Photo courtesy of Eric Moseson

Pride II Sails the Bay on Virtual Voyage

The Pride of Baltimore II, the tall ship that serves as a floating ambassador for Maryland history, is stuck at the dock along with all the other recreational vessels in our state. You see, as an “at will passenger vessel,” Pride is considered nonessential under Governor Hogan’s executive order.

So Pride of Baltimore, Inc. and the ship’s senior captain, Jan Miles, set sail for a Chesapeake Bay voyage in simulated fashion. On the Pride of Baltimore II Facebook page, fans can follow the “Captain’s Log” on a Virtual Cruise of Chesapeake Bay. It’s about as close as you can get to the real thing: Each day, Captain Miles details the virtual ship crew’s actions based on real, current marine weather forecasts and wind-recording locations.

Says Miles, “I know the ship very well. Thus I can ‘see’ what is required to do…just as if I were aboard the actual ship with the crew handling the vessel.”

The captain uses actual weather to plan “safe and feasible day-sail destinations,” though he jokes, “no through the night sails for this cruise…why tire the virtual crew out with night-watch?” (To keep things authentic, the virtual voyage was delayed a day by the gale-force winds you may remember from last week.)

Then he takes into account the likely sailable wind angles that are possible within the confines of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. As Miles plots the virtual Pride’s course, marine chart software called TimeZero Professional animates the route based on the ship’s sailing characteristics and changes in marine weather.

By creating a virtual voyage, Captain Miles is able to achieve something he’s always dreamed of doing in real life: departing and arriving under sail–every time–with no motor use at all. Miles says his long-ago sailing buddies always said, “Real sailors sail away from being anchored and sail to anchoring.” But that’s not practical on real Pride voyages, since the crew travels on a tight itinerary and is expected to their destination on time.

With no time restrictions in the virtual voyage, Pride can sail as she pleases with no promised time of arrival.

And sail she has, already covering stops on the South River, at Point No Point, on the St. Mary’s River, and near Deltaville on the Piankatank. As of Tuesday morning, the virtual Pride was raising anchor from Ingram Bay around Reedville, planning to head back up Tangier Sound. You can follow the detailed Captain’s Log (complete with charted course and accounts of virtual crew activity) on Facebook.

-Meg Walburn Viviano