Schooner of the Month, Lady Maryland

Seaward Adventures is starting a new feature: The schooner of the month.  We begin with a modern reproduction of a classic working schooner. The 104 foot long  Lady Maryland is a Chesapeake Bay pungy schooner.  She is rather eye catching in her pink and green paint scheme.  These colors were traditionally used by the pungy schooners which may  get their name from Puncoteague creek in Virginia on Maryland’s Eastern shore. The Lady Maryland is a wooden vessel built primarily from the trees of Maryland, such as White Oak and Pine. All the wood used to build this ship was donated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The type derives from pilot boats as did the Baltimore Clipper.  The raked masts and fine lines show an effort at attaining speed.  At various times pungy schooners served as cargo carriers and oyster dredges.  They were replaced in the oyster trade by the skipjacks which survive to this day.

Lady Maryland does duty as an educational platform for the The Living Classrooms Foundation.  The foundation operates five vessels.  Their programs include the O’Brien Sailing Center, and The Crossroads charter School.  Using traditional sailing vessels for educational programs is a worthy effort that provides opportunity for young people while preserving our maritime heritage. Lady Maryland serves that cause well.  She was built in 2001 by the Lady Maryland Foundation Which later became Living Classrooms.

I used to see the Lady often on the Chesapeake Bay.  The young people on board always looked to be having a great time.  I remember sitting on the foredeck of Dragonsong at anchor in the harbor of St. Michaels, Maryland. I was close by the maritime museum and Lady Maryland was tied up along the bulkhead near the lighthouse.  It made for an interesting show as a large class of middle school children were ushered on board.  After the kids were settled in, a young volunteer was given the helm as they prepared to get under way.  With lines cast off and engine churning the schooner pivoted away from the land beginning an almost 180 degree turn that would point her head toward the channel.

The maneuver brought the vessels bowsprit swinging directly towards me as the captain coached the young helmsman who looked decidedly nervous about the whole affair.  I admit to a brief twinge of apprehension but quickly decided that Lady Maryland was being handled by a well trained crew which was quietly and efficiently going about the job of raising sails.  I stayed put with my coffee and watched the proceedings as the end of the bowsprit swung past my face with about eight feet to spare.  Good show!

She puts on an equally good show when under full sail.  The raked masts and narrow lines give her the look of a greyhound.  Her pedigree is impeccable having been designed by Thomas Gillmer N.A. (1911-2009). He also designed the Pride of Baltimore I and II.  Also to his credit are a range of classic yacht designs including Blue Moon (23 foot) and the Allied Seawind (30 foot).

This schooner is actively sailed on a very full schedule.  She serves as a sterling ambassador for the State of Maryland.  Periodically someone with a vision of reviving the era of working sail will give it the old college try.  They usually fade away.  Vessels such as Lady Maryland are working vessels.  The cargo trade may no longer support their efforts but the education they provide pays large dividends to our nation. You can see what Living classrooms are all about at http://www.livingclassrooms.org/index.html.

Vital Statistics:

LENGTH: 104 feet overall
BEAM: 22 ft.
HEIGHT: 85 feet with topmast
DRAFT: 7 feet
SAIL AREA: 2,994 square feet
SAILS: Jib, Foresail, Mainsail, Topsail
BERTHS: 20
WEIGHT: 82 tons
BALLAST: 18 tons
POWER: Two 85 horsepower Cummins diesel engines
 
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