Here is the latest article in my Adventures in Photography series. I was thrilled to sail aboard the Pride of Baltimore II earlier this month, while it had a mock battle against the Lynx in Boston Harbor. This was part of the OpSail 2012 celebration, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. You can also see this article in the Freebird Times.
BOOM….the canon fire roared off of the deck of the Pride of Baltimore II. The crew was taking aim at its mock enemy, the Lynx. Both ships are Baltimore Schooners, a highly specialized type of sailing vessel that made its naval debut in the War of 1812. Sleek lines and shallow drafts make them highly maneuverable and very fast. This deadly combination surprised the British and helped the Americans balance the War of 1812 at sea.
The British had an undeniable naval superiority in the War of 1812. Their basic plan was to cut off the Americans’ supplies by dominating the shipping lanes of the Atlantic and blockading American harbors up and down the East Coast.
What the British could not account for was the speed and agility of the Baltimore schooner.
“These schooners have splendid sailing characteristics,” said Jamie Trost, Captain of the Pride. “The technological innovations coming out of the Chesapeake Bay had been refined for 200 years before this style of ship took the world by storm in 1812.”
While these ships were not designed to stand toe to toe with British ships of the line, they were very capable of running blockades and capturing enemy merchant vessels. They were so lethal to British merchant ships that the British Navy had to devote many vessels to protecting them from the American privateers.
The most famous event of the War of 1812, the penning of the Star Spangled Banner, happened as a direct result of the British trying to destroy the shipyards where the Baltimore Schooners were constructed. Fortunately for the Americans, Fort McHenry withstood the attack and Francis Scott Key would later have his poem immortalized as our country’s national anthem.
Today, the Pride of Baltimore II sails to ports around the world to promote the history of the Baltimore schooner and its role in the War of 1812. The mission of the Pride and its crew is to allow the public to interact with a living piece of American history. “Experiencing the Pride under sail is a link to our history. We do all of the maneuvers under sail like it would have been in 1812, showing the phenomenally nimble design of this type of schooner,” said Captain Trost.
Quite frankly, the historical nature of sailing on board the Pride cannot be denied, but the chief reason for many people to sail on this beautiful ship is that it is fun! Being on board while the Pride participated in a mock battle in Boston Harbor was the thrill of a lifetime. Watching the crew perform one tactical maneuver after another, while firing four canon at their “enemy” was exhilarating. When the canon fired, their power resounded, causing many hearts to skip a beat. Bringing history to life, the Pride was far more inspiring than any text book could ever be.
Fortunately, you too can sail aboard the Pride when it visits Nantucket from August 15-19. You can book a tour on the Pride by visiting this website: http://www.pride2.org/index.php
This Month’s Tip: Captain Trost is also an accomplished photographer. I asked him, “What was the most beautiful thing that you have ever photographed while sailing aboard the Pride?” He said, “Last summer, we were sailing in Lake Superior, near Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore, late in the day. There was a rock formation that looked like a dragon. Many people didn’t believe that it was a photograph. They thought that I had photoshopped it.” Amazing beauty can be found all over the world. Are you ready to sail to your next adventure?