Editor's note: In 1986, Addison von Lunz, an 11-year-old chorister at St. Paul's School for Boys, sang at the memorial service for the four victims of the sinking of the first Pride of Baltimore. It made him wonder what attracted young sailors to risk their lives at sea. He now knows. For the past month, he has sailed as a cadet on the Pride of Baltimore II, as it raced other tall ships from Boston to Halifax, and across the Atlantic as part of OPSAIL 2000. These are edited excerpts from his diary.
It is July 15 and my first day aboard the Pride II. I am the oldest of the cadets, which could make things interesting. As with any small working communities, I am sure the social atmosphere is going to play as much a role in the ship's success as the weather or rigging. I hope that there are not too many personality problems as we crew of 19 try to feel each other out and see if we are all capable of making it up to Halifax and then across the Atlantic. The weather tonight is already rather bad. It looks like I will find out just how well Pride II handles in less than favorable conditions. Right now I feel more nervous and excited than perhaps I have ever been.
July 16: First day at sea
I have quickly learned a lot about the social atmosphere of the ship. Jan, our Captain, is truly a captain and central leader. He keeps himself fairly distant from the crew and is quick to bark orders. He will tell you if you are doing something wrong whether you are a fresh cadet or our first mate with years of experience. However, I can certainly see where he is coming from. If something isn't right, he isn't going to wait long to remedy the problem. The boat is very much run like a dictatorship with Captain Jan at the head of the throne or rather helm. However, it is definitely the way it needs to be for the ship to run properly.
I have already climbed to the top of the foremast, steered at the helm and helped with the pulling of the lines for just about every sail.
I also learned in my first day onboard the dangers of the ship. One of the professional deckhands was accidentally hit with the yard of our top Gallant sail some 100 feet up the mast. Fortunately, she made it down to the deck safely, but she will have a nice knot on her head for a few days.
We were lucky enough to see a pod of about six Fin whales. The first one merged and blew its blowhole only about 20 yards off our port side. It was really a neat experience to see these exotic whales in the early morning hours. I think my favorite part of my watch is bow watch. I like standing up there and feeling the boat surge on and on northerly to our finish line. While on bow watch you can definitely feel the romance and mystery of the sea. I am quickly starting to sense why those four souls who lost their lives on the first Pride were willing to take the chances they did. There is both a sense of freedom and a tinge of danger in the air that make you feel alive.
I am now starting to see the real power and speed this ship possesses. Once again, I have this sense of great freedom at being able to harness the wind and race up the East Coast. However, who knows what the sea gods will throw at us next?
Captain Jan seems more committed than ever to not only finish the race on time but in strong standing. He has made it very clear that speed is everything and we are heading more easterly out to sea to maintain our speed. Eventually we will make a hard tack to the west and race to the finish.
High gusts of wind and rain bombarded us throughout the night as we sailed on the outskirts of a nasty lightning storm. Through all of this, we pushed on, averaging about 10 knots.
We started a tacking battle with the Nova Scotian schooner Highlander Sea, a similar design to Pride II. Because the Highlander is by far the faster ship, I really think Captain Jan basically outraced them. However, it was close all the way to the finish line.
We sailed into Halifax under full sail as the sun was setting. There was a sense of relief and accomplishment among the crew. Pride II finished second in class and ninth overall.
July 21-23: Halifax, Nova Scotia
The nightlife in Halifax is very lively, as there is practically a bar on every street corner. It seems Halligonians, as they are called, certainly know how to live it up.
We have hosted a lot of open houses and receptions to achieve what this boat was partly designed to do: Be an ambassador for Baltimore and Maryland.
July 24: First day of trans-Atlantic race
With the sound of a cannon and a yell over the radio from the harbormaster, we were off. Captain Jan positioned us perfectly and we had the lead for quite a while under light wind conditions. But the humungous, 350-foot Russian square-rigger Mir overtook us. We quickly realized how fast she really is and why she won the race overall when coming up from Boston.