As the crew lowered its sails and hoisted the Stars and Stripes, scattered applause erupted yesterday from the umbrella-toting crowd lining the Inner Harbor: Pride of Baltimore II was home.
From Fort McHenry to Federal Hill to the Inner Harbor, about 400 people waited on the banks of the Patapsco River and its basin for the good-will ambassador's homecoming. Many toured the boat after the welcoming ceremonies.
"We're proud of the Pride," said Mary Senner of Catonsville, who donned a yellow raincoat and cap against the drizzle at Fort McHenry. "It's part of our heritage. It's part of our hometown."
Mrs. Senner and her husband, Gering, planted a tripod along the Patapsco's banks to photograph the motoring two-masted schooner, which was greeted by a volley of 23 shots fired by a Maryland National Guard unit from Westminster.
At the Inner Harbor, a 17-gun salute and bells marked the ship's arrival.
Among the welcomers were about 50 Ridgely Middle School students who made sure they were noticed by waving dozens of signs with messages including "Ridgely Welcomes The Pride."
Seventh-grade students in the northern Baltimore County school earned extra credit in their world-cultures class by showing up.
Last week, some Pride crew members visited their class to talk DTC about the ship's mission and its visits to world ports.
Ridgely is among 15 middle schools participating in Students With Pride, an enrichment program for social studies and geography students that focuses on the ship and its activities, said Linda Jordan, executive director of Pride of Baltimore Inc.
"It fits in well with our world-cultures class," said Ridgely teacher Steve Umstead. "The ship's traveled all over the world. This is perfect hands-on education."
The boat has sailed more than 34,000 miles and visited 40 cities in Europe during its 20 months at sea.
For some students, though, more than extra credit points were at stake. Students were hoping their enthusiasm would give them the edge in a contest to win a night aboard the Pride.
"We really would like to sleep on the ship," said eighth-grader Jill Friedman. "I'm not getting any extra credit by being here. I just want to help show we're the best school."
During a brief ceremony, there were prayers of thanksgiving for the safe return of boat and its crew.
The original Pride of Baltimore sank in May 1986 in a freak storm, and four of its 12 crew members died.
The Pride of Baltimore II was launched in April 1988 and sailed from Baltimore in April 1990.
"The Pride has done a wonderful job being an ambassador for the city, the state and the nation," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who led the crowd in a round of cheers.
Jon Wilson of Brooklin, Maine, founder of Woodenboat magazine, spent five weeks on Pride and cheered its return to Baltimore. He expressed sadness about leaving the ship and its crew.
"They're a great bunch of people," said Mr. Wilson, who was impressed by the ship's impact on people here and abroad. "I've written about the old Pride and this Pride, but I finally understand her mission. And now I'm going to do my part to help make that mission known."
The Pride will stay in Baltimore for winter maintenance, Ms. Jordan said. When it is ready to sail again April 1, it will stick closer to home, visiting New York City and Boston and ports on the Chesapeake Bay.