Third of a weekly series on the tall ships coming to Kenosha.
A particular crowd-pleaser and fan-favorite coming to Kenosha Tall Ships Aug. 1-4 is Pride of Baltimore II. She is beautiful and authentic.
Over four decades ago, Baltimore’s mayor and City Council decided a sail vessel unique to Baltimore maritime history would be just the thing to turn Baltimoreans hearts and minds around about their town. Like many city governments, Baltimore was witnessing population loss to new surrounding suburbs filling with city residents.
They decided on an American War of 1812 Baltimore Clipper privateer, since the most successful privateers of that war were built in Baltimore. As history tells it, these privateers were irritating to the British during that war for their speed and maneuverability, making them nearly impossible to capture.
As such, the Royal Navy came all the way up the Chesapeake Bay to burn Baltimore’s shipyards. The British Navy’s failure to capture Baltimore was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s song, “The Star- Spangled Banner,” which later become our nation’s anthem.
Pride of Baltimore was built in 1977 to be Baltimore’s ambassador over 150 years after the War of 1812. She sailed thousands of miles around the world promoting Baltimore as a destination for business and tourism. On May 14, 1986, Pride was lost at sea in possibly a white squall in the Caribbean; her captain and three of the crew died.
In 1988, the Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned as the successor and memorial to Pride. She has sailed more than 200,000 miles in the same goodwill ambassador role for the city of Baltimore.
Baltimore Clippers were brought to their highest form during the 1812 War by ship builders. Somewhat suddenly becoming worldwide admired as fast and nimble sailors, they were copied by many.
They are highly recognizable for their extreme raked-back mast style. This eye-catching trait was also copied in hopes of also becoming fast. While the large sail plan for the size of the hull helped with going fast, it is the “sharp built” hull style unique to the Chesapeake Bay that improved their speed and maneuverability. This design was developed in the 1600s, more than a century ahead of the 1812 war.
Captains are as enamored as we are with these amazing wind vessels. As Head Captain Jan Miles puts it, “Part of the mystique of Baltimore Clipper Privateers is they are astonishingly beautiful to observe, sitting still or not. No one observing Baltimore’s sailing ambassador being built right in the city’s renewed and renowned Inner Harbor during 1976/77 could have guessed an old-style wooden-constructed sailing vessel of so far back in time, built in modern times (would) capture hearts and minds of many.”
When asked what makes him stay “happily” as head captain since 1988, Miles added, “Pride II is an intellectual challenge and she continues to give her best. The wind constantly asks more and more of her and her response is enthralling. Pride of Baltimore II is constantly teaching me to be a better captain. “
Patricia H. Lock is tall ship consultant for the city of Kenosha.
About the Pride of Baltimore II
Sparred Length: 157 feet long
Rig height: 107 feet
Hull: framed in tropical hardwoods from Central America, and planked in Maryland white oak and Douglas fir
Year built: 1988
Total sail: 10,000 square feet
To sail on board, visit www.pride2.org. To see Pride of Baltimore II during her stay in Kenosha, and for more information about the festival, sail away and Rock the Dock! tickets, or how to volunteer, visit www.kenoshatallships.com.
Event dates: Ships arrive Aug. 1 in a Parade of Sail. Festival dates: Aug. 2–4.