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The Saga of the Pride of Baltimore

Cover of 'The Pride of the Sea'
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Cover of 'The Pride of the Sea'

The Pride of Baltimore, a 90-foot-long topsail schooner built to historical standards for the American Bicentennial in 1976, is no more. Returning from an Atlantic crossing with its 12-member crew in May 1986, the tall ship was caught in a storm in the Bermuda Triangle. Four people died, and eight others survived after a harrowing struggle with the sea.

Now the story of that voyage is being retold by Baltimore Sun reporter Tom Waldron, in a book called Pride of the Sea: Courage, Disaster and a Fight for Survival.

The Pride, an authentic replica of an 1800s Baltimore Clipper, was built at a time when the historic Maryland port city had fallen on hard times. City leaders saw the project as a way to help rekindle the glory years.

Though it was initially conceived as a waterfront museum, and not built to Coast Guard specifications, the Pride generated so much excitement that it was sent on a two-year goodwill voyage to Europe. It was nearly home when disaster struck. The ship went down rapidly in 17,000 feet of water. The six men and two women who lived to tell the tale survived by clinging to a five-by-five foot raft, and were rescued by a Norwegian tanker.

Two of the survivors married each other after a proposal in the middle of the turmoil, Waldron notes, and most of the eight remain enthusiastic sailors today.

And Baltimore's revitalized Inner Harbor hosts a new tall ship -- The Pride of Baltimore II.

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