Tall Ships: The stories behind the Lynx and Pride of Baltimore

COURTESY PHOTO | The Privateer Lynx.

Six vessels have been confirmed for the Tall Ships Challenge sailing into Greenport Harbor over Memorial Day weekend. Each week leading up to the visit we’ll highlight one of ships. This week, though, there are two, both replicas of ships from the War of 1812. This year is the 200th anniversary of that conflict between Great Britain and the fledgling United States.

Lynx and Pride of Baltimore

Both the Privateer Lynx and Pride of Baltimore II are narrow-bodied ships with racked masts, which appear to be slanted backward. Built for speed and agility, both were designed to evade and pursue British ships and blockade American ports.

The 114-ton Lynx, launched in 2001 in Rockport, Maine, is an interpretation of the original, built in 1812 by Thomas Kemp in Fell’s Point, Md. — the same place where the ship that inspired Pride of Baltimore II was launched.

Privateers built during wartime were used to prey on enemy ships and their cargo. That required special permission, known as “letters of marque.”

The original Lynx was commissioned less than a month before the War of 1812 began, making it one of the first American ships to set sail, though she was captured by the British the following spring at the mouth of the Rappahannock River and renamed the HMS Mosquidobit.

The current Lynx is operated by a not-for-profit educational foundation based in Newport Beach, Calif. It spent the winter in Mystic, Conn., undergoing extensive maintenance, including work on its engine, spars and rigging.

Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned in 1988 as a replacement for the original Pride of Baltimore, fashioned after a topsail schooner called Chasseur. Chasseur was captained by famous American privateer Thomas Boyle and sank 17 ships on its 1814 voyage to the British Isles.

In its nine years of service, the original Pride of Baltimore sailed over 150,000 nautical miles before sinking during a squall off Puerto Rico on May 14, 1986, while returning to Baltimore from the Caribbean.

The Pride II serves as a goodwill ambassador for the State of Maryland and the Port of Baltimore. It has logged nearly 200,000 miles, visiting more than 200 ports in 40 countries.

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