Captain's Log: Winterizing Pride of Baltimore II

Deciding not to sail a sailing vessel during the cold climes of winter seems like an obvious thing, but contrarily it is not.

Rig Down and Winter Frame Assembled
Rig down & winter frame assembled

Sure, cold weather sailing is not for the feint of heart or the ill equipped or ill prepared. To some degree that is the simple aspect of the decision…be prepared, or do not sail in cold weather!

But when a vessel is neither active nor lived aboard during cold weather, there is no need to provide heat throughout the vessel, thus there are many attendant details to consider for preventing damage to onboard systems due to cold weather.

In the instance of a traditionally built wood vessel, an additional consideration is shielding the vessel from sun and wet weather. Both combine to cause significant degradation to wood surfaces, coated or not. I suspect uncovered & unused wooden vessels in cold weather climes will age at least as fast as from a fully active sailing winter in warmer climes with crew aboard taking care of things on a daily basis. Whereas the cold and wet hinders any interest or even capability to clean or maintain any observed needs. Plus, regular sun exposure while resting in only one orientation concentrates aging.

Rig Down
Rig Down

Thus it is that the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II’s winters spent in her homeport involve down-rigging all that can be taken out of the rig and covering all as well the ship with something (we use white plastic) that both keeps everything dry and the nearly completely emptied out below areas free to be open hence well ventilated (long term closed up is very deleterious to wood vessels)…but also shielded from sun rays power to age coatings, even reduce the amount of drying of the outside wood construction (deck & above water hull) that comes of regular direct sunlight without benefit of daily cleaning/wetting or changing direction of exposure of an active vessel.

The included photos provide a small hint to why it takes at least three-four weeks to winterize PRIDE. It will take at least twice as long to reverse.

Thus it is Marylanders’ Sailing Ambassador of 27 years of age and over a quarter of a million voyaged nautical miles is as strong & beautiful as she was when new…as well as being admired worldwide.

Thus it is she is ready and able to continue her ambassadorial voyages of imagination and promotion of Maryland & Baltimore far and wide. What do all of you say?

A sheltered & cosy winter wish to all of you in cold climes! 😎

So what's a commissioning? #27forPride2

Whether you’re an armchair adventurer or a captain with decades of seafaring experience, there’s one thing that’s universally acknowledged: Sailing vessels are breathtakingly pretty. (Especially Pride of Baltimore II.)

But Pride II is more than just a photo op. In addition to the gorgeous images we’ve been sharing from our archives, we wanted to use Pride II’s anniversary as an opportunity to talk shop. We rarely get the chance to discuss what happens when a ship is launched and how it differs from a ship’s commissioning, for instance, but the nuances are actually quite fascinating.

A ship’s commissioning, according to Wikipedia, “is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service.” Essentially, this is the day where the appointed officials say, “Hey, go be a boat.”

When Pride II was commissioned, among the thousands in the crowd were important officials, including a clergyman and the commander of the USS Baltimore. Captain Miles was instructed by the commander to “assume command of the Pride of Baltimore II and place in her commission,” to which Captain Miles responded, “Aye, aye, sir. I am in command. Pride of Baltimore II is now in commission.” Up went the flags and off she sailed, the first part of her maiden voyage ending in Bermuda.

When a vessel is commissioned, it already has a name and is already in the water — this happens at the launch. The launch is the transferring of a vessel to the water. (Pride II was launched on April 30, 1988 after 18 months of construction.) Also at the launch, a bottle of champagne may be broken over the bow as the ship’s name is announced aloud. (Helen Delich Bentley had this honor for Pride II.)

In the time between launch and commissioning, there are sea trials, or test drives for a boat. These trails allow the captain and crew to test the design of the ship, as well as the equipment. Not to mention, sailing a traditionally rigged vessel such as Pride II is very different than sailing a more modernly equipped vessel.

Commissioning is the vessel’s last stop on the road to her maiden voyage. The launch may be the bigger celebration, but the commissioning is when the party really starts.

Twenty-Seven Years of Sailing With Pride #27forPride2

Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned 27 years ago today! An excerpt from Greg Pease’s Sailing with Pride:


Pride of Baltimore II was officially commissioned on Sunday, October 23, 1988 in Fells Point, Baltimore. Hundreds crowded the docks to watch as Pride II was given orders to sail forth on her maiden voyage.

