The regular summer course was now on in earnest for the new men.
On Mondays those belonging to the first and second divisions marched down to the seamanship building, there to get their first lessons in seamanship. This began at eight o’clock, lasting until 9.30. During the same period the men who belonged to the third and fourth divisions received instruction in discipline and ordnance. In the second period, from 10 to 11.30 the members of the first and second division attended instruction in discipline and ordnance while the members of the third and fourth divisions attended seamanship.
In the afternoon, from 3 to 4.45, the halves of the class alternated between seamanship and marine engineering.
All instruction proceeded with a rapidity that made the heads of most of these new midshipmen whirl! From 5 to 6 on the same afternoon the entire fourth class attended instruction in the art of swimming—and no midshipman hope to graduate unless he is a fairly expert swimmer!
Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were devoted to athletics and recreation.
A midshipman does not have his evenings for leisure. On the first five evenings of each week, while one half of the class went to the gymnasium, the other half indulged in singing drill in Recreation Hall.
“What’s the idea of making operatic stars out of us?” grumbled Dan to his roommate on day.
“You always seem to get the wrong impression about everything, Danny boy,” retorted Darrin, turning to his roommate with a quizzical smile. “The singing drill isn’t given with a view to fitting you to sing in opera.”
“What, then?” insisted Dan.
“You are learning to sing, my dear boy, so that, later on, you will be able to deliver your orders from a battleship’s bridge in an agreeable voice.”
“If my voice on the bridge is anything like the voice I develop in Recreation Hall,” grimaced Dalzell, “it’ll start a mutiny right then and there.”
“Then you don’t expect sailors of the Navy to stand for the kind of voice that is being developed in you in Recreation Hall?” laughed Darrin.
“Sailors are only human,” grumbled Dalzell.
The rowing work, in the big ten-oared cutters proved one of the most interesting features of the busy summer life of the new men.
More than half of these fourth class midshipmen had been accustomed to rowing boats at home. The work at Annapolis, however, they found to be vastly different.
The cutter is a fearfully heavy boat. The long Naval oar is surprisingly full of avoirdupois weight. True, a midshipman has to handle but one oar, but it takes him many, many days to learn how to do that properly.
Yet, as August came and wore along, the midshipmen found themselves becoming decidedly skilful in the work of handling the heavy cutters, and in handling boats under sail.
Competitive work and racing were encouraged by the Navy officers who had charge of this instruction.