Sail Portsmouth NH

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle highlights 2019 Sail Portsmouth

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle will make a four-day visit to Portsmouth starting Thursday, August 1, as part of the Piscataqua Maritime Commission’s Sail Portsmouth event.

The USCGC Eagle highlights the 6:30 p.m. Parade of Sail on August 1 that will feature other vessels, including the schooners Roseway and Lynx, as they make their way up the Piscataqua River, led by a water-spraying U.S. Navy tug.

The Eagle will berth at the Port of New Hampshire pier and will be open for public viewing and tours from Friday, August 2, through Sunday, August 4. Tours of the Eagle run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Friday August 2 and Sunday August 4.  Military and First Responders may tour beginning at 9 a.m. both Friday and Sunday. Tours on Saturday August 3 will be from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Because the Eagle is government property, it is owned by the American people and therefore there is no charge to tour the ship.

The three-masted Eagle’s size is impressive: At 295 feet, it is about as long as a football field. Its 22,227 square feet of sailcloth is enough to cover about half of that football field. The wind at full sail can move the 1,655 ton, steel-hulled vessel at 17 knots (20 mph).

The Eagle is a barque, a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts, distinctive in a sail plan that mixes square sails amidships and triangular sails fore and aft.

The Eagle’s history dates back to before World War II. It was at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and was commissioned as one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy.

At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the U.S., re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, her permanent homeport ever since. The only other three-masted sailing vessel in the government’s possession is the USS Constitution.

The Eagle is an on-the-sea classroom and dorm for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets as part of their training to become officers. The Eagle is also a goodwill ambassador, not only for the Coast Guard Academy, but for the United States as well since it visits ports around the world.

Anybody wondering about the reason for a 6:30 p.m. parade should note that the tides dictate the best time to bring the Eagle up the Piscataqua River to the State Pier. The barque needs enough depth to keep its keel safe and enough clearance so that its tallest mast safely clears the raised Memorial Bridge.

Schedule of Events

Sail Portsmouth features three program activities and three venues:

  • Parade of Sail up the Piscataqua River from the mouth to downtown.
    • Featured tall ships include the Eagle plus the Lynx, Roseway and Gundalow along with the Navy tug Keokuk spraying plumes of water in the air, many Coast Guard vessels and private pleasure craft.
    • Viewing spots all along the Piscataqua River banks in Maine and New Hampshire. Recommended locations are Fort Constitution, Fort McClary, Four Tree Island and Memorial Bridge sidewalk
  • Eagle Tours and Exhibitor Tent at the State Port Authority Pier, 555 Market Street, Portsmouth
    • Free Admission to tour the Eagle and the GHOST ship, many interesting and interactive exhibits, food, entertainment and roaming Pirates.
    • Parking at Foundry Parking Garage, Foundry Place, Portsmouth for low all-day rate and free shuttle.
  • Two-hour Day Sails depart from and return to the UNH Pier, Sullivan Lane, New Castle, New Hampshire. Purchase tickets online at SailPortsmouthNH.org.

Dates and Times:

  • Thursday, August 1:
    • Parade of Sail Scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM. First vessels to arrive downtown 30 minutes later.
    • Day Sails - Two trips scheduled.
  • Friday, August 2:
    • Eagle Tours from 9 to 10 AM, open to First Responders, Active Military and Veterans
    • Eagle Tours and Exhibitor Tent open to general public from 10 AM to 5 PM (last tour of the day begins at 4:30 PM)
    • Two-hour Sails - four trips aboard the top-sail schooner Lynx on between 9:30 AM  and 6:30 PM
  • Saturday, August 3:
    • Eagle Tours and Exhibitor Tent open to general public from 10 AM to 5 PM (last tour of the day begins at 4:30 PM)
    • Two-hour Sails - four trips aboard the top-sail schooner Lynx on between 9:30 AM  and 6:30 PM
  • Sunday, August 4:
    • Eagle Tours from 9 to 10 AM, open to First Responders, Active Military and Veterans
    • Eagle Tours and Exhibitor Tent open to general public from 10 AM to 5 PM (last tour of the day begins at 4:30 PM)
    • Two-hour Sails - four trips aboard the top-sail schooner Lynx on between 9:30 AM  and 6:30 PM
  • Monday, August 5:
    • Three-hour sail aboard the top-sail schooner Lynx to follow the Eagle down the river and out to sea. Departs  and returns to UNH Pier. 10 AM departure.

Related Day Sails:

  • Tuesday, August 6:
    • Seven-hour, one-way Sail to Gloucester aboard the Lynx. Departs form UNH Pier. Arrives Maritime Gloucester Dock, 23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester. Arrange own return transportation. Buy tickets online at SailPortsmouthNH.org.
  • Wednesday, August 7:
    • Eleven-hour, one-way Sail to Boston aboard the Roseway. Departs from UNH Pier. Arrives Moakley Courthouse Dock, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston. Arrange own return transportation. Purchase tickets online at SailPortsmouthNH.org.
  • Saturday, August 10:
    • Two two-hour day sails aboard the schooner Harvey Gamage. Start and return to UNH Pier.
    • Purchase tickets online at SailPortsmouthNH.org.
  • Sunday, August 11:
    • Four two-hour day sails aboard the schooner Harvey Gamage.
    • Purchase tickets online at SailPortsmouthNH.org.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen named Grand Commodore of Parade of Sail

The Piscataqua Maritime Commission has established the honorary position of Grand Commodore for the annual Parade of Sail, by far the wettest parade in America.  We are honored to name New Hampshire's senior Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, the first ever Grand Commodore.  The parade will be led by the USCG Eagle, America's Tall Ship.

 Weather permitting, the Coast Guard aircraft will fly above the parade. Joined by fireboats from the Navy and local fire departments, the Parade of Sail is best witnessed from the good viewing spots on Four Tree Island, the Kittery Point Yacht Club and the Memorial Bridge sidewalk in Portsmouth, the Great Island Common on New Castle Island, and Ft. Foster in Kittery, Maine. Don't miss it.  Boat owners are encouraged to join the thrilling Parade of Sail up the Piscataqua and escort the Eagle and other tall ships.

Welcoming Ceremony

A welcoming ceremony officially opens Sail Portsmouth each year. During the ceremony, the PMC and local dignitaries and politicians make sure the ships, their captains and crews and our visitors feel welcomed to the celebration.  The welcoming ceremony will take place under the tent at the State Pier shortly after the Eagle docks on August 1.

Volunteers’ Barbeque and Celebration

Sail Portsmouth is not possible without all our wonderful volunteers.  In appreciation of all their work, PMC will host a dockside barbecue for all volunteers on Sunday, August 4, under the tent at the State Pier

Become a Member

If you are interested in tall ships, maritime history, or giving a leg-up to deserving youth as part of the Sea Challenge program, please consider joining the PMC. The PMC is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization with no paid staff. We depend on members, volunteers and sponsor to achieve our mission. Please contact us using the Contact Us drop-down menu at the top of this page if you want to know more about membership.

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