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PRIDE II returning to Baltimore under sail

Photo: Pride II returning to Baltimore under sail, May 14, 2020, courtesy of Eddie Lucas.

Date: Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thirty-four years ago this day, Pride of Baltimore was lost. Pride of Baltimore II continues in the memory of the first … Bold statements of historical and contemporary accomplishments and friendly outreach to our nation and to the world by Marylanders.

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Today the crew sailed Pride of Baltimore II into her home port of Baltimore on the last day of a four-day shakedown cruise.  A cruise a bit different than past years’ shakedown sails for crew training. This time around, I added the goal of not using engines at all, except for backing away from the Clinton Street compound and returning. My goal was achieved. The engines were turned off right at the entrance of the North Branch of the Patapsco River that opens between Fort McHenry and Lazaretto Point. The engines did not go on again till Pride was right outside of her Clinton Street compound piers. These last four days have all been sailing days. To anchor and away from anchor.  An experience and a challenge that somewhat harkens back to the days of the Age of Sail.

This morning started with care and attention to shipboard details as we waited for the light southerly breeze to build. Late morning, the mainsail and main-gaff-topsail were set and the main boom tagged to starboard. The jib readied to be set aback to port. Yards with loosened square-topsail backed to port. Foresail brails “singled up” for a quick setting. Fore-staysail to starboard ready to set. With care to Pride’s yawing as the anchor was hauled back, at the point the anchor was going to lift off the bottom, the jib was set aback to port. Pride swung to starboard and with mainsail sheet eased as Pride headed away from the anchorage on a broad reach toward the Patapsco River. Leaving the jib aback so speed was kept low, but shifting the yards to starboard, the anchor was hoisted to the port rail and stowed. The jib was passed. The square-topsail was set. The staysail was set. The foresail was set. The jib-topsail was set. Pride then proceeded along nicely in the 10 knots of wind that had come up.

Pride reached across the bay to the eastern section of the Brewerton Channel (extension). Then steered into the Patapsco and under the Key Bridge. In the main branch of the Patapsco, the wind died out a lot.  As Pride drifted toward Fort McHenry, the foresail was brailed in. Then the jib-topsail lowered and harbor-furled. Soon Pride was turned toward the opening into the North Branch between Fort McHenry and Lazarretto Point. This put the light breeze directly behind the ship. The main-gaff-topsail was struck. Then the mainsail was lowered and stowed. As Pride sailed along under square-topsail, the jib and staysail were lowered and stowed. Last, just as Pride was approaching her Clinton Street compound mooring area, the square-topsail was struck. The engines started and quick work of tying up was executed around 1530.  After an hour of tidying up, all hands were stood down. Everyone feeling pretty good about the cruise.

Signed,

Jan C. Miles, Senior Captain

A Sail from Annapolis to Love Point

Bay Bridge Sailing

Photo: Pride II Sailing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Photo courtesy of Susan Hale

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Time: 1900 hours
Location: Anchored on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay, south of Rock Hall near the western shore of Eastern Neck

There was no wind this morning, as forecast. So the morning was spent attending to vessel details. Inspecting the rig. Also some cleaning.

Somewhat unexpectedly an east-southeast breeze arrived late morning. Pretty fresh too. Meaning 10 knots and a bit better. The updated forecast continued indicating 5 knots from the south. After a moment of thought, it was easy to realize this new breeze was a result of temperature differences of air over land verses air over water of the Chesapeake Bay.

Whenever there is a broad area of uniform and stable air mass over both water and land, and the sky is clear, the sun starts to heat the surface of water and land early in the day. Water does not heat up as quickly as land does. Today it seems the land temperature had increased pretty quickly while the bay water did not as quickly. As the land heated this morning, the air close to the ground heated as well and started to rise. Over the bay the cooler near-surface air was drawn towards the land by the rising warmer air over land. This flow creates localized breezes near shorelines. The greater the difference of temperature the faster this flow near shorelines. So, by midday in Annapolis, we were seeing 10-12 knots of wind flowing right up the Severn River. A good sailing breeze. But one that would require tacking back out Severn River Roads. Because the wind was not as speedy as it was yesterday, it would be less work for the crew to tack Pride out towards the bay. But still, it would mean short tacking hence plenty enough work.

Today’s sail from anchor would best be served to have the mainsail set prior to hauling back the anchor. Close astern by about 300 yards was the seawall of the Naval Academy. It would be important to pay off on a tack long enough that it would give the crew a chance to set additional sail to both aid in balancing the mainsail as well accelerate Pride after the anchor was off the bottom. Not merely accelerate but accelerate her enough over a short distance before needing to tack before running out of depth near either side of the Severn River.

Today the goal was to pay off on a port tack and sail to the southern side of the river, near Eastport Yacht Club. A distance of 450 yards from the anchored position. The mainsail boom was hauled to the starboard quarter to use the mainsail as an air-rudder for twisting the bow to the right. While hauling back the anchor, and carefully watching the swing of the ship, there were a few times the crew stopped hauling in the anchor to await a favorable swing. Finally, close to when the anchor would come off the bottom, there was a favorable swing. The anchor was lifted off the bottom and brought to the waterline, the jib was hoisted in a backed to port setup. The yards had already been braced backed to port. Pride twisted away to starboard, the mainsail filled, the backed jib kept twisting the Pride to the right. There is a lot of leverage with the jib so far forward of the mainsail, so Pride kept twisting against the filled mainsail to nearly beam to the wind. The jib was passed. The fore-staysail was set and both trimmed for going to windward. Pride started to accelerate and with steerage could be headed close to the wind. Then the loose-footed foresail was set. Being loose-footed the setting of the foresail is very fast. Merely let go of all brails at the same time and haul the clew aft-ward and close-in aboard with the line that is always attached. Then hook up the 4-part tackle to the foresail clew pendent and trim the 1,500 square feet sail. Then shift the yards around to starboard to reduce windage. Then tack as Pride approached the shore of the tip of Eastport.

It took seven tacks to finally get around Greenbury Point Shoal and head for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The square sail did not get set till after all of the tacking was completed. With the four lower sails, all being fore-and-aft, three of them loose-footed, there was plenty of work trimming after each tack with 14-15 knots of apparent wind. Pride was making 4+ knots on each leg. I decided to postpone setting the square-sail till after all the short-tacking. Were the wind less strong, the square would have been set so as to get additional acceleration. With plenty of acceleration, not setting the square was a favor to the crew not having to brace the square-topsail for each tack, forcing that sail through the wind. There had been plenty of that yesterday, in much stronger winds. A good photography show yesterday for sure. Making for a visually bold arrival to Annapolis for the first time this year. Without the foresail because of the stronger wind. With it there would have been too much sail area during yesterday’s gusts. Departing Annapolis did not call for a bold statement. The simplicity of fore-and-aft sails providing adequate acceleration for short tacking was plenty of visual proof of the ability for going to windward of the old-style Pride represents.

After the last tack, the square-topsail was set. Followed by the jib-topsail and the main-gaff-topsail.

Passed under and through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and headed around Love Point, the northern end of Kent Island. Then close-hauled sailed east toward the anchorage. Turned downwind right close to shore to take all sail forward of the mainmast. Then rounded to port up toward the wind for dropping the port anchor around 1730 when Pride had lost way and started to drift astern. All sail and gear was stowed by 1830 and a delayed supper was had by all.

Signed,

Jan C. Miles, Senior Captain

Shakedown Sailing into Annapolis

Annapolis Sailing Track

Photo: TimeZero display of Pride II‘s track into Annapolis

Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Time: 1900 hours
Location: Anchored at Annapolis, near U.S. Naval Academy eastern seawall

We remained at anchor on the western shore just north of Herring Bay for a couple of hours this morning to re-familiarize the crew with emergency response: MOB (man overboard), fire, and abandon ship.

Today’s marine forecast indicated westerly winds of 10 to 15 knots with gusts to 20. Such winds would have been fine for sailing further south. However, the forecast for Wednesday was for nearly no wind at all. Being this shakedown cruise has no daily destination, I am trying to keep sailing to and from anchoring without engine use. This goal puts a premium on being smart about wind direction as it flows over possible anchoring locations. A simple, sorta’ obvious parameter for selecting an anchorage is achieving a lee from rough sea. It is anxious making to be at anchor just off a lee shore right behind your vessel if there is a sea running. Meanwhile, an anchorage that has fair winds to sail into will want fair winds for sailing away from. Taking into consideration the light winds forecast for Wednesday, with fresh west winds blowing today, it was easy to decide to sail north. What was not so easy to decide was where we would end up.

Sailing away from anchor was simple this morning, being with a west wind, Pride had the entire width of the Chesapeake Bay behind her. When the anchor came up off the bottom, she fell away to port. The jib was set. Being on the port side meant it would be passed over to starboard when the ship continued her three-quarter turn around to the north. During this turn, the yards were shifted from sharp port to sharp starboard and the topmast flags were cleared from their wrap-around topmast tips. After the turn, the port anchor was lifted to the port rail. Then the loose-footed foresail was set. Followed by the square fore-topsail. Then the fore-staysail. Then the mainsail. And Pride fair roared up the Chesapeake Bay, sometimes exceeding 10 knots.

As she passed Thomas Point Light, I studied the wind pattern. The increased wind pattern coming from the Severn River was normal. The gusts as well. It was the gusts I pondered in addition to the direction of flow directly out of the Severn River. I have sailed Pride into Annapolis against a west-northwest breeze. But not a strong breeze. Today’s winds, particularly the gusts at nearly double the standard wind speed, were not great for tacking to an anchoring location at Annapolis. The challenge being for the crew to handle the sails in strong winds. Sail reduction is the means for keeping sail area manageable for the crew. However, sail reduction also means less power for acceleration out of a tack. Short tacks for narrow navigable depths risks not having enough speed during puffs to succeed sailing through the next tack. Alternatively, we could go further up the bay. However, there would not be an interesting anchorage. Just another open to the bay western shore scenario like we had just left. I decided it was worth an effort to sail against the gusty wind into Annapolis. But first, with Pride sailing so fast, we would spend the day reaching up and down the bay near the western side between Thomas Point and the Bay Bridge. The forecast indicated a reduction of wind by evening time. Maybe it would reduce sooner.

And so the crew tacked Pride from reach to reach and the ship fair flew north and south.

By mid-afternoon I was examining more closely the challenge of tacking against the gusts. Wanting to show off Pride with her recognizable square-sail set as she sailed, but the gusts were more than was prudent with the current sail area set, I ordered the foresail taken in. Reducing sail by that much I estimated would likely be enough to be manageable while tacking to windward in the gusts. Normally, sail reduction for the reason of wind strength is a top-down order. But I wanted the square-sail to be up for all ashore to see their Pride making her way up the Severn River Roads toward Annapolis.

So we proceeded into the Severn River. Eight tacks. Plenty of hauling for the crew. In the gusts the square-sail can be very resistant to bringing around through the wind. In the gusts, the jibs can only be passed and sheeted home one at a time due to their sail area. The last tack was right near the northeast corner of the Naval Academy athletic grounds. That last leg to the point of dropping the anchor was when the square topsail was struck. Then both headsails. Pride rounded up to the wind guided by her hard over rudder and her mainsail. With the main boom lashed to the port quarter with the boom tackle, the mainsail went aback on the port side and acted as an air-break against the effort of the hard over rudder turning the ship to the right. Pride stopped quickly and, once drifting astern, the anchor was dropped near 1700 hours and a shot of chain to the waterline was heaved out. The crew tied in harbor-furls rather than sea-stows to present Pride at her normal best for her public. Supper for all hands was at 1800. A full day. And a strong sense of accomplishment.

Signed,

Jan C. Miles, Senior Captain

Real Cruise of Pride of Baltimore II … visible not virtual

PRIDE II sailing off Fort Smallwood

Photo: Pride II sailing off Fort Smallwood Park courtesy of Timothy Smith

Date: Monday, May 11, 2020
Time: 2000 hours

A fresh to strong westerly wind helped get us to a 1730 (5:30 PM) anchorage near Herring Bay. A little bit north of there actually. A nice lee from westerlies and forecast change to north-westerlies of around 20 knots overnight.

All morning long the crew got last moment details for getting underway, attended to after more than a month of maintenance. After lunch, Pride was backed away from her Clinton Street compound and turned south for the narrows between Fort McHenry and Lazaretto Point. The fore-staysail was set first and this permitted securing of engines, considering local winds were on the beam. Meanwhile, the square fore-topsail was being tied loose for setting. After turning southeasterly into Fort McHenry Channel and the gusting to higher than the 20-knot apparent wind was well aft on the starboard side, the square topsail was set. With just the two sails and gusty winds of upwards of 30, she sped along her way between 8 and 9 knots.

As she passed by Sparrow’s Point, the crew reset the foresail that had been lowered while moored at Clinton Street to reduce windage for passing gale winds. Raising the foresail with 20 knots of wind filling is a bit of a grind. By the time Pride reached near North Point and the turn southeastward into Craighill Channel (upper range) from Brewerton Channel, the foresail was set and properly drawing. Under the so-called “day sail combo” of foresail, square topsail, and staysail, Pride made speeds of 8-9 knots all the way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and on down the bay.

Below the Bay Bridge, the westerly wind was channeling as it flowed out of the Severn River. Steady winds of 25 knots with gusts breaking 30 knots meant striking the square topsail, particularly as the bay bends a bit southwest, forcing a heading that would bring the apparent wind somewhat forward of the beam. North of the bridge, wind was either on the quarter or somewhat less strong when around the beam. The maneuver for striking the square fore-topsail in strong winds is best accomplished in a coordinated manner that includes turning the ship directly downwind as the square top-yard is lowered. While pointed directly downwind, the lee square topsail clew and brailing lines are hauled in. At the point, the lee clew is home, as well as the lee reef clew up at the yard-arm, the crew switch to the windward clew and windward reef clew and brailing gear. As they hauled away, Pride was turned back toward the wind. Soon after, a couple of crew went aloft to tie in a tight square fore-topsail “sea stow” to reduce windage and protect the sail from any possible flogging. The rest of the crew trimmed the foresail and staysail for a closer apparent wind angle of around 60 degrees and tidied up all lose lines.

At this point, I confirmed the anchorage destination. It would provide a pretty decent lee and would be pretty easy to sail toward with next to no maneuvering. Under foresail and staysail alone, during some of the 30+ knot gusts flowing out of the Severn and South Rivers, Pride occasionally made more than 10 knots. Once south of those rivers some distance, the speed slowed down as Pride got close to the western shoreline and the wind was somewhat fluky in both direction and strength.

Anchoring under sail from a starboard tack without the mainsail set with the intention of using the port side anchor is more conveniently handled by not trying to tack with the loose-footed foresail, but rather by making a downwind turn that will enable easy brailing of the loose-footed foresail and, when attempting to complete a full circle, bringing the port bow up toward the wind before falling away to starboard when forward way ends. This maneuver also provides for the likelihood of not overrunning the anchor chain when the port anchor is dropped. Before the turn, the fore-staysail had already been struck. When Pride was pointed mostly downwind, the foresail was brailed tightly to the foremast and standing gaff. There was a short period of time spent keeping Pride pointed downwind because she turned faster than the crew could achieve a complete brail of the foresail. When completed, Pride was turned to the left so her port bow could turn up into the wind. When all forward way was ended and the bow started to swing to leeward, to starboard, the port anchor was dropped. Two shot of chain was heaved out to the waterline. A shot is 90 feet. So, 180 feet of chain in the water. For an overall depth of 16 to 21 feet.

Final stowing of the ship included quickly sorting out the topmast flags that had gotten a full turn around their masts. Reset port side fore-topmast running backstay and also the port side main running-stay. Sharpen the square yards bracing to port. Yards are advised to be sharply braced to reduce windage. Braced to port helps keep the bow to starboard and the port anchor chain from hitting the bowsprit bobstay. The rudder is made hard to starboard as well. All uncoiled lines coiled and hung. When all was accomplished, an all-hands muster was held below. Questions answered and the general plan for the night described. Then supper.

With sunset, flags will be taken in and the already rigged anchor light when the anchor ball was set turned on. The chief mate will organize the crew for overnight monitoring of our anchorage. To assist, using electronic charting by TimeZero, an electronic anchor-drag alarm had already been set.

