Tall ship “Eagle” docks in St. Pete this weekend

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The Port of St. Petersburg will welcome the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, its second tall ship of the year. The historic ship makes arrives Friday, June 12 to kick off a weekend of free tours.

Public tours of the Eagle will be two days only, Friday from 2 to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking will be at USF St. Petersburg parking garage. Built in 1936, the Eagle is the largest tall ship to fly the American flag, as well as the only active square-rigger in U.S. service. It also serves as the home to 145 Coast Guard Academy cadets for the last five weeks of their training.

Manufactured in Hamburg, Germany, the ship was first known as Horst Wessel, a warship commissioned by the German Navy. Following World War II, the U.S. claimed the ship as war reparation and renamed it Eagle. It has served as a classroom-at-sea since 1946.

Saturday, June 13 is a phase change on the ship, open only for new cadets who replace the training crew of 120. They will start with a five-hour “School of the Ship,” as part of six weeks of on-sea training. Trainees will be learning to haul lines, setting  more than 23,500 square feet of sail, and climbing the six miles of the Eagle’s rigging.

Organizers anticipate large crowds for the event, so local traffic is only allowed on First Street S. south of Sixth Avenue S., as well as on Eighth Avenue SE. No street parking will be along the closed streets.

Parking at the USF St. Petersburg parking garage is $5 per vehicle. Overflow parking is available at the Al Lang field for $4. Parking is also available in the South Core garage, off First Ave. S. between First and Second Streets for $1 per hour, to a $6 maximum on Friday. The Sunday rate is $3.

Prohibited items are weapons, alcohol, controlled substances and large bags of any kind. For safety reasons, high-heels, sandals and flip-flops are also not allowed.

For more information about the Eagle, visit www.cga.edu/eagle or follow its journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CoastGuardCutterEagle.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.