It is amazing how much knowledge you retain without even realizing it. When I first stepped on board the ship I was concerned that I had forgotten much of what I had learned in my first few years at the College and my first sea phase, especially since it seemed so long ago. This was a pretty big concern for me, probably the same feeling that most people have when they begin a new job. No one wants to be the “new guy” who can’t manage to do anything on their own, and is constantly asking the annoying questions. But two great things came out of getting back in the engine room. The first was that it seemed to be a lot like home. It was full of recognizable sights and sounds and the more that I looked around, the more that information started coming back. Yes I remember those engines, they were painted a different colour, and their start up is slightly different, but at the end of the day they still run the same and require the same maintenance. The second awesome thing about getting back into the engine room is that as a cadet I’m still not expected to know 100% of things going on. I’m supposed to ask questions and follow people around to learn the procedures.
It was also nice to seem more of the puzzle pieces starting to come together, especially from the last 16 months at the College. Since I was there for so long, almost exclusively doing academic type work, I had feared that nothing was being absorbed anymore. Yet lo and behold today I looked at a hydraulic diagram and actually knew what it meant. That is such a huge accomplishment. All those long days of school and studying seemed to finally have paid off.
Now I can begin to build on the academic knowledge that I have acquired. Instead of seeing something on paper, it can be seen fully functioning on ship, or maybe in pieces because I’m getting a chance to fix it. The engineering classes at the College provide an excellent base for technical information and theory, but at the end of the day there is nothing better than doing hands on work to truly understand how something works.