WASHINGTON — “We’ve got a northeast breeze of maybe 10 knots of strength; we have most of our sails set and we’re gliding along nicely,” reported Captain Jan Miles, in command of the Pride of Baltimore II, as he guided the reproduction of a 19th-century tall ship up the Potomac River.
The sleek and majestic 100-foot Pride slipped under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and is now docked at the Washington Navy Yard, welcoming visitors, free of charge, over the next six days.
The ship’s visit is helping commemorate the bicentennial of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” penned by Francis Scott Key during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore.
Miles explains that the Pride represents the schooners built in Baltimore in the 19th century that were successful at disrupting British shipping — one reason the British attacked Baltimore was a failed bid to destroy ship construction at Fells Point.
“Baltimore schooners used as privateers earned a reputation second to none,” Miles says. “The British were particularly vexed by Baltimore schooners.”
Privateers were non-military vessels that inflicted economic pain on adversaries by disrupting and confiscating commerce.
The Pride of Baltimore II, commissioned in 1988, has sailed all over the world, and Miles says people love to climb aboard to see it.
“She’s an exquisitely beautiful boat … we represent an interesting part of our American history, a coming-of-age story of a young nation,” Miles says.
The ship will be docked at the Navy Yard until Monday. The public is invited aboard from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.
To see the ship, take Metro to the Navy Yard stop or park at The Yards and take the Anacostia Riverwalk.