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.




Life on the Hard

A vessel pulled out of the water can be described as being “on the hard.”

Life for all who live aboard a vessel that has been pulled out of the water and set upon the hard is dramatically affected.

For most instances of being on the hard, continuing to live aboard is not acceptable to the shipyard. This is the case for PRIDE’s crew. Fortunately the Hotel Dinwittie of downtown Portsmouth is less than a mile walk away. Every day, including weekends, PRIDE’s crew trudge or bicycle to and from the ship. Days start at 0700 and end at 1800. All meals are aboard, so breakfast is around 0830 or 0900. Lunch is around 1230. Supper is at 1700. A quick cleanup and then climb down off of the ship and walk out of the shipyard by 1800.

An 0700 start means it is dark on the way to the ship. Work commences right away as the sun rises above the horizon, with breaks from work when meals are called. The cook starts creating breakfast as the crew starts work.

The crew look forward to hotel life…at first. But not long later we all look forward to PRIDE being back in the water, when we all can again live within reach of our personal things. It gets tiresome at the end of the day figuring out if we will continue the evening in the same cloths we worked in. Or in the morning, continue to work in the cloths we came to the ship wearing. It is also a small inconvenience living at night so far away from PRIDE’s snack locker. However, the hotel is right in downtown Portsmouth, so there are conveniences within a few blocks.

Dry-dock work this year has been more extensive than recent years. In past years we were playing catch-up with re-hardening the caulking due to a drying out process the “green” underwater planks were doing while upon the hard. It seems we have succeeded in the catch-up caulking effort, as there was little wide ranging caulking needed this year. However, there was localized caulking seam carpentry repair required close to but above the waterline under PRIDE’s counter (stern quarter). This carpentry repair has created some lengthening of the overall time out of the water.

While the extended dry-docking is undesirable, it has provided time for the crew to attend to some cosmetics that seem much harder to do when the ship is in the water. It seems possible to all of us PRIDE might actually look like she has just come out of the ship yard this year. More often PRIDE looks little changed except to the discerning eye. Meanwhile the crew are left with simultaneously learning to sail and execute the mission as well attend to cosmetics.

Of course weather has a hand in most things associated with dry-docking. Lots of rain means no painting. Deep cold can cause problems. The spring weather for 2013 in the Mid Atlantic has been quite frosty. We have seen snow flurries punctuating the rain and have read about actual inches of accumulation just outside of the Hampton Roads area. Even without the caulking seam carpentry repair creating a delay to re-launch, the rain we experienced surely has caused delay. As it stands now, we are looking hopefully to launch this coming Monday.


Jan C. Miles

A Captain with Pride of Baltimore, Inc.

"On the Hard"

Ocean Marine Yacht Center
Portsmouth, VA

A phrase I learned from our British friends early in my traditional sailing vessel career. Meaning the vessel is not in its element…rather it is hauled out of it for maintenance…or storage. In PRIDE II’s case it is maintenance as well as cleaning the underwater portion of the hull and painting it again for another season of active sailing.

“Life” on the hard presents a dramatic inconvenience for all of the crew…not to mention added expense to the company. First, no one can live aboard while PRIDE II is hauled out…a shipyard policy. Hence the crew finish and start their day with better than a half mile walk to and from the hotel. To contain company cost, meals are aboard, scheduled within the work day. Since the shipyard policy restricts us from starting work to no earlier than 7 AM and we must be gone by 6 PM, our whole day is scheduled just so. Report to the ship at 7 and get working as soon as possible…usually about 7:15 to 7:30 considering change of clothes and wiping off any dew on the varnish. Meanwhile the cook starts breakfast immediately. Often breakfast is ready to sit down to at 8:30-8:45. Considering crew might be under PRIDE II working or off to the side somewhere on sail maintenance set up off of PRIDE II, meal breaks can represent an additional amount of time between actual work getting done. Supper is set for 5 PM to give time for post supper cleanup. Then the walk back to the hotel. Carrying little because you have decided to have all you might want at the hotel, having carried all on the first walk to the hotel. Or carrying something because you leave everything aboard PRIDE II and only carry what you want for the night. This goes on day after day, seven days a week, until one of two things happen:  the weather is so bad work cannot proceed or PRIDE II is back in her natural element again.

PRIDE has been “on the hard” for a week now. PRIDE Ii’s crew have completed the required underwater hull prep work and the hull is ready for the first of two coats of underwater paint. But with the rain over the weekend and this morning being the first dry period since the rain ended, the shipyard crew cannot start painting till after mid day. By then, with a low humidity and sunny, windy morning, the hull should be dry enough for the first underwater coat. Meanwhile PRIDE II’s crew shift their energies to rigging up. The spars are in place and quite a bit of running rigging is run-off. But the “tuning” (tensioning of the rig) has not been done and sails have not been “bent on”.

