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Spring Haul Out – Welcome Aboard Crew

The winter crew finished up in late February and the Spring crew moved aboard on February 23rd.  They have been going non-stop ever since.  There is much work to be done to ready the ship for an exciting 2010 season, which includes port visits in each of the five Great Lakes.

Right now PRIDE is in transition from being under winter cover to being in sailing mode. In addition to the typical complications associated with the transition, this year we had a heavy winter snow to compound the process.  Once the winter cover was removed, there was the task of getting the spars, which spent the winter on the deck, sent back up again.  Then there is loading the ship of the gear that will be needed to live, work, maintain and assemble PRIDE.  Throw in the annual inspections by the USCG authorities, as well as other entities such as fire extinguisher inspection and service, radio & emergency beacon performance testing, life raft and safety gear inspection or service, as well as international ocean voyaging service inspection by the American Bureau of Ships (ABS). 

On March 7, we moved PRIDE to the shipyard in Portsmouth, VA for dry-dock.  The crew need to have housing ashore during this period.  Yard work includes inspection, maintenance of caulked seams and painting the bottom; inspecting all thru-hull fittings; removing propellers (they swivel to reduce their drag) for maintenance by their manufacturer in Maine; picking up a re-stitched foresail from the sail maker in Maine; re-tying sails back onto the spars where they belong to enable spreading them for sailing; and more. 

In addition there is training the crew for the sailing they will do and the safety information they need to know, including first-aid and CPR, life rafts, fire-fighting, emergency drills and the history of PRIDE and her modern day mission, the 1812 War & Chesapeake Bay Privateers and the origin of our country’s National Anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

As you can see, there is a lot do and there are many things to cover.  Thus, from February 22 to April 9 it is seven weeks of back to back 8-10 hour days (seven days per week). 

The crew that do this are dedicated to their trade-craftand come to PRIDE from other sailing vessels to learn more about their profession by the work they do aboard PRIDE. We have four individuals that have sailed PRIDE several times already. One sailed withus back in 2005 as a deckhand but is back aboard now as Chief Mate having developed further in his career by sailing other vessels. Our 2nd Mate sailed aboard PRIDE before as a deckhand a couple of years ago and in the meantime also been a dedicated marine professional on other sailing vessels. We have two deckhands that not only sailed in 2009 but even earlier…putting other vessels in-between the times sailing PRIDE. It is likely they will gain licenses from the USCG and pursue officer positions on other vessels…maybe to come back aboard PRIDE as an officer. The rest of the crew are aboard for the first time having already sailed other vessels as deckhands. So they come to PRIDE with significant prior experience…but are looking for additional experience in a unique vessel sailing a far ranging mission that is not found with many other American sailing vessels.

In addition we have returning to PRIDE Captain Jamie Trost to be the “partner” captain again. Jamie’s professional traditional sailing vessel origins are excellently suited for a captain of PRIDE as has been proved by his being a PRIDE partner captain for the previous two years. Jamie serves in the long tradition of being a partner captain which got its start in 1989 at the end of PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II’s first year of sailing. It is not realistic or proper for Pride of Baltimore, Inc. to expect only one person to be the captain monthafter month all year long without relief. No other commercial vessel expects this either. Typically PRIDE’spartner captain becomes a full-time employee and both captains work all year together managing the care of the ship as well collaborating with office staff establishing the ship’s itinerary and schedules. However, over the last three years the partner captain position has been made part-time in an effort to reduce costs. This continued policy runs the risk of losing Jamie to another vessel if they offer a full-time position. Such an occurrence will be most inconvenient because it will require locating another individual to become the partner captain and will require a lot of time be spent bringing them up to speed on how Pride of Baltimore, Inc. works and how one of the most unique sailing vessels in North America sails and is maintained.

There are complicated and opposing philosophical aspects surrounding having two full time captains for PRIDE. On the surface it is easy to decide to conserve salary expenditures by only having part-time captains. Underlying this approach is the risk that a captain “on paper” is not actually properly qualified or experienced to be in command of such a unique vessel as is PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. If PRIDE were one of a number of very similarly complicated vessels all doing wide ranging sailing missions around the country as well internationally replacing a series of part-time masters might not present much concern. The reality is there is only one PRIDE with her complicated rig and wide ranging voyage pattern. She is the only Baltimore Privateer to sail to East Asia in almost 200 years. She is the only American traditional sailing vessel that has made four round trips to Europe in the last two decades. There are only three other American traditional sailing vessels that have gone to Europe over the same time frame. Two have only gone once in their lives and the third has gone only twice. As a result it is very hard to identify highly experienced traditional sailing vessel captains. Choosing to hire just anyone with the paper credential for such sailings poses the possibility of expensive mistakes being made. Jamie represents the 5th PRIDE partner captain. Just as was the case in my own early experiences operating PRIDE, they all had early on experiences that represented mistakes that created expenses. However, once the early stages of the learning curve was passed, all of PRIDE’s partner captains were truly dependable professionals. I welcome Captain Trost back as PRIDE’s partner captain for the 2010 sailing season, which has PRIDE visiting all of the Great Lakes…Jamie’s home waters…more than three thousand miles from the Chesapeake Bay by way of Nova Scotia and the St. Lawrence River.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II