For crew members aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, like Ensign Joseph Della Rosa and Cadet 1st Class Corrine Hartwell, it’s more than a ship. Eagle is where they live and work. It’s their classroom, dormitory, mess hall, and tour boat, their home away from home. And when you hail from Massachusetts, as Della Rosa and Hartwell do, that makes any Hub homecoming, like the one they’re about to have Saturday when the Eagle sails into Boston, a big deal.
“Boston is going to be a lot of fun,” says Della Rosa, 30, a Needham High School graduate who has family members living in Belmont and Medfield. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ve never seen [Boston] coming in from the ocean before.”
Della Rosa hopes to be manning the conning tower when Eagle cruises into Boston Harbor. Nice perch, if you can get it.
To anyone who has watched the cutter glide into port — sails puffed, decks gleaming, crew members waving from her rigging — the Eagle is a majestic sight. Built in 1936, Eagle is a 295-foot-long, three-masted barque often referred to as America’s Tall Ship. The country’s only active duty square-rigger, it carries a standing crew of six officers and 55 enlistees, a total that nearly triples during summertime training missions and for ceremonial visits like OpSail 2012, which brings the Eagle to Boston June 30 for a six-day stay.
Eagle draws oohs and aahs wherever it goes. And it gets around, too, spending parts of each year in European waters, the Caribbean, or other foreign ports of call.
Anticipating the OpSail arrival here, Cadet 1st Class Hartwell, 21, a Framingham High alum, began e-mailing friends and family members weeks ago, inviting them aboard for a personally guided tour. Her father, a Natick firefighter, plans to meet the ship in New York, a few days before it reaches Boston. There, like many family members, he’ll be ferried out to the Eagle, then sail in with the crew to what promises to be an enthusiastic reception. Hartwell expects a similar scene when Eagle lands here.
“Coming home to Boston is definitely special for me,” says Hartwell, on her second rotation aboard the Eagle.
Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.