Looking for the moment at the long view, we seem to be on schedule for being ready to sail come mid April.

Jan C. Miles, A Captain

March Madness with PRIDE

Pride of Baltimore II alondside her winter berth in Canton
Friday, March 16, 2012

March is here and the “madness” is in full swing. 

Chief Mate Sarah Whittam taking off final piece of winter cover

The first part of March is when the newly boarded sailing crew convert PRIDE II from her winter covered state to her rigged up state. This involves uncovering the ship and reinstalling her rig. Uncovering the ship cannot be done until the spars on the ground are uncovered. Rather a lot of careful dis-assembly is required of the cover frames for both the spars and the ship…considering the cover frames are reused each time PRIDE II is rigged down and winterized. Meanwhile a lot of fiddly rigging detail work is required to ready the spars for hoisting.

Halyards need roving off (run through their respective blocks that have been put in place on the lower masts). Topmasts have to be moved aboard then hoisted into a semi-hoisted position…we call this “housed”. Then all of their supporting rigging is attached…rigging eyes slipped over the top. Then the topmasts are hoisted the rest of the way and “fidded”…the “fid” (key) slipped under the heel of the topmast and the topmast lowered down onto.

Dressing the fore top yard

Meanwhile the yards need to be “dressed” before they are hoisted into their position. Dressed means rigged with all of their square-sail running gear. We go to the extra effort of actually bending on (tying on) the square fore-topsail to the top-yard before hoisting all into position because rigging the square-sail on the ground is easier by far than doing so up on the yard hoisted some 80 odd feet in the air.

In addition all of the equipment and supplies that we keep aboard for both operations, safety and maintenance must come aboard before PRIDE heads off for dry-dock in Portsmouth, Virginia this coming weekend.

For additional photos check out our Facebook Photo Albums.

Jan C. Miles, A Captain of Pride of Baltimore II
Acting Executive Director

Post Dry-Dock ~ Rig-up Continues…

Saturday April 2, 2011

We have been afloat since last Monday. It has been steady rain and cold since then. Today is the first dry & sunny day in a week. But it is still cold plus it is windy. USCG came back aboard yesterday for a very short boat ride to satisfy a new local to Norfolk area requirement to “view” (verify) that a recently dry-docked wooden vessel is no longer leaking before they award the dry-docking credit. This new requirement seems to be about checking that such leaking can no longer be “blamed” on “she is still swelling up” after drying out during dry-dock. Pride II passed with flying colors…meaning there was no leaking. Now we are fully focused on rig-up so that we can go sailing to check the ship and the rig and the sail and train the crew. It looks like we won’t be sailing till Monday.

Once we go sailing, we will take most of the week to return to Baltimore. The plan is to anchor during the evenings and sail during the days. There is a lot for the crew to learn…Setting and stowing sail…tacking and gybing sail…Fire drill….Man overboard drill…Abandon ship drill….Small boat deployment drill….Anchor handling….Just to name a small portion of all that needs knowing.

Amidst our post dry-docking week with the cold and rain we discovered the aft cabin shower stall basin was emitting ants. The shower stall basin had to be removed…which involved quite a bit of disassembly of wood trim and also the base to the aft head toilet. The 1st Mate Ryan Graham is a qualified carpenter so has taken lead on the project. But being 1st Mate means that he has been distracted by questions coming from crew. Yesterday was a fork-in-the-road day…do we continue to save the existing, custom made shower basin…or do we hunt down a ready-made replacement? In the end we are sticking with the original basin. Today things should start going back together. Even so, there is another delay. The 1st Mate is spending the first two hours today on administration. Printing extra deck log pages. Arranging the watch schedule for the coming week of sailing. Printing those out. Arranging the schedule of crew domestic chores for the next week. These activities are a demonstration of how things go day-to-day during spring rig-up. Plan on actually working…but become distracted by training, teaching, instructing and administration.

During rig-up, each day is a full 9-12 hours long. Typically we try to have breakfast at 7:30 AM and go to work at 8 AM. Lunch is a half-an-hour starting near noon. Supper is usually at 6 PM. But since being re-launched and moving back aboard to live we have had a hard time having dinner by 7 PM. The evening daylight goes till 7 PM and quitting before then has been hard. Not because anyone is happier to work than to quit working, but because it is so apparent to everyone that there is so much to do. Even then, for officers there are things that still need to be done after supper to keep up with details like log keeping, communications with the office and the needs of public relations like this blog, Facebook etc. The crew had its first day off in a month last Sunday, March 27, the day before we launched (their first day on the job was February 28). That last Saturday of work prior to re-launching did not end till 8:30 PM (after starting at 7 AM) because of the need to get the bottom painting done before the coming rain.

