UTC: 6/8/2008 at 21:42:45
6° 6.035′ E. by 43° 3.608′ N.
Course: 0° Speed: 0.0 knots

We departed Majorca on June 3rd and have been sailing the depths of the Mediterranean Sea and the infinity of the horizon for five days. The dolphins have been following us; the “acrobats of the sea” in groups of six, they have been choreographing the waves of our bow.

On the third day we anchored at the straights of Gibraltar, otherwise known as the Pillars of Hercules. When Hercules decided to pull Africa and Europe apart, he used Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountain of Jebel as his handgrips. For Mariners, Gibraltar is a legendary place: the mighty fleets of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, French, Spanish and British gathered throughout history to fight for this strategic position liking the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

In our days Gibraltar maintains its strategic position. Under British rule, the sea is overflowing with an international fleet of ships; the Gas station of all ships sailing in Europe, Africa, and crossing the Atlantic
— the last exit before the highway. I spent the evening on the bridge listening to all spoken languages on radio, and observing the movements of the ships on the radar. Throughout the afternoon and late evening, the oil tanker was attached to our ship for 8 hours transferring fuel.

The Mate on watch with cadets was carefully studying the movements of all ships on the radar. With great mathematical precision they were calculating the projected course of any ship from any approaching position and safeguarding our danger zone. It was quite an amazing task if one considers the enormous risk and the potential of such catastrophic accident. During fueling we raised the black balloon (ship is at
anchorage) and the red flag (transfer of dangerous material). By 0100 we completed fueling and turned the Ship around to set course back to the Mediterranean Sea.

The next morning we passed the straights of Bonafacio, navigating the Ship between Corsica and Sardinia maneuvering around small islands, buoys and fishing boats. I was so excited to see land that for certain, I thought I smelled tomatoes and garlic on the Sardinia.

Day 6 at sea; we received permission from the French Navy to enter French waters and anchor at the bay of Toulon. It is Sunday at sea (BBQ and ice-cream on deck). Hundreds of Cadets on deck, young faces of glow, young hearts of contentment. Talking, sunbathing, playing board games, listening to music. Tomorrow the French Pilot will board our vessel at 0830 and take us to the Port of Toulon. Few of us tried to practice our French; we tried to inventory all French words we know to make come up with a sentence … does not really matter, we are here, today in French Waters and tomorrow on French soil. The South of France, the French Riviera, the olives and the oil, perfumes, lavender and French wine. We will be just fine; when it is time to depart we may know few more words in French and perhaps …
loose few more hearts in France.

Constantia Constantinou
Library Director, Department Chair
Aboard T.S Empire State VI
SUNY Maritime College


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: