Winter time is a busy time for us at PRIDE. Over the course of the 2014 sailing season, PRIDE accumulated wear and tear performing her mission, so we make use of the winter to examine and repair the ship.

PRIDE under wraps, courtesy Jan Miles

PRIDE under wraps, courtesy Jan Miles

Effective winter maintenance procedures include storing all of the ship’s upper and outer spars and rigging under cover. Also, to minimize ongoing wear and tear during the winter the ship herself is covered for protection from rain and sun. Doing this has the added benefit of enabling the ship to be opened up for extra ventilation.

Our Constant Battle With Moisture

Traditionally built wooden vessels are assembled of big sections of trees. These so precisely shaped and tightly assembled sections continue to be impacted by moisture. Even when protected by paint, varnish or oil they will change their dimension as moisture changes. This movement can break down the protecting patina, so we look for and attend to that.

Also, moisture can form upon surfaces due to differing temperatures within the ship. A dry deck and upper hull planking can belie the fact that there could be condensation in spaces below the waterline (air is warm but sea is cool causes condensation at the zone of sharp change of temperature between the two air zones).

Guest Crew and Volunteer Mark Thieling, courtesy Jan Miles

Guest Crew and Volunteer Mark Thieling, courtesy Jan Miles

Ventilating the condensation away easily can only really be done when we are able to open the ship up below and vent to the deck. So during the winter with no risk of rain getting below due to the ship being covered the below area is opened up by opening both the upper deck hatches as well picking up cabin sole boards and opening all locker spaces that were emptied out. Fans are placed to increase the chance of circulating bilge area air.

Meanwhile, the winter crew and several dedicated volunteers, including a number of Boy Scout Troops, collaborate on attending to the spars and rigging. With extra time cosmetics on the ship will be touched up. But the priority are the spars and the rigging. After all, to cause PRIDE…weighing nearly a half of a million pounds…to sail at greats speeds in winds that have also created considerable sea requires strong and dependable spars and rigging in addition to a strung, tight, well cared for hull. We hope to ensure this strength and good condition by making use of any time the ship is not actually sailing.

The Extra Mile

If it strikes some of you that this is all pretty normal and expected, this is most appreciated. But let me provide a distinction about the amount of effort that goes into one aspect of regular maintenance for PRIDE. Consider the blocks used in the rigging. They are what is described as “rope stropped”. This term refers to a bit of cable (today this can be steel wire or synthetic braided or twisted rope) that circles the shell of the block and also the attachment hardware that may be at one or both ends of the block. This loop circling the block and hardware is called the strop. The strop must be seized to both the bock shell and the hardware at one or both ends of the block.

Doing this seizing is a precise affair and the process includes making the seizing as tight as humanly possible to account for stretch under future load that will occur when sailing the ship. I have not mentioned the preparations of the strop. That is also a very precise process. Any lack of preciseness will likely result in the block becoming able to pop out of the strop.

I won’t try to paint the picture of what kind of mayhem that event might create. After a season of sailing, the winter crew re-varnish the block shell, which requires taking apart the whole rope-stropped assembly… then putting all back together again properly for future sailing. Plenty of work merely to protect the wood block…eh?

—Captain Jan Miles

 Spring Events with PRIDE – Join Us!

Credit: Paula Schiller

Exclusive! Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Domino Sugar Factory
Thursday, April 16 2015 | 3-5 PM

Join us as we get a rare look inside the Domino Sugar Factory on Thursday, April 16 from 3-5 PM. Domino Sugar set up shop in Baltimore in 1922 and has consistently produced millions of pounds of sugar every year. On the tour, you’ll learn about the company’s illustrious 93-year history and find out why Baltimore is a prime spot for a sugar refinery. You’ll witness the refinement process first-hand: From the arrival of raw sugarcane on barges from Brazil to the sweet-smelling storage vats to the chemical process that eliminates impurities. You’ll never look at the baking aisle the same way again!