With temperatures hovering around 60 F and winds of 20 to 30 knots, it has been a cool sail. The ship is closed up for the somewhat cooler night. The midship space is comfortable with the galley diesel stove kept on. The generator cycle has run. Some water made. Batteries freshened. Refrigeration pumped back down as well. This first and somewhat robust sail in well over a month appears to have been both refreshing for the crew as well as draining. Spirits are up.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Please note that when PRIDE is on the bay on shakedown sails, only crew, whose home is the ship, are on board. They have been socially isolating & continue strengthened hygiene protocols.

Gale Winds Delay Pride II Virtual Voyage

Photo: Screenshot of the onboard TimeZero Pro electronic chart program

Date: April 13, 2020

Position: Baltimore, Maryland

Today’s start of a virtual cruise of the Chesapeake Bay by Pride of Baltimore II has been delayed due to gale force winds. Pride remains at her winter berth, as one might be able to see by the small red arrow shape in the lower right section (the blue are other vessels transmitting their locations via the AIS system for indicating vessel location, speed, and course, along with other details if one opens a data window of an AIS contact) in the image of Baltimore’s North Branch “Inner Harbor” of the Patapsco River in the TimeZero Pro electronic chart program provided to the ship by the makers of TimeZero. (With our sincere gratitude, TimeZero continues to support Pride’s navigational chart needs.)

This virtual cruise of the Chesapeake Bay will involve manually plotting voyage legs, taking into account real-time weather conditions; using live and recorded video to talk about the sailing conditions, the maneuvers (e.g., tacking or jibing) needed to sail from point A to point B, ongoing maintenance, and life aboard; and presenting information, historical and current, about places and ports on the Bay. We’ll be working with volunteers and partners to present content that will really make this a rich and interesting voyage! The whole time, Pride II will never actually leave the dock. It should be fun to give it a shot.

Considering the actual weather this day, no matter the public relations plan for an actual voyage start, a plan to actually depart this day would have had to be abandoned/postponed. Departure ceremonies might still have taken place for a real voyage departure. But not necessarily. Maybe such departure pomp and celebration could have been shifted to the next day. As is the decision to delay this virtual cruise.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Pride and Stay-in-Home Week Two

Wood work

Photo: Deckhand Camille sanding Pride‘s topsides , March 6, 2020, courtesy of Jeff Crosby

Date: Monday April 5, 2020

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Pride of Baltimore II Maintenance Under Maryland’s Stay-at-Home Order

Pride of Baltimore II remains moored at her fenced secure marine facility in an industrial area of Baltimore named Canton. A compound located some several blocks away from any residential area, so there is no pedestrian traffic passing by.

The live-aboard crew have long been emulating “stay in place” during up-rig that started back in mid-February. Sure, occasionally they ventured out in the evening. However, with full days of work, good meals provided three times each day, and a commute to work that can be counted in mere feet, going the distance to a nightlife place, walking nearly a mile after a full day of vessel preparation was almost more effort than it was worth. So, when the stay-at-home order was issued, life for Pride’s crew did not change much.

Two weeks ago, there were two crew shakedown sails. Just the crew. Last week, Marylanders were ordered to stay at home. During this very important strategy for restricting spread of this new virus, Pride’s crew is getting into maintenance as well as finishing the up-rig. Like all of you, we are awaiting the time that Pride is able to again do what she is worldwide renowned for.

The first week of stay-in-place (last week), the crew got into varnishing. One of the most outstanding views of Pride for those that walk by or aboard is seeing her varnished rail-cap atop her bulwark — 3.5-inch-thick Central American Mahogany some 14 inches wide and more than 200 feet long as it rings the deck.

The preparation for the first full coat of varnish took six crew two days of sanding and cleaning up. Applying one coat of varnish took four crew most of one day. Properly speaking, there ought to be another three to five coats of varnish applied each year. Over the span of a normal operating season, those three to five coats eventually get applied between public events and voyaging. It looks like this spring those coats might all get applied before the next sail.

I and the crew sincerely hope all of you are being very diligent of your personal safety as well all those around you as we all work to halt the spread of infection.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles