Hello, Followers -
Cadets are pleased that we are heading home, but they are not nearly as thrilled about the dropping temperatures. Before today is over, cadets will be wearing an extra layer or two when they're out on deck.
Of course, we have our eye on the weather - both for the voyage home and our arrival on Sunday.
Our followers 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 2019, but the TS Empire State 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 Empire State 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 Empire State? No, we didn’t see the Elida or come anywhere near it. I don’t even think that the cadets were aware of it at all! We just wanted to get home. Back on shore, however, our parents are hearing radio and television reports of a ship running aground. Since the early reports did not include the name of the ship, parents waiting for their cadets assumed that it was the TS Enterprise State that had gone aground. Parents were calling the Academy and calling each other.
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 Empire State safely docked at Taylor’s Point.
Over the next week, some cadets and their families traveled to see the wreck that had caused a few hours 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 four years ago on the 40th anniversary of the wreck.
Thirty-five years later, we anticipate a much less eventful ending for Sea Term.
Have a great day!
Captain Michael J. Campbell