This tour is the first of what we hope will be a regular spotlight on Port of Baltimore Businesses. PRIDE is proud to represent industries from the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland to ports around the world. We wish to thank the Domino Sugar Company for allowing us to peek inside their famed plant.

Space is limited, and tickets are sure to sell out. Tickets are $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Order yours now by visiting our website or calling 410-539-1151.


The Importance of Sugar to Baltimore Privateers In the War of 1812

A sugar plantation in 1823, courtesy Land of the Brave

A sugar plantation in 1823, courtesy Land of the Brave

Prior to the 18th Century, sugar was a luxury in Europe. Sweetened food was enjoyed only by the wealthy aristocracy, because sugar had to be imported from the far East, where the tall grass we call sugar cane was native. In the 1700s, sugar cane plantations were established in European colonies in the new world, particularly along the coast of Brazil and on the larger Caribbean islands. The consequent availability of sugar in Europe revolutionized its cuisine, leading to a large demand and providing the economic backbone of the colonies providing it.

Prior to modern mechanization, the harvest of sugar cane and production of sugar and related products molasses and rum, was labor intensive, and was largely responsible for the development of slavery the new world.

By the early 19th Century, sugar was still the dominant crop of the Caribbean colonies, with virtually all of it exported to Europe and to a lesser extent, North America. Sugar, molasses and rum were major components the classic triangle trade between the Caribbean, North America, and Europe.

When American privateers were licensed to capture British merchant ships in June of 1812, many of them set sail for the Caribbean, where they knew they would find easy prey in the merchant fleet operating between the various islands and Britain. Indeed. in August 1812 near the Bahamas, the Baltimore privateer schooner Highflyer captured the first prize successfully sailed to the US to be sold for its profit. Its cargo was reported to be “rum, sugar and coffee”. A few months later the Highflyer captured another prize where we have more details on her cargo: “96 casks of rum, 86 casks of molasses, 26 boxes of cordials, 12 barrels of sugar, 2 bags of coffee and 5 boxes of castor oil”.

Captain Thomas Boyle, courtesy PRIDE

Captain Thomas Boyle, courtesy PRIDE

The most successful Baltimore privateer captain was Thomas Boyle, who headed for the Caribbean on his first cruise in July of 1812. He captured four prizes on this cruise, whose cargos were reported as:
1) “19160 lbs sugar, 3640 lbs fustic, lignum vita, and 13 pipes Madeira wine”
2) “710 hogsheads sugar, 54 hogsheads molasses, 111 bales cotton, 34 casks coffee, and 74 bags cocoa”
3) “195 hogsheads sugar, 50 hogsheads molasses, 32 bales cotton, 10 casks coffee, and 100 bags cocoa, 8 pipes and 2 hogsheads Old Madiera wine”
“4) “223 hogsheads sugar, 105 puncheons rum, 742 bales cotton, 18 tierces and 35 barrels of coffee, and 18 pieces of hardwood”

Thus, while we have no overall reliable numbers on the relative contributions of different types of prize cargo to privateer profits, sugar certainly was a dominant component, reflecting its importance in British-Caribbean trade at the time. Given the British blockade of the American coast starting in 1813, privateers may well have provided the major source of sugar to the US during the War of 1812.

—Pierre Henkart

 Calling All Maryland Students!

Two of our many 2014 Maritime Day Contest Winners aboard PRIDE

Two of our many 2014 Maritime Day Contest Winners aboard PRIDE

PRIDE is a reconstruction of an early 19th century Baltimore Clipper, a representation of the type of cargo vessel that would have been present in the Port of Baltimore 200 years ago.

But just as people grow and change, places do also.

That’s why we’re calling on all Maryland students grades K-12 to use your creativity to enter our 2015 Maritime Day Contest! Take a look at the changing Port of Baltimore, and how it has become a powerhouse on the world’s commercial stage. Explain how the Port of Baltimore has changed over time, and why it is a major port city today. Or tell us how (and why) the design has evolved since the days of Baltimore Clippers. Put your thinking caps on – this can be a ton of fun!

