PRIDE's 2009 sailing season ends…

2009 Fall Crew wrap up the season!
2009 Fall Crew wrap up the season!

Last Wednesday (November 18th), around mid-day PRIDE’s crew for the end of the 2009 sailing season said goodbye and everyone headed away to pursue their personal lives. PRIDE remains floating and secure inside a lagoon of docks. She rests under a white plastic winter cover, spread over a wooden frame mounted on her bulwark rail cap, protecting her from precipitation and sunlight. She has been completely cleaned out of all items save for tools and mechanical spare parts. All of her upper spars and gaffs plus the jib-boom are stored on saw horses placed on deck under the winter cover.  All the rigging associated with the spars are stored in a container ashore along with her sails. She will remain thus until winter maintenance is supposed to start in January.

PRIDE II under her protective winter cover.
PRIDE II under her protective winter cover.

It took PRIDE’s crew fifteen and a half back to back working days to convert PRIDE from a fully equipped long distance sailing voyager to her winterized status. They all did a tremendous job. Not only did they disassemble the ship and carefully store her equipment ashore and assemble the winter cover, they also put a full coat of hull paint on the outside hull planking, as well as oiled the surfaces of the large lower masts. These coatings are critical to her protection during an extended period without her crew living aboard and continually available to maintain her on a daily basis. The white plastic of the winter cover will block the sun’s ultraviolet rays, as well as prevent daytime heating under plastic as it also keeps moisture off. Blocking ultraviolet will help with preventing aging of the varnish and other coatings while also reducing wintertime heating that can cause shrinking of drying out wood. Keeping rain off of everything should also help prevent moisture based rot.

PRIDE will sit this way until a selected group of experienced personnel are hired to repair the wear and tear that has accumulated in the spars and rigging from this year’s voyaging, as well as areas down below that have a full sailing season’s wear and tear from the live aboard crew and overnight Guest Crew.

During this waiting period between now and when the winter maintenance crew can be selected I will monitor PRIDE’s status while I assist Pride, Inc.’s office staff with voyaging plans for 2010 and also begin to form the 2010 sailing season crew.

Cheers and Happy Holidays,
Jan C. Miles, Captain
Pride of Baltimore II

Crew working diligently despite rainy weather

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II winterizing efforts continue steadily in spite of the continued rain.

Winterizing PRIDE involves more than just being sure plumbing does not freeze. All of PRIDE’s extra spars and rigging come down before a wooden winter cover frame is assembled to support a plastic shield protecting PRIDE from rain, snow, ice and sun. The process of assembling that wooden frame is tedious and detailed…and can be assembled in the rain…so the crew have been doing so for three days now. Weather forecasters are advertising they think weather will begin to dry up tomorrow (Saturday)…if true…this will permit the actual spread of plastic come Sunday.

The protection of a wooden boat like PRIDE whenever a significant length of time is going to be spent tied up without a live-aboard crew is a somewhat daunting affair. This is due to the need to prevent water and sun from having continued opportunity to work on the wood of the ship. Any haphazard execution of such a protective effort will completely defeat the intended goal. Water is an agent for ruining painted, varnished or oiled surfaces and eventually the wood. The sun is an agent for damage as well. So the winter frame and cover must succeed in preventing any leaks and any direct sunlight while also providing a lot of ventilation…because wood without ventilation is a curie dish experiment in the making. This is where the conscientious crew member is so vital for succeeding in assembling the wooden frame and spreading and securing plastic.

We have a deadline as well. End of next Tuesday. I think we are on schedule…but there is no real slack time available left. So I hope we can spread plastic Sunday…if not sooner. I hope we can complete the final cleanup of all crew personal belongings and ship equipment stored ashore and the ship herself cleaned up completely by end of Tuesday. I would also like the crew to spread more oil on the lower masts and black hull paint on the lower part of the hull…maybe Monday…but only if we are finished with the plastic.

