By Kimberly Echevarria

Our Unique Classroom

IMG_3017As we begin our U.S. Power Boating course, what better way to learn than to take a trip out to the South Street Seaport and spend class aboard the schooner Pioneer. Today’s lesson was all about the basics and an overview of engines. We brought over a whiteboard and some markers and class was in session. The first half of class was discussing the things we know about outboard and inboard engines. The second half was spent looking at Pioneer’s engine and all its functions.IMG_3021

At the Helm of Serenity


The Vessel Operations seniors had a great opportunity to take a ride on one of Hornblower’s yachts known as Serenity. Captain Jose and first mate Medina were there to greet us when we boarded the vessel at the South Street Seaport. We took a cruise around Lower Manhattan. The trip was about an hour long and I spent most of it exploring the boat. Jarely and I were sitting down talking about her summer experience when one of the crew members approached us and said Medina asked for one of us. I immediately stood up and walked to where she was at the helm. Turns out she was handing over the wheel to me! I had no idea what I was doing and with a boat filled with people, the pressure was on. Medina taught me how simple it actually was to steer such a large vessel. Your movements were small and controlled. I was at the helm for about 10 minutes and the whole time I was nervous. I’m used to our smaller vessels such as Indy and Virginia. You can see perfectly around those boats with your own eyes. Serenity is about three times the length of Indy. It was such a great experience to be at the helm of a vessel this size!

College’s I’m Thinking About!

As I began my senior year of high school, the rush of preparing and applying to college’s was there to greet me. The career path I’m taking is going to be in the Maritime Industry, specifically the United States Coast Guard. I’m focused on Maritime Academy’s and thought I would share my potential top five picks.

1. Maine Maritime Academy

2. SUNY Maritime College

3. California Maritime Academy

4. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

5. United States Coast Guard Academy


The Life of an Aimster

This summer I had the privilege of spending a week at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Our every move was strictly controlled and every minute of the day was accounted for. The program (AIM)  was to give us a taste of what life at the academy will be like. It was both mentally and physically challenging but I walked away feeling so accomplished and even more sure of the future I want in the Coast Guard. Everything we did had a purpose and a goal to teach discipline. Nobody was an individual, my fellow aimsters and I were one unit. Our days began at 5:30am and ended at around 9pm. We had to square our corners & our meals and had to look forward (eyes in the boat) at all times unless we were told otherwise. We were taught how to walk and how to stand, how to greet respectfully, and even how to make our beds. Our showers, using the bathroom and even getting water were all timed. Our Cadre forced us to let go of being an individual and learn strong discipline.  I found my experience to be highly rewarding although it was very difficult. I made new friends from different states and shared a bond that others who have not experienced AIM won’t understand. I’m so greatly for this opportunity because it made my love for the United States Coast Guard grow times ten.

Navigating the Penobscot Bay

IMG_4738Last week, myself and fellow classmates had the honor of spending 3 days on the campus of Maine Maritime. Throughout this time, we were introduced to some of the programs they offer and what college life will be like.

On Thursday at about 9 am, we boarded the Capt. Susan J. Clark. We plotted a course on a chart then navigated the river using that course. As New York Harbor Students, we are used to lots of traffic on the water and using landmarks we recognize to guide us. None of us knew the Penobscot Bay well enough to navigate by site and regardless, it was filled with fog. We did not see another vessel the whole 2 hours we were out. It was a big change from the New York Harbor.

IMG_4788Captain Chase and Captain Jergesen gave us the helm and helped guide us through the trip. They gave us handy tips are navigation and plotting courses. Captain Chase even allowed Michael Mongiello, a vessel ops sophomore, to dock the vessel. Penobscot Bay was peaceful and had beautiful islands all along the river. This trip was a highlight of my time at Maine Martime.IMG_4743


AIM at the Coast Guard

Seal_of_the_United_States_Coast_Guard.svgThe United States Coast Guard Academy offers a summer program called AIM (Academy Introduction Mission) to rising seniors in high school. I’ve been interested in the Academy for about 3-years now so when I heard of this opportunity I had to apply. The program would mean six days on campus during the summer and would teach me the academy’s traditions and lifestyle. Hopefully, it will help me decide whether or not the Academy is the right place for me. I began my application in the beginning of February and submitted it on March 31st. I should hear back on whether I’m accepted or not on May 1st.


