I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in late May when I was invited to spend the day aboard the USCGC Eagle during Fleet Week 2012 in Manhattan, NY. A friend of mine is an officer with the US Coast Guard and he happened to be assigned to the Eagle this summer. He invited me to ride along as a VIP while the Eagle led the Parade of Sails up the Hudson River! When he extended the invitation I really had to think long and hard about it... Ah, who am I kidding? I jumped at the chance. Immediately!
It should come as no surprise I had my camera along for the ride -- I came home with over 1,000 photos. With everything going on lately it has taken me a looooong time to get up the ambition needed to sort through and edit that many photos! The other item of note, photographically speaking, is that this was the last event that I photographed in .jpg format. Right after my cruise aboard the Eagle I switched to RAW format as an experiment. This was based, partially, upon on a conversation I had with a "serious" photographer on board the Eagle, and I haven't had any desire to switch back. RAW format chews up my hard drive and pushes the processing capabilities of my laptop, but it allows me a level of editing control that I just can't get with .jpg pics. In fact, it has been so long since I took these .jpg pictures aboard the Eagle that I found it very frustrating to go back and try to get the results I wanted now that I've been working in RAW for several months.
Since there are so many pics in total I plan to make a few posts highlighting my favorites by topic.
This post is really about getting myself, a civilian land lubber, on board a very cool tall ship early on the morning of May 23. So here goes...
Once I had accepted the invitation to ride along I received an email from a friendly Coast Guard public relations rep instructing me to arrive at the financial district of lower Manhattan by 6:30 AM. There a pair of 45-foot Coast Guard response boat-mediums (RBM
) would begin ferrying VIPs out the to Eagle, lying at anchor just off the Statue of Liberty.
To ensure a timely arrival, I stayed the night at a hotel I Pricelined up near Times Square and then took the subway down to the WTC and my date with the Coast Guard. I arrived on time along with a sizable group. In fact, there were so many members of the press and other VIPs that I got to wait a couple of hours for my turn to board an RBM for my trip out to the Eagle. So I wandered the marina observing the endless stream of New Yorkers running, cycling, and walking their dogs while the sun rise reflected off of WTC 1.
After watching several boatloads of passengers make their way out to the distant Eagle it was finally my turn! I boarded the last RBM shuttle and once we cleared the marina they rev'd the twin 825 HP diesel engines and the financial district shrunk quickly behind us. I had a great view of the Eagle and the Statue of Liberty as we approached, however, I had a difficult time taking pictures because I thought it wise not
to fall headlong into the Hudson River. I alternated snapping photos between other passengers and holding fast to the engine cowling to avoid taking a bath. I will say this, though, if you ever get the chance to ride a water taxi with a bow-mounted M240
machine gun, I highly recommend it!
We circled the Eagle and I made may way up a set of stairs to the deck, where I met my host for what promised to be an exciting day.