WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It may not have been able to fit under the bridge and dock downtown as originally planned, but the Coast guard cutter barque eagle still arrived in Wilmington this morning. WWAY was the only Wilmington TV station on board as the ship made the final leg of its trip up the Cape Fear River to the State Port.
As the Barque Eagle made its way past Bald Head Island, Coast Guard boats from Station Oak Island were loaded with family and former crew to meet the vessel at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. For Rick Raksnis it's his first time on the Eagle since he served on it more than 20 years ago.
"Oh, it's awesome to be able to come back and climb the rigging," Raksnis said.
Once aboard, the ride-alongs, as they're called, marveled at the three masts; the tallest of which stretches an impressive 150 feet. To give you some idea of how impressive the Eagle is, it takes about 21 miles of rigging and about 100 crew members to set about 23 sails.
The United States acquired the Barque Eagle from Germany as a reparation after World War II. The ship has teak decks, and nearly all of the brass and the helm are original. Keeping it in good shape, takes work.
"As a swab, they're going to shine all the countless brass on the boat, wash down the decks, make up all the lines, a lot of busy work," said Cadet 2nd Class Nick Zablotny
The tall ship was built in the 1930s and was orginally used by the Germans as a training vessel. That's what the United States Coast Guard uses it for now. Each member of the Coast Guard will spend at minimum six weeks aboard her.
"The chance to pull into ports all over the country and to show the ship off for the crew to show off their hard work, and for the cadets to show off the things that they've learned, it's fantastic and to come visit a Coast Guard City like Wilmington, that makes it even more special," Capt. Eric Jones said.
It takes all hands on deck to moor the Eagle to the dock. Now that she's here at the Port of Wilmington, the ship is open for visitors. Don't forget, if you want to visit the Barque Eagle at the port you need a ticket for the bus ride from Legion Stadium. A limited number of tickets will be available Saturday at the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, on the Downtown Wilmington riverfront.