Bearing the Standard of Friendship

1 July (Canada Day) 2013

Pride of Baltimore II is currently climbing her way over the Niagara Escarpment through the Welland Canal. I departed the ship yesterday, leaving her in the capable hands of Captain Miles for her passage through the mighty locks. Leaving by car, I crossed the border between Canada and the US in a vehicle other than a ship for the first time in 14 years. The Niagara Peninsula was spectacular – stands of trees, vineyards, and grassy parks shown in vibrant green under a cloud-speckled blue sky.

All along the way, however, were the relics of 1812. Scattered stone walls, stately Fort George, and towering over the forested bluffs of Queenston Heights, Brock’s monument, commemorating the heroic death of General Brock at the battle there. All reminders that 200 years ago this picturesque expanse was host to a heated war between two young nations. The War of 1812 defined both Canada and America, particularly along the Great Lakes, where a dozen or more American invasions found Canadians united in a cause for the first time in their short history.

Baltimore was also defined by invasion during the war. During the Battle of Baltimore immigrants, merchants, former slaves, militia, and descendants of original settlers all joined together with the few federal troops on scene to defend Baltimore against a powerful British Force. Their successful efforts had the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry to inspire Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem.

Nearly two centuries later, we still commemorate and remember the heroism of 1812 on both sides of the world’s longest undefended border. But we also celebrate the long-standing peace between the United States and Canada. For our part in commemorating and celebrating, Pride, Inc. has been presenting each Canadian port Pride II visits with a special gift – a three-foot by five-foot linen replica of the 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner of 1812. Each of these flags were flown over Fort McHenry, on the pole standing on the very spot it did during the Battle of Baltimore, folded by Maryland students visiting the Fort, then carried from Baltimore aboard Pride II, and flown over the ship in local waters as we approached each port.

 

Sharing the Star-Spangled Banner

So far this year, we have presented these flags in Miramichi, New Brunswick and Brockville, Toronto, and Port Dalhousie, Ontario, always citing the 199 years (and counting) of friendship between our nations. Each presentation has been met with hushed astonishment from public officials, roaring applause from the gathered crowds, and whoops of approval from local Canadian Legion Veterans. Even after four presentation ceremonies, it never got easier for me to contain my own emotions as I witnessed the heartfelt appreciation with which the flag was accepted. This small token carries enormous import and weight.

History, peace, and friendship are cargo that Maryland’s Goodwill Ambassador joyfully carries. From our departure past Fort McHenry (America’s only National Historic Shrine) on 21 May, Pride II has not been burdened by carrying these flags, but made more buoyant in her role. So on Canada Day we remind our brothers and sisters to the North that we are right beside them as they “stand on guard.” And when our Star-Spangled Banner waves this Thursday, we will remember there is freedom and bravery in great store on both sides of the Great Lakes.

Sincerely,

 

Captain Jamie Trost

WAITING FOR (THE WX TO SETTLE DOWN IN THE STRAIGHT OF) HONGUEDO

Wednesday, 5 June, 2013

Pos: 48 36.4 N x 064 15.9 W
Wx: NNW F 4, gusting 6, 6/8ths cumulus, scattered showers
Pride of Baltimore II at anchor in 30 feet of water

The current weather around Gaspe is relentless: 20-30 from the West to North West, violent seas six to nine feet, nothing to go charging into. The worst of it is in the Strait of Honguedo, between mainland Quebec and Anticosti Island, precisely in our route. Pride of Baltimore II is waiting it out in La Malbaie, Quebec along with her sister, Lynx. I imagine this is the first time two Baltimore Clippers have shared this anchorage, perhaps the first time one has ever anchored here. In any case, it’s probably the first time in 200 years.

La Malbaie is French for Bad Bay, but we can’t find a single fault with it. Aside from its convenient location within easy striking distance of the St. Lawrence River mouth, the surrounding shoreline is nothing short of stunning. In the long stretch of northern afternoon yesterday, we finally started motoring after the wind faded and shifted for the 10th time, and set off for La Malbaie through the narrow passage between Perce Rocher and Ile de Bonaventure. Grumpy as we might have been about the weather, this diversion was worth every moment of frustration.

