CAPTAIN'S LOG: Pride in the People

September 15, 2014

Pride of Baltimore II, alongside at Constellation Pier, Inner Harbor

Wx: East Force 1, 2/8 Celebratory Cumulus, the rest of the sky a Bicentennial Blue

Today’s dawn ushers in a whole new century of our storied national anthem, and a well-worn Pride II crew has seen to it that the ship and the city have marked the anniversary with style and passion. Some ships have already left, the guns and jets are silent now, crowds of visitors still swarm the harbor. But yesterday’s crescendo has washed over and while we bask in the success and import of “Spectacular,” the typical snap and bustle aboard is slightly leaden with fatigue. And no surprise– during the 25 hours actual hours of the Battle of Baltimore anniversary, crew and ship were in full action themselves. With a rotation of watches and captains, plus lots of work from shore side office staff, we scarcely stopped moving, and never stopped commemorating the incredible events of 200 years ago.

As the guns of Fort McHenry thundered out Saturday morning,we sailed alongside a British-flagged Lynx and waved a truce flag over our Francis Scott Key impersonator as he plead his case across the rail for Royal Marines to unhand Doctor Beanes. When the historically timed “re-enactment rain” came down (nearly to the minute, according to the 1814 accounts), we rigged awnings, waited for the sky to clear, then sailed in sleek silence under the roaring military muscle of the Blue Angels. As the town turned electric for the prelude to the fireworks, Pride paraded through the harbor to blast off a national broadcast with three guns. When the “bombs” of the pyrotechnics bust over Fort McHenry and Baltimore Harbor, 100 viewers joined us on deck. Then, once the dust settled, irrepressibly enthusiastic Ranger Vince Vaise from the Fort narrated a midnight retracing of the final desperate British assault on the batteries up the Ferry Branch of the Patapsco.

From three to six am things fell silent, just as they did in 1814. But the crisp morning ushered in a new flurry of action. The culminating moment of the weekend would feature Baltimore’s 1812 historic triumvirate – the Maryland Historical Society’s hand-sewn replica of the Star-Spangled Banner would be hoisted over the Fort while Pride II stood in the offing as Key’s truce ship President and a collected squadron of Tall Ships around her represented the invading British.

With Pride II booked full of enthusiastic passengers and logistics of the ship movements rattling in my mind, Captain Miles and I decided it would work smoothest if he sailed the ship and I marshaled the squadron from a vantage ashore. To foster that plan along, Ranger Vaise welcomed me, along with my wife and parents, to survey the scene from the commanding perch of the Fort’s Bastion 5. Equipped with a handheld VHF and copies of the pages of notes and schematics I’d issued to the ships, we set off for the Fort’s dock in Pride II’s rescue boat. The physical bustle and tangible excitement at the Fort stewed with amazement – this was it, the very morning, the day when the focus of so much 1812 education, programming, efforts, and toiling over months and years was about to float in the September breeze for Baltimore and the world to see.

Ships trickled out from downtown. The inbound cruise ship Carnival Pride cleared the channel into South Locust Point and left the harbor to historic craft. US Armed Forces, and Sailors and Marines from our 1812 adversaries come allies Canada and England, took up position around dignitaries from local, state, and national government in the Parade Ground within the walls. Sun glinted off the black barrels of replica and modern armaments as they stood silently ready for a barrage of salutes. The cool northeast breeze streamed the Fort’s Storm Flag in anticipation.

The pieces started moving. Ranger Vaise, radiating excitement even through a veil of exhaustion, orchestrated the unfurling and preparation of the replica Garrison Flag. The ships slid over glittering water into position under a mantle of low cumulus. As the events of the battle were narrated, a crowd began to gather on the bastion around me, watching the ships. At first I was irritated – with eleven ships and two pulling boats to coordinate, I’d envisioned relative solitude to lay out my notes and coordinate via radio. Having a crowd to eavesdrop and chime in on the necessary communications might offer more than a slight nuisance.

