Alongside Pier I, Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Wind East Northeast Force 4, gusting 5, Occasional Rain.

Pride II is fresh back from a first for the vessel – an underway program with fourth grade age students from a Baltimore After-School Program. Sixteen extremely exuberant students, each with an accompanying adult, came sailing on this blustery and occasionally rainy evening.

We originally expected that the sail would just be a cruise out to the Key Bridge and back. But when the energy level of the students stayed pegged in the red even after setting Pride II’s 2,500 square foot mainsail, the crew were called to make a few adaptations to our dockside education program and present it underway. While we’ve had underway programming with students before, the focus has always been about the teamwork involved in sailing the boat, and not specific “stations” around the vessel where aspects of the history and nautical life are detailed. But with the strength of wind and the age of the students, we drew heavily on the rich educational background of Pride II’s 2009 crew and set up shop to teach them about Life as a Sailor, the War of 1812, and Navigating Baltimore Harbor.

Excellent work by the crew – simultaneously attending to the duties of handling sail as we raced through the harbor at 9 knots and bringing to life the history of Baltimore Clippers for an excitable group of young minds. All told, they set a terrific example of how to “Take care of your ship” in all aspects.

Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

O' Say Can You See!

Wind West North West Force 3, Light Rain

Maneuvers, Maneuvers! Twelve tacks and two wears/gybes in the course of two Day Sails. Pride IIwas a making victory laps off Fort McHenry to mark the 195th Anniversary of the Battle for Baltimore. As nemesis to British shipping during the War of 1812, the Baltimore Clippers that were Pride II’sancestors infuriated the Crown enough that an attack on Baltimore was ordered in 1814 to clear out that “Nest of Pirates.” Only Fort McHenry’s guns on the Patapsco River and the militia dug in at Hempstead Hill (now Patterson Park) stood between the two pronged English attack and the shipyards of Fells Point, where the Baltimore Clippers were built.

Through perseverance and grit, the Fort withstood 25 hours of artillery bombardment and kept the British ships at bay. When those ships finally sailed away, the sight of the American Flag above the Fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” So today, in appreciation of the brave men and women who stood strong, we exchanged salutes with the 18-pounders of Fort McHenry’s newly rebuilt Water Battery. Long may that “most splendid and magnificent ensign” wave over the Fort and over Pride II.

Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Sailing up Delaware Bay under Jib, Stays’l, Mains’l and Foretops’l

Pride of Baltimore II in Chesapeake & Delaware Canal
Winds NE Force 4

Pride IIis a rare sight today. Close-hauled and flying up the Delaware Bay at 8-10 knots, laying the buoys and lighthouses of the narrow deep-water channel only through good helmsman-ship and careful watch keeping. Jib and Stays’l trimmed in flat, Mains’l hauled tight, yards braced up sharp to carry the tops’l. But wait – where’s the Fores’l?

Our work horse sail, the one usually set first and taken in last, isn’t part of the sail plan today because it’s also our oldest sail, and while the cloth – a polyester called Oceanus made to look like honest to goodness canvas – is holding up marvelously after 10 seasons, the stitching is deteriorating due to ultra violet exposure. Yesterday afternoon we noticed about six feet of seam open up near the tack (the lower forward corner) and took the sail in, then reefed it to gather the damaged portion into the reef. But at midnight another seam had opened above the reef band, so we took the sail in entirely.

So now Pride IIis sailing “Split-Rigged,” with the Heads’ls and the Mains’l. It’s not the best configuration, as the center of effort in the rig isn’t as balanced, and it makes it difficult to bear off in a rising breeze. But for an upwind sail in protected waters, it will do the trick. And now that we’re getting a good sail of it, who’s to complain? Except maybe anyone taking pictures.

Jamei Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Motorsailing under Fores’l and Stays’l towards Delaware Bay Entrance

Pride of Baltimore II: 40 41.7’N 072 01.8’W
Wind East Force 2, Seas East 2′ Overcast

The sea is beginning to build but the breeze hasn’t yet filled in enough to be useful. A low pressure system off the Carolinas is on a reciprocal heading to Pride II’s. This poses a bit of a dilemma: If we try and make use of the breeze as it fills, we’re likely to slow down enough for the low to make a real mess of things before we round Cape May. But motoring, or motor sailing, with a favorable breeze screeches as the wrong thing to do. These options end up weighed on a familiar scale.

