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The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle under full sail in the Pacific Ocean. (Larry kellis/USCG)

Full Sail

Tall ship makes its way to Sail Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH — A tall ship sailing into Portsmouth Harbor is a sight to behold, but life aboard the Coast Guard cutter Eagle seems less than glamorous for some new “swabs.”

After nearly a month of boot camp, 120 new cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., set out for a week at sea on Monday to apply the lessons that have been drilled into them since entering the academy on July 1.

Katherine Beasley, 17, is the daughter of a U.S. Navy man and grew up near the Navy’s submarine base in Groton, Conn.

As a high school student in Norwich, Conn., she participated in many of the programs offered by the Coast Guard academy.

“So you knew a lot about Coast Guard living around this area and, growing up, I always wanted to go to that academy and have a military lifestyle, because in a sense, that’s how my father raised me. I felt comfortable with that setting,” Beasley said.

But after just a few days at sea, she has determined that life aboard a ship is not the life for her.

“Truthfully, I want to become a helicopter pilot and not ride on ships,” Beasley said by phone while at sail from Boston to Portsmouth on Tuesday.

The early week at sea is designed to help Coast Guard Academy students determine if a life at sea is really what they are after, and something they are up for. Some will choose to leave the academy, some, like Beasley, will prepare for flight school, and for many it will confirm a desire to continue to serve in the Coast Guard.

The Sail Portsmouth 2013 event taking place today through Sunday at the state pier will allow visitors to learn more about life aboard America’s Tall Ship and about its storied history. Visitors can also hear firsthand from Coast Guard crew and cadets about life at sea and what it takes to operate the 300-foot, three-masted, square-rigged ship.

The Eagle will arrive in the Parade of Sail around 5 p.m. tonight with a welcoming ceremony being held at the state pier on Market Street beginning at 5:30 p.m. United States Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, is scheduled to be at the pier for the ship’s arrival.

The ship will be open for free, public tours on Saturday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. While the Portsmouth and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard fire boats lead the boat parade, the Hampton High Flyers will fly their antique planes overhead, weather permitting.

Once the parade of sail reaches New Castle Common, the Newmarket Militia will fire a welcome cannon salute.

A captain’s reception will be held alongside the Eagle on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets to the reception are $45 per person and advanced reservations are required.

Sail Portsmouth is an annual event hosted by the Piscataqua Maritime Commission. Each year features different tall ships with their own unique story. This is the third time in nine years the Eagle has landed in Portsmouth and the visits usually draw large crowds.

The event helps promote the Piscataqua Maritime Commission’s mission of preserving the maritime heritage of the Piscataqua River basin.

Any proceeds from Sail Portsmouth and the support of sponsors fund sail training for area students in a Sea Challenge program that puts them aboard a training ship for one week to teach them a variety of skills.

Parking for the Sail Portsmouth event is available at the Bethel Assembly of God Church on Market Street, Albacore Park off of Market Street and the High/Hanover Street Parking Garage in downtown Portsmouth. Only handicapped parking is permitted on site.

Due to heightened security at the state facility, all backpacks, coolers and packages will be scanned upon entry to the pier.

The Portsmouth Historic Houses Association is inviting all Sail Portsmouth visitors to learn more about Portsmouth with special admissions to ten historic homes and museums in the city, including the John Paul Jones House, Strawbery Banke Museum, Warner House and the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion.

Half-price admission will be offered to visitors with the Sail Portsmouth 2013 brochure available where the Eagle will be docked.

All information about Sail Portsmouth 2013 is available at or by calling 431-SHIP.


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