The program was split over 3 terms. The first term was difficult for me, and probably every other new cadet, because we were the “lowest form of life” in the College.
We were being supervised by our more senior peers and, as with any such structure, there are always incidents of misuse of authority.
There was a lighter side, depending on your sense of humor! First term cadets were always targets for a good laugh and I was instructed to go the Officer on duty and ask for the long stand. Apparently they needed a long stand for something. I went to the Officer accordingly and made my request. He was obviously busy and just asked me to wait so I stood in his office just looking around and waiting. After about 15 minutes he smiled and told me I could go. He thought that I had been standing long enough!
We had a lot of cadets from around the world in the College and one (from Kenya) was asked to go and get some red oil for the red lamp at the top of the mast (we had a mast in the parade ground). Not knowing any different, off he went!
My first few shore-leaves were mainly spent on Cardiff railway station. While train spotting would have been a logical explanation, the reason was rather different. I just sat and watched the trains leaving for London and wished that I was on one of them. It was a very simple result of trying to adjust to a very different lifestyle, and missing home. I had never been so far away from home before, and without any chance of returning for over 3 months.
Classroom time was however really interesting in that all subjects were new, and related to some aspect of a career at sea. While the main focus was on Navigation, we also spent time on subjects such as Meteorology, Shipbuilding, Signalling and Practical Seamanship. We also periodically went sailing on the “Margherita”, a 3-masted ketch which was the training vessel. I think it would be realistic to say that for most of the time, my days’ thoughts were preoccupied with College “business”.
I finished my first term there with very high average marks and came back into the second term as JLC*
*See Post “Dear Diary – Page 57” October 6, 2015