Under sun-drenched skies, the Pride of Baltimore II slipped into Havre de Grace yesterday, beginning the Maryland goodwill ambassador's spring tour of 10 Chesapeake ports from Chestertown to Alexandria.
With the wind practically nonexistent, the Pride came in quietly under diesel power. The crew had planned to dock at the Tidewater Marina's main dock, but when the Susquehanna's waters there proved too shallow even during high tide, the ship relocated upriver.
Even so, there was no mistaking the Pride. Its two wooden masts, "raked" dramatically toward the stern, towered above the others at the marina. And her distinctive yellow-and-black flag could be seen from blocks away.
"It looks like a pirate ship to me," said 8-year-old Drew Eckman, who had come into town to see the Pride with his grandparents, Phyllis and John Ferguson of Spring City, Pa.
The Pride's bay tour began Thursday when the schooner left Baltimore's Inner Harbor for the first time in nearly four months. After spending the winter undergoing routine maintenance, the ship will celebrate spring on the Chesapeake.
For Pride-watchers along the waterways of the Upper Chesapeake, this could provide the last chance to see the schooner for a long time. On May 30, the Pride sets sail on a four-month tour of the Great Lakes, and come fall, it will embark on a 13-month tour of South America and the West Coast of the United States.
The Pride's 12-member crew got some extra help on deck this time.
Three instructors from the Essex Community College's Air & Sea Community Programs and the school's president, Donald Slowinski, sailed overnight in a preview to a hands-on training course that will be offered to ECC's advanced navigational students in the months to come.
The shipboard curriculum will allow ECC students to sail aboard the Pride for three or four days at a time, working side by side with captain and crew.
"We wanted to find out just what skills that students have learned in the classroom they could reasonably expect to apply on board," said Lois Shofer, the program's director.
Linda Jordan, the Pride's executive director, said the schooner's last bay tour was last fall, when it returned home after a 21-month European tour.
"We try to work in a Chesapeake Bay tour whenever we can," Ms. Jordan said, "because people at home don't get to see the Pride that often."
The Pride II was commissioned in 1988 as a replica of the Baltimore Clipper ships. It replaced the original Pride of Baltimore, a smaller and more authentic replica that was lost at sea in 1986.
That accident, which cost the lives of four crew members, led to a larger and more practical design for the Pride II, with state of the art electronic equipment and watertight compartments.
Capt. Jan Miles, who sailed 35,000 miles on the first Pride, says the most noticeable changes in the Pride II are below deck, where accommodations are more comfortable than historically accurate.