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Two Hundred Ten is a crowd

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 22, 2008


ASTA Interns Jesse, Karen and Jo

Written by Jo

If you’ve been tracking our adventure as ASTA interns this summer you know that we’ve experienced ships of every shape and structure. The USCG Barque EAGLE is no exception. The maximum number of crew and passengers I’d had on a tall ship up until this week was 26. The Eagle had 210. Measuring 295 feet in length and weighing 18,000 tons, it was more than evident that we weren’t on the schooner HMCS Oriole anymore.


Our adventure began on EAGLE long before we left the San Pedro harbor. The night before we left port all the participants in ASTA’s “EAGLE Seamanship” program gathered on the main deck of the Coast Guard training vessel to meet, greet, and see what we were getting ourselves into. The 22 youth seemed stoked. The carefully selected group was more than enthusiastic about playing name games and engaging in a few ice-breaker activities. After receiving our “Everything you’ll ever need to know about EAGLE” booklets we were introduced to our bunks.


Now, one might think that being an overwhelmingly large vessel might lend the EAGLE to having somewhat larger living quarters. Not so. Upon choosing one of the triple stacked bunks we all laid down to feel things out. Then I heard Karen say from the top level, “My head is wedged between two pipes labeled ‘heat exhaust’ and there is a fluorescent light laid over me like a tanning bed bulb”. This made me feel better about my bottom bunk and the fact that I felt like I was being held in an underground cage that was constantly being kicked as my new shipmates attempted to maneuver through the tight walkway. However, after this initial introduction our bunks became home and we slept more than comfortably.


The size of the ship is what set this voyage apart from any other. Even after three days I was seeing people I didn’t recognize and I’m pretty sure there are a good many rooms I never found. This is quite a change from the smaller crews we’ve traveled with before where we were in constant close communication and could see each other at all times on deck when handling lines.


Teamwork on the EAGLE took on entirely new components. Here we needed megaphones and walkie-talkies to receive and return orders. Working together meant trusting the actions of other stations that were on an entirely different end of the ship, completely out of our view. It was a foreign method of teamwork for us. After all was said and done, however,  it was as efficient and rewarding as working on one of the smaller vessels. In fact, when I looked up at what was previously a line of bare yardarms and saw the endless masses of sail set tight in the wind miles above our heads, it was like no other experience I’ve had this summer.


A new aspect to this trip was that we were not only working with the EAGLE’s normal crew, but we were coming together with the kids in the “EAGLE Seamanship” program. Once aboard the ship these youth took the experience very seriously. They did everything from going aloft to calling out the order to “Heave-ho!” Although I felt comfortably knowledgeable with the typical routine of a ship, I think I learned a lot from interacting with and watching this group. One instance sticks out in my mind particularly because it involved going up into the rigging, which is something that flutters the hearts of even the most experienced sailors. On this occasion I went aloft with a young girl named Amy, who was 17 years old, to furl a staysail. We’d both furled a few sails out on the yards before, but this experience was totally new. Furthermore, I had watched crew members furl a staysail before and commented on how you must have to be a certified tight rope walker to accomplish such a feat. Despite this I went up and, although hoping for the best, I was immediately met by the fear I had expected.  Amy worked her way out onto the line first. She did this without a sound and then looked back calmly, waiting for me to join her. After watching Amy I readied myself and  decided to take my first move onto the thread-like line.


 At this point I began ranting each step of the way, “Holy!” “Wow!” “Ahh!” “No way!” Then I’d look forward and see Amy smiling confidently, allowing herself to stand as a figure of hope, showing me that in the end I’d be alive and she was living, breathing proof of it. All in all, I can say this encounter was fascinating to me because I was the elder by six years, however I was definitely not the more mature of the two of us. I was uneasy and I let it show while Amy took on the leadership role. When we landed on the deck she raised her hand and said, “High five shipmate!” and we carried on with smiles from ear to ear.


I couldn’t think of a better ending to a summer of sailing. The past few days have been a once in a lifetime opportunity on so many levels. Thanks to the EAGLE and ASTA for making it happen!

One Response to “Two Hundred Ten is a crowd”

  1. deliciou6 said

    Hey Its Chris Clark
    I was wondering if any of the other ASTA people that went on the Eagle seamanship program had the emails for anyone
    If you do could you please tell me what they are

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