National Geographic : 1955 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine We motored through the narrowing waters of the richly historical sound and soon found ourselves entering the clean and ship-filled port of wonderful Copenhagen. The ships were given berths at the Langelinie, the best spot in town. Near by, the statue of the little mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen's famed fairy tale turned her gentle gaze to sea, and tree-lined and fountain-decorated streets led toward the pleasant city (page 82).* More trips, more sight-seeing, more abun dant and cheerful hospitality filled the days. Danes visited the ships, and the ships' com panies visited the Danes. The high light of our trips was to be a visit to Elsinore (Hel sing0r), where Hamlet's castle is to be found. We went to Elsinore, of course, and we visited a score of interesting places. But the rain drove us into the marine museum at Kronborg Castle, and we were delighted to note its wide field of interest. Cadets gazed fascinated at scale models of old Danish merchantmen and training ships like the little full-rigged ship Georg Stage, and the fabulous five-master Kjobenhavn, which had gone so tragically missing with all hands. Sea Tragedy Impresses Cadets I saw Cadet David Flanagan, from Rich mond, Virginia, gazing with astonished ad miration at the model of the big five-master. Even to a lad fresh ashore from the Eagle she was an impressive sight. "Did that great ship go missing?" he asked. "Did she just get swallowed up in the sea? But she had an engine, and she had radio. And she looks strong enough to take a swipe at the Horn itself." "Yes, she's missing, right enough," the mu seum's director said. "Why? God knows. She was the best sailing ship in all the world when she sailed from Montevideo one day in '28, but the sea took her just the same. And nothing whatever has been seen or heard of her since." Cadet Flanagan shook his head, and the other cadets and enlisted men and officers looked at the model of the superb five-master, wondering. The five days at Copenhagen went like a passing dogwatch. The cadets shopped, and they visited the gardens of the Tivoli, the famous amusement park, and they made friends-friends, friends everywhere. Too soon the time came to go. It was the 19th of July, and the Eagle had a tight schedule to keep to get back to New London in time to make the Bermuda cruise. Once more she was through, for the time being, with "faraway places with strange sounding names." From Copenhagen to New London is all of 3,600 nautical miles, even by the northern course she was to take. The Viking Route for Home So she had to go. Sharp on schedule, at 10 o'clock on a Monday morning, her lines were taken in and she headed for the sea, using the spanker to swing her short in the harbor. Off Elsinore the full-rigger Danmark, once so well known at New London herself, was met under sail, and the two square-riggers presented a glorious sight sailing together white bark and white full-rigger, so rare a sight in these days. This was a cheering interlude, and the cadets on the Eagle were glad of the chance to show their sailing skill among these veterans. They did all right. Ahead then stretched the long gray sea road nonstop toward New London, for, though the bark might pass close by Iceland and the tip of Greenland, it was not intended to go in anywhere until the home port was reached. The route she sailed was that the Vikings took when they sailed toward Greenland and fabled Vinland. East winds blow there sometimes. But they were lamentably absent this year, and the Eagle had a long punch home. Despite that, she was in a day ahead of schedule. At 10 a.m. on Friday the 13th of August she dropped anchor again in New London, and her cadets were back from a memorable and character-forming cruise. Young Forslund and Thorsen and Nielsen and Flanagan and all the cheerful rest looked back on the voyage with feelings of pride, and with some regret, too, for as upperclass men this would be their last. They hurried off for their well-earned leave, knowing they had shared in an adventure that was very much worth while. The shapely bark had contributed some thing indefinable and without price to their young lives-something, perhaps, more than they knew, but something which would be with them always, to their infinite enrichment, and the Nation's, too. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Baltic Cruise of the Caribbee," by Carleton Mitchell, November, 1950, and "2,000 Miles Through Europe's Oldest Kingdom," by Isobel Wylie Hutchison, Feb ruary, 1949.