Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Aboard the Spirit of Independence - At Liberty - 10/12/10

For my full day off in Fells Point with shore liberty I thought it would be best to take the time to tour the USS Constellation. And as luck would later prove, it was the perfect decision for the day. The history of the sailing ship is best left to the Wiki, so I'm going to write and concentrate about today's adventure along with my fellow crew member and starboard watch member extraordinaire, Whitney Rayl. 

USS Constellation Baltimore Habour, MD. 
We walked to the USS Constellation - about a mile from Fells Point where the Spirit is moored - and after paying an $11 tour fee, we entered the museum portion of the tour. Lots of exhibits are available with sabers, pictures, artifacts and history to read. I found in one exhibit the comic below that conveys a bit of humor of the day. Granted it is taken out of context, and maybe you had to be there on the ship for it to be funny, but I think it is note worthy.

Once through the museum area, and up a flight of stairs, we were on the spacious wooden deck of the USS Constellation. Three stout masts full of rigging towered above our heads. Near the stern a guide called us over for a talk about history and the noon day firing of the gun, but being there so close to the appointed time of firing we missed much of the talk, but got the scoop on the gun which was loaded with a pound of black powder. Four men were asked as volunteers to pull the gun into firing position and I was among those that tugged the gun.  This was a little one and I can tell you first hand it took a bit of effort to roll it into position.

Loading the gun on the USS Constellation.
Once the gun was in position  (according to the gunner,  cannons are for land and guns for the sea)  we were told to cover our ears for the firing. A sharp report rang out over Baltimore Harbor along with a large cloud of white smoke. Soon thereafter the Pride of Baltimore II and the Lynx came into view further up the harbor under a full press of canvas. They were saluting each other, the harbor and soon, the USS Constellation.

Pride of Baltimore II and the Lynx in Baltimore Harbor near the USS Constellation.
Pride of Baltimore II saluting the USS Constellation in Baltimore Harbor. Below is the gun that was demonstrated for us earlier.
Lynx from the deck of the USS Constellation.
After the gun salutes, we toured the rest of the ship from stem to stern and four decks below. We were told that the USS Constellation has a shorter bowsprit on her now because, if it were the original length, at low tide it would pierce the roof of the restaurant in front.

USS Constellation and view of restaurant in front.
Whitney Rahl at the helm of the USS Constellation
Whitney Rahl beside one of the guns on the gun deck.
Guns lined up on the gun deck.
Captain's quarters.
Rigging USS Constellation.
Definitely check her out if you get a chance and I am sure you will not be disappointed.

As I write this blog outside my office - at race headquarters - Schooners and Crooners have warmed up and various bands are now playing. Tomorrow's another big day including the The Parade of Sail, the dinner for the participants and sea shanty singing at the Wharf Rat.

Schooners and Crooners setting up before it got crowded.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome... will there be any 360x180's of the gun deck?