Following dedications by city and state officials and the blessing of the ship by Reverend William N. McKeachie, Commander Patrick Dunne, Captain of the USS Baltimore, gave Captain Jan Miles his commissioning orders. “Captain Miles, assume command of the Pride of Baltimore II and place her in commission,” to which Miles answered, “Aye, aye, sir. I am in command. Pride of Baltimore II is now in commission.” Miles then turned to his crew and order the raising of the flag. Two crew members hoisted a replica of the fifteen-star, fifteen stripe U.S. flag which flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. (It was the sight of this flag which inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”) The flags of Maryland and Baltimore and a Pride of Baltimore II pennant were quickly run up, joining the U.S. flag. As Pride II pulled away from the dock, firing her cannons in salute, the Navy band struck up “Anchors Aweigh.”

With an escort of three large schooners and a flotilla of smaller boats, Pride of Baltimore II took her first official tour of the Inner Harbor. It was a crisp, sunny day, and thousands lined the water’s edge to wave farewell. After eighteen months, Pride II was on her way, to not only carry on the mission of her predecessor, but to make her own history as Maryland’s ambassador to the world. –S.S.


THE SUN – OCTOBER 24, 1988

Pride of Baltimore featured in the Baltimore Sun on October 24, 1988

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Winter Maintenance 2015

Winter time is a busy time for us at PRIDE. Over the course of the 2014 sailing season, PRIDE accumulated wear and tear performing her mission, so we make use of the winter to examine and repair the ship.

PRIDE under wraps, courtesy Jan Miles
PRIDE under wraps, courtesy Jan Miles

Effective winter maintenance procedures include storing all of the ship’s upper and outer spars and rigging under cover. Also, to minimize ongoing wear and tear during the winter the ship herself is covered for protection from rain and sun. Doing this has the added benefit of enabling the ship to be opened up for extra ventilation.

Our Constant Battle With Moisture

Traditionally built wooden vessels are assembled of big sections of trees. These so precisely shaped and tightly assembled sections continue to be impacted by moisture. Even when protected by paint, varnish or oil they will change their dimension as moisture changes. This movement can break down the protecting patina, so we look for and attend to that.

Also, moisture can form upon surfaces due to differing temperatures within the ship. A dry deck and upper hull planking can belie the fact that there could be condensation in spaces below the waterline (air is warm but sea is cool causes condensation at the zone of sharp change of temperature between the two air zones).

Guest Crew and Volunteer Mark Thieling, courtesy Jan Miles
Guest Crew and Volunteer Mark Thieling, courtesy Jan Miles

Ventilating the condensation away easily can only really be done when we are able to open the ship up below and vent to the deck. So during the winter with no risk of rain getting below due to the ship being covered the below area is opened up by opening both the upper deck hatches as well picking up cabin sole boards and opening all locker spaces that were emptied out. Fans are placed to increase the chance of circulating bilge area air.

Meanwhile, the winter crew and several dedicated volunteers, including a number of Boy Scout Troops, collaborate on attending to the spars and rigging. With extra time cosmetics on the ship will be touched up. But the priority are the spars and the rigging. After all, to cause PRIDE…weighing nearly a half of a million pounds…to sail at greats speeds in winds that have also created considerable sea requires strong and dependable spars and rigging in addition to a strung, tight, well cared for hull. We hope to ensure this strength and good condition by making use of any time the ship is not actually sailing.

The Extra Mile

If it strikes some of you that this is all pretty normal and expected, this is most appreciated. But let me provide a distinction about the amount of effort that goes into one aspect of regular maintenance for PRIDE. Consider the blocks used in the rigging. They are what is described as “rope stropped”. This term refers to a bit of cable (today this can be steel wire or synthetic braided or twisted rope) that circles the shell of the block and also the attachment hardware that may be at one or both ends of the block. This loop circling the block and hardware is called the strop. The strop must be seized to both the bock shell and the hardware at one or both ends of the block.

Doing this seizing is a precise affair and the process includes making the seizing as tight as humanly possible to account for stretch under future load that will occur when sailing the ship. I have not mentioned the preparations of the strop. That is also a very precise process. Any lack of preciseness will likely result in the block becoming able to pop out of the strop.

I won’t try to paint the picture of what kind of mayhem that event might create. After a season of sailing, the winter crew re-varnish the block shell, which requires taking apart the whole rope-stropped assembly… then putting all back together again properly for future sailing. Plenty of work merely to protect the wood block…eh?

