Because Everyone Loves a Good Retirement Party

It came to us in 2000, just in time for the Millennium Trans Atlantic Training Ship Race from North America to Europe. 

It has helped win dozens of races as far spread as Europe, the East Coast, the Great Lakes, and Bermuda. 

It has sailed to Europe and back… twice. 

It has inspired US veterans, cancer patients and thousands of elementary students.   

It has helped water taxi some of Baltimore’s finest, including Governor O’Malley, Senator Mikulski, and the Baltimore Bullet, Michael Phelps.

It has sailed over 120 thousand nautical miles in 13 sailing seasons. 

It has been as far east as Sweden, as far West as Duluth, Minnesota, as far south as the Dry Tortugas and as far north as the Orkney Islands north of Scotland. 

It has paid visits to Ireland, Great Britain, France, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the Canary Islands, in addition to every state bordering the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Great Lakes. 

It has sailed through the terms of Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama. 

It was sailing before crew members could snap photos with their smart phones, and instantaneously upload them to Facebook.    

It has survived hurricane force, 60 mile an hour winds. 

It has survived the total dismasting of the ship in 2005. 

It is most likely to be set first. 

It is most likely to be struck last.

It is the most used sail in the entire inventory of our ship. 

It is our loose-footed gaff-foresail…. and it’s ready to retire. 

Come hear some of Pride’s salty sailing tales, meet our crew, and help celebrate the life of our hard working foresail!

Pride II will be docked outside of the building and illuminated in twinkling lights. She’ll be visible through the amazing glass walls of Thames Street Wharf.  Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres by local restaurant sponsors (Atwaters, Chesapeake Wine Company, Sofi’s Crepes, The Center Club, Stratford University and Waterfront Kitchen), an open bar and entertainment provided by ONE ROCK Studio.

Business/cocktail attire suggested.

Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased at www.pride2.org.

 

Happy Commissioning Day, Perfect Present, and “All the Laundry”

Pride of Baltimore II
Pos: At Anchor off Annapolis
Wx: SSE F 3, 3/8 Cumulus

Today marks the 24th anniversary of Pride of Baltimore II’s commissioning. Different from her launch day, when she first touched the water as a complete, floating hull but was still awaiting a rig, an interior, and mechanical and electrical systems, today marks the day that she was finished and ready to sail away on her first voyage and begin her illustrious career as the signature example of Maryland’s Maritime History.

On this day in 1988, Pride II was also certificated by the United States Coast Guard for carrying Passengers. This distinction took the mission started by her predecessor to a whole new level. Instead of just boarding the ship at the dock, or marveling at her from a distance – as was the case with the first Pride – people can actually experience the grace, power, and agility of a Baltimore Privateer underway. If you’re adventurous enough, the dreamy wonder of sailing the epitome of early 19th century sailing performance can be a reality. And in 24 years, Pride II has signed aboard thousands as passengers, or as deeply involved “working guest crew” trainees.

It just so happens we have three guest crew (half a boat full) with us on this trip, and they got a rare show. After a slow start alternately drifting and motoring out of the Choptank in concert with the Chestertown-based Schooner Martha White, we got a gift of a 15-knot breeze at around two-thirty and – already carrying all plain sail and the t-gallant – started letting Pride II be herself. In no time she was skimming across the Sharp’s Island Flats at 10 knots. A passing car carrier even radioed to tell us how good she looked.

 

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

Once in the open Bay and off the wind, we celebrated her commissioning by setting not only her stuns’l, but dragging out the rarely used ringtail. This sail is much like the stuns’l, but sets along the leech (after edge) of the mains’l. It requires all the same gear as the stuns’l, and that gear is much harder to rig at the end of the main boom than it is on the fore yard. Consequently, the ringtail is set about once a year. Such infrequent use has allowed the original 1988 Egyptian Cotton sail to still be usable today.

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

And use it we did, not only carrying it up the bay to Bloody Point, but gybing it as we wore ship off Herring Bay. Friends ashore and passing boats sent us pictures they’d taken of Pride II carrying all the sail she owns. We even convinced one small power boat, the Angler Management, to pick up Chief Mate Hank Moseley to get a few shots of our Pride in all her finest, just around sunset.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

Even after dark, though no one could see, we sailed on, slowly stripping off the “kites” until we reached Annapolis under four lowers and the fore tops’l, threading our way around the other boats in the anchorage to sail onto the hook with a flourish only a Baltimore Schooner can muster.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and celebrating crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Choptank Tacking Adventure, and the Fores’l Sits One Out

Pride of Baltimore II
Pos: At Anchor off Horn Point, Choptank River
Wx: SE F 3, 6/8 Cumulus, Rain on the way

Autumn Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay is about the finest way to wrap up a season aboard Pride of Baltimore II, and today was a picture perfect example of why that is. After a generous festive cook out at the home of Captain Aram Nersesian of the Schooner Heron last night, we departed our dock at the Solomon’s Island Yacht Club, briefly motoring out to the Patuxent River before we set sail in the company of at least six other Schooners, all bound back up the Bay after the Schooner Race. With a Southeasterly breeze, we all had a leisurely downwind course on a warm and clear October afternoon. Under the easy combination of Fore, Foretops’l, Stays’l and Jib, Pride II needed to wear ship just two times in the twenty miles between the Patuxent and Choptank Rivers. All around us our sister schooners did much the same, darting across the shimmering Bay in nearly perfect conditions.

