If you’ve ever enjoyed even a little bit of Joseph Conrad, Patrick O’Brian, Moby Dick, or Pirates of the Caribbean, you really should get down to Pier 30/32 in San Francisco during the next few days to check out the tall ships that are now tied up there. Or, at the very least, be sure to savor the view of them as you drive across the Bay Bridge.
Yesterday the Coast Guard gave me tour of the USCG Eagle, a steel-hulled, three-mast ship that was originally built by the Nazis in 1936. After World War II, the ship was seized as a war prize by the U.S. military. Once in American hands, it was handed over to the Coast Guard for use as a training vessel, and it’s been in use at the Coast Guard Academy ever since.
I happened to be there a few hours after yesterdays Parade of Sail, just as the cadets were lowering the Eagle’s sails, and it was an acrobatic spectacle. There are no “Retract Sail” buttons to push; instead, dozens of cadets climb 100 feet up the masts to lower the sails by hand. It was nerve-wracking to watch even while we were tied up at Pier 30 on a calm and sunny day in San Francisco, but the thought of trying to do all that on a stormy sea made me shiver me timbers.
Aboard USCG Eagle (Flickr slideshow from Telstar Logistics)
photos by Todd Lappin/Telstar Logistics