Walking on the deck of the American tall ship was a step back in time on Friday for a man from North Escambia.
The USCGC Barque Eagle is docked at Plaza De Luna in downtown Pensacola until Sunday morning.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Deputy David Bashore served six years in the Coast Guard, including sailing the Eagle to Europe for the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.
In 1994, he was assigned to the permanent crew working the sails of the Eagle.
“It was old-fashioned sailing,” he said. “Get in the rig, trim and furl the sails.”
The ship sailed the Atlantic to Rouen, France for Normandy’s 50th anniversary.
“What remains with me is the powerful feeling that reigns in the cemeteries of Normandy and the sacrifice of the soldiers,” he said. “I was honored to be able to honor these guys.”
The eagle represents the lost art of seamanship, Bayshore said.
“It’s amazing that a ship like this is still sailing today. It is an honor for Coast Guard cadets to be able to learn sextants and know how to navigate as they once did. It’s a lost art now. A sextant is a navigational instrument used to measure the distance between two visible objects, most often between a star and the horizon. This is how ships navigated before modern GPS.
Bashore toured the vessel with Escambia County Sheriff Chip W. Simmons and Chief Deputy Tommi Lyter on Friday, giving them an insider’s look at the tall ship.
The Eagle will be open for free public tours on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Military and first responders are welcome for an early visit from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Eagle will leave Plaza De Luna in Pensacola at 10 a.m. Sunday. There will be no public tours on Sunday.
“Look in the mast, look in the rigging and see the crosspieces,” Bashore suggested. “These kids are going up there sailing the boat. There is not a machine sailing the ship. It’s just human power and the wind.
To maneuver Eagle under sail, the crew must handle over 22,000 square feet of sail and five miles of rigging. Built during the Twilight Age of Sailing, Eagle’s design and construction epitomizes centuries of development in the art of shipbuilding. A permanent crew of eight officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship year-round and provide a solid foundation of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets or officer candidates at a time, gaining experience in leadership and teamwork for the advancement of their careers.
The Eagle is the seventh U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud lineage dating back to one of the original revenue cutters built in 1792. The square-rigged barque was built by the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and originally commissioned as Horst Wessel in 1936. The steel-hulled ship was taken for war repairs after World War II, and a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to New London.
Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.