But with an easterly slant on the wind, a trip to the Eastern Shore couldn’t ALL be downwind. At the mouth of the Choptank, we sharpened up the yards, trimmed in the fore and aft, and then set the Main, gathering speed and preparing for what looked to be considerable upwind work. Cambridge, Maryland lies at the end of the navigable section of the Choptank – at least for vessels over 50’ tall – and just before the route 213 Bridge. Along the way, the seemingly open waters of the river disguise steep sided shoals where the depth can change from 85’ to 3’ in as little as 200 yards. And, with the southeasterly, Cambridge is also directly up wind from the Bay. Approaching the narrows off Castle Haven Point, I mustered the crew and told them to stretch and warm up because we were looking at 17 tacks to our anchorage.

Anchoring was the plan because Dorchester County is also prone to minor flooding in a southeasterly, which means the dock could go “Awash” at high tide, while the same wind blows straight onto the dock. Being pushed onto a dock that might go underwater is never good, so anchoring just outside town would keep us in easy striking distance for our education program tomorrow morning, and allow the wind to shift to southerly and make the dock a better landing.

But still, we had to get up the river. As anyone who’s been aboard her, or read this blog, can attest to, Pride II is a handful to tack. Heads’ls and tops’l must be wrestled around, and the dance of swapping running main stays and fores’l requires seemingly endless cranking on crank-hauls, while the fores’l hangs aback, stalling out Pride II’s speed and keeping her from pointing into the wind as high as she might. With a well oiled crew of 35, all the necessary steps might happen at once, but with 11 crew aboard, step by step is the only way to handle all the heavy gear.

In order to keep the tacks sharper, and keep the wear and tear on the crew to a minimum, I implemented the unorthodox strategy of taking in the fores’l, and sailing “split rigged.” We don’t often do this aboard Pride II, except in special circumstances. The combination of hull shape and sail plan mean the fore is our hardest working sail, usually set first and taken in last as it is gives the maximum drive to balance ratio. But today, I gave it the afternoon off. After 12 years of hard service, it deserves a holiday now and again.

Fortune favored our plan, and the breeze shifted to South just as we entered the narrow section of river, allowing us to shave a whole seven predicted tacks off our route. It came back southeast as we cleared Lecompte Bay, shifting as we were coming about, nearly causing us to miss stays. We salvaged the tack by shifting the helm while we made a boat length of sternway, tacking more like a square-rigger than a Baltimore Privateer, but still making it through.

A mere three tacks later and we rounded up to drop the port bower, squaring the foretops’l to “put on the brakes” just around the corner from Cambridge. Rain is in the forecast. Even now clouds are thickening to the South. But for now, we’re a dry and happy crew with a little glow from the paces we just put our gorgeous schooner through.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the (for today only) “spit-rigged” crew of Pride of Baltimore II

On Racing to Save the Bay

PRIDE went racing again in the annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.

The crew did really well and helped bring PRIDE to her 2nd in Class AA finish, in race weather that favored the slim, light weight yacht designs, and truly hindered the heavy workboat designs.

Still, the two longest boats in this year’s fleet, with PRIDE being the heaviest, and the other some 40 displacement tons lighter and four whole feet narrower (VIRGINIA), managed to finish quite respectably closely behind the slim, light weight, fast designs of Class A.

Where are the bragging rights in the above outcome? I hesitate to say, for PRIDE it is again besting VIRGINIA, a significantly faster design than PRIDE. PRIDE and VIRGINIA are good friends with a lot of respect for each other. But sport is sport, and sail boat races are sport. So bragging is acceptable (within a respectful framework, of course.)

For VIRGINIA, I would venture to say that bragging rights include being so close to the Class A finishers. All of Class A are designs that are no earlier (older) than the early 1900’s , are moderate sized and built only for recreation (not for working with fish or cargo or pilot boat “on station” in any weather work. ) All of Class AA are workboat designs, reproductions or “spirit of” concepts of the 1800’s. They are heavier than a Class A of the same length. The larger vessels of Class AA are even heavier with their extra length.

