Rig-down and Winterizing Lay-up

November 5, 2009

Pride of Baltimore II is tied up next to her winter berth 1910 S. Clinton St. in Baltimore…near Canton for those familiar with City. The crew have been unloading ship’s stores and spares and restoring them ashore in Pride’s storage containers. Sails are in the process of being cut from their lashings and taken ashore for detailed inspection before being folded and stored. Propaganda material, souvenirs and crew uniforms have been off loaded to the office.  Slowly but steadily the ship is being emptied out of most of what she carries during a sailing season. After the sails are ashore, the running rigging will come down, followed by yards, gaffs and topmasts. Once Pride II is moved into her winter berth and mooring lines run out in all directions, the running rigging also will go ashore to be stowed with moer than 150 blocks…all very carefully labeled. The spars will remain on deck. Eventually, Pride will be covered over by a wooden frame under plastic to keep rain and snow off of her, as well as provide a work place for lay-up work, which will be necessary before the next sailing season can begin. By November 17 all will be complete, Pride’s down below empty, clean and ventilating and all of us that have been living aboard her will be relocating.

This is a very normal process whenever Pride is not able to sail year round raising revenue, as she is able to do during the summer sailing season. Instead Winter Lay-Up is an opportunity to reduce operating costs AND catch up with wear and tear maintenance accumulated over the recent sailing season. It is a fact that some maintenance cannot be done while remaining underway…so the lack of winter time sailing (and revenue-generating) opportunities provides the chance to accomplish all the maintenance work needed to operate again for a whole summer season without having to schedule Summer Lay-Up time…and still reduce overall expenditures in the form of not having to feed the crew and provide fuel for the engines…not to mention all the other myriad expenses that go with a vessel in a constant state of operation.

The last couple of weeks of the 2009 sailing season, following the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, was great. Pleasant sailing was had between the ports of Yorktown, Cambridge and Chestertown. We also had a chance to do a favor for the  Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies (MITAGS), a professional marine studies school located in Linthicum, MD. For over two decades, MITAGS has generously offered professional training opportunities for Pride of Baltimore II’s key officers – pro bono.  In fact, this fall, while I was aboard the ship, my partner Captain for Pride II, Jamie Trost, was busy taking a celestial navigation class at MITAGS. As part of the class, students are required to use their sextants and to locate stars and takes sights of them using a true water horizon in directions of view that are not interrupted by land.  MITAGS has discovered that is difficult to locate a dock to use that is at the side of the bay and has no land in the way blocking the true water horizon. Renting a boat for this exercise is not financially feasible. After some discussions, it was determined that the timing of Pride II coming up the Bay from Cambridge to go to Chestertown was such that Pridewould be nearby and could easily be available in Annapolis to take the class out for this exercise.  What a great opportunity!  So, we pulled into Annapolis, tied up among the many Melges 24 racing sloops in town for a Nationals competition, and picked up 12 students – all marine professionals taking celestial navigation training to upgrade their licenses for ocean sailing endorsements. A quick ride out to the mouth of the Severn River for a comfortable drift near red buoy #2 was made so the students could use their sextants for evening star sights.  The weather was cooperative and the students accomplished the task at hand.

The end of this sailing season has brought about an end to a phenomenon that has never happened during all my time with Pride of Baltimore II. Several of Pride‘s crew this year are accomplished string instrument musicians. Coincidentally, Schooner Virginia had at least two other string instrument musicians. On several occasions this season, whenever both vessels found themselves together in port, a band was formed and great music made. Music so good that on at least three occasions Pride of Baltimore II‘s portion of the “band” was tasked with providing music to a number of parties. One time was for the ship’s officers party held by the American Sail Training Association during the Boston Tall Ships Festival. Another occasion was for Pride of Baltimore, Inc.’s own 21st Birthday and Victory Party honoring Pride of Baltimore II. At the end of the sailing season, the band was formed again for a couple of nights when both Pride and Virginia were moored side by side at the Sultana Rig-Down Party in Chestertown. With the last of the schooner-band music played, Pride’s crew is converting her over to winter-lay-up; Virginia’s crew is heading her off for voyages into the Caribbean Sea.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II


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