SPLIT, Croatia – By late Sunday night, most cadets and crew members aboard the State of Maine were back on the ship, shaking off the last remnants of the hot Mediterranean sun.
All accounts indicated that this port, the third of four during Maine Maritime Academy’s 2007 training cruise, was the best by a wide margin.
“I wish we had a few more days here,” freshman Alex Charier said.
While a few students took advantage of late hours on the mess deck, the ship was mostly quiet on Sunday, and the long return trip home loomed over the State of Maine like a rain cloud.
“It usually takes a day to recover after we leave port,” said junior Mark Bailey of Hiram. “After everything is done [Monday], the ship’s going to be dead-silent.”
Students and crew members said that the first day out of port is usually the toughest, and as the ship prepared to leave Croatia on Monday, some couldn’t help but think of the two weeks at sea ahead.
“Twelve or 13 straight days at sea isn’t healthy for anyone, especially 200 guys,” Bailey said. “I think you’ll see some people get on each other’s nerves.”
The MMA ship’s next port of call isn’t until June 24 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After three days in the Canadian port, the State of Maine will return to its home berth in Castine on June 30, culminating a 60-day cruise that will have spanned more than 10,000 nautical miles.
On Sunday, a group of junior cadets sipping drinks at an outdoor bar near a beach in Split were talking about the coming weeks.
“I can’t wait for Halifax,” said Patrick Jones of Kennebunkport.
“I can’t wait for Castine,” added Neil McGhee of Lincoln.
The 2007 training cruise is well past the halfway point, but many on board were dreading the trip back across the Atlantic.
To make matters a bit worse, the ship was not scheduled to leave until Monday afternoon instead of Monday morning. Crew members said there was a problem with one of the vessel’s radar units, and the parts weren’t scheduled to arrive until noon.
Still, some cadets were looking forward to the trip home.
“It will be nice to get back into the groove,” junior Gardiner Brown of Mount Desert said Sunday. “In port, it’s tough because there’s no structure, but once we get back out to sea, we’ll all be busy. That usually makes the time go by fast.”
Aside from the fact that Capt. Laurence Wade suffered a stroke less than halfway into the training cruise and had to be taken off the ship, the 2007 voyage was sailing surprisingly smoothly as it prepared to leave Croatia.
“After a few days at sea, everyone will be sharing their stories from Split and before we know it, we’ll be in Halifax,” Bailey said.