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

—Captain Jan Miles

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Ending a Busy Year

Pride of Baltimore II is secure at her winter berth. The sailing crew are gone and she rests alone and uncovered. The covering will occur in the New Year. This is a reversal of the norm, but having not done the normal annual spring dry-dock due to the very busy ship yard and the ship’s schedule starting off earlier this year, there was little flexibility to reschedule the dry-dock…so no dry-dock.

At the last minute in mid-November we realized an opportunity of a less busy shipyard and just barely enough time to get Pride hauled and her bottom attended to. The effort was a gamble that was a very close call. Had the gamble not succeeded, the ship would likely still be in Virginia at this time due to the crew departure date coming before the ship could be finished and returned to Baltimore. Good fortune and a great deal of extra effort on the part of the crew and the shipyard combined to make the feasible actually occur. (And it sure does help that the weather was benign!)

So, the ship is home and has been secured by the crew just before their departure. She is uncovered for the Holidays, but will eventually become covered.




CAPTAIN'S LOG: 25th Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race of 2014 – A story of the "new" schooners…

The first four vessels of the fleet bigger classes (AA, A & B) that must finish by crossing the Thimble Shoal Light finish line down at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay represent the last 100 year technological spread of design and material. Those finishers are Woodwind, Summerwind, Brilliant, and Light Reign.

Of the leading four schooners, the fully original old style classic schooner yacht is the 1932 Olin Stevens designed Brilliant. She flies only the style of sails of her day. The most arcane being the “golly wobbler”. The modernized and updated original classic schooner yacht is Summerwind, a 1929 Alden design. She sports the very latest in updated rig technology. Fully battened main and foresail with all carbon fibre spars carrying the modern single luff spinnaker-like downwind sails of todays modern racing machines. The other two schooners of these first four fleet finishers are modernly imagined classic schooner yachts. Woodwind and Light Reign are staysail schooners with aluminum spars and also make use of the modern downwind sails like the spinnaker or the single luff spinnaker-like sails of today’s most modern racers. Both of their hulls are quite light displacement types with less “wine glass” in profile by being more “hard bilged” and fin keel like as compared to the older two vessels. Their material is also different. Laminated wood or fiberglass, representing a much lighter construction with the advantage of being more “mono coke” constructed hence more stress bearing capable.

All four of these vessels jousted nearly abreast nearly all the way down the Chesapeake Bay. Leaving far behind most of the rest of the fleet. The order of finish appears to be Woodwind, Summerwind, Brilliant, then Light Reign. I am not certain there is any message to pick up with this finish order. Except to say collectively these more modern vessels of the fleet do not necessarily indicate much performance difference over the last 100 years of design and material knowledge exemplified between them…but do represent significant difference to sailing capability of the rest of the fleet.

The 5th vessel to cross the line was Adventurer. She is similar to Light Reign. She crossed behind the four leaders by between one and two hours.

Pride was the sixth vessel to cross the line some three to four hours after the leaders and one to two hours after Adventurer. Pride was the first of the classic “workboat” type vessels to cross the finish line. Being the near replica that she is of her 1812 era type, she is the heaviest of this year’s fleet. Also for this years 25th Annual Race Pride is the longest, the widest, the most complex antiquated rig style and possesses square-sails. It appears at this point (Saturday morning) no other member vessels of Pride‘s racing class behind her managed to finish the race at Thimble Shoal Light.

I think it is interesting that the technological differences between Pride and the leaders of this years race appear to represent a clear difference and advantage of the change in technology between 1812 and the last 100 years…but not so much change within the last 100 years. But when I consider the time difference between the less than 100 year old technology and Pride‘s represented era being only four to five hours in a 127 mile race between land on both sides of The Bay…not a lot of advantage in performance has been achieved by the change in technology Pride represents and the last 100 years. But I think that is to be expected with the physics associated with hulls that do not have the capacity to plane like the latest none traditional racers. Although, I must say it was a lot easier for the crew to race those more modern, smaller and speedier vessels than it was for the crew of Pride to manage her very old antiquated rig style and old style sails in the effort to sail the heaviest boat down the Chesapeake Bay after those “newer” and lighter leading schooners.

Hooray to the crew of Pride and my compliments to their successful efforts!


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