Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | November 22, 2011

The Lady Maryland

The other day, Halloween even, we sailed up the Bay past the White Rocks to our winter storage in Oak Harbor. It was brisk in the morning, but clear… with good wind and blue skies… and it warmed through the day. Managed to get underway by 11:00 and put to bed by 3:30pm. Not far to go and a good sail – even if in a relatively unfamiliar channel… the one that heads up past Fr. Smallwood to Fr. McHenry (eventually).

Not knowing the waters, and having been warned of the shoals off the White Rocks well into the channel, we stayed in the ship’s channel. This made our course a downwind dogleg back-and-forth that tends to slow a guy down. But as they say, everything has its reward, and ours was the privilege of finally seeing the Lady Maryland. She’s a real beauty.

I’m told she’d been playing in the Magothy with her playmate, the skipjack Sigsbee, which trailed along after her. Skipjack’s are skipjacks… and sweet lines even to the point where in a moment of weakness I almost bid on a midget one years and years ago… but was gladly brought to my senses by my saner half.

“How can you not love a skipjack? Of course, everybody needs one!”
“Uh… huh. Everyone… but us.”

Well… so maybe not. All that wood and all…

So we waited and went fiberglass when the wallet was a little healthier, and patience is a virtue… if you know what I mean… and equally hard to come by! Yes, I used to read “Wooden Boat”…. but honestly, wooden boats are for the heart and the eyes… but not the wallet or the knuckles.

Anyway, so my sweetheart for the afternoon was the Lady Maryland…And I’d heard so much about her for so many years, it was a distinct pleasure at last to see, court and dance with her along the waves. I’m afraid she was a tad bit shy, knew the steps a bit better, and took the inside route hugging the shore like… well… a wallflower or someone in her own element… her home waters. Left us out in the channel…. all alone. And so rather than making a pass, she passed us by.

Here’s a shot of her in her glory…. much as she had that day. She’s a replica of a pungy schooner, the sort of boats that hauled the skipjack’s catch back to Baltimore much as her more famous cousins would race their catches back from New Foundland… first boat in gets the best price. She’s 104 feet over-all, and topmast more than 85 feet off the water. Drawing only 7 feet, she’s right for the shallow waters of the Bay. Oddly, she really is pink and green- even as she appears in the photo… so it’s not your eyes fooling you. Oxides for pure white were too expensive or unavailable back-in-the-day, so in true “authentic” colors, she’s a replica through and through.

“Ah… so my lass t’were barn a preppie. Figgers she’d freakin’ run away fram the likes o’me! Rrrrr!”

She’s now in dry dock for a refit, and will be launched again in a few months to fill out Living Classrooms’ 2012 schedule. If ever you have the chance to see her, ride on her, or meet one of her crew… it’s the chance of a lifetime. I’ve never met a member or ex-member of the Pride of Baltimore crew, the Lady Maryland or any of the other schooner sailors for that matter who weren’t first rate in seamanship, skills, and character. It’s a service of its own and a very tight community.


  1. Sigh. Reading WoodenBoat and dreaming in Tennessee.

    Someday I will build it.

  2. Thanks for stopping by!

    Good for you! I sure hope you will… even if she’s just a model when you build her, it’d be mighty fine! Ol’ Hickory’s big enough for a small pungy… very small…

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