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IHS Sailing Club Free Community Sail April 18, 2024

The Indiana Area High School (IHS) Sailing Club experienced a boating extravaganza on their field trip to Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday April 18. They began their adventure on Pride of Baltimore II, a topsail schooner built to replicate a typical 1812-era Baltimore Clipper. They sailed from Baltimore Peninsula’s Port Covington Marina and enjoyed a 2-hour sail on the Patapsco River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Captain Miles, Chief Mate Shevawn, and the other 10 crew members provided a safe, fun, and educational experience on the water. We are grateful for the opportunity!

Highlights of the sail on Pride of Baltimore II were opportunities to help raise and lower the sails, crew members firing a cannon, and a view from the water of Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The IHS group also had a view from the water of the tragically destroyed Francis Scott Key Bridge which took 5 years to build and minutes to destroy. At 8,636 ft., it was the second longest bridge in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Its main span of 1,200 ft. was the third longest of any continuous truss in the world. The tragedy of the destruction of the bridge was not only the loss of life but also the economic value of the bridge which reaches far beyond the Baltimore area. With 11.3 million vehicle crossings per year, it ranks ninth among US harbors for both tonnage and dollar value of foreign cargo passing through.

After their sail, the students took a tour of S.S. John W. Brown. It is one of only two fully operational Liberty ships that participated in WWII. They toured the engine room, bunk, and cabin spaces (no such thing as memory foam back then), the bridge and “flying bridge”, and an on-board museum. The students learned about boat steam engines, steering mechanisms, and the technology of the era (including a tube that crew shouted through to communicate between the bridge and the engine room!) They also got a small taste of what life was like for crew members who served our country on board this ship.

After touring S.S. John W. Brown, the IHS group went aboard N.S. Savannah, the first nuclear powered merchant ship built in the late 1950s. Savannah was a demonstration project for the potential peaceful use of nuclear power and was a cargo ship. It was taken out of service in 1972 and has been a museum ship since that time. The students toured the living spaces of the crew and got a view (from behind glass) of the engine room and former control center.  An impressive educational display demonstrated that an amount of fuel (enriched uranium) the volume of which was only the size of a “Rubic’s cube” with a weight of 163 lbs. enabled N.S. Savannah to travel 454,625 miles! 

This experience was made possible by a grant from the Baltimore National Heritage Area to provide free sails to community groups, and brought to life by Lori Ferrara, Development Director, and Patrick Smith, Program Coordinator, for Pride of Baltimore Inc. They arranged for the IHS group to be the only people other than the crew on the ship for a two-hour sail. Lori also arranged the tours of S.S. John W Brown and N.S. Savannah. Thank you to the volunteers who provided the tours of S.S. John W Brown and N.S. Savannah. We are thankful for the opportunities they all provided to help inspire our youth and to help make the world a better place.

This trip was made possible thanks to advance planning by Nathanael Arthurs and Mr. Murphy, and ongoing support from IHS and IASD administration and staff including Mr. Wade McElheny, Mr. Rob Heinrich, Mr. Justin Zahorchak, Mr. Mike Travis, and the support of the IASD School Board.

The IHS Sailing Club is sponsored by IHS teacher Mr. Dan Murphy and led by IHS and IASD community members Nathanael Arthurs, Mary Angelo, and Beth Rettig.

Nathanael Arthurs
IHS Sailing Club
Indiana, Pennsylvania