A summer aboard the Pride Westminster man works as apprentice

July 19, 1992|By Amy Miller | Amy Miller,Staff Writer

ABOARD THE PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II -- Lying on a bench in the ship's dining area, Westminster resident Doug Leasure is fast asleep, oblivious to the noise around him as his companions settle down to watch the television show "In Living Color" on their last night in New York City.

"You'll have to excuse Doug," someone in the group explains. "It appears he's dead."

Finally, when the group's laughter reaches a high pitch, Mr. Leasure, 20, slowly sits up and stares blearily around the table.

"Who are you?" he asks the newest member of the group, focusing his blue eyes across the table.

"You'll just have to find out for yourself," replies deckhand Peggy Flanigan, with a laugh.

"I've already done the introductions," she says.

Mr. Leasure, a 1989 graduate of Westminster High, is working his second summer aboard the Pride of Baltimore II, a replica 1880s Baltimore clipper owned by the state to promote Maryland commerce in the United States and abroad.

After joining the crew as a deckhand in August in Cardiff, Wales, for a leg of their 20-month world tour, Mr. Leasure remained with the ship doing maintenance during the winter months, being promoted to engineer this year.

The ship, which left Baltimore in May to participate in the International Tall Ships Celebration in Puerto Rico, led the July 4 International Tall Ships Parade in New York.

The crew then traveled to Boston and is visiting ports in New England before returning to Chesapeake Bay in September.

"They knew I was interested in learning the engineer's job, so they gave it to me as an apprentice," Mr. Leasure says.

"I don't think they had anyone else for the job," he says.

The position, which involves being responsible for all mechanical devices below deck from the engines and generators to telling crew members if there is enough hot water for showers, is often learned on the job, Mr. Leasure says.

"You really learn this stuff by being around it," he says.

"When something breaks, either you're there trying to help someone fix it or you're trying to figure it out yourself," he says.

Although from the outside the Pride resembles an authentic clipper, the interior has been designed for comfort and safety, a lesson learned when the first Pride sank in a storm May 16, 1986.

Unlike the original, this ship contains watertight areas and a computer navigational system, complete with radar.

A compact disc player graces the top of the wall-height bookshelf behind the dining table, while the television set sits on the galley counter only when the ship is in port.

In addition to maintaining the mechanics of the Pride, Mr. Leasure also takes on some of the chores of a deckhand, helping to raise the sails, taking his turn at the helm or at lookout during one of three four-hour watches twice a day and fulfilling his duty day for cleanup.

Taking his turn at mopping the floors, cleaning the stairs and scrubbing the bathrooms, Mr. Leasure does the duty with a bit more vim and vigor than his cohorts have exhibited in the same job over the past few days.

With the most recent Black Crowes recording wailing from the compact disk player, Mr. Leasure dances around the room with the mop, belting out the lyrics.

"This is such a great album," he says, as he swats the breakfast crumbs from the table.

Later in the trip, the Pride meets up with the Lady Maryland, an educational vessel owned by a non-profit group, the Lady Maryland Foundation.

The Lady Maryland takes children in the fourth grade and older on day trips during the school year. During summers, the crew takes groups of older children on longer voyages, teaching them the finer points of sailing and seamanship.

Crew members from each ship have worked on the other, and both groups welcome opportunities to visit with their old friends.

But this time, the visiting entourage included 10 giggling Girl Scouts being escorted back to their native Boston by the Lady Maryland crew.

As the girls wander below deck, admiring the cushions on the saloon benches and the galley, which is much more spacious than theirs, they catch sight of blond Mr. Leasure heading bare-chested back to his bunk from an evening shower.

"Oooh," the young teens whisper, poking each other until they erupt into a blast of giggles. "Are you the captain?"

"Sure," he replies with a smile, ducking into his cabin.

Moments later, Mr. Leasure returns, surrounded by his newest group of adoring fans.

Deftly managing the conversation, he carefully includes each girl in the group, finally pleasing them all by having deckhand Steve Osmond shoot a group picture.

"Hey, thanks for watching the kids," calls out a Lady Maryland crew member as he turns to leave, grateful for the free time he had to catch up with his buddies on the Pride.

"Hey, thank you," Mr. Leasure replies with a laugh. "Just have them all give me a call in about five years."

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