Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 17, 2018
Castine native sets sail aboard annual training cruise
by Monique Labbe
With a boom of the cannon and a final blast from the horn, 246 Maine Maritime Academy cadets and 52 staff members waved goodbye to friends and family on May 10 as they set sail aboard the T/S State of Maine for the 2018 training cruise.
For sophomore and Castine native Liam Griffith, waving from the ship instead of the academy waterfront was a surreal experience.
Griffith, who grew up in Castine and has watched the ship depart from Castine Harbor several times, said that he is excited to be on board this year.
“It definitely feels different being a part of [the training cruise],” said Griffith. “It’s cool to be a part of it and setting out to sea.”
The 70-day training cruise is scheduled to dock in ports in Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy before returning to Castine at the end of July. For Griffith, those 70 days will be the longest he has spent away from home.
“I’m a little nervous, I’m sure I’ll get homesick a little bit, but we have email set up so we can communicate that way, and we’re allowed to use our phones when we get to the ports,” said Griffith.
With several scheduled stops in Europe on the agenda, Griffith said that he is most excited for Italy.
“I think we all are,” he said. “The port we’re stopping at [Civitavecchia] is right next to Rome, so we’ll be able to explore that a bit.”
The cruise is not all about summer fun in Europe, though; the students will train in all aspects of running the ship throughout the voyage, from keeping watch to working in the engine room. Griffith said he is up for the challenge.
“It’ll be fun to learn; I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I think I have an idea of all the tasks I’ll have to do, but you can’t really prepare for it until you’re doing it.”
The cruise is under the direction of Captain Leslie Eadie, as it has been since 2011. Commandant of Midshipmen Nathan Gandy will once again lead the cadets through their training.