor to acheive as a mariner, one few get to experience in the modern day because the Panama Canal is the route typically taken when a vessel goes from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.”
F. When you weren’t working, how did you and your shipmates pass the time? These were the days before satellite email and phone were so readily accessible, so our communication with the outside world was limited to daily position reports sent to the home office back in California. We would read books, watch movies, play card games or work out in the ship's gym ... or sleep - something every mariner never seems to get enough of. Between watchstanding, daily work and meals, there really wasn't a lot of free time.”
What an adventure! Thanks for sharing your memories with us, Jill - especially on such a special day for the Academy.