Before the days of steam engines, the world relied on manpower, wind, and water to get things done. Wooden ships with tall masts sailed the seas under yards of canvass sails. Journeys were long and dangerous; many perished in battles, pirate attacks, and storms that battered the ship and sent all hands into an unforgiving sea.
Though today, wood and rope have been replaced by steel, and sexton by GPS, it is still felt that only by matching hands against the elements under sail does a seaman truly learn about the sea.
When in Portland, Maine recently, the “tall ships,” a collection of sailing vessels from around the world sailed into Portland harbor. Ships large and small, including a replica of a Spanish galleon, provided tours and sailing opportunities to throngs of visitors, while pirates roamed the streets, flags flapped in the breeze, and music filled the air.
Since the festival extended into Monday, I had the opportunity to board the USS barque Eagle, the Coast Guard sailing training ship. Gleaming in polished wood, and brass and strung with miles of cabling, yards of canvass sails, and baggywinkle (see the link), it is a magnificent vessel of a former time, preserved for today.
All aboard Matey!