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Photo: Pride at Clinton Street, March 31, 2020, courtesy of Jeff Crosby

Date: April 1, 2020

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Pride of Baltimore II will discontinue ship movements for crew training and practicing their roles for safe and orderly sailing of Maryland’s most renowned, as well as most complicated, traditional sailing vessel.

This decision is in full support of Governor Hogan’s stay-at-home order announced Monday for increasing the effort to forestall the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

During this period, and since mid-February, the crew make their home aboard and the ship is moored behind a chainlink fence in a “secure” (from public contact) compound, in a non-residential, commercial area, the crew and ship have been and remain as protected as everyone abiding by stay-at-home order. So, they will continue to ready Pride for hoped-for operations recommencing whenever the Governor lifts the stay-at-home directive.

Like every vessel that serves the public, maintenance is a responsibility of its professional crew to ensure public safety, as well as maritime safety and vessel preservation. Traditionally-constructed wood vessels require repainting so that the wood does not deteriorate, unlike metal that can often go without repainting for some extended time leaving only surface corrosion to overcome, if not left for an overly long time. Wood is not nearly so forgiving. Wood surfaces aging through not being coated with something means loss of dimension. As well as possible incursion of rot-causing moisture through narrow openings of grain and seams. Even if not repainted to cover exposed wood and seams for as little as three months, when it comes time to prepping for repainting or varnishing, some wood is lost. Possibly a bit of opening of grain has let moisture into the piece or into seams between pieces that, when covered over by repainting, could become an epicenter of future deeply buried rot.

So all of the operating part of every year, for every year of the life of Pride II, all kinds of maintenance is on the work list to be done. Between public events and voyages — even during voyages when conditions permit — wood preservation, as well as traditional rig preservation, is scheduled. A past chief mate from the early 1990s quipped “stealing maintenance time” like a mantra as he would work with me to prioritize maintenance of rig and wood (as well other things) between public events and during fair weather times of voyages.

With the Governor’s stay-at-home public safety announcement, Pride will discontinue any ship movements for crew training between maintenance work and focus exclusively on maintenance. A curious opportunity compared to a normal year to not only get caught up but, maybe, to get ahead, considering the only interruption to exterior maintenance will be weather.

Down-below projects are to be done as well. Plenty of winter cosmetics down below were done over the winter. More can be done in the non-living areas. Meanwhile, ship systems care is another area that can always withstand more time than merely ensuring all systems work.

Rig-wise, the most powerful engine of motive power aboard, even though the rig went sailing last week, there are a myriad of details to complete for future extended sailing. Instead of fitting such details between public events and local protected waters ship movements, this virus crisis public safety strategy announced by the Governor is an opportunity to attend, somewhat continuously, to fiddly rig details and work toward being fully ready-for-sea future sailings.

Keep protecting yourselves!


Captain Jan C. Miles