Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baggywrinkle or What I did 7/11/2010

This is a picture looking up the mainmast of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle taken from her temporary dock at Tampa while she is in town for the 2010 Parade of Sail .   I went with family and toured her today.  It was a hot and partly sunny wait in line at first, as they would only let about 40 tourists on board at a time.  People of all ages lined the dockside and that line stretched into the parking area beside the dock; I was honestly surprised by the number of people that turned out to see the anachronism of a sailing ship in this modern era.  After about an hour and a half of patient (and not so patient on the part of my 8 year old son) waiting, we were finally able to board the ship.
Just the climb up the gang plank was an adventure, as the steel ramp that lead up to the main deck of the Eagle was at a 45 degree angle.  Once you reached the top of the ramp, you could step over the side of Eagle and descend a steep set of six steps to the wooden main deck of the ship.  All of the steps onboard Eagle are steep, have two stout railings and are both narrow and close together; they are really more like ladders than stairs.  I found that when going up and down the steps I used my arms on both railings to take more of my weight so that my feet  could be more nimble on the steps.

I could go on and on describing the ship, but I won't.  I urge you to tour the ship yourself if you get the opportunity.  If you want to know what life is like aboard the Eagle, then check out posts made by the crew of the ship on the Coast Guard's web page here.  Eagle is the last square-rigged sailing ship in service in the U.S. military.  When she was in Tampa, she had a crew of 145 cadets, 55 enlisted and 6 officers.  You have to be on the ship to understand how many people that is in relation to the space that is available.  As I said earlier, the officers only allowed about 40 tourists on board at a time.  While this did not make the ship seem overly crowded, it certainly did not seem that they could fit another 100 people on the deck.  Yet, to hoist or lower sails, that is exactly what would be required.

Today's woodle is the answer to one of the most common questions asked by tourists who come aboard the Eagle:  "What is that hay-like stuff on all of the cables?"  The answer is baggywrinkle.  Baggywrinkle is made from rope that is being taken out of service and is a vast collection of small pieces of rope that have been tied with a cow hitch over a doubled section of smaller line.  The entire thing is then wound around the steel cables that make up the standing rigging on the Eagle.  Without the baggywrinkle to protect the sails, they would soon have holes in them where they wore against the steel cables.  If you zoom in on the picture above, you can see some baggywrinkle on the main stay.  Click here to see how to make baggywrinkle.  Until next time, I wish you fair winds and royals.

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