PRIDE II on a shakedown sail

Photo: Pride II sailing with a full hat of wind near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Sandy Point Light, May 12, 2020, courtesy of Susan Hale.

May 20, 2020

To protect lives, we are tying up Pride of Baltimore II for the rest of 2020.

Before I get into the tying-up bit … an interesting reality was realized by all crew on the way to this tie-up.

For the first time ever, crew physical soreness and exhaustion was felt greatly and simultaneously by all during the four-day shakedown cruise last week. Torso soreness for everyone, as well as arm and hand, along with hand blisters all around. I cannot recall such inclusiveness of exhaustion and soreness throughout the whole crew for any past beginning of a sailing season. However, this year is unique for all the world, as well for Pride and her crew. Rig-up was completed by mid-March, in plenty of time for long-planned shipboard public events surrounding Maryland Day. But canceled near the eve of those plans to protect lives from the risk of infection. We were able to get a couple of crew-only shakedown sails done before recreational boating was stopped, soon after Maryland Day, for more than five weeks. Pride crew shifted into maintenance. Got a lot done. The type of projects that are planned for winter lay-ups, but priorities seem to regularly shift such projects to the bottom of the to-do list by higher priority projects. One very good example during this spring was a complete cleaning and preparing and painting of the two 3304 Caterpillar engines Pride has. But guess what? As hard working as the crew were at maintenance projects for the more than five week-long tied-up period, there are muscles not used that normally get used during an up-rig. So, with the four days of shakedown cruising coming right after more than five weeks of not doing any up-rig, being as up-rig was fully completed, nor any sailing, like freshly ripped out of the bars kidnapped crew taken by a press gang of long ago, we crew went for an intense four days of back to back day sailing. So, while willing we were, we were without a clue to how lots of muscles normally tuned up through up-rig hence ready for back to back day sailing had become untuned. For me, the mere persistence to balance myself regarding vessel motion created quite a bit of torso muscle groaning under my breath at the end of each day. A bit less day by day. But still, end of last week and a full day off Saturday was so very well received by all hands. As good as the sailing was, and with good reason to feel very accomplished for handling Pride really well under sail day after day last week with none of the usual turn-on-the-engines for whatever kind of reason, it is very sad to have to downrig now, but the crew are nicely tuned up for the downrigging and laying over the top of the ship her protective covering till next spring.

Now back to tying-up Pride for the rest of this year.

Part of the funding that assists with campaigning Maryland’s world renowned star-spangled sailing icon comes from interested general public and businesses contributing in return for the opportunity to sail aboard. Being that the best protection of lives from possible infection is significant interpersoanl distancing that will not be easy to provide while sailing aboard, such direct sailing experience income will be all but impossible to generate this year. Not only this, all of the anticipated income-producing events previously scheduled for March and April were canceled. And so it comes to pass that Pride will be tied up for the rest of this year. Carefully protected for the period ahead till sailing again in 2021. To be completely frank, it is quietly very disappointing for all of us to be tying up Pride for the rest of this year. While understandable, it is also not completely unfamiliar. Except that this tying up comes so very soon after opening her up again from last winter as if a butterfly from her protective cocoon. But like everyone across the nation and around the world, COVID-19 is a threat to us all doing anything that means mingling closely. To protect those that might want to sail aboard Pride during this medical emergency, being that protective distancing measures cannot be accommodated aboard Pride, means no direct user income, that in a regular season can mean upwards of 10%-15% of the annual budget to the non-profit company Pride of Baltimore, Inc. Such loss of potential income means the whole year’s costs will not actually be met. Tying up means reduced expenses. Tying up sooner than later also means having the fiscal ability for being ready and able to start up again in 2021.

Disappointing for sure. No differently for the whole nation and the whole planet. But certainly a clear way to protect lives in the meanwhile.

I extend sincere compliments to the seasonal crew for their diligence in all things they attend to on behalf of the ship. Downrigging her in a proper fashion and covering her for the long period of protection is no small nor simple job. Once accomplished, they go their own way. In normal circumstances, often to another sailing vessel.

Jan C. Miles, Senior Captain