On a hill across from the harbor that the Pride of Baltimore had called home for nearly 10 years, more than 1,300 mourners gathered this morning to remember, with tears, prayers and even a bit of wistful make-believe, the historic schooner and four of her crew who were lost at sea two weeks ago.
Applause greeted the eight survivors of the tall ship, once scheduled to lead a parade of such vessels to the nation's newly refurbished Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July. One of those survivors, joined later by Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer and businessman William Beasman, spoke about how the ship was "a floating bit of Baltimore" loved by those who wanted adventure.
John (Sugar) Flanagan, the first mate, quoted from letters and conversations about the four who died when the ship sank off the coast of Puerto Rico during a fierce storm May 14: Capt. Armin E. Elsaesser III, 42; carpenter Barry Duckworth, 29; deckhand Nina Schack, 23, and engineer Vinnie Lazzaro, 27.
Duckworth's father wrote, Flanagan said, that his son was "proud to have been selected to crew the Pride. He didn't love to sail. He lived to sail." Schack, from Baltimore and the youngest of the crew, lived "life to the fullest" and was doing what she had long wanted to do during that last voyage. Lazzaro had told his family that he would "rather live a short happy life than a long dull life."
And Elsaesser, the captain whom hundreds in the crowd had sailed with or built boats with over the years, was a man who wrote workaday sailing logs as if they were poetry. In one of his last logs, sections of which were quoted by several people in the ceremony, Elsaesser recounted "glorious, glorious seas . . . the power, the energy . . . the sails billowing, straining, tugging . . . the wondrous excitement of the moment the Pride slices a path to destiny."
"Though the Pride may be gone, as long as we have our memories, she won't be forgotten," Flanagan said as spectators, many dressed in brightly colored summer garb and wearing straw hats, applauded.
Whether another ship will be built to tout Baltimore's charms seemed uncertain yesterday -- although city and civic officials left little doubt during the ceremony that no vessel would ever be given the name of "Pride II."
Since the sinking of the Pride, a groundswell of public and corporate donations has raised about $150,000 for another ship, according to officials of Pride of Baltimore Inc., the private corporation that managed the schooner used as a goodwill ambassador to lure economic development.
Beasman, chairman of the board of directors, said the board will build a memorial in the Inner Harbor for the Pride and its crew and that it "will take the lead in building another ship" only if there is "demonstrated and sustained" interest from the business community.
Schaefer said later that the city will not participate in building another Pride, estimated to cost $2.5 million. "You can't build another Pride. You can build another ship," he said.
Schaefer, one of the original supporters of the building of the Pride in 1977, was the speaker who brought tears to many in the crowd as he described the vessel as "part of our family, the family we call Baltimore and Maryland."
"I went to the harbor the day" that news of the accident was received, he said. "I saw her. I did. She was there with her sail billowing . . . and she turned for ports unknown . . . . If you look real hard, right now, you can see her rounding the bend. To those who want to build another Pride, I say let the Pride sail on, sail on into our memories."
Cannons boomed, and taps, the military's signal that the end has come, was played. Then the survivors, who had carried flowers into the ceremony, took turns silently tossing their carnations of red and white into the waters below.
"This is a beautiful tribute," said Joseph McGeady, the ship's second mate, who had helped inflate the life raft that saved the crew members, who were adrift for five days. "And I think everybody realizes that. Maybe it will help to end the pain of loss in one sense. But not individually."