It was a clear and sunny day. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was teaming with visiting schooners and vessels from all along the East Coast. The waterfront promenade was jammed with over 100,000 onlookers- the faithful from the 10 remarkable years of the first Pride, as well many new well wishers for Pride of Baltimore II.
The new hull was pristine in her form and colors as she sat on blocks next to the massive floating red barge crane, “Big Red,” moored next to the seawall promenade. The enormous lifting arm was centered over Pride, and tilted alarmingly as it raised her over the water. Everything went smoothly and Pride was held just above the water with her bow near the edge of the promenade so she could be christened by The Honorable Helen Delich Bentley. Seven glorious swings it took to break the champagne bottle. Was this an omen?
Pride was lowered into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to lie along the promenade near the Maryland Science Center in the southwest corner of the harbor. She lay beautifully without masts or spars. Her interior was empty of furnishings, and she did not have her engines. All would be put in and made right over the next few months until her commissioning on October 23rd.
In celebration of her launching, Captain Lane Briggs of the tugantine Norfolk Rebel made a formal challenge of a race between his ship and Pride from Baltimore to Norfolk… for a case of beer. That challenge later became the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, bringing together the biggest schooner fleet in the world. Since that first race, Pride of Baltimore II has become the most world renowned American sailing vessel sailing in the 21st Century.
Today Pride is in Annapolis sailing 8th graders on The Chesapeake Bay, educating them about the remarkable Baltimore Schooners of the 1812 War, the defense of Baltimore by Fort McHenry and the militia in Paterson Park, and the creation of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
So much good has come to our city, Maryland and The Chesapeake Bay as result of the inspiring voyages of the Prides. In the past 25 years Pride II has spanned eastward as far as Russia, westward as far as China, and to most places in between. She is admired by the world, and brings much honor to her home and country.
Today Pride of Baltimore II is as strong and sound as she was when she first started sailing. She is likely to remain strong and world voyage worthy for at least another 25 years. Actually, we fully expect her to remain strong and voyage worthy for two times her very productive and rewarding first 25 years!
Jan C. Miles
A Captain with Pride of Baltimore, Inc.