Skip to content

Downrigging in Chestertown

1100 Friday October 29, 2010
Moored in Chestertown, Maryland for Sultana’s Rig-down Weekend

The weather has come cool again…after being mid seventies. I find this notable for this time of year. Seems this fall we have been more warm than cold than during past falls. I have not heard any discussion of this in the news…so maybe this has happened before. It sure makes life aboard Pride II very comfortable! I remember more often being frozen down below at this time of year.

Pride II spent the last couple to three days sailing in the company of her little privateer sister Lynxbetween Cambridge, Annapolis and Chestertown. As I mentioned in an earlier log I am charmed by having two “Baltimore Privateers” sailing around the Chesapeake Bay at the same time in the 21st Century. I hope all you readers are charmed as well. There is a friend of my wife Leslie’s that was at Sandy Point State Park Wednesday and caught a “mobile phone photo” of the two privateers passing through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is actually a pretty clear shot of another iconic contrast of the modern and the old.

Lynx and Pride II passing through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Oct. 27, 2010

There are a couple of old phrases dating to the mid 1800’s…cracker jack ship…cracker jack sailor. I believe it came about during the heyday of the American Clipper Ship era. I am sure all of you know that a clipper ship is a ship-rigged sailing vessel that is very fast…i.e. it clips off the miles faster than other more common ship rigged sailing vessels. Pride II is a clipper schooner…i.e. it is a schooner rigged very fast boat for her represented period. To confuse things Pride II can also be described as a Baltimore Clipper…meaning it is a fast Baltimore built vessel. Leaving the listener with the chore of assuming what rig it was. For the purposes of the 1812 War, Baltimore built vessels used as privateers might be described as Baltimore Clipper Privateers.

In any event, cracker jack sailors were needed for crackerjack vessels because smart and gung-ho sailors, or sailors with bully-mates, were able to hand sail and rigging more smartly than aboard the regular sailing cargo vessel. Between two cracker jack vessels would be some serious competition to demonstrate a “smart” style and maybe a notable seamanship style that could create envy in other vessels’ crews.

Fortunately the sense of competition between Lynx and Pride II is not especially strong. More it is merely pride in their vessel than it is any attempt to show the other vessel as ‘less’ in some aspect. There is no place for showing-up our little sister any more than it would be friendly to have Pride II welcomed to the West Coast with effort to show her as less than her hosts.

We are here in Chestertown rafted alongside. Lynx is outboard of Pride II because she is smaller and it is not ‘proper’ to expect her to act as Pride II’s fender…although Lynx is strong enough to have Pride IIalongside should the occasion merit. In Chestertown is a gathering of several sailing vessels to celebrate the end of the sailing season in the Chesapeake Bay for the larger working vessels…hence the “rig-down” reference. These next three days will be spent with the visiting vessels parading under as much sail as possible in a very narrow winding river showing off and showing to the gathered crowds this last major traditional maritime weekend of the season. The crews mingle after hours and do a lot of waving back and forth between the vessels as they pass. Pride II and Lynx are not the only rafted vessels, so good neighborliness is being demonstrated and experienced throughout the fleet. With good weather the good comradeship is felt by all the public as well.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II