Of course, whenever a tall ship comes to port, the heart skips at the majesty of these sailing vessels – but why so many?
The reason is the vitality of teamwork. In our modern ships, the captain sits on his chair and the engines hum away below and all other crew members are in a support status.
If you want to meld green individuals into an effective fighting force where each sailor is working as part of a cohesive teamwork, then you have it in a sailing ship.
These ships can not move or sail or travel through the waves without the absolute commitment of every member of the crew.
The Eagle had a plaque that particularly addressed this issue:
“The daily routine aboard is physically and psychologically demanding; often pushing the crew to the limits of their endurance…the attributes of courage, teamwork and devotion to duty are not simply lofty goals; they are requirements. No other environment can provide the same level of character building experience as a sailing vessel.
“Regardless of the size, function, or method of propulsion, all vessels are affected by the forces of wind and current to some degree. Being a sailing vessel, Eagle is completely affected by these forces. The ship’s safe navigation demands that all of these forces are fully understood and completely considered by the navigation team. The skills learned aboard…can prove to be crucial to a future ship commander in a difficult situation.”
Of course, if we ever manage to coax the Eagle into our harbor; I bet the Merrimack River and it’s mouth will be a real training experience!