National Geographic : 1955 Jul
Under Canvas in the Atomic Age the walls with paintings of old battleships and yachts (Alfonso XIII was a keen sailor), tapestries, and illuminated addresses which had once been proudly offered to and as proudly received by former kings. Huge Chinese vases of fabulous worth stood in spacious corners. Sail Set for Amsterdam Castles and side trips in hospitable Spain were wonderful, but to the Eagle they were only diversions. Off she sailed again, bound across the Bay of Biscay and up the English Channel for Amsterdam. Again the sea routine settled down. Astern the Rockaway followed with a fresh lot of upperclassmen, changed at Santander. The romp across the bay was interesting and by no means difficult, for we were spared the traditional Biscay storms. Little French fishing smacks and great ocean liners, 30,000 ton oil tankers flying curious flags, and smutty little coasters vied with each other to salute the sailing ship, and the Stars and Stripes fluttered in good breezes all across the bay. And through the Channel we stood in close by Dover's cliffs, and a cadet from Michigan asked me why they weren't white. "Not white?" I asked. "They are white!" "They look a mighty dirty white to me," said my young shipmate, who must have ex pected the cliffs of Dover to be whitewashed in the summer months! On the Goodwin Sands near by a long line of the twisted masts of wrecked steamers spoke all too eloquently of the hazards of the recent war and, too, of the risks of North Sea and Channel navigation. There the tides race and the gales roar, and a shipmaster must know precisely where he is at all times, lest his ship strike a bank and stay there. I saw Lt. Comdr. Robert Clark, the navi gator, take a class to the side of the quarter deck and point out the wrecks, with sundry remarks appropriate to the occasion. Soon then we picked up the low coast of Page 72 - "The Sailor Hangs 'twixt Sea and Sky, and He Jokes with Davy Jones, Sir!" Men on the main yard overhaul buntlines and leech lines as "sailorizing" tasks go forward on a sunny day at sea. A sailmaker's gang repairs a spare topsail on deck. Another group makes baggywrinkle out of old rope. Bedding airs on the ship's rail, and a lifeboat hangs in its davits ready for drill. © National Geographic Society Kodachrome by Alan Villiers the Netherlands, and the ship was entering the fishing port of IJmuiden, which is also the way into the North Sea Canal connecting with Amsterdam.* We motored there, for the canal is narrow and full of ships, and the barges stream along like laden trucks on the Pennsyl vania Turnpike. Many of them were so deeply laden that the wash from our passing all but threatened to overwhelm them, but the Dutch canal men knew what they were at. They gave us a berth in the heart of Am sterdam, and the Eagle swung her long bow sprit among the trees with her jib boom over hanging the water-front road as the clippers once crowded all along New York's South Street (page 79). Again the pleasant hospi tality, the visits, the tours, the trips-the bark was scarcely alongside before a young naval officer was aboard to welcome us and to hand out programs for the entertainment of the ships' companies of both the Eagle and the Rockaway. What a program! There were visits to diamond cutters (for which Amsterdam is famed), trips by sight-seeing motorboat, trips to Hilversum and Spakenburg and Marken and Volendam, and to cheese markets and flower markets. Sailors Try Boats and Bicycles The cadets, having just come in from sea, elected, sailorlike, to take the round-the-har bor trips in rubber-necking launches first. These boats were fitted up like luxury buses and were so big it was a miracle they ever threaded a way through the city's canals. Their skillful helmsmen backed and edged them slowly along amid the glorious colors of the flower marts or among the stately homes of a once-rich Amsterdam whose merchants and seamen brought great profit home from the East. The Rijks Museum with its glorious Rem brandts was visited too, and there was time for a ball game at the Schinkelsportterrein. And many of the cadets hired bicycles and saw the hinterland of pleasant Holland. I found time, too, to make a run to Marken, where the local people dress in traditional costumes and the tiny boys and the tiny girls * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Helping Holland Rebuild Her Land," by Gilbert M. Grosvenor and Charles Neave, September, 1954; "Mid-Century Holland Builds Her Future," by Syd ney Clark, December, 1950.