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Pride of Baltimore II in rough seas, 2005.

A storm and a joyful, unforgettable harmonic

Today’s story is a transatlantic tale. Challenges are an inherent part of life, and by viewing them as opportunities, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities and self-discovery. I hope you enjoy the story!

I first saw Pride of Baltimore II tied up in Eastern Long Island. The masts could be seen from far away and I was intrigued. As I walked down the pier and had a long look, I felt that this ship was as close to perfect as I had ever seen. I had to sail on her.

Three years later, I walked on board with my rig to get ready to sail across the Atlantic to Ireland, then on to the EU. We were tied up in Annapolis at the city dock. So, my first sail trip on Pride would be across a vast ocean. Little did I know what awaited me.

The day we left the city had turned out to wish us well. The USNA band was there playing the appropriate bon voyage music. Folks had gathered by the dock as we pulled away. I remember thinking the next piece of land I would step onto would be Ireland. After a short distance, we set the foresail, and we were off. Oh, as we left, we cut loose with cannon fire salutes to Annapolis. There would be more.

We set course for the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, entered Delaware Bay, rounded Cape May and put to sea. As we traveled up the Jersey coastline, the weather started to get excited. We passed Sandy Hook, Cape Cod and crossed the Gulf of Maine. The weather was getting pretty dirty. When we got off Sable Island, Captain Miles decided we would make for Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and wait for the storm to pass in safe harbor. A wise decision as the seas were building. I remember seeing Lunenburg for the first time. The seaport town was a historic longliner port and home of schooner Bluenose II.

We tied up by the museum, a red building not hard to miss. Also, home to the Ice House sailor bar and grill. It didn’t take long for us to have a pint or two. During this period, I went to a shop and bought a pair of orange insulated lobster gloves. When it was my turn to be on the helm, my hands would get cold and wet, and cramp up. The lobster gloves worked perfectly. Dry, warm hands would work better during the next challenges we would face. We stayed in Lunenburg for three days and then put to sea. The storm had passed to our Northeast.

We set out to cross the Grand Banks. Somewhere along the way we snagged a long line. One of our crew volunteered to go over the side and cut the tangle. It had fouled on one of our two propellers. The water is cold on Banks and we needed to warm him up. So, he was popped into the engine room to enjoy the hot temps. As we travelled further eastward, the storm that had passed us turned around and came back at us with full fury. We were south of the Flemish Cap when Captain Miles called for muster on the quarter deck.

I will never forget his words. “Folks, it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” And it did. We all put on our crew-saver vests and snapped into the lifelines. The level of sailing became what movies are made from, books are written about, and old salts tell stories about. For several days we battled high seas and high winds. I remember at one point seeing Beaufort Scale hit Force 11. Hurricanes are Force 12. Captain Miles was amazing. His calm, cool demeanor never changed and built confidence and courage. We knew we were going to make it across.

Now a sailing ship with a large rig can be very noisy in excited waters and winds. First of all, there is a lot of creaking and popping below deck. That is a good sound. Rotten wood is silent. Healthy wood makes joyful noises. On deck all the rigging vibrates and plays a lovely tune. It is an unforgettable harmonic. Matter of fact, the whole ship sings. That is a very healthy ship. Never-the-less there was some talk of heading south toward the Azores to get in more favorable seas. But the storm finally passed, and we remained on course bound for Ireland. But that was not to be.

At some point the schedule changed and we changed course to arrive in Falmouth UK. Off Fastnet Rock, the third storm came on us. It pushed us all the way to Falmouth.

We made it.

Anonymous Guest Crew, 2005