So what is it like flogging a sailing boat against the wind down the Chesapeake Bay? For everyone it requires a lot of tacking. I am told VIRGINIA tacked 27 times. But she only had her three headsail jibs to tack and her fisherman sail to strike to the deck and reset on the other side. Her foresail is self tacking. PRIDE’s crew must tack all three headsails, like VIRGINIA, but also brace around the yards (this is the crew breaker!) and tack the loose footed foresail. The yards aboard PRIDE do not remain balanced in the center as they swing from side to side, they hit the shrouds and must be forced to continue to the needed upwind bracing angle, and the shift of the pivot point creates increasing resistance. The resistance requires up to five or six people grouped together to sweat the braces in on the lee side. If all hands are on deck, that leaves the remaining four to five crew members to tack the three jibs one at a time. If the wind is just a little bit stronger than light, we have to have all crew for the braces, jibs, and the foresail! So when is there time for sleep? Between tacks. Usually there is less than 15 minutes between tacks, but sometimes there is more than an hour. Two thirds of the crew are sent down to nap, while waiting to be called for the next tack.

Fortunately the wind shifted by dawn on Friday, and the third of the fleet that were near the half way point at the Potomac River got a chance to sail “free” of any tacking.  The crew could now get some real rest. The weather report suggested the following wind pattern would be quite fresh, but there was an error. Despite the forecast, the new wind did not come in for another six hours. The longer boats like PRIDE and VIRGINIA did not get a chance to take advantage of strong favorable breezes and use their long waterline lengths.  

Meanwhile the smaller Class B & C boats, and several of the shorter Class AA boats, were somewhat bound up near the start due to weak winds the first night. They did not get the new north winds until later the second day. When they did get it…it was a sleigh ride.

Everyone attended the after race party and award ceremony, where surprise, surprise, surprise, PRIDE was awarded the REBEL EDUCATIONAL TROPHY in recognition for her participation in the GCBSR Education Initiative, for her more than 20 years of representing the maritime story of the Chesapeake Bay, and for being a sort of “Train the Trainer” Program. So many crew come to PRIDE from other education afloat programs to get more sailing experience, then return to those same programs with a great deal of professional development under their belts from their time on PRIDE. Their “new” knowledge fits in so well aboard the educational program vessels they originally came from, and the net result is a stronger fleet filled with well-rounded sailors.

As our Ranger “solider” re-enactor friends of Fort McHenry might say…hazzah! PRIDE OF BALTIMORE!!!

Jan C. Miles, Captain
Acting Executive Director

A Walk Down Thames Street

Walking east down Thames Street in Fell’s Point last week, past the Broadway City Pier, one could see the tip of our jibboom past the trees and step by step our headrig is revealed and soon the whole of the iconic Baltimore Clipper is in sight, proud and elegant. She’s right where she should be, in the heart of Fell’s Point, the original home to these schooners two hundred years ago. The area was developed in the late 18th century to become Chesapeake Bay’s shipbuilding and trading center. Shipyards and canneries lined the waterfront and local shops inland were dedicated to those workers. The community has fought hard to keep it the way it was, with restored buildings of old notable residents, shipyards and the notorious bumpy roads threatening high-heeled ankles on a Friday night.

It takes no stretch of the imagination while walking around the neighborhood to envision what life would have been like in the 18th and 19th centuries. People with carts hawking oysters and produce, disembodied hammers banging, kids in those knee high socks running around, rolling a hoop with a stick, and of course ships at anchor, crowding the harbor. Yes, Fell’s Point, although demographically has changed and the vendors therein tailor to a different audience now, it still keeps that same sort of… attitude. As a non-native Baltimorean, I just love the sheer aesthetics of these few square blocks.

The other day, docked here at the base of Ann St. at Thames, I climbed aloft to do maintenance on the main mast and was able to get a birds-eye view of the area in the rain. The clouds cast a Dickensian grey shade over the gabled landscape and if I squinted just right and lost myself, the era changed instantly and I was brought right back to the 1800’s. I hate to admit it, tarnishing what can only be the captains’ idea of my flawless work ethic, but I may have taken a moment from stitching up leather to soak in the feeling emanating from such a perspective. It reminded me that I am here not just to sail this awesome boat, but also to live and to celebrate the rich history of Baltimore. Sure, I’ve been working and explaining the history up and down the coast this year, but when I saw that view from the Ann Street Wharf I understood why it is something not only worth celebrating, it is worth preserving.

This year we’ve done a lot of work with Fort McHenry, the famed fort that withstood the onslaught of the English Navy just 198 years ago because of the audacity the city had in building ships like ours, as well as finding sailors brazen enough to sail them into such peril for money and country. Today, we had volunteer historical interpreters on board for an afternoon sail. They knew plenty about the Fort and the war, but we knew about the boats. We took this as an opportunity to show them why. Why Baltimore Clippers were so successful. Why America was able resist the British in the war. Why the British didn’t stop at Washington D.C. on their trip up here during the war.

Baltimore is lucky to have played such a vital role in this war, to have such a lively cosmopolitan locale like Fell’s Point during the industrial and commercial boom, and to have Fort McHenry to defend its honor and independence.  America is lucky to have Baltimore! Imagine how the international boundaries and geopolitical landscape would have been changed were privateers not successful during the war, and the inspiring Star Spangled Banner never been written. Now imagine if Baltimore did not have Pride II. This honor and heritage would go largely forgotten! Even worse is that we would not have this awesome boat to sail!

Joe Hauser, Pride of Baltimore II Deckhand