Surf City — While not in the same house, Carrter Pearce and Tommy Green have grown up together, been to a lot of the same places, know a lot of the same people. They’ve sailed in many of the same bodies of water as well, and recently worked together to help build a house for a family in Costa Rica.
So, it would make sense that the 19-year-old Pearce and 17-year-old Green have been part of some sort of shenanigans their parents don’t know about and wouldn’t have approved of had they known.
“I’m sure I can come up with something, but I’m not going to,” said Pearce, who along with Green is off to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., on the north shore of Long Island. “Most of the time we’re away from home it’s for something to do with sailing, so nothing crazy goes on. We’re trying not to get hurt, be back early to get good sleep before a regatta. So, there hasn’t been much in the way of shenanigans.”
Well, if there have been any, that ship is about to sail. Come Friday morning at about 9 a.m., when they show up for registration into the next class of Merchant Marines, their lives are going to change quite dramatically.
“It’s starting to hit me now,” Green said, noting he’s the first in his family to be leaving behind the comforts of home and everything he’s ever known – his sister, Bridget, still is a couple years away. “I’ll be ready when I have to be ready, because that’s just the way it has to be. This school year went by way too quickly, and there are so many other things I can do right now and spend more time with my friends and family doing them, but it’s just time to move on to start a new chapter. That’s part of life. You go on the next journey.”
For Pearce – whose older brother Carrson already has logged two years at the Merchant Marine Academy – he already knows some of what to expect. Still, he also knows new challenges and experiences await, some his brother probably hasn’t experienced.
“For a while, it was like, ‘I’ll go there because Carrson is there.’ I had to stop myself and really get a grasp of what I wanted for me, not related to Carrson,” he said. “But it doesn’t even feel real, yet. It doesn’t feel like I’m about to go start my life as an adult. It still feels like it’s going to be another step, and then I’ll be a little kid again. I know it’s not really like that, and I’m ready to get the next step started.”
For the next two years, Pearce and Green definitely will experience lots of new things, some together, some probably not together. And then the big stuff will start to happen, once they have options to select their larger assignments out at sea. Interestingly, the close friends who may as well be considered brothers have different plans, for now, and what they hope to experience at that stage of academy life.
“Being a harbor pilot sounds fun, but it takes a lot of time to get there,” said Green, who primarily is interested in an engineering education while at the USMMA. “But if you get the best grades, you can select the shipping route you want to be on, and I’d love to do the Antarctica route. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I’d just do it for the bragging rights, really. Not a lot of people can say they’ve been down there, so that would be really cool.”
Pearce has his eyes on global circumnavigation – aka sailing the world on multiple vessels.
“You have to jump ship to ship to get around the world, and that’s something I’m really interested in doing someday,” he said. “It would be awesome to go through the Suez and Panama canals on a ship.”
Beyond typical military academy life – a lot of personal fitness training, learning a slew of regulations and rules, going through cadet exercises of varying sorts – Pearce and Green will be sailing competitively as well, and they’re both looking forward to competing with and against Carrson Pearce and several other individuals they know who attend the academy.
But more than anything else, the two teens who have been sailing at Surf City Yacht Club for most of their lives – their dads, Tom and Dixon, are best friends and have been sailing at SCYC for decades – want to simply enjoy the experience.
“At first, when Carrson went, I thought you’d go there and be miserable for four years,” Carrter said. “But when I’ve visited there and talked to people, you really get a sense of how much everybody really enjoys the experience, and that changed my perspective about going there. So whatever happens, I just want to have a really cool experience.”
As for Green, he’s ready to have fun wherever he is, and whomever he’s with.
“Where else could I have had this opportunity and have fun with Carrter and a bunch of other guys I already know there? It seemed like a logical choice,” he said. “I want to go there and have the best time I can. I don’t want to just study and get through. I want to have an amazing experience and enjoy it. What’s the point of doing anything if you’re not going to have fun doing it? You have to enjoy life, enjoy the journey you’re on, otherwise it doesn’t matter.”
— David Biggy