Paige Jehnke is a student at NMC’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy. She is completing a sea project for the fall semester of her junior year in the engine room of the M/V Taku, a ferry which travels the Alaska Marine Highway. Paige is blogging about her adventures and has graciously allowed us to share her updates.
After flying to Juneau, I waited 40 minutes for a taxi, only to split it with a stranger going the opposite direction. Fortunately, I was dropped off first. When I reached the ferry terminal in my wrinkled uniform I was escorted to the ship, the M/V Taku, and was met by the purser. Considering that it was late, I was given my room assignment and told to report to the purser’s desk at 7 am. So I found my room. It is small and has no windows. I would imagine that it is very similar to the layout and size of a prison cell. I am finding it surprisingly cozy.
I woke up 2 minutes before my alarm with anxiety. I got ready, meaning I threw on my coveralls. I added a Leatherman, wrench, flashlight, notebook, gloves and several pens to my pockets; you know just a few pounds of necessities. I go to the purser’s desk to fill out some paperwork. He asks, “Are you Paige Steinberger?” Umm. There is a cadet Laura Steinberger on the Kenicott, another Alaska Marine Highway ship. Ok. We deal with that situation and then I am led to the pilothouse. Umm. I am an engine cadet. Oh. This is a big surprise. The purser turns me around and escorts me to the engine room.
Here comes the moment of truth. I am led to the engine room and introduced to the engineers on watch. Although I am a bit of a surprise, everyone is extremely friendly. First I am sent on a safety mission. I search the ship for the station bill, my muster station, the ship’s mission statement, drug and alcohol policy, environmental policy, fire equipment, and life vests. I feel ready for an emergency. Drills start Saturday.
The plant has 3 Caterpillar generators to keep the lights on and 2 MaK 4000 horsepower engines to power the propellers to move the boat through the Alaskan waterways. The engine room is a good size; small enough to manage well in my brain, but big enough to work comfortably.
On my first day they had me starting the main engines and making log entries in the official log book. I also got to check batteries. No battery acid was spilled. More importantly I was given silver ear protection and an unflattering pair of safety goggles. Everyone thinks it is hilarious.