July 29, 2015


Bowsprit with Crew

I’ve worked hard the last month or so putting together a piece on the Nazi School ships.  It wasn’t fun to do as I couldn’t seem make it work.  This week, the writing started to flow at last.  I include one or two paragraphs here for your amusement.

“When I first saw the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Eagle, I fell in love with her.  I had grown up in San Diego with our one tall ship, the much admired, iron-hulled Star of India.  I’d even been lucky enough to accompany the Star out to sea on her first sail in 1979 on my stepfather’s boat.  But the Eagle captivated me in ways that the Star didn’t.  Perhaps it was that pure white hull or her size.  Maybe it was the forceful red and blue strips on her bow.  She was a modern, working, sailing ship, and I wanted to know more about her from the first day I saw her.”

Then further down in the article, I wrote:

"By the 1930’s, Hitler’s Nazi party saw a place for sail training ships in their fleet.  They commissioned four barques in the Gorch-Fock-class.  The keel of the SSS Horst Wessel was laid February 15, 1936, and she was commissioned September 17 that same year.  “SSS Horst Wessel served as the flagship of the Kriegsmarine sail training fleet, which consisted of Gorch FockAlbert Leo Schlageter and Horst Wessel.  A fifth ship, the Mircea was also built in 1937 for the Romanian Navy and work began on a sixth, the Herbert Norkus, but stopped with the outbreak of war.”  After the war three completed ships were disbursed as war reparations.  The Horst Wessel, now the Eagle, sailed for America in 1945 with its German crew aboard to train the new American crew.”

There’s a book written about her crossing.  We didn’t have a sail trained crew available when the Eagle sailed for America.  They sailed with an American crew and many of the original German crew.  Part way across, they encountered a hurricane.  Oh, don’t those details leave you wanting more.  They do me.

Bow on to the Eagle.


  1. Wonderful. We are seeing the sea and the ships every day on our vacation here in Maine, just the other ocean!

  2. I can almost smell the salt air when I see your posts about these stately ships.

  3. Fascinating, a completely new story to me.

  4. And...I would love to hear more.

  5. It's very impressive, especially in the second photo.

  6. You truly love the sea. I assume you've read Masefield's poem about sailing?

    I must go down to the sea again,
    To the lovely sea and the sky,
    And all I need is a tall ship,
    And a star to steer her by.

  7. Sea Fever by John Masefield

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

  8. I do not love boats but am married to someone who loves them almost as much as he loves the sea. These are genetic screams in both you and he and I am sure there were famous boat captains in your heritage.


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