Top projects will be featured on the Pride of Baltimore II website through December 2015. Submission deadline is Friday, May 1. For more details, and a great video of last year’s project, click here.


Did You Know? You Can:


Show your love for PRIDE by displaying a limited edition print in your home! Bill McAllen captures Pride of Baltimore II charging through a storm as she leaves Honolulu, Hawaii headed for Maui in 1994.

For more details and to order your very own Limited Edition print, visit our website.

This Date In History

This month, we’re introducing a new feature to our Sail Mail newsletters – a short and colorful list of important dates in both Maryland and Privateering History. Tell us what you think!

Star Spangled Banner March 3, 1931: U.S. President Herbert Hoover signs a Congressional Act designating the “Star-Spangled Banner” as the National Anthem. The lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key aboard a truce ship during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.Image: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key, 1814, Maryland Historical Society, 54315
Ironclads March 9, 1862: The naval battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (the old USS “Merrimack“), is fought in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Known as the ‘Battle of the Ironclads,’ it is the first battle between iron-fortified naval vessels in history. After four hours of engagement, a cannon blast from the Virginia hit the Monitor’s pilothouse, temporarily blinding the ship’s captain, Union Lieutenant John L. Worden. The Virginia was thus allowed to escape to Norfolk, Virginia, and the Battle of the Ironclads ended in a draw.Image: Currier & Ives
Constellation March 15, 1794: George Washington signs the Naval Armament Act that establishes the U.S. Navy. He also authorizes the construction of six naval frigates. The first ship, the USS Constellation, was built under the direction of Colonel David Stodder at his naval shipyard in Fells Point, Baltimore, and launched in 1797.Image: USS Constellation by John W. Schmidt
USS Essex March 28, 1800: The USS Essex becomes the first American naval ship to round the Cape of Good Hope.Image: USS Essex by Joseph Howard (1789 – 1857), courtesy Wikipedia
March 25, 1815: Chasseur returns to Baltimore! Captain Thomas Boyle sailed Chasseur out of Fells Point to the British Isles, where, in a characteristically audacious act, he sent a notice to the King declaring that the entire British Isles were under naval blockade by Chasseur alone! This affront sent the shipping community into panic and caused the Admiralty to call vessels home from the American war to guard merchant ships which had to sail in convoys. In all, Chasseur captured or sank 17 vessels before returning home, earning the name “Pride of Baltimore” by the Niles Weekly Register.Image: Pride of Baltimore by Patrick O’Brien


Like Sail Mail? Share Us With a Friend!

I hope you’re enjoying our monthly Sail Mail! E-newsletter. If you have a friend or family member who might enjoy receiving up-to-the-minute news and information about our news, events, and updates (and, of course, our trivia questions), simply send them this link:

And they can sign up!

Speaking of Trivia…

Trivia Time!

The War of 1812 Baltimore privateer Chasseur carried out two highly successful cruises in 1814-15, leading to her designation as the “Pride of Baltimore.” For the Chasseur’s last cruise in the Caribbean Captain Thomas Boyle changed her rig from schooner to brig, prompting a classic debate on the relative merits of these sail plans. Near the end of the Chasseur’s final cruise she fought and defeated the schooner HMS St Lawrence off Havana.

The St Lawrence was a Royal Navy vessel that was originally the Philadelphia-based privateer Atlas, taken by the British in 1813 and sent out on a mission to capture American privateers. The Chasseur-St. Lawrence battle is described in the Wikipedia pages Chasseur (Clipper) and HMS St Lawrence (1813). Both wikis include a drawing of the battling ships, identifiable by the ensigns flying from their mainsails.

Question: For age-of-sail naval history buffs and fans of Patrick O’Brian’s historical novels of this era: which ship in this drawing had the much-touted “weather gage”, and was it decisive in this engagement?
Email us the correct answer, and you could win a prize!

Until next month,
Rick Sig - Web
Rick Scott
Executive Director, Pride of Baltimore II


Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.