LIFE ON THE HARDMarch 19, 2011
Pride of Baltimore II is hauled out of the water in Portsmouth, VA at the Ocean Marine Yacht Center…an old USCG maintenance yard right next door to the US Navy Ship Yard. She stands proud with her keel some 10-12 feet above water and some 3 feet above ground. She extends from her keel some 120 feet into the air. Her weather deck is some 20 feet above ground. The crew get from ground to deck via an electric powered scissor-lift. With 13 persons in the crew, that scissor-lift gets quite a workout servicing the needs of crew working under the hull with tools and supplies that are stored in Pride of Baltimore II’s lazaret, not to mention the needs of using the local lavatories and coming and going to work from the motel.
The daily routine starts with walking about a mile from the motel to the marine yard, arriving at 7 AM. While the cook Kevin Moran starts to make breakfast the crew get to work. Sometime between 8 and 8:30 breakfast is served. After a half an hour it is back to work till lunch at noon. After another half an hour it is back to work till 5 PM for supper. By 6 PM the dishes and down below area have been cleaned up and everyone is walking away from the marine yard. Everyday is the same except for the work being done. Seven days a week for as long as Pride of Baltimore II is out of the water. Cost of hauling Pride of Baltimore II out of the water is impacted by how long she is up out of the water. So it is important to get the necessary work done in as short a time frame as possible.
The work is dirty and arduous. While the caulkers (Captain Jamie Trost and1st Mate Ryan Graham) attend to the needs of the underwater seams the rest of the crew (except Bosun Rebecca Pskowski and Engineer Andrew Kaiser) scrape away any loose bottom paint from the hull and paint the bare wood spots with a wood preserving primer paint. Under the leadership of 2nd Mate Carolyn Seavey, the crew of Barbara Krasinski, Joe O’Hara, Susie Ordway, Alex Peacock, Arwyn Rogers and Paul Wiley diligently seek out blisters and the jagged edges of bottom paint that has already formed from the spray washing of the hull the marine yard crew did while removing any marine growth that accumulated during the past 12 months.
Pride of Baltimore II has been suffering since around the mid 1990’s from what the cognoscenti call paint sickness. The cause was annual accumulation of 2 coats of bottom paint that was not designed to slough off. From 1988 to the mid 1990’s two annual coats of bottom paint represents upwards of 14 coats of paint. That accumulation creates a thickness of paint that does not expand or contract with Pride of Baltimore II‘s wooden planking as they shrink and swell during dry-dockings or shift along the seams with active sailing. Because the thick paint cannot “move” with the planking and the putty between the planks it either cracks and water gets under the paint and begins a leverage action on the broken paint edges, or the paint actually lifts from the planks without actually breaking away while only small blisters…but do eventually break away when they become larger leaving some several square inches of unprotected planking.
Since the mid 1990’s the bottom paint being used is of the sloughing off variety so there has not been any further accumulation of paint thickness. During each dry-docking Pride of Baltimore II’s crew are tasked with finding any old loose paint and clearing the planking of it for new paint. I would guess about half of the stiff old paint has been taken off the hull by this annual process of crew chipping at the old paint. It is dirty, arduous work. Maybe in another decade almost all of the old paint will be removed. The only other way to remove the old paint is to whole sale strip it off. But that is time consuming hence requires a pretty long dry-docking period…an expensive proposition by itself…not mentioning for the moment the cost of removing and disposing of all of the old paint before putting on new priming paint. So, instead of dealing with the problem all at once, Pride of Baltimore II’s crew each year slowly do what they can to scrape off the old paint during each dry-docking.
Meanwhile, the Bosun works at rigging details until other crew can be redirected to helping re-rig Pride of Baltimore II’s complicated rig. Down below the Engineer attends to cleaning and re-greasing the thru-hull valves and other chores easier to deal with while Pride of Baltimore II is out of the water.
Jan C. Miles, A Captain with Pride of Baltimore II