But as the ceremony in the Fort and formation beyond the ramparts continued shaping up, I noticed there were nearly as many people on the bastion with me as in the parade ground. They whispered questions: What’s that ship? Where are they from? What are they all doing? And I had time, as the squadron deftly arrayed themselves across the river, to answer all the questions. Between radio calls to shift and tighten up the line, I could tell the people, these mesmerized appreciators of history, what they were seeing and how much it looked like what Major George Armistead saw 200 years ago that very minute. I wasn’t alone, and was happy for it. I was surrounded by people who, like me, felt deeply moved by this instance, the commemoration of America’s emergence from a divisive and trying, nearly adolescent, conflict into maturity.

The Army Old Guard fired a salvo. When the smoke cleared and the guns fell silent, the ramparts were teeming with people. A last salute from a replica 24lb gun, and the fifing of “Yankee Doodle” lifted the hand-sewn replica aloft. Lynx and Sultana swapped their British ensigns for American. Salutes and cheers echoed from the ships. Through the smoke,their rigs etched a striking visage of history.

By 0940, Pride II was on station off the water battery and the ships processed in, saluting both her and the Fort. Pride II’s Key impersonator was standing at the rail, cheering in the new era of the Star-Spangled Banner. Up on the ramparts, the crowd around me pressed in,asking more eager questions whenever I wasn’t hailing the passing ships on radio to thank them for their part in this historic event. It got so crowed that we were forced off the bricks and (to the chagrin of the Rangers) onto the grass that sprouted from the earthworks. Like most forts of her era, Fort McHenry is mostly earthwork – largely composed of dirt, held together by brick sheathing. Throughout the 214 years of the Fort’s existence, the bricks have been renewed, but the earth inside is still the same.

And then I realized the truth of the week – that we at Pride, the Fort, and Maryland Historical Society had helped, but history had repeated itself organically. Two-hundred years ago, this week was won by the citizens of Baltimore unexpectedly repulsing the British attack. And as Fort, Flag, and Fighting Sail recreated the events of 1814 on a brilliantly sunny morning, it was we citizens of today’s Baltimore that stood on the very earthworks our counterparts defended two centuries ago. Our feet connected us to the timeline of history, the living earth of the Fort, the very foundation of our “Land of the free,” our “Home of the Brave.”

Captain Jamie Trost

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Ready or Not, We're Ready


Friday 5 September 2014
Pride of Baltimore II alongside Lighthouse Point, deep into “Spectacular” preparations
Wx: Hideously hot, wind SE F 3


Since her return from the Battle of Caulks Field Re-enactment events last weekend in Chestertown, Pride II and her crew have been chock-a-block in readying ship and crew for the coming week. As Baltimore’s only War of 1812 ship, Pride II will find herself central in the commemorations of the Battle of Baltimore and the birth of our National Anthem. Though alliterative marketers have dubbed this week’s event Star-Spangled “Spectacular,” two hundred years ago a city hunkering down for invasion and siege would more likely have featured anxiety, stress, and fatigue.

In the few ship movements of our busy week, we found ourselves at Fort McHenry Wednesday afternoon. Our visit was largely logistic – Ranger Vince Vaise and I were trying to finalize some details for our collaborative “Dawn’s Early Light/Star-Spangled Sail” programming on Sunday the 14th. But Ranger Vaise took the time give me a sneak preview of the new Exhibit featuring Major George Armistead. Set up within the Major’s Headquarters in the Fort, it features a bronze statue of Armistead himself, shoulders anxiously locked and channeling weighty concerns to hands planted firmly next to a screen set into the table he leans on. The screen activates to show frantic hands of the officers of the Fort pouring over charts, tables, muster lists, and ammunition stores while speculating over the movements of the advancing British.


As his likeness simultaneously stares downward at the table and outward to you, the visitor, Armistead’s concerns are expressed though an inner monologue – there wasn’t enough ammunition, twenty percent of the men had malaria, the Fort’s magazine was a vulnerable target, food was scarce and no one knew how long it might have to last. Like anyone thick in preparations, he wanted more time, wanted the certainty of readiness.

The urgency of the Fort was not different. The enormous VIP tent was already being set up, ceremonial flags (presumably gifts for the slew of dignitaries) were being run up and down quickly to be certified as flown over the Fort’s storied flag pole, at 4:30 in the afternoon, a hoarse but energetic Ranger Vaise was just being handed a bagged lunch from a fellow Ranger who was concerned he’d forget to eat at all. Not wanting to distract, or neglect our own busy schedule, we left the Fort staff to their own preparations and took Pride II back to wrap up some of our own.

