Date: Saturday, December 3, 2016
Position: Pride’s maintenance berth

Winterizing of Pride of Baltimore II

Pride and her crew are beginning a week of lasts for 2016. It is the last Saturday aboard for all. Friday, December 9: the final unloading, the final sweep out, the final clean up of 2016; the last day for all aboard for this year. Drinking water system closed down and winterized. “Chernobyl,” the ship’s diesel fuel cook stove, shut down and maybe cleaned out. Sometimes that gets overlooked with all the other clearing out and cleaning up that happens every last day of the season ahead of a winter when Pride will be empty and a ventilated ship under winter cover.

Always, it seems to me, no matter how well organized and paced the rig-down and unloading of the ship and final winterizing and cleanup is, the last day is one of a sort of chaos of fiddling details that suddenly appear as a swarm of needs. By the end of the last day, all deck openings are open to ventilate the ship’s down below areas, except for the engine room – that remains heated above freezing. All below deck sole boards are lifted up to aid in bilge ventilating. The forward watertight door to the fo’c’sle compartment is left open to aid in ventilation. Above deck, the deck-boxes are stacked on top of the aft cabin and propped open for ventilation. Mast boots are untied and the large lower-mast wedges are knocked out to let the mast dry and deck partners dry as well as provide ventilation to below areas. Smaller “winter wedges” replace the full-on active sailing mast wedges. The rope anchor hawse is hauled out of its down below stowed area and draped along the PORT side of the ship’s winter cover frame…again to allow it to dry and provide as much ventilating down below as can be achieved. Lazarette hatch is open. Forepeak hatch is open as well. Last person off closes and latches the winter cover frame door.

Then all we crew are faced with the sort of self conscious experience of saying “so long” to each other. It is not sad to leave, rather it is sort of a relief to leave. ‘Tis a lot of work taking care of this unique and wondrous vessel. The commitment by all to her proper care is all-consuming. Days are long. Even at the dock. Most all-hands are from distant parts of the country, meaning they are far from anything that might be called home. And the off times for each aboard during a season are still time spent “away” from one’s own. The last day, after all of the cleanup and making the ship secure for the common widely ranging winter weather, finally comes and it is time to depart. Cannot stay aboard. Gotta go.

Everyone is actually looking forward to going; happy to be able to return to what has been put aside for the duration of being aboard and committed to the needs of the ship. But what is left behind as we depart is not left behind lightly. Remembering all that commitment, all that demand by the ship and her mission rests closely within for quite a while. New routines take a while to become dominant. Change is always that way when it follows months of the same routine ahead of whatever is to become the new routine, likely to be in a whole other part of the country or globe. Notwithstanding the self consciousness at the time of departure, this job, this commitment, spanning months of separation from the different world of having one’s own place, friends and neighborhood, has reached its end and it has been done well. Accomplished professionally and properly. All ship’s company can be satisfied with their performance. Now it is time to engage with one’s new future. New routine. Whatever that may be. With whomever it may be. However long, or short, that may be.

For those of us soon to return to Pride, there is gap time until after New Years before returning to work aboard Maryland’s Star-Spangled Ambassador during her “winter maintenance” – day work while living ashore on our own. The “Local Apparent Work Week” will be Tuesday through Saturday. Eight hour days. An actual weekend off between work weeks just for ourselves! Saturday is an opportunity for volunteers. Volunteers are welcome throughout the week any time the crew are working. Saturdays are for those that are otherwise occupied during the traditional work week.

What kind of work for this winter? Lots of the usual cosmetic and protective maintenance of spars and checking of condition of blocks, bbt also some detailed rigging checking, plus a concerted effort to catch up with some postponed down-below cosmetics. As well as maybe some annual wear and tear deck maintenance under the winter cover.

Come join us!

Happy holidays to one and all!


Captain Jan C. Miles