2010-07-22 / The Walrus Says

The Walrus Says

By Jim Munro
Since last fall, islander Eric von Hohenleiten has been part of the regimen and academics of Maine Maritime Academy, and has visited more European countries than most of us would in a lifetime.

Eric is following in the footsteps of his father, Christopher, who graduated from MMA in 1979 and has been “shipping out” ever since.

The 19-year-old has spent quite a bit of time this year at sea, but even now – while home for the summer – he doesn’t go far from the ocean. He’s lifeguarding at the beach at Greens Pier.

After graduating from North Kingstown High School last year, one of the first things Eric did was shave his head in preparation for going to MMA. What happened after that? We asked him to tell us about his freshman year and his first voyage across the Atlantic.

“Once there, I was taught how to march, stand at attention, salute and how to yell very loudly. After that was behind us, school became the priority. At first, we had two musters a day and bed checks, we had to run everywhere unless we were with other midshipmen, and we couldn’t leave on the weekends. This lasted for about six weeks in a period called MUG (Midshipmen Under Guidance) month. After MUG month, the regiment became easier. We only had morning muster, PT (physical training) twice a week, inspection and we were free to do what we wanted on the weekends.

“Preparation for the cruise aboard the 500-foot TS State of Maine began a couple of weeks before our departure. We had to load non-perishable stores onto the ship during maintenance. There were also a lot of projects being worked on to make the ship ready for sea. One of the ship’s generators had to be reassembled, new piping and a new fresh water plant installed, and all sorts of mandatory checklists were initiated.

“Once everything was all set, personal items were brought on board. We were told which berthing area we would be sleeping in when we checked onto the ship with our student IDs. I was in a nine-man berthing. The bunks, around two feet by two feet by six feet, were stacked three high. My rack was luckily in the middle. After staying ashore for four days making final preparations, we finally left the dock at Castine, Maine, on May 5. It was a weird feeling observing the ship moving under its own power after seeing it tied up for 10 months. Many of us didn’t believe that it would make it across the Atlantic, but we were pleasantly surprised.

“Underway, routine was established rather quickly. There were four rotations that we went through. Everything was split into deck and engine assignments for the freshmen, because technically we can’t declare our majors until after the completion of the cruise. One of the rotations was engine watch, where we’d wipe oil, learn systems and take readings and soundings from different apparatus. If you had deck watch, you could be lookout, fire and security, or standby relief helmsman.

“Another rotation was training, which taught us how different devices operated, how systems worked and basic chart work and knots. There was also utility watch, which was making sure the ship was clean. We swept and swabbed the decks, wiped handrails and cleaned gym equipment. A couple of people were assigned to scullery or trash duty.

“The last rotation was maintenance. When you were on deck maintenance, you chipped and painted rusted parts, washed the deck, and checked fire extinguishers and emergency lights. If you had engine maintenance, you would paint, fix broken machine parts, do electrical work and help the plumber. These projects often involved welding and power tools.”

Next week, Eric tells us about the Atlantic crossing and his visits to European ports, including how he and other classmates caused a traffic jam while ashore in Marseilles.

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Kudos to three Jamestown students at North Kingstown High School, who were named to the Southern Rhode Island Newspapers spring sports all-area teams: Michael Spahr for his achievements in outdoor track, and Dan Hansen and Sam Baines for their tennis skills.

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Ed Silvia, Joan McCauley, David Laurie and Sam Bari know that B.J.’s poser is “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone.

Barbara-Ann MacIntosh and Elizabeth Mancini were a bit late, but correctly said that the previous week’s poser was “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts.

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How about: “Well, no more studying history and no more reading geography....”

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A wiggle of the Walrus tusk to our unsung heroes, the letter carriers – who, with the temperatures in the 90s and on one occasion, the 100s – and with enough humidity to float a boat, got the mail delivered to us every day.

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Emily Titon writes that a beetlelike critter has been raising havoc with the plants in the area of her home and in her residence itself on Pemberton Avenue, and wonders if others are having the same experience. She says they do not seem to be Japanese beetles because they lack the green marking. “This is a puzzler and it’s kind of bugging me.” Anyone know what they are?

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Take a grocery bag to the library and fill it up for $1 with what is left from the book sale. The offer is good only today through tomorrow, and excludes any specially priced books or sets.

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Join fellow animal lovers at the Potter League for Animals’ Yappy Hour Tuesday, July 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Top of Newport at the Hotel Viking in Newport. Tickets are $20 a person, and include complimentary wine, tasty treats and entertainment. Bring along your animal stories and a 4 x 6 photo to enter in the “Most Loveable Pet” photo contest. RSVP to 846-0592, ext. 125.

WOOF!

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The cruise ship Dawn Princess of the Princess Line will anchor off Newport on Saturday.

*** Be true!

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Call in your stuff to 829-2760 or 423-0383, or email us at jtnwalrus@ hotmail.com.

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