None of us are hunkering down for a live firefight, but that doesn’t mean those of us in Baltimore’s 1812 Historical community aren’t serious about maximizing this once in a life time anniversary. Pride II’s crew has been attending to prepping the ship – provisioning the galley in advance of the traffic hassles the crowds are likely to bring, suiting everyone up with clean laundry for all of the public interactions, and maintaining the Pride Memorial in Rash Field (this week should honor and remember all those who served, and died, in the name of Baltimore). The crew are malaria free, the powder we are loading aboard is all for salutes, not earnest shots, and we’ll keep feeding the crew with no worries of shortage. But I think our industry this week and next will connect us with Armistead and his men in an eternal network of efforts for our Star-Spangled City.

Like Armistead, we’ll never feel as ready as we want to be. As we gear up to sail out and commemorate the British landing at North Point this weekend, I think, again like Armistead, that we are as ready as we need to be.


Come test us, and join in this historic event.



CAPTAIN'S LOG: Sailing a big complex schooner in tight waters

Captain’s Log
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Washington DC Navy Yard

Pride of Baltimore II is moored at the Navy Yard in Washington DC. A 100 nautical mile trek up the Potomac River. A river that winds serpentine like as it narrows to a navigable channel only a couple of hundred feet wide. Today there are two low level bridges to pass through requiring opening and there is also a shallow water patch that cannot be passed over unless the water level is higher than 2 feet above low water. Fortunately the range of tidal water levels in the DC area is 3 or more feet. And Pride has engines to handle the tight waters, the specific times of bridge openings that must be booked in advance by not less than 24 hours as well docking on schedules set long in advance.

Even with such modern capability, the actual act of sailing 1812 War period Baltimore Schooner Privateer Pride in any of the waters and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay is a nearly constant level of physical and mental demand on her officers and crew; they’re responding to a nearly continuous sail evolution, when one includes setting or striking and adjusting sail as the ship is sailed and cannot avoid approaching shallow water on any course she is directed toward. So, for the most part, sailing Pride in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay is more continually mentally and physically demanding for all aboard than when Pride voyages longer voyages and more open waters.

There are times when a long slant of uninterrupted sailing by any sail evolution occurs in our lovely Chesapeake Bay. That is when the crew have a chance to breath and maybe do some shipboard maintenance. But Pride‘s officers are still constantly involved with monitoring the direction of sailing for approaching shallow water and any changes of wind pattern due to cloud/rain activity (of course an approaching weather front) that may have a beneficial or negative affect on the current situation. All this reality ignores for the moment other vessel traffic (recreational and commercial) also plying the Bay.

So, Chesapeake Bay sailing is not generally a sublime experience aboard Pride considering her size and her complexity and her speed, that can take you to a decision point very suddenly. All who ever sail her look forward to the open waters and the longer voyages. That is where the romance we all read about and is expressed so clearly in John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever with the a most well known line “…and all I want is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…”

But Being in home waters for the Bicentennial of the Maryland portion of the 1812 War is a very special occasion. Especially as it was vessels like Pride that gave as much reason for the British Navy and Marines to make the effort to invade Baltimore to destroy the shipyards making such schooner privateers; only to fail and leave Americans with our county’s National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, written in September of 1814, almost 200 years ago. Just after the burning of Washington DC government buildings as well the Navy Yard Pride is currently moored at. There is a lot of reflecting here in Maryland and Washington DC going on about what happened and why nearly two centuries ago. Lots of interesting details of that period are being re-understood and many new ways of depicting what happened and why is on display here at the Navy Yard Museum as well scattered around Maryland and for sure in Baltimore.

I hope all of you readers are taking a chance to visit such sites of history and attend events commemorating the actual anniversaries. The crescendo events scheduled to occur in Baltimore in September will be SPECTACULAR!!! Please come and help with the commemorations!!

Signed; the hard sailing Crew and Officers of Pride of Baltimore II