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CBMM: Home Away from Home

Friday, August 11, 2017 — What a lovely home away from home it is for Pride whenever she is able to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, Maryland!

Like-minded folk for all things Chesapeake Bay historical watercraft have great appreciation for each other’s efforts in the preservation and re-creation of the unique watercraft of the Chesapeake Bay. And so it is a little bit o’ heaven here for the crew of Pride.

The quaint harbor that is St. Michaels is barely deep enough to accommodate Pride‘s draft of around 12.5 feet. Any time a fresh wind from northern directions covers the northern Chesapeake Bay, the normal tidal water levels are disturbed, meaning that they are obstructed and meaning that quite a bit less depth of water can occur. This can cause a wind-related reduced harbor depth situation that either prevents Pride from entering or prevents her from departing. Fortunately, this August visit has not been accompanied by fresh northerly winds to risk Pride not being able to enter the harbor and moor alongside the museum. So she is safely entered & moored. And if the depths reduce during her stay, she is welcome to stay as long as is necessary till a safe passage out of the harbor is available through return of adequate water depth.

The transit from Baltimore to St. Michaels was without the support of a bit of breeze — just about no wind at all. A Chesapeake Bay classic glassy reflective smoothness existed throughout the nine-hour transit of some near 50 nautical miles. That did not prevent the crew from enthusiastically, and with great hopes of a late day breeze, setting all sail save the studding sail and ring tail. It has been since before Boston in June the “gantsle” was set. And it has been a long time since last the mainsail, the main gaff topsail, the jib-topsail and jib were set. So while the wind remained elusive, there was a great swiping away of crew-cobwebs regarding setting and striking and re-harbor-stowing all sail.

Around 7 p.m. Thursday night, the approach of “lower high water” at St. Michaels predicted to occur at 7:27 p.n., Pride entered and proceeded very slowly to her berth alongside the southern bulkhead of the museum, with around a foot of water under her keel. A small group of welcomers attended her arrival. By 8:30 p.m. all was secure and the crew could really settle back to admire what is most admirable about St. Michaels: a late quiet summer evening with recently full moon crossing the sky and a waterfront park band’s music drifting over the harbor as various types of recreational and private commercial vessels proceeded quietly about, while other vessels lay quietly moored presenting a complicated old style skyline profile in the dwindling light.

Today is the first of a three-day stay open to visitors to the museum. A start to the weekend build-up ahead of Sunday’s crescendo, Watermen’s Appreciation Day, a near “carny” festival of all things waterman, celebrating their profession as they also display their watercraft. One of the more dramatic demonstrations being the deadrise boat docking competitions — highly powered and maneuverable motor vessels of the Chesapeake Bay deadrise type all but slamming their way to the fastest/quickest mooring into a boat slip. This is something that can only be appreciated by seeing …


Captain Jan C. Miles

Photo of Pride of Baltimore II in St. Michaels, Maryland, on August 12, 2017, courtesy of Tim Ertel.