Hey fellow Sea Scouts!!! My name is Madison Shapiro, and I am the Area 4/6 Boatswain in the Western Region.  This summer, I had the amazing opportunity of being chosen as 1 of 6 Sea Scouts throughout the nation to spend a week aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Eagle training vessel.  “USCGC Eagle is the sixth U.S. Coast Guard cutter to bear the name in a proud line dating back to 1792. The ship was built in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.” Along with me, my fellow Southern Californian Sea Scout Matthew Gorman, from SSS Spartan, was chosen as well.

Me (left) and Matt (right) arriving at the Eagle

When Matt and I checked in upon our arrival, we were shown our berthing areas and then told we had liberty until 2400.  While underway, the vessel was divided into 3 sections (fore, main, and mizzen) and was then split into 5 groups.  Matthew and I were in “Mizzen 5.”  Throughout our week onboard, each group rotated through watches: Helm, Lookout, Engine Room, and Galley.

Learning how to work the fire hose during Deck Training

There were many other activities we did along with the watches.  Every day, whichever group was not serving a watch spent the day on deck doing Deck Training.  This training consisted of knots, heaving line, spraying a fire hose, putting a “Gumby” suit on, etc.  At the end of the week, all the groups competed in the Square Rigger Olympics, in which all the skills learned during the week were put to the test.

The Coast Guard Eagle Crew members competing in the Square Rigger Olympics.

Whenever the captain wanted to raise the sails, the whole crew was called to “Sail Stations.”  The only things you usually heard being said at this time were commands being given to the crew, and the crew in return saying things like heave, ho, back easy, take strain, etc.

Furling the sails during Sailing Stations.

One of my personal favorite experiences aboard the Eagle was when Matthew and I climbed the rigging all the way up to the royals (the highest yardarm on the ship).  It was honestly one of the scariest moments of my life, because you’re climbing up around 147 feet in the air, on a 76 year old ship, and you are being held on by just a safety harness.  But after I got up there, I was glad I overcame my fear because it was one spectacular view with the sunset amongst the sails.

Climbing the rigging during the sunset…every sailors dream!!!

Being on the Eagle was one of the most amazing, outstanding, and life-changing weeks during my Sea Scout career these past 5 years.  It helped me realize that a maritime career, hopefully in the US Coast Guard, was truly what I wanted to do in life because being out on the ocean is what gives you such unique opportunities that you can’t get anywhere else.  During my week, I learned leadership skills and I grew a much bigger understanding for not only the ocean and its beauty, but for the people like those in the US Coast Guard who work non-stop to keep Sea Scouts and other “sailors” safe while we are out on the water.

Fair winds and good fortune,

Madison Shapiro

Western Region

Area 4/6 Boatswain