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Winter Maintenance Updates

Date: Tuesday, February 1, 2017
Position: Pride’s maintenance berth : 1910 South Clinton Street

With winter maintenance in full swing, Pride’s nine crew members are working hard to get the ship ready for the sailing season. The crew, some new, some seasoned veterans, started work after the New Year. Coming from as far as Superior, WI, and Kalamazoo, MI, and as close as Norfolk and Philadelphia, they are now nicely settled into life in Charm City. We are lucky to have a very enthusiastic group of volunteers, also made up of returners as well as first timers, working alongside our team.

This winter’s projects include a mix of annual preventative maintenance and attention to recent wear and tear. Each year, 100% of Pride’s hard working blocks, used for almost every task on deck, get inspected and refinished with fresh coats of varnish to protect and seal the wood from the elements. In addition to the inspection and varnish, large portions of the blocks are also being serviced, requiring disassembly. The shiv and pin are removed and the fasteners that hold the shell of the block together are inspected for corrosion. Once the metal parts are cleaned and painted, the block is reassembled and stropped.

With all of Pride’s spars, booms, and top-masts on the hard, housed in a Quonset Hut-like structure of plastic and wood that the crew refers to as “Sparlandia,” it is a race to get them sanded and varnished with multiple coats so they not only continue to look beautiful, but allow the ship to carry the weight of her enormous sails.

On deck, a number of very exciting projects are underway as well. Much of the ship’s standing rig is being worked on.  The crew have serviced and stitched new leather on the eye of the jib stay (this is where the stay that holds Pride’s jib-sail will attach to the foremast). Also, a massive spool of wire will be eye-spliced, served, and finished with leather to replace one of the two forestays, affectionately referred to among the crew as the “sister stays.” One by one, each “turn-back” (where the thick wire shrouds wrap around the massive lignum vitae dead eyes that allow us to tension the rig and hold the masts in place) are being inspected, cleaned, and served in tarred marline and then seized back into place. This time instead of using wire to seize the “turn-back” together, we are using braided Dyneema®, a fiber heavily used in the yachting world. Before the Industrial Age introduced the ability to machine high-strength steel into wire, vessels of the late 1700s and early 1800s only had fiber line to sail with and  to hold up masts and spars. As a modern fiber, Dyneema® has exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and does not stretch, making it possible to use instead of steel seizing wire. Sort of a back-to-the-future story for traditional sailing and rig work, not to mention it is just cool to work with!

Meanwhile, the ship’s carpenter is busy replacing an above-deck plank on Pride’s bulwarks, near the quarterdeck.  The new plank is made of Spanish Cedar, a naturally strong, rot-resistant wood.

Below deck, Pride’s living space is getting much needed attention as well. The floorboards (or “sole boards”), counters, and shelves are all being sanded and coated in polyurethane, and in some cases varnished. Even the kitchen sink is getting a makeover; it has been temporarily removed so that the surrounding countertops can be properly sanded and sealed.

Our full-time crew and volunteers are putting in long hours to get the ship ready for the sailing season, but there is always more work to do! If you are interested in volunteering, our crew work from 8:00am to 4:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Please email Captain Miles at with questions, and when you intend to volunteer. Come join us!


2017 Winter Maintenance Crew