July 9, 2003 at 7:31 PM EST - Updated June 22 at 2:42 PM
CLEVELAND (AP) - The tall ships festival on Lake Erie also serves as a floating international classroom for a select group of students.
Michael Nordhausen of Davis, Calif., a Coast Guard Academy cadet, is spending the summer aboard the Indian ship INS Tarangini, which is taking part in the Harborfest event through Sunday.
Nordhausen, who will spend almost two months sailing the Great Lakes on the 177-foot Indian Navy training ship, said the ship is a big change from the academy's 295-foot sailing ship Eagle, including extra-tight quarters and a galley menu with a foreign touch.
On the Tarangini, where a third of the crew is vegetarian, there is a steady diet of rice and spicy curries and massala.
"The meals are pretty much the same as this one, but it's all pretty good," Nordhausen said as he dug into a spicy mutton curry, lentils, rice and homemade plain yogurt.
Lt. Pawan Preet Man's duties as logistic officer include overseeing the galley and cooks. Man, one of the few women who has gone to sea in the two years that the Indian Navy has allowed women officers aboard ships, says she tries to see that variety is worked into the menu.
"We serve Continental food and Chinese food once a week," Man said. "Food is very important. We sail for such a long time that good food keeps the morale up. Food here is tastier than it is on bases."
The ship's head cook, Lalit Chauhan, and his chief assistant, Chendekar Subhash, occasionally prepare chicken in orange sauce, noodle dishes, oven-browned potatoes, Russian salad, vegetable soup and french fries. All are made using recipes from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The crew and the cooks say sailors prefer the Indian staples, such as chicken massala, goat or mutton curry, a spicy cabbage dish, vegetable curries and vegetable pilau, along with rice and Indian tea.
Nordhausen was surprised by the friendliness of the crew and said they have done everything possible to make him feel welcome.
Among the Harborfest's highlights is the Tall Ships Challenge, a series of races in which 25 ships are scheduled to participate throughout the summer.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)