Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Pride Of Baltimore II

The Pride Of Baltimore II, copr  William Cook, 1988

Privateer vessel The Chasseur was one of the culprits that raised havoc with British shipping (and the British Fleet) in the early 1800's.  A Baltimore Clipper, she was the fastest thing afloat--and agile.  A relatively small ship, not very heavily armed, she outperformed and outfoxed the mighty British fleet, sunk more than her share of much bigger warships just on maneuverability under the cunning of her able captain, Thomas Boyle,  and a very seasoned crew.   At one point she even sailed up the Thames into London Harbor to further damage things.    News came back to Fells Point, where she acquired the nickname "The Pride Of Baltimore", to honor the unbelievable exploits of this vessel.  

Fast forward to the seventies.  In their wisdom, Baltimore had an exact replica of a Baltimore Clipper made, gathered a bunch of college kids and a captain together, and sent her forth on a good will mission all over the world to promote Baltimore and its maritime heritage.  And so, off they went, and everything went well until the squall.  Pride Of Baltimore I went over, and sunk like a stone.  Four lives were lost.  I am told that even seasoned crews were lost at sea like this 200 years ago. Nobody today had any business on a real Baltimore Clipper, since all the stuff that made her great--speed, maneuverability, agility etc. also made her dangerous.  Beam (width) was narrow, with nothing much of keel.  Of course it was a hell of a squall.  There was simply no time to do anything, and the Pride was no more.  It was a terrible tragedy.  

The Pride Of Baltimore II was built to modern safety standards, modern flotation, wider beam, suitable keel, and a ton of other precautions strictly in place.  She was built as a public event right in the Inner Harbor so that anyone could watch the construction start to finish.  Around the time they got the hull finished, they began to make preparation for the Commissioning Day ceremonies and festivities.  

I was invited to do this artwork, a visualization of the ship in the water with its masts, sails and rigging, underway for the first time. All I had to go from was the basic hull about ready to be dropped into the water by crane, and some snap shots of Pride I with similar rigging.  The piece was used on the Commissioning Day poster for promotion of those events.   I like to think she's just passing the Thomas Point Light off Annapolis, headed south beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at about 4:00 in the afternoon.   I pitched her forward just a little and leaned her toward the viewer, because of the following winds.  I was right for the most part--saw a photo of her under sail a couple years later.  

It was my honor to do this piece because of the lives lost.    



John Brisson said...

Everything about this post is wonderful. I enjoyed the story as much as the art. One of the players from the high school football team I coached was the quarterback for Navy. I visited him at Annapolis and loved the area.

SamArtDog said...

Very handsome. You should be proud.

William Cook said...

Hi John--Thanks for checking in--I started writing and kept thinking of more stuff. Navy, eh. Cool.

Hey Sam--Thanks so much! Best.