On a Saturday morning on my parent’s powerboat when I was a teenager, we weighed anchor at dawn off a Lake Erie beach where friends had a cottage and ran back to our marina slip before a gathering thunderstorm. I was disappointed to leave my friends, all sleeping ashore in the cottage. When we were all secure in the harbor, I pointed out to my father that the storm hadn’t amounted to much. This was true – grey cumulus speckled the sky, but it hadn’t rained, the breeze had never gotten to be more than moderate, and the only lightning was far on the Northern Horizon.

He turned to me and said, without pause, “It’s better to be in here wishing you were out there, than to be out there wishing you were in here.”

I’ve heard that rule echo in my head a number of times in my life, and it’s echoing again as the sea builds. This non-tropical low does not promise to be particularly intense, but its slow rate of advance means it will agitate the waters off New Jersey and Delaware for quite awhile as it lumbers toward the Northeast. While the forecast winds are not to exceed 40 knots, the seas may churn up a good Easterly swell and make our entrance to the Delaware Bay quite an ordeal.

So rather than wallow around waiting for the breeze, Pride IIis motoring sailing at a moderate pace to round Cape May by mid-day tomorrow. It’s likely we’ll get some good sailing in on the Delaware Bay, especially if the slow moving low keeps the wind more East than Nor’east. If not, we could end up wishing we were still offshore. But I doubt it.

Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

A hard fought race in Gloucester

Pride II Motoring South in Cape Cod Bay
Wind South Southeast Force 1, Seas calm

The crew is sore and stiff after a hard fought Third Place finish at the Gloucester Schooner Race yesterday. Ahead of us were the Schooners American Eagle, sailed by Captain and owner John Foss to a record-setting 8thFirst Place finish, and our Chesapeake Bay rival, Virginia, under the command of Captain Andy Reay-Ellers, who finished Second.

Hard-fought hardly does justice to the contest. The course is designed to be a “round the buoys” affair, and this year the legs were only 2.5 nautical miles long. And the breeze was a generous 10-15 knots, gusting to 25. With that combination of short legs and high winds, the three vessels at the front of the pack were coming through stays every twenty minutes or so. Hard work on any large schooner, but exhaustive with Pride II’s rig, where nothing is self-tacking. If the contest were measured in caloric output rather than elapsed time, the crew of Pride II could have one by a factor of two to one.

Tiresome, but exhilarating! A bit bogged down at the start as we were still cracking on sail, Pride IImade huge gains on the first leg, charging along at 9. 5 knots with all sail, including the t’gallant and weather stuns’l set, marching through a fleet of vessels reefed down for the weather and closing to within 200′ of Virginia by the first mark. Then the arduous process of tacking. Haul the braces sharp, sharper, sharper to close-hauled. Sweat in the heads’l sheets. Quick to the Fores’l, get it across and trimmed. When we were back up to speed, Virginia and America Eagle were far out in front again.

Every leg the crew, led by the Mates Michael Fiorentino and Matt Oates, kept constantly at the trim. And every leg we would close with the competition, but agonizingly watch their simpler rigs come through stays and accelerate away, leaving us to close the gap again. By the second to last mark, Pride II was close enough that when Virginiatacked to Port to round the mark, we had maneuver smartly to avoid putting our head rig through their mains’l at 8.5 knots. The 31 passengers gasped at the close quarters, but the crew kept their professional cool as we passed our jibboom 4′ astern of their mainboom.

Technically, this was a foul. Virginia stood on past the mark and tacked directly in front of us. A protest could have been filed, resulting in Virginia being disqualified or having to make an exonerating maneuver, but to what end? Possibly, Pride II would move ahead in the standings, but the camaraderie of the Gloucester Race, and between the two vessels, would have taken a big step backwards. Not a good trade off.

But the crew can be proud of the way they sailed, working smoothly and incessantly through all 15 nautical miles of course, all to the approval and amazement of the passengers who signed on for an adventure and got first row seats for some mighty fine sailing!

Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II