Ile de Bonaventure stands a mile and a half off the town of Perce, Quebec. Sheer red cliffs rise like castle walls from the gulf to mark the island. A few houses speckle a grassy streak near the west face and tall pines crown the island’s cap. As we approached, thin, cool sunlight streaked through a cloud shot sky to gleam against the rock walls. On the near shore, the ragged rock arch of Perce Rocher glowed a near purple in the shade. Beyond, the town of Perce crammed itself into the gaps and hollows of ragged coastal mountains. As we rounded the corner into La Malbaie itself, farms and roads climbed rolling hills into the interior of the Gaspisie. The sunset offered incredible drama. The scene, taken whole, was spellbinding. In myths or storybooks, our schooner might be waylaid here for centuries, all our obligations, adventures, and memories dissolved into the greens, blues, and soft purples of the land and seascapes.

In reality, however, we’re due into Clayton, New York in a week to clear US customs, re-supply the ship, and handle a dozen other logistic details before launching into the twelve Tall Ship festivals that fill the summer of 2013. We’re wind bound, not spellbound. But if the wind doesn’t let up, we’ll continue to enjoy staring at this captivating scenery.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the fairly mesmerized crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Please Help Keep Our Ship Afloat.

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is tucked in for a long winter’s nap, so to speak. With spars, sails, rigging, guns, safety and accommodation gear all off-loaded, she seems large and lonely. Under the opaque shrink-wrap cover, her deck is uninterrupted by clutter, while below PRIDE II – her bunks cleared out, her shelves stripped bare – is like an empty house. This is quite a switch from the hustle and bustle of 2012, when over 30,000 dockside visitors were drawn aboard by her rakish profile, 1,500 enthusiasts adventured out on day sails, and hundreds of students learned about the dramatic innovation PRIDE II’s ancestors represented.

We at Pride, Inc. are ecstatic that PRIDE II had such a prominent role in this year’s Bicentennial events. But, borrowing a phrase from the musket-technology of 1812, we don’t intend this focus to be a “flash in the pan.” Instead, we are committed to ensuring the exposure and fanfare PRIDE II receives during these historical anniversaries is not a peak, or even a plateau, but a step towards an increased presence and wider recognition in both the international maritime community, and to the family of PRIDE supporters – across the country, across the globe, and especially in our own home port of Baltimore. In fact, in 2013 Pride, Inc. will be taking PRIDE to the next generation like never before through new and dynamic underway educational programming focused on the physics of her unique design.

These are trying times. Everywhere we see PRIDE II’s sister ships tied up, not operating, or even for sale. No longer funded in any part by the State of Maryland, and now owned fully by Pride, Inc., PRIDE II has kept above water largely due to the wise investing and future-planning decisions made by Pride, Inc.’s Board of Directors. Our plan for a continuing future includes you –YOU sailing aboard PRIDE II, YOU helping to further her 35-year legacy far and wide, and YOU contributing to her continuing success in sharing the “History of Innovation.”

In this season of giving, we ask that you consider a donation to Pride of Baltimore II’s educational programming and operations. Consider this donation an investment, an investment that offers inspiration as its return. PRIDE II has inspired you, help us continue to inspire students and citizens across all the world’s oceans. With your help we mean to make this inspiration lasting, ingrained, and a fact of life for her proud home port of Baltimore, the great United States she represents, and the maritime community she strives to exemplify.

Thank you in advance for your support. Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

With great pride,

Captain Jamie Trost and Captain Jan Miles, Acting Executive Director

 

A special gift, whether $25 or $100 or more, will help Pride of Baltimore II maintain her beauty and keep sailing the globe telling the tale of America’s maritime history and the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay.

Donate Online 

To donate by mail, please make checks payable to “Pride of Baltimore, Inc.” and mail to:

Pride of Baltimore, Inc.
1801 S. Clinton St., Suite 250
Baltimore, MD 21224

 All donations to Pride of Baltimore, Inc. a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

 

Happy Commissioning Day, Perfect Present, and “All the Laundry”

Pride of Baltimore II
Pos: At Anchor off Annapolis
Wx: SSE F 3, 3/8 Cumulus

Today marks the 24th anniversary of Pride of Baltimore II’s commissioning. Different from her launch day, when she first touched the water as a complete, floating hull but was still awaiting a rig, an interior, and mechanical and electrical systems, today marks the day that she was finished and ready to sail away on her first voyage and begin her illustrious career as the signature example of Maryland’s Maritime History.