Sail Training aboard Schooner Pioneer


Schooner Pioneer is a tall ship that was built in 1885. She is a 103 ft, two masted steel schooner, and her home is the South Street Seaport. This summer, several peers and I committed to sail training once a week aboard Pioneer. Our day would begin at about 8am and end at about 1pm. Sail trainings are 90-minute sails around New York Harbor. Throughout each sail we would work on basic crew duties and commands aboard Pioneer. Some crew duties include docking and undocking from the seaport, repeating commands, coiling lines, raising sails, and striking sails.

When the vessel is underway, there are multiple watches (a watch is a group of people who stay together to complete a specific task) that are occurring. For example; Watch A would be at the helm, Watch B would be at the jib sail standing by for commands, and Watch C would be on bow watch. Each watch would rotate jobs so that everyone was receiving proper training on how to crew Pioneer. Being at the helm demonstrated how to navigate and steer the vessel.

lolWhile sailing, we used a maneuver called “tacking.” Tacking is the process of turning the bow of the vessel  into the wind to change direction. Tacking is carried out by shifting the jib sail (the forward most sail) from one side of the vessel to the other. Whoever is on the helm will call out “ready about” which means prepare to shift the jib sail. Standing by the jib sail is one of the watches aboard Pioneer.

Bow watch is the 3rd watch aboard the vessel. Bow watch is conducted at the bow (forward most part) of the vessel. Bow watch is required to point out anything in the water that can possible harm the vessel in 360 degrees. We have to point out other vessels, anchorages, wood in the water, etc. When on bow watch you would like to point these things out to the person on the helm and be sure they understand what you are alerting them about. Sail training expanded my knowledge of tall ships and how to specifically crew a vessel such as Pioneer.


Flashback to 2016!

unnamedReflecting back on our sophomore vessel operations class is always fun. When I saw the photo Captain Aaron Singh had emailed me, I couldn’t help but laugh. Several of us weren’t prepared for the photo while others were all smiles. In this picture, we spent our sophomore class period aboard one of the Hornblower’s vessel, Sensation. We had the honor of meeting Captain Jose Baez (far right of the photo), who is a Captain for Hornblower Cruises. Sensation is a gorgeous vessel and we were allowed to explore the pilot house while the vessel was underway. At the time, the Coursen, the ferry between Governors Island and Manhattan, was temporarily out of service so Sensation had taken over the route. We watched Captain Baez elegantly navigate the vessel through New York Harbor while telling us how he got to where he is. It was a unique class experience to be on a working ferry, rather than sitting in a classroom like most high schools. It’s a great memory from my sophomore year of high school to look back on.

Not Our Harbor?


This past June the U.S. Coast Guard broad casted the concept of 10 or more new barge anchorage sites from Yonkers to Kingston on the Hudson River. Who knew that 5 months later a massive campaign opposing such an idea would be born? The campaign is known as “Ban the Barges” and is run by The Hudson River Waterfront Communities. The original proposal for these new anchorages came from the Maritime Association of the Port of New York & New Jersey and the American Waterways Operators. The Coast Guard in currently determining whether or not the new anchorages shall be created. They are listening to local communities and the tug and barge committees. Ban the Barges vigorously disagrees with adding anymore anchorages for several reasons; one of which states that the anchorages present a safety hazard in the river. Ban the Barges has created a petition that now holds 1,594 supporters out of the 2,500 they want. Both sides hold a powerful viewpoint on the topic of new barge anchorages on the Hudson River. The Coast Guard continues to respectfully listen to each side and trust a decision shall be made soon.