The US Coast Guard barque Eagle and its 295 feet of grandeur was dubbed the "Flagship of OpSail 2000" by organizers. This barque, or three-masted ship, flies square sails on the two forward masts, and can carry up to 28 sails totaling more than 20,000 square feet, all managed by 12 officers, 38 crew, and 150 cadets. Sailing on Eagle, cadets handle five miles of rigging, and over 200 lines must be coordinated during a major ship maneuver, so cadets must learn the name and function of what appears to be a spider web when looking aloft.
The Dewarcuci, hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, was another ship on hand to grace this coastal city. Her homeport half a world away makes its journey the longest of any Tall Ship participating in the OpSail event. The ship is a 191-foot barquentinesimilar to a barque in that it has fore-and-aft sails on all but the front mast (foremast) which is square-rigged. The square sails are raised and lowered by crew in the spars up and down the mast. On deck, crew members control the aft sails, which have the appearance of the triangular sails of modern vessels. This ship featured Indonesian dancers who recreated some of their nation's maritime dance celebration. Its faraway culture was further evident in the ornately carved wood decorating the outside of the pilot house. The name Dewarcuci is derived from the name of a sea god in Indonesian folklore symbolizing honesty and bravery, represented in the ship's intricately carved figurehead.
There were not as many boats as there were in San Juan, making the lines in Miami refreshingly shorter50 to 75 people comprised a typical line to get aboard as compared to the 300 and more in San Juan. The feeling in Miami was no less exciting for the visitors touring these sailing giants, and the larger dockside space made for a less-hectic venue than in San Juan. As impressive as the ships are, it is the people, the onlookers, crews, and officers, who made the Miami event special.
Each sailor seemed to have the same experience of being part of a larger project or team. Seeing the crews stationed high above the decks, standing on the spars, I could see the pride in each sailor's taut stance and the gift of personal growth and achievement that only sailing and the sea can impart.
"We have made sail in all conditions, to places around the world, and each leg of our journey is a learning experience," said one ensign from the US Coast Guard vessel Eagle as it rested surrounded by huge private power yachts on all sides. "Working together is the only way we have been able to make these successful trips...which I don't think any of these guys get to really experience," he said, waving at the expanse of power vessels docked around the ship.
The more I talked to these sailors from other countries, the more I was greeted by people eager to share their experiences at sea. Whether in halting English or in an excited flourish of Spanish or other language, the sailors tell of earning their positions and of their voyages with pride. "My first day of rough seas in a huge gale was the first time I realized what it was going to be like on board a sailboat," said one Dutch sailor of his experience on board the vessel Oostersheilde, a Class A vessel of over 200 feet.
Miami was an excellent port to see the tall ships depart in the parade of sail. To leave the port, the ships motor, or are towed by tugs out to sea. A front moved through the South Beach area, the breeze quickened, and the ships said good-bye to a city that not only hosts one of America's busiest harbors today, but was a founding port in our country's shipping trade.
The graceful lines of the hulls and the full sails are testament to the majesty of these classic vessels as they move on to their next port up the East Coasta port with roots in some of America's most significant naval history, Charleston, SC.
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