THREE DECADES OF EDUCATIONAL FUN "Barbara forgot to mention the feast that we were invited to attend, followed by dancing. The Fanning Islanders knew how to 'twerk' long before Miley Cyrus made it famous. They howled with laughter during their shenanigans, as our unsuspecting crew realized what was happening and then turned the tables on them.") OCCSSS ARCHIVES
which changed color throughout the entire trip. One of our strongest crew members tore her ACL and was transported home on a cruise ship which was, thankfully, stopped at Fanning Island when we arrived. On Fanning — where we had to stay a few extra unscheduled days to wait out strong winds associated with a hurricane — our youngest crew member was nipped by a dog. (Thankfully it was not rabid). Due to the delay, we were concerned about food supplies. Not to worry! Between the Norwegian Cruise Line representative on the island and a generous single cruiser, we had feasts of fresh fish, lobster, cold beer, even frozen asparagus. Meeting the locals over the pool table in the dilapidated old plantation owner's house became an after-dinner ritual. Alaska Eagle crew member Melanie kicked ass! While some of the crew members were disappointed by the delay, I viewed it as a gift — a few unexpected days away from the hard work of handling the big powerful boat with a less-than-robust but wonderful crew. How many days are we given unexpectedly to purely play — on a exotic island no less? I was in heaven. I can't remember laughing more on night watch or feeling such warmth and connection with my crew mates as on that trip. Just enjoying life — hunting lobsters at night across the vast Fanning lagoon or playing games below as the wind howled outside and we swung at anchor." (Ed. note: Captain Karen adds:
2006 — Allan Alexopulos: "Crewing on Alaska Eagle in the 2006 Baja Ha-Ha was a seminal event for my wife Rina and me on our path toward cruising our Hunter 466 Follow You Follow Me to the South Pacific in 2009-10. We learned so much from Sheri Crowe and the rest of the crew in our two weeks aboard, which led us to the obvious conclusion that: 'We can do this!' "One of my favorite moments was flying a spinnaker with Sheri's gentle coaching behind me. By the end of the watch I could fly that spinnaker in complete darkness, guided only by the wind on my face, the groan of the sheets, and the balance of the wheel. Amazing. "The dream lives on through our daughter Alyssa. She and her boyfriend Lewis were profiled in the January edition of Latitude as they prepared for doing the Pacific Puddle Jump in their Tartan 37 Eleutheria. We could not be more proud of them both, and cannot help ponder ing the connections made from Alaska Eagle and the broader Baja Ha-Ha community that are still with us to this day. " We c a n ' t thank Rich and Sheri enough for their leader ship, expertise and friendship through the years, all There were some rough trips, such as New made possible Zealand to Tahiti through the low latitudes, but by our time on 'Eagle' always proved to be a safe, sturdy ride.
In full expeditionary mode leaving South Georgia Island bound for Buenos Aires in 2011 — perhaps her most adventurous cruise.
Alaska Eagle together." 2011 — Mark Haesloop: "I sailed on the Eagle’s last campaign, the 2011 Transpac. "No story of the Eagle can be complete without a shout out to Rich and Sheri Crowe, who skippered the boat for 28 years, from picking her up in England to her last Newport-to-Honolulu romp. They are a unique couple of people, sailors and teachers. "My trip was less 'exotic' than many as it was a 13-day direct shot, all open ocean. My memories of the experience are of sailing on a dark night with only the compass binnacle light and the occasional flash of the white bow wave in my peripheral vision. It was exhilarating, terrifying, and you felt like you were doing 100 knots. At 80,000 lbs, the Eagle was a handful. "My best crew memories are the halfway party and the boat cleaning 'party' the day after landing in Honolulu (with the mandatory hangover). "Leg after leg, year after year, Rich and Sheri somehow managed to take 10 to 13 individuals, who mostly did not know each other at the start, and complete the trip without mutiny or a keel-hauling. "Unfortunately, it's unlikely that there will ever be a similar program where the 'common sailor' can find a berth for such adventures."
ad as that last statement is, Mark is probably right. Although many other offshore sail-training programs are offered around the world, none are quite like the Alaska Eagle experience, and none of the vessels used have a pedigree quite like this classic S&S warhorse. Needless to say, she will be sorely missed. — latitude/andy March, 2014 •
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The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.