Now that sails are actually being tied on and the deck is becoming more clear of debris associated with rig-up there is a growing recognition that the putting-together aspect of rig-up is going into the final phases. Everyone looks forward to getting underway and going sailing with a completed vessel with all of its bits in their proper places. Reaching such a status will bring Pride II back to her proper and normal functional beauty. Once we reach that, the sense of accomplishment will be short lived because of all the mission preparations that need to be completed in preparation of the first public event…Privateers Day Weekend in Baltimore April 15/16.

Jan C Miles, A Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II


Pride of Baltimore II is hauled out of the water in Portsmouth, VA at the Ocean Marine Yacht Center…an old USCG maintenance yard right next door to the US Navy Ship Yard. She stands proud with her keel some 10-12 feet above water and some 3 feet above ground. She extends from her keel some 120 feet into the air. Her weather deck is some 20 feet above ground. The crew get from ground to deck via an electric powered scissor-lift. With 13 persons in the crew, that scissor-lift gets quite a workout servicing the needs of crew working under the hull with tools and supplies that are stored in Pride of Baltimore II’s lazaret, not to mention the needs of using the local lavatories and coming and going to work from the motel.  

The daily routine starts with walking about a mile from the motel to the marine yard, arriving at 7 AM. While the cook Kevin Moran starts to make breakfast the crew get to work. Sometime between 8 and 8:30 breakfast is served. After a half an hour it is back to work till lunch at noon. After another half an hour it is back to work till 5 PM for supper. By 6 PM the dishes and down below area have been cleaned up and everyone is walking away from the marine yard. Everyday is the same except for the work being done. Seven days a week for as long as Pride of Baltimore II is out of the water. Cost of hauling Pride of Baltimore II out of the water is impacted by how long she is up out of the water. So it is important to get the necessary work done in as short a time frame as possible.  


The work is dirty and arduous. While the caulkers (Captain Jamie Trost and1st Mate Ryan Graham) attend to the needs of the underwater seams the rest of the crew (except Bosun Rebecca Pskowski and Engineer Andrew Kaiser) scrape away any loose bottom paint from the hull and paint the bare wood spots with a wood preserving primer paint. Under the leadership of 2nd Mate Carolyn Seavey, the crew of Barbara Krasinski, Joe O’Hara, Susie Ordway, Alex Peacock, Arwyn Rogers and Paul Wiley diligently seek out blisters and the jagged edges of bottom paint that has already formed from the spray washing of the hull the marine yard crew did while removing any marine growth that accumulated during the past 12 months.  

Pride of Baltimore II has been suffering since around the mid 1990’s from what the cognoscenti call paint sickness. The cause was annual accumulation of 2 coats of bottom paint that was not designed to slough off. From 1988 to the mid 1990’s two annual coats of bottom paint represents upwards of 14 coats of paint. That accumulation creates a thickness of paint that does not expand or contract with Pride of Baltimore II‘s wooden planking as they shrink and swell during dry-dockings or shift along the seams with active sailing. Because the thick paint cannot “move” with the planking and the putty between the planks it either cracks and water gets under the paint and begins a leverage action on the broken paint edges, or the paint actually lifts from the planks without actually breaking away while only small blisters…but do eventually break away when they become larger leaving some several square inches of unprotected planking.  

Orange paint indicates areas where old paint was scraped off planks, which where then coated with a primer paint.

Since the mid 1990’s the bottom paint being used is of the sloughing off variety so there has not been any further accumulation of paint thickness. During each dry-docking Pride of Baltimore II’s crew are tasked with finding any old loose paint and clearing the planking of it for new paint. I would guess about half of the stiff old paint has been taken off the hull by this annual process of crew chipping at the old paint. It is dirty, arduous work. Maybe in another decade almost all of the old paint will be removed. The only other way to remove the old paint is to whole sale strip it off. But that is time consuming hence requires a pretty long dry-docking period…an expensive proposition by itself…not mentioning for the moment the cost of removing and disposing of all of the old paint before putting on new priming paint. So, instead of dealing with the problem all at once, Pride of Baltimore II’s crew each year slowly do what they can to scrape off the old paint during each dry-docking.  


Meanwhile, the Bosun works at rigging details until other crew can be redirected to helping re-rig Pride of Baltimore II’s complicated rig. Down below the Engineer attends to cleaning and re-greasing the thru-hull valves and other chores easier to deal with while Pride of Baltimore II is out of the water.  

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