By all accounts Golden Bear‘s visit to Wellington was a great success. Fun was had. Sights were seen. Rugby was played. Lessons were learned. And new friendships were formed.

Rather than write about the visit further myself, I thought I’d turn things over to my buddy Steve, who posted the definitive account of the cadets’ activities in Wellington on Golden Bear‘s shipboard blog:

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011, posted by Steve:

The popular saying goes ‘You can’t beat Wellington, on a good day’. We definitely found this to be the case and we had nothing but good days, which made for a fantastic time all around. We had a high profile and very eventful port visit as we were met by the United States Ambassador upon our arrival and held a gala reception for the Ambassador and several New Zealand officials on Monday evening.

Cadets took advantage of everything Wellington had to offer from museums, boutique shopping districts, exciting nightlife, galleries, great vistas, to several hiking trails and nature conservatories.   Everyone agreed that while we wish we could have stayed longer, we were definitely here long enough to know we want to come back as soon as possible. At the risk of sounding like a Wellington tourism agent, the city is gearing up for the Rugby World Cup in September and it looks like it is going to be a great party.  If you’re even remotely considering coming to New Zealand don’t miss it.

Kevin Hereid, with the help of Captain Bolton and the Pilot from New Zealand, was at the helm in the bridge as we made our way into Wellington harbor.


The Ambassador, David Huebner, came on board and met with Captain Bolton and President Eisenhardt, who also joined us in Wellington, in the wardroom for tea.

Here’s the Ambassador with Commandant Buckey as they waited for the rest of the crew.


Captain Bolton and President Eisenhardt were presented with a gift from the Ambassador.


Once the formalities were through, the group sat down for tea and snacks to discuss their plans for our upcoming port visit.


The Ambassador then made the rounds and met several of the cadets.  The cadets were on deck in order to give tours to friends of the Ambassador, local media, friends of CMA, and other officials who were awaiting our arrival.

Here’s the Ambassador shaking hands with Jessica Schember. The cadets spent a lot of time with him explaining their respective programs  and some of the details of the ship.


Captain Bolton was on hand to address the visitors as well.


Here’s cadet Sean Kelly giving visitors an explanation of our enclosed rescue boats.  The visitors were all extremely impressed with the cadets and the large role they play  in the operation of the ship.


The gala reception on Monday evening included a band from the Scots College in Wellington, which was set up on the quarter deck to greet visitors as they arrived.


The event was held in the ship’s new state of the art navigation lab and was attended by the Ambassador and several high ranking New Zealand officials.


As was expected, the galley crew had an amazing feast of steak, seafood, great desserts, and just about anything else you could want.


Here’s Scott Powell demonstrating the new simulator.


Cadets were on hand at the reception as well, mingling with the guests and offering tours to anyone who was interested. Here is Colby Grobschmit, Hoss Altmann, and Mike Bardoutsos, (left to right) talking with the Ambassador.


The Ambassador was given a plaque by President Eisenhardt, as well as a CMA hat by Captain Bolton, which he wore to the rugby match the next day.



Another highlight of this port visit was a friendly rugby match with a team from Victoria University in Wellington.  The match was featured on page 2 of the newspaper and included some good natured trash-talk from Captain Bolton, which I’m sure made it into the locker room of the New Zealand team.  (I don’t mean page 2 of the Sports section; I mean page 2 of the entire paper. They LOVE their rugby here and take it very seriously. In fact, each day we were here the lead story in the paper had to do with rugby.)




The crowd was out in force to root for the Keelhaulers, including the Ambassador.





The New Zealand team was victorious in the end but it was a respectable match and the CMA squad played themselves, and the Academy, proud.  Everyone met at the club house for the Victoria University team for a post-game celebration.

Here is President Eisenhardt and the Ambassador enjoying a pint.


Members from the two clubs exchanged gifts. Here, Victoria University club President presents CMA Rugby Coach Steven Hiatt with a necktie.


CMA Captain Colby Grobschmit presents the Victoria Captain with a CMA Rugby shirt.


In these photos, Zach Patterson and Colby Grobschmit are mingling with their opponents from Victoria University. The two teams had a great time and the party went well into the night.



Will Akers sent me this great photo taken from Mt. Victoria lookout, which is high above Wellington harbor, and had a great view of the Golden Bear at night.


The tug boat captain seemed to be having a great time as he helped us out to sea. He escorted us out much further than he needed to and entertained us by doing figure 8’s and cookies off the side of the ship. Then he would pull in behind us, coming inches from the back of the ship. (I’m not using the zoom on that second shot. That’s how close he was getting.)



As I mentioned earlier, we were all sad to be leaving such a great place but we also know Australia is just over that horizon and we know we’ll be in Sydney in less than a week!



Charie Jopes, Melissa Whitener, and Levan Akitaya all have personal messages they’d like to send back home today.





[The End]

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Steve, thanks for letting me reprint your post.

Yes, it certainly sounds as though the cadets had a great visit that will leave a lasting impression on both the Americans and the Kiwis involved. Which is what I was hoping for. It’s a shame that it had to end, at least for now. But I look forward to seeing the ship again when it passes through Auckland in about a month on its way home to California.

I’ll close with a little plea for help. I’ve already begun the campaign to try to persuade President Eisenhardt of the California Maritime Academy to put New Zealand on next year’s Golden Bear schedule. It would be a great help if my readers voiced their support for a return visit next year … not only here but on the Golden Bear blog and the Academy’s website.

And please have your friends weigh in as well. Thanks much.