On this day in 1988, Pride II was also certificated by the United States Coast Guard for carrying Passengers. This distinction took the mission started by her predecessor to a whole new level. Instead of just boarding the ship at the dock, or marveling at her from a distance – as was the case with the first Pride – people can actually experience the grace, power, and agility of a Baltimore Privateer underway. If you’re adventurous enough, the dreamy wonder of sailing the epitome of early 19th century sailing performance can be a reality. And in 24 years, Pride II has signed aboard thousands as passengers, or as deeply involved “working guest crew” trainees.

It just so happens we have three guest crew (half a boat full) with us on this trip, and they got a rare show. After a slow start alternately drifting and motoring out of the Choptank in concert with the Chestertown-based Schooner Martha White, we got a gift of a 15-knot breeze at around two-thirty and – already carrying all plain sail and the t-gallant – started letting Pride II be herself. In no time she was skimming across the Sharp’s Island Flats at 10 knots. A passing car carrier even radioed to tell us how good she looked.

 

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

Once in the open Bay and off the wind, we celebrated her commissioning by setting not only her stuns’l, but dragging out the rarely used ringtail. This sail is much like the stuns’l, but sets along the leech (after edge) of the mains’l. It requires all the same gear as the stuns’l, and that gear is much harder to rig at the end of the main boom than it is on the fore yard. Consequently, the ringtail is set about once a year. Such infrequent use has allowed the original 1988 Egyptian Cotton sail to still be usable today.

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

And use it we did, not only carrying it up the bay to Bloody Point, but gybing it as we wore ship off Herring Bay. Friends ashore and passing boats sent us pictures they’d taken of Pride II carrying all the sail she owns. We even convinced one small power boat, the Angler Management, to pick up Chief Mate Hank Moseley to get a few shots of our Pride in all her finest, just around sunset.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

Even after dark, though no one could see, we sailed on, slowly stripping off the “kites” until we reached Annapolis under four lowers and the fore tops’l, threading our way around the other boats in the anchorage to sail onto the hook with a flourish only a Baltimore Schooner can muster.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and celebrating crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Choptank Tacking Adventure, and the Fores’l Sits One Out

Pride of Baltimore II
Pos: At Anchor off Horn Point, Choptank River
Wx: SE F 3, 6/8 Cumulus, Rain on the way

Autumn Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay is about the finest way to wrap up a season aboard Pride of Baltimore II, and today was a picture perfect example of why that is. After a generous festive cook out at the home of Captain Aram Nersesian of the Schooner Heron last night, we departed our dock at the Solomon’s Island Yacht Club, briefly motoring out to the Patuxent River before we set sail in the company of at least six other Schooners, all bound back up the Bay after the Schooner Race. With a Southeasterly breeze, we all had a leisurely downwind course on a warm and clear October afternoon. Under the easy combination of Fore, Foretops’l, Stays’l and Jib, Pride II needed to wear ship just two times in the twenty miles between the Patuxent and Choptank Rivers. All around us our sister schooners did much the same, darting across the shimmering Bay in nearly perfect conditions.

But with an easterly slant on the wind, a trip to the Eastern Shore couldn’t ALL be downwind. At the mouth of the Choptank, we sharpened up the yards, trimmed in the fore and aft, and then set the Main, gathering speed and preparing for what looked to be considerable upwind work. Cambridge, Maryland lies at the end of the navigable section of the Choptank – at least for vessels over 50’ tall – and just before the route 213 Bridge. Along the way, the seemingly open waters of the river disguise steep sided shoals where the depth can change from 85’ to 3’ in as little as 200 yards. And, with the southeasterly, Cambridge is also directly up wind from the Bay. Approaching the narrows off Castle Haven Point, I mustered the crew and told them to stretch and warm up because we were looking at 17 tacks to our anchorage.

Anchoring was the plan because Dorchester County is also prone to minor flooding in a southeasterly, which means the dock could go “Awash” at high tide, while the same wind blows straight onto the dock. Being pushed onto a dock that might go underwater is never good, so anchoring just outside town would keep us in easy striking distance for our education program tomorrow morning, and allow the wind to shift to southerly and make the dock a better landing.

But still, we had to get up the river. As anyone who’s been aboard her, or read this blog, can attest to, Pride II is a handful to tack. Heads’ls and tops’l must be wrestled around, and the dance of swapping running main stays and fores’l requires seemingly endless cranking on crank-hauls, while the fores’l hangs aback, stalling out Pride II’s speed and keeping her from pointing into the wind as high as she might. With a well oiled crew of 35, all the necessary steps might happen at once, but with 11 crew aboard, step by step is the only way to handle all the heavy gear.

