Our first port call after being aboard Eagle has arrived and we finally get a rest, even though it’s not really a rest because we are in New York City! My parents came up all the way from Arizona to spend some time with me and to see Eagle. We are in New York for Fleet Week but also as a part of OpSail, which happens every 4 or 5 years bringing together as many Class A sailing vessels left in the world as possible (there are only 27 left).
Eagle so far has been quite the experience. It is a slave ship, just like in Pirates of the Caribbean. We get woken up in the middle of the night in the midst of a storm to climb 100 feet up a slippery, waving mast to put up sails. If you don’t get to do that, then you are on deck pulling on lines tearing your freezing cold hands to pieces and slipping and sliding on the deck. It’s a blast. We can all complain about how we have to wake up for our 0400 to 0800 duty standing at the lookout with pouring rain and 50 knot gusts of wind, or we can think about it as “Who gets to do this anymore?” As cadets we find ourselves asking that question a lot, but usually it is in the form of “Who in their right mind does this?” It is challenging to wake up for those early morning duties or to try and focus on getting sign offs done for your qualifications because it is hard to see the point of doing it. Since Eagle is a training vessel, it has no other mission than to look good and to use us as slave labor to keep it looking good. It is important to learn the basics of the Coast Guard and expand our nautical knowledge and Eagle is good for that. However, for seeing the bigger picture of how am I contributing to the Coast Guard or bettering my community, I’m not, I am just getting this experience to improve my basic knowledge of the sea. It does suck sitting in the Engine Room for a week, or cleaning dishes in the scullery for a week, or even sanding and painting for a week, but it is all an experience.
The fun on Eagle comes from the people you are with and the friends you make and the ports you get to see. We have New York City, Norfolk next, and Baltimore to finish. New York City has been a blast with my parents. We got some free tickets to see a Broadway show because I was in uniform and we saw another show the next night. We ate too much good food that I won’t be able to forget when I am eating the Eagle chow (which actually isn’t too bad). We saw the 9/11 Memorial, which we also got to skip the lines for because of me being in uniform and I also got free transportation with the buses and subways so that was great, too. I’m not looking forward to getting back on Eagle, but I am looking forward to the memories I will make on board.
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