Happy Commissioning Day, Perfect Present, and “All the Laundry”

October 23, 2012

Pride of Baltimore II
Pos: At Anchor off Annapolis
Wx: SSE F 3, 3/8 Cumulus

Today marks the 24th anniversary of Pride of Baltimore II’s commissioning. Different from her launch day, when she first touched the water as a complete, floating hull but was still awaiting a rig, an interior, and mechanical and electrical systems, today marks the day that she was finished and ready to sail away on her first voyage and begin her illustrious career as the signature example of Maryland’s Maritime History.

On this day in 1988, Pride II was also certificated by the United States Coast Guard for carrying Passengers. This distinction took the mission started by her predecessor to a whole new level. Instead of just boarding the ship at the dock, or marveling at her from a distance – as was the case with the first Pride – people can actually experience the grace, power, and agility of a Baltimore Privateer underway. If you’re adventurous enough, the dreamy wonder of sailing the epitome of early 19th century sailing performance can be a reality. And in 24 years, Pride II has signed aboard thousands as passengers, or as deeply involved “working guest crew” trainees.

It just so happens we have three guest crew (half a boat full) with us on this trip, and they got a rare show. After a slow start alternately drifting and motoring out of the Choptank in concert with the Chestertown-based Schooner Martha White, we got a gift of a 15-knot breeze at around two-thirty and – already carrying all plain sail and the t-gallant – started letting Pride II be herself. In no time she was skimming across the Sharp’s Island Flats at 10 knots. A passing car carrier even radioed to tell us how good she looked.

 

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

Once in the open Bay and off the wind, we celebrated her commissioning by setting not only her stuns’l, but dragging out the rarely used ringtail. This sail is much like the stuns’l, but sets along the leech (after edge) of the mains’l. It requires all the same gear as the stuns’l, and that gear is much harder to rig at the end of the main boom than it is on the fore yard. Consequently, the ringtail is set about once a year. Such infrequent use has allowed the original 1988 Egyptian Cotton sail to still be usable today.

Photo credit: Greg Walker of Anger Management

And use it we did, not only carrying it up the bay to Bloody Point, but gybing it as we wore ship off Herring Bay. Friends ashore and passing boats sent us pictures they’d taken of Pride II carrying all the sail she owns. We even convinced one small power boat, the Angler Management, to pick up Chief Mate Hank Moseley to get a few shots of our Pride in all her finest, just around sunset.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

Even after dark, though no one could see, we sailed on, slowly stripping off the “kites” until we reached Annapolis under four lowers and the fore tops’l, threading our way around the other boats in the anchorage to sail onto the hook with a flourish only a Baltimore Schooner can muster.

Photo Credit: Hank Moseley

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and celebrating crew of Pride of Baltimore II


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