Etch-a-Sketch in Cape Cod Bay, A Place for the Birds, Tide Bound in a Rocky River and Waiting Winds of Nova Scotia

23 July 2012

Pos: Alongside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Wx: South Force 2, Clear

Pride of Baltimore II has had a busy interval since her last Blog; and it was full of racing, anchorages, tides, fog and more racing. Eleven days ago we cleared through the Cape Cod Canal, and by mid-morning began our time trial for the third race of the Tall Ships Challenge. Prepared for an evening breeze, we nonetheless jumped to take advantage of the unexpected mid-morning Northerly wind, and worked to keep a close reach across Cape Cod Bay. Shifting conditions through the day had the breeze up and down, and Pride II’s track line across the chart looked like child’s scribble.

But just when we thought we’d finished our eight hours and started sailing North toward Portsmouth, the anticipated Southerly came up; we set the stuns’l and shook off the old track like clearing an etch-a-sketch, carrying on through the night under all plain sail plus. While no sled ride, our second trial netted us an average speed of over six knots, and was good enough for Pride II’s third first-place finish in the Tall Ships Challenge series.

Post race, we anchored off Appledore Island, the southernmost of Maine’s incredible count of islands, at the invitation of Captain Kevin Wells, who is Senior Captain for the research facility there. Having sailed in the Tall Ship fleet for years, Kevin is always eager to welcome visiting vessels. The SSV Corwith Cramer and Schooner Harvey Gamage had already arrived, and Maine Maritime Academy’s Arctic Exploring Schooner Bowdin arrived shortly after we did. We made for a busy little mooring field off an island that is nearly overrun with gulls. All forays ashore are well warned that the island’s sea birds will aggressively defend their young and their turf. Some of the researchers even wear bicycle helmets adorned antennae made from tennis balls and coat hangers to keep the dive-bombing beaks at bay. Talk about angry birds!

A quiet night at anchor ended with Venus and Jupiter beaming bright at 0400 hours as we steamed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This classic New England Seaport offers singular difficulties in dealing with current, and so our four pre-festival day sails were hosted in the outer section of the river off New Castle, NH. On Friday, we boarded another sold-out boat for a Parade of Sail in concert with the Sloop Providence, a replica of John Paul Jones’ first command in the Continental Navy, and the Gundalow Company’s newly constructed Piscataqua, a traditional Piscataqua River cargo vessel. After the short, busy trip up the river, we secured across from the picturesque Strawberry Banke Museum and opened to thousands of eager public.

Few ports are as tide bound as Portsmouth, and so when the high slack water came at 1130 Monday morning, both Pride II and Providence were away with it. Saluting the town on our way out, we carried some sail to complete the show. Sadly, it was just for show – the Gulf of Maine was like a mill pond – a foggy, soggy mill pond all the way to Cape Sable at the West end of Nova Scotia. The last time trial was only to be sailed in Nova Scotian waters, and the breeze seemed to be waiting for us there. At 1900 Tuesday evening, we cracked on sail until everything was set and drawing, and at 2000 started our race. This time it was quite a ride. Fog alternately encircled and released us, passing squalls glimmered lightning through the vapor, and Pride II raced on in 18-22 knots of wind and a building sea, averaging 10.23 knots for the eight-hour race, at one stage even surging up to 12.3. A good showing, but the USCG Barque Eagle was also racing, and the strong favorable breeze makes her a strong contender. Fingers are crossed as we await the results.

For now, after a full sail and four gun salute entrance, we’re snug in at Halifax enjoying the expected warmth of Nova Scotian hospitality and the surprising warmth in the Nova Scotian weather.

"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


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