Tuesday, May 23, 2006

US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle

I long ago lost any fascination I ever had with modern naval vessels, having floated four different times during my initial five and a half years on active duty. However, a sailing ship still gets my attention, and this one most of all.

She tied up at the Quantico pier (yes Quantico has a pier), earlier this morning. I understand she is on her way to DC for the Coast Guard Commandant’s change of command. I had seen her once before, on the same mission back in 1990, ghosting up the channel near Ft McNair in a light fog. What a sight to behold. I’m thrilled that the Coast Guard keeps her afloat and sailing. It almost makes me want to go back to sea.

I took a brief tour of her, ably guided by Lt Mark Braxton. She is a beautiful ship, and the crew pays close attention to keeping her that way. Everywhere I went the crew—mostly cadets—were hard at work getting her ready for the change of command. I was warmly greeted by the XO and the Captain. The admiral’s cabin and the wardroom are fine examples of old-world nautical craftsmanship, something we’ll never see again beyond the ultra-expensive private yachts. It was a memorable afternoon.


PS: A good read on life on a modern (?) sailing vessel can be found in The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby. (Yes, that ship is now a floating restaurant in Philadelphia.) When I saw the cadets aloft on the yardarm, I thought of Newby's tale. Better them (and him) than me!


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