In which the Cadets travel to Hawaii and meet their ship.
On December 27, 1999, I traveled 18 hours from LaGuardia (LGA) to Houston (IAH) and on to Honolulu (HAI) to meet the Alaska Tanker Corporation's 894-foot steam-powered crude oil tanker S/T Overseas New York at Barber's Point - Hawaii.
Flying in, I was able to catch a terrific glimpse of a long, black tanker with a green deck and blue stack. When we touched down, I was met in the tropical paradise of Honolulu International Airport, a man from Inchcape Shipping Service met me, helped me with my bags and took me by air-conditioned van to the harbor, where I got on a launch on rode for an hour across the beautiful blue ocean to the ship, which had just arrived following a long, rough trip from Valdez.
Sitting in the launch as we aproached the vessel, I watched the safety video on how to climb up the pilot ladder and noted that nobody in the video was wearing a tie or carrying a computer - perhaps I was riding the wrong boat to catch the wrong ship. However, before I knew it we were alongside, scurrying up the ladder 15 feet to the deck. My bags were up behind me on a rope very quickly, and soon an AB grabbed me and I got to meet the Captain.
Captain Edward P. Reichhelm met me in his office. A thin, graying man of average height, the Captain's first order of business was getting me to sign articles. Basically, in signing articles I agreed to slave away mercilessly as an employee of the Captain. As a perk, he agreed to pay me a small wage, put me up in a stateroom (enlarged closet), and give me some chow.
During dinner (steak), a fellow Webbie strolled in. Anthony Constable is a New Jersey native who resides in Corpus Christi Texas. We wound up shipping out together after a few tense moments back in December when it appeared that we could wind up riding a tug across the Gulf on a volunteer basis. But, things came together and here we were having chow in a mess hall three miles off the coast of Hawaii. We spent the evening wandering the ship and situating ourselves in our new rooms. Tomorrow held a big adventure on the island of Oahu.
In the morning, the two of us climbed back down the now significantly longer pilot ladder back onto the launch. Once again we enjoyed the hour crossing back to the island and the tropical fresh air. When we landed, we got aboard a free trolley to Waikiki Beach for a day of learning to surf. We bought sunscreen and rented boards and paddled out into the very tame surf. For two hours we learned to surf - riding some waves but missing some too. We both decided that after two hours of paddling and burning under the sun, we should call it a day and headed to Hooters, where Anthony's parents (via credit card) bought us dinner. After some hot wings we got back on the launch and travelled back across the water, muscled up a now very tall ladder, and climbed into our racks... resting up for our first big day of working.
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