The rain has not exactly delayed us…especially if it does indeed dry up Saturday. But the rain has made the crews work quite tedious. But they are a wonderful bunch of professionals. I believe they will get everything done well and on time.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Rig-down and Winterizing Lay-up

Pride of Baltimore II is tied up next to her winter berth 1910 S. Clinton St. in Baltimore…near Canton for those familiar with City. The crew have been unloading ship’s stores and spares and restoring them ashore in Pride’s storage containers. Sails are in the process of being cut from their lashings and taken ashore for detailed inspection before being folded and stored. Propaganda material, souvenirs and crew uniforms have been off loaded to the office.  Slowly but steadily the ship is being emptied out of most of what she carries during a sailing season. After the sails are ashore, the running rigging will come down, followed by yards, gaffs and topmasts. Once Pride II is moved into her winter berth and mooring lines run out in all directions, the running rigging also will go ashore to be stowed with moer than 150 blocks…all very carefully labeled. The spars will remain on deck. Eventually, Pride will be covered over by a wooden frame under plastic to keep rain and snow off of her, as well as provide a work place for lay-up work, which will be necessary before the next sailing season can begin. By November 17 all will be complete, Pride’s down below empty, clean and ventilating and all of us that have been living aboard her will be relocating.

This is a very normal process whenever Pride is not able to sail year round raising revenue, as she is able to do during the summer sailing season. Instead Winter Lay-Up is an opportunity to reduce operating costs AND catch up with wear and tear maintenance accumulated over the recent sailing season. It is a fact that some maintenance cannot be done while remaining underway…so the lack of winter time sailing (and revenue-generating) opportunities provides the chance to accomplish all the maintenance work needed to operate again for a whole summer season without having to schedule Summer Lay-Up time…and still reduce overall expenditures in the form of not having to feed the crew and provide fuel for the engines…not to mention all the other myriad expenses that go with a vessel in a constant state of operation.

The last couple of weeks of the 2009 sailing season, following the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, was great. Pleasant sailing was had between the ports of Yorktown, Cambridge and Chestertown. We also had a chance to do a favor for the  Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies (MITAGS), a professional marine studies school located in Linthicum, MD. For over two decades, MITAGS has generously offered professional training opportunities for Pride of Baltimore II’s key officers – pro bono.  In fact, this fall, while I was aboard the ship, my partner Captain for Pride II, Jamie Trost, was busy taking a celestial navigation class at MITAGS. As part of the class, students are required to use their sextants and to locate stars and takes sights of them using a true water horizon in directions of view that are not interrupted by land.  MITAGS has discovered that is difficult to locate a dock to use that is at the side of the bay and has no land in the way blocking the true water horizon. Renting a boat for this exercise is not financially feasible. After some discussions, it was determined that the timing of Pride II coming up the Bay from Cambridge to go to Chestertown was such that Pridewould be nearby and could easily be available in Annapolis to take the class out for this exercise.  What a great opportunity!  So, we pulled into Annapolis, tied up among the many Melges 24 racing sloops in town for a Nationals competition, and picked up 12 students – all marine professionals taking celestial navigation training to upgrade their licenses for ocean sailing endorsements. A quick ride out to the mouth of the Severn River for a comfortable drift near red buoy #2 was made so the students could use their sextants for evening star sights.  The weather was cooperative and the students accomplished the task at hand.

The end of this sailing season has brought about an end to a phenomenon that has never happened during all my time with Pride of Baltimore II. Several of Pride‘s crew this year are accomplished string instrument musicians. Coincidentally, Schooner Virginia had at least two other string instrument musicians. On several occasions this season, whenever both vessels found themselves together in port, a band was formed and great music made. Music so good that on at least three occasions Pride of Baltimore II‘s portion of the “band” was tasked with providing music to a number of parties. One time was for the ship’s officers party held by the American Sail Training Association during the Boston Tall Ships Festival. Another occasion was for Pride of Baltimore, Inc.’s own 21st Birthday and Victory Party honoring Pride of Baltimore II. At the end of the sailing season, the band was formed again for a couple of nights when both Pride and Virginia were moored side by side at the Sultana Rig-Down Party in Chestertown. With the last of the schooner-band music played, Pride’s crew is converting her over to winter-lay-up; Virginia’s crew is heading her off for voyages into the Caribbean Sea.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II