ALASKA UP CLOSE
BY JOHN S. BOYER, DELAWARE
PLANNING: Seven-day cruises during the 2013 peak season start
WE TOOK A COOL CRUISE aboard Pacific Catalyst a couple of years ago through the Inside Passage in Alaska with friends from Australia. Catalyst, the first oceanographic
research vessel for the University of Washington, had been
retired and is now used for passenger cruises. Built of wood in
the 1930s, it still has its original, slow-turning diesel engine.
Shannon and Bill Bailey run the cruise and take you to places
the big cruise ships can’t go, supplying sightseeing kayaks,
hikes, glacier crawls, and sharing lots of personal experiences.
There’s only space for 11 passengers, and Bill makes each one
feel right at home.
Incidentally, our Aussie friends liked it so much they repeated the
trip this year! We only wish we could have joined them.
SAILING WITH PRIDE
BY NANCY TOMICH, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
The sailing initially was smooth, but on the
second day dark clouds massed behind us, and
Captain Miles shouted, “All hands on deck!” We
ran from one line to another to lower sails before
a gale hit. I was tucking tails into the collapsed
mainsail when wind and rain began to whirl
around us. We dropped anchor and scurried
below, a lone crew member on deck to keep watch.
I gobbled a sandwich and stretched out in my narrow bunk, the
storm having curtailed my assigned time on deck. We each worked
two, four-hour shifts every day, grabbing sleep in between, and food
was always available. I ate heartily at meals, mounding my plate with
the abundant health food furnished by Lulu, our chef: grits with spin-
ach, quinoa, roasted squash filled with long-grain and wild rice.
Our final day dawned crystalline, the water sparkling as though
sprinkled with broken glass. People lining the Chestertown waterfront
cheered as the crew gently nestled the Pride alongside the dock. We
guest crew had been genuine old-school privateer sailors — raising
sails by hand, fashioning coils to neaten up lines on deck, polish-
ing brass with a homemade mixture crafted from red brick dust and
ammonia. Now, we had to descend that plank and return to our own
world onshore. Landlubbers again. But not totally. We still carried a
bit of the salt with us.
As guest crew aboard the Pride of Baltimore II, five friends and I literally had to learn the ropes of sailing a tall ship. Fully integrated into the muscular crew of 12 young men and women,
we found ourselves immersed in their nautical language
and physically challenged by the work required to sail the
Pride, a replica of a speedy War of 1812 privateer.
Our course was a three-day zigzag from Alexandria, Virginia, to
Chestertown, Maryland, across the Chesapeake Bay. The regular
crew scrambled 80 feet aloft to balance on lines and unfurl sails
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE AUTHORS
(guests were allowed to decline this duty), but
we all worked to tack and jibe in sync with
Captain Miles’ briny commands. With his 6’ 4”
frame and red moustache, he was typecast for
the role. We pulled “hand over fist,” and coiled
lines to their “bitter ends.” The Pride was built
to sail “by and large,” that is, both into and with
the wind, and I marveled at the crew’s ability
to keep her heavy canvas sails from luffing by a
tweak here or there.
PLANNING: Three nights aboard the Pride of Baltimore II as guest crew in late September
2012 cost $465 per person. For 2013 rates, visit www.pride2.org
FEBRUARY | MARCH 2013