Thursday, April 5, 2012
Alongside Portsmouth, VA
Last Friday, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II splashed down – my euphemism reflecting long ago launches that really were splashy…in reality PRIDE was carefully and painfully slowly lowered on an elevator into the water.  After a shift of less than half a mile she was tied up alongside the Renaissance Hotel next to Old Town Portsmouth. With everything secure, a surprise announcement that Saturday would be a full day off for all hands was made. The blank looks on all faces was amusing. But it was not long before all kinds of smiles appeared. It had been 5 weeks without a single day off. With all living back aboard, the ship remained very quiet to well into Saturday morning.




Sunday, it was back to work.  Since then, the routine has been the same each day. Get started at 8 a.m. and work until well after 5 p.m. (sometimes until after 6 p.m.) on rigging up the final details and bending on sail. But there is a great convenience living aboard. The commute is nonexistent. Regular meals, snacks, drinks and belongings are right at hand. So the sense of being at work is not quite as marked. The long hours do not seem quite so long due to the high degree of novelty of the work. Most of the crew, despite having worked on other traditional sailing vessels, have not done the work before and find most of it interesting. Tightening the rig involves techniques that are not used on some other vessels more than every couple of years…if that often.

Because PRIDE’s top-hamper (yards and topmasts) are sent down during a winter lay-up, after they have been resent aloft in the spring their rigging needs tightening. This work is quite time consuming because of the care required during the tightening process followed by the four seizings per shroud required to hold the tension just finished being put into the rig. Meanwhile there is required discrete cosmetic maintenance on metal and wood in the hard to get to rigging areas before sails are bent on and cover those areas. Minor sail maintenance is required before sails are bent on. Each sail has a number of lashings that must be made where they hang from masts or stays. Each lashing can take a quarter to a half of an hour. The seizings I mentioned above can take an hour to complete. If each shroud rigging tensioning requires four seizings and we have six shrouds needing tightening, making for twenty-four seizings, and each sail has 15 to 20 lashings, one can do the math and begin to comprehend the time it takes to get PRIDE’s rig ready to sail.

All this in addition to engineering maintenance and responding to vessel security as weather passes by. Yesterday work aloft was curtailed due to eminent threat of strong rain squalls also requiring doubling up of dock-lines before actual arrival of the new weather. There is also the down below domestic maintenance needs every day following up on the impact a dozen persons make living aboard, between cooking, cleaning and tending to personal hygiene.

We have been getting special logistic support from Old Town Portsmouth local Mike Goodwin. He knows the needs of boats being a lifetime small boater and an avid supporter of the Schooner VIRGINIA. For three days running now he has provided transportation for shopping. He also provided some material for a fix in the electrical department. We hope he remains willing to assist…we have another transportation requirement today.

Jan C. Miles, Captain with Pride of Baltimore, Inc.