National Geographic : 1955 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine with doing it. Every day, after the midday muster, there were exercises of all sorts: man overboard, fire and collision drill, sail han dling, putting the ship about. For the first time in my life I saw cadets really allowed to handle a big square-rigger themselves, tack ing her and bringing her to, getting away the boats, manipulating the planes of the sails. True, the shapely bark found herself some times going through some odd contortions, and there was at times a lack of precision to the maneuvers, especially when going about. But no matter! That was not the point. The point was the cadets were doing the job doing and learning, all the time. North Atlantic Lonely One week, two weeks, two and a half weeks passed. We saw remarkably few ships, for the Eagle sails a lonely road. I reflected that in these days of power the North Atlantic, except for the comparatively few steamer lanes, is lonelier now than it has ever been since the days of Columbus. Once, a few days out of New York, we saw a great Cunarder pass on the northern hori zon, and the same day an American freighter Mediterranean-bound overhauled the bark. For the rest we saw no other ships until off the shipping lanes of Europe. Another day a big four-engined Boeing on Coast Guard ice patrol out of Argentia, in Newfoundland, flew across and spoke the Eagle. It was the first time I had ever been spoken by an airplane. It made one run, dipped its wings in salute, and passed on. The cadets looked up with interest. Some of them, a good many of them, would be flying, for the Coast Guard needs airmen as well as sailors. On Sundays there was church, held on deck if the weather made it possible, and always three services-Episcopalian, Roman Cath olic, and Jewish. Services were led by the boys themselves, and, though it was not com pulsory to attend, the attendances were in variably excellent. They were a good, clean living lot, both boys and enlisted men, and I don't think any missed one of the services (page 70). Life at sea was full, diverse, and always in teresting, and the 20 days under sail between New London and the entrance to the harbor at Santander passed quickly indeed. Santander was the first glimpse most of the junior cadets had had of any European coun- try (page 68). It was a good introduction to the colorful past and attractive present of that fabulous land. The Eagle arrived just as a United States transport was unloading the first of a shipment of training jets for the Spanish Air Force, and local residents streamed down to the water front in crowds which persisted far into the night. The boys soon found that most things did persist far into the night in Spain. The Eagle stayed alongside for five days, and life was strenuous. Plenty of shore leave, in turns, was the or der, to give the boys a chance to see as much as possible of the country. A program of entertainments was arranged, tours organized -e verything but a bullfight, and it was not the right season for that. Santander is a wonderfully picturesque place. Meals at the pleasant cafes (served at incredibly late hours), trips to the caves of Altamira and the picturesque village of San tillana del Mar made delightful diversions. A Spanish-speaking cadet discoursed on the local radio and in the daily press on the won ders of the American bark Eagle, and the ship was doing a fine job of showing the flag, though that was not her purpose. Ancient Paintings Still Thrill I made some of the excursions, too, to Al tamira, where ancient men have left rock paintings perhaps 20,000 years old, but still fresh and thrilling even after all that time.* But the trip I liked best I arranged myself, taking four cadets on a trip around Santander. The city is an attractive summer resort with much to see. We visited the old fishing village, where the women were mending the nets while the children played and the fishermen slept, for they would be away all night. Then we made an unscheduled call at the royal palace at Santander, the huge summer residence of former Spanish kings. Now it is used as a summer university, but when we arrived it was being refurbished. The boys and I had a great look around. We saw, among many other treasures, a beautiful alabaster bust of the Pretender's mother which looked remarkably like Britain's young Queen Elizabeth. Paintings of the Spanish and related royal families hung on (Continued on page 73) * See "Lascaux Cave, Cradle of World Art," by Norbert Casteret, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, December, 1948.