Maritime Academy’s sea term cadets wait out high winds before docking

TS Kennedy In Cape Cod Canal

BUZZARDS BAY — Due to high winds Sunday, the docking of the T.S. Kennedy was postponed until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to a post on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s website. Aboard the vessel are 477 cadets who set sail Jan. 12 on the school’s annual sea term. This year the vessel traveled to Barbados, Puerto Rico, Tortola and Miami.

“It’s an exciting time every year,” Rear Adm. Francis McDonald said before the departure. “This really stands as the pinnacle of putting what you learn in the classroom to practice.” The practice of sea term began with the school’s founding in 1891, McDonald said. “It follows a learn, do, learn philosophy,” he said.

The voyage lasts about 52 days, and during that time a cadet will rotate through class and laboratory training at sea, ship operations including deck and engine watches, maintenance and emergency drills, according to the school. Port visits offer cadets a time to relax, but still include watch responsibilities and ship maintenance.

A high-wind warning remained in effect Sunday in southeastern New England, with west winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour with gusts to 60 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

A specially trained pilot comes on board the Kennedy to bring it to the dock, McDonald said Sunday. Ultimately, the decision to dock or not rests with the pilot, in consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the captain of the Kennedy, he said. Given the possibility of high winds continuing into Monday, the docking was delayed until Tuesday.

“We thought the best bet would be to plan for the worst,” McDonald said.

Mary Ann Bragg