In order to keep the tacks sharper, and keep the wear and tear on the crew to a minimum, I implemented the unorthodox strategy of taking in the fores’l, and sailing “split rigged.” We don’t often do this aboard Pride II, except in special circumstances. The combination of hull shape and sail plan mean the fore is our hardest working sail, usually set first and taken in last as it is gives the maximum drive to balance ratio. But today, I gave it the afternoon off. After 12 years of hard service, it deserves a holiday now and again.

Fortune favored our plan, and the breeze shifted to South just as we entered the narrow section of river, allowing us to shave a whole seven predicted tacks off our route. It came back southeast as we cleared Lecompte Bay, shifting as we were coming about, nearly causing us to miss stays. We salvaged the tack by shifting the helm while we made a boat length of sternway, tacking more like a square-rigger than a Baltimore Privateer, but still making it through.

A mere three tacks later and we rounded up to drop the port bower, squaring the foretops’l to “put on the brakes” just around the corner from Cambridge. Rain is in the forecast. Even now clouds are thickening to the South. But for now, we’re a dry and happy crew with a little glow from the paces we just put our gorgeous schooner through.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the (for today only) “spit-rigged” crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Farewell Newport, Hello Lady ~ LADY MARYLAND, that is

9 July 2012
Pos: 41°33.1’N x 070°47.8’ W
Wx: South Force 4, 2/8 Cirrus, 3/8 Stratus
Pride of Baltimore II sailing at 6.6 knots toward the Cape Cod Canal under all Plain Sail and T’Gallant.

Pride of Baltimore II has left the hustle and bustle of a busy and successful festival in Newport, Rhode Island astern and is now at sea once more. After arriving in grand style on Thursday 5 July, we opened for tours Friday and hosted nearly 9,000 visitors to the ship in a short three days. Busy, but not too busy for the crew to experience the depth and breadth of sailing, history, and sailing history of Newport. As hometown of War of 1812 hero Oliver Hazard Perry, victor of the Battle of Lake Erie, Newport has strong 1812 connections, and those are especially poignant to me, as Perry made his mark in my home waters of Lake Erie, and I grew up in the shadow of his legend in Erie, PA. Today, Tall Ships America, co-host of the festival with Ocean State Tall Ships fittingly has their offices in Perry’s home.

Modern Newport has its mind clearly focused on modern yachting, but its history is apparent on every block, and from every era. The imposing New York Yacht Club stands proud at the harbor entrance and serves as a constant reminder of the grand era of America’s Cup Racing, and layers upon layers of historic and recent racing memorabilia can be found in the shops along America’s Cup Way and Thames Street.

Our fleet of traditional sail made it’s own show today, Parading along the East Shore of Narragansett Bay from Castle Hill to the Newport Naval Station and back to sea. Fourteen ships in all, and when many back at our end of the Parade ducked back into Newport to disembark passengers or simply call it a day, Pride II was left alone to bring up the rear. No longer bound to the Parade speed, we quit motor sailing and ghosted out the Bay with aid from an ebb tide. Then a Southerly shift had us scrambling to trim sail and Pride II was alive again, beating to windward across a calm sea as Baltimore Schooners were made to do. And as if drawn by the Chesapeake like conditions, our little sister, Lady Maryland, also two weeks out from Baltimore, appeared to the southwest.

It would be un-neighborly, we thought, not to sail a board back to the West and say hello. The breeze would hold, Pride II was fast enough to make up a bit of time, especially time spent to hail old shipmates and friends. So we tacked away from our rhumbline and for a quarter of an hour had a “gam,” a chance meeting of ships on the open water. Lady Maryland reached down from windward and we put Pride II’s fore tops’l and t’gallant aback, effectively throwing the brakes on, to let her pass under our stern and to Leeward. We exchanged salutes, then braced up and slid along with her. Eager students gazed out over her rail at us while our guest crew took a curious look at this “other” Baltimore Schooner.

Among the crews of both ships, thick with old bonds, not much was said. Not much needed to be. We’d weathered squalls and sailed through gales together, froze our way through winter maintenance and up-rig with each other. Now, on a sun-speckled afternoon with the breeze running its fingers across the water, all we needed was to share a nod and a knowing smile that told each other all those rainy nights and long cold days were worth this chance to stumble upon each other and show off our ships. In our world of near constant voyaging, that’s enough. We tacked around to get on our way and Lady Maryland sailed on to her anchorage.

Fair winds, friends, we’ll see you back home.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the Crew of Pride of Baltimore II