To those new admittees and their supporters, I thought you might like to read an excerpt from my son's latest email. He is a third class mid nearing the end of his first sea year. He is having a blast, not only at the 15 countries and 21 ports he has visited, but also while underway. Hang on plebes. It is all worth it. What an adventure! "We are going up the coast of Portugal today. We had a Portuguese military helicopter call the ship on the radio today, and they just wanted to practice lowering people on deck from their helicopter while we were underway. So we had some Portuguese Rescue diver lowered to the ship while we were going and they practiced lowering their little basket and stuff. It was pretty cool. Other than that, I got to take the ship through the straight of Gibraltar. The Captain let me have the con the whole way through and it was pretty crazy, we were in some heavy traffic at one point and I did pretty well. There was a ship that was merging into the lane that had to cross. So think of it like driving on the freeway and having someone trying to cross, all in slow motion and having to give them enough room to go and at the same time, not merge into anybody else. So we got within .3 miles of another ship next to us, and that is pretty close considering our ship is about an eighth of a mile long. So it was overall a lot of fun. And I did all of the navigation and controlled the ship at one time, and talked on the radio to all the people we need to contact, which is usually a two person job, but the Captain made me do it myself, under his supervision of course. But I was in control of the ship the whole time, and didn't crash. Most people wait until they are experienced mates to just be at the con through that area."