To the last minute, Indonesia's 191-foot barkentine, Dewaruci, lived up to its reputation as the party ship of the fleet, with its blue-jacketed crew still dancing in the rigging to music from the ship's band as it sailed under Key Bridge toward the bay.
A sailor in flowing white silk, representing Hanoman, the Hindu monkey god, led the onboard festivities.
The Dewaruci, complete with a skull-and-crossbones pirate flag, inspired the loudest ovation from the Fort McHenry crowd. Arms waved and cameras flashed as the vessel's sailors danced.
But behind all the joy and energy of the young sailors on the yardarms, there is growing concern that the Indonesian tall ship is starting to show her age.
A foundation has been created to raise $10 million for a total refit of the 48-year-old, German-built vessel, and the Indonesian ambassador held a party for potential donors on the ship in Baltimore.
"The Dewaruci is really very important to Indonesia as well as to the world," said John S. Hartono, Californian chairman of the Friends of the Dewaruci, who was in town for the event.
A force for stability
The 200 cadets on the ship, he said, were chosen from 350,000 applicants.
"We have to provide these kids with the tool to go out and see different countries and meet different people," he said. "Americans ask, `What is in it for us?' These are the future leaders of Indonesia. If we give them tools to develop, we will have a stable Indonesia. A stable Indonesia is a stable place to do business."
Whatever the difficulties ahead, the Dewaruci and the rest of the fleet found smooth sailing out of Baltimore yesterday.
With the Gloria and the Bat'kivshchyna, the Dewaruci turned north into the bay to pass through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, while the other tall ships headed south to round Cape Henry into the Atlantic, all on course for New York.
Sun staff writer J. Kimball C. Payne contributed to this article.