The killer squall had passed. The Pride of Baltimore was sunk. Now the unrelenting waves that had pounded the life out of the smallest crew member were beginning to take a toll on those who were trying to survive.

First mate John (Sugar) Flanagan could see who the strong were: Joseph McGeady Jr., the second mate who found a raft they were trying to inflate; Leslie McNish, the tall boatswain who released a sail just before the gust of wind knocked the boat awry; James Chesney, the cook who fought his way up from below deck, and Robert Foster, Susan Huesman, Scott Jeffrey and Daniel Krachuk, the deckhands who toppled off the deck but swam to safety.

Then Flanagan saw another figure, upwind in the turbulent water. Barry Duckworth, the ship's carpenter who had never liked swimming, was alive.

Flanagan, one hand holding onto a lifeline from the raft and the other outstretched, pulled Duckworth closer to those who could help.

For an hour and a half, the crew kept Duckworth afloat by passing him from one crew member to another. Duckworth was conscious and seemed to understand what their frantic shouts were all about, but he was growing weaker by the minute.

"We kept him as long as we could keep him alive," Foster, of Alexandria, said haltingly from his hospital bed yesterday. "Then he gave up on us. It wasn't that we couldn't hold him any longer. He died in someone's arm."

The last journey of the Pride of Baltimore, an excursion around Europe that corporate directors called the "jewel in the crown" of an ambitious seven years of travel for the historic wooden ship, ended as a testament to the will for survival.

To those who over the years watched the reputation of the Pride grow, as a 137-foot schooner that fought a tough battle of economic viability and then as a symbol of a city that had done the same, the tenacity of those who survived can be described as yet another triumph of purpose.

The 12-member crew ranged in age from 22 to 42. Four of them died. The eight others -- whose accounts provide the basis for much of this story -- treaded water for six hours and hung onto whatever was buoyant before they finally inflated a life raft that was saved in the disaster.

Stunned by the death of two good friends, and wondering where the other two were, the eight survivors came to realize that one of their dead friends could help sustain a life. After finding the petite Nina Schack dead, they used her foul-weather gear as much-needed protection for Chesney, who was floating in a T-shirt and shorts.

Crowded on the tiny life raft for four days and seven hours between May 14 and May 19, without a captain to lead them, the eight developed a routine of scanning the horizon in shifts. They rationed their food and, when one or another of them cried, they talked about how they were sure they would all be rescued soon.

"What kept me going, the first thought that went through my mind when the boat started to sink, was the people who loved me," said Susan Huesman, a civil engineer who had joined the crew after graduating from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in the spring of 1985. "I said that on the raft one day and Joe McGeady said, 'For that reason, I can sit here for as long as it takes.' "The Sea Fell In

It was getting close to lunchtime on Wednesday, May 14. Everyone except Chesney was on deck working the sails to thwart the wind and rain that had been hounding the ship for the past two days in the Atlantic off the coast of Puerto Rico. Chesney, the ship's cook, knew that the strain of working the lines would mean a hungry crew. He had homemade tomato soup heating on the stove and decided he would serve it with barbecue chips, a treat for his shipmates.

Without warning, the boat jerked under Chesney. First, it moved to what seemed to be a 45-degree tilt. Then, it lunged another 45 degrees. Then, the sea fell in.

"I saw water climbing up the deck," he said. "It was coming through the companionway. It was between me and the air." A tall man experienced in mountain climbing, Chesney tried to move up the few steps of the companionway, the small stairway leading from the cabins to the deck. The force of water pouring down the hatch moved him back.

"I could see other people on the deck . . . . I tried a second and a third time." He stopped to rest and felt the water rising to his neck, leaving him only a few inches of air below the ceiling. He knew he had only moments. He took a deep breath and thrust himself forward.

"My glasses came off, my shoes came off, my pants started to go," Chesney said. He put his right leg out and pushed off against the walls of the companionway. He swam straight forward until he was out of the boat. He raised his head, looked around and, nearsighted, began swimming toward "the orange thing."

The orange thing -- one of two life rafts that had been saved by the quick work of Flanagan and McGeady -- was now the center of attention for the crew tossed into the sea when a wall of water knocked the ship on its side. Capt. Armin Elsaesser III, a man described later as a conservative and cautious sailor, seemed to be everywhere during the moments after the boat was hit. He was calling for a head count. "Where's Ches?" Flanagan said he shouted. "Where are the life rafts? I want a head count. Where's Vinnie?"

The strong, unexpected wind that Coast Guard officials described as a fierce and sudden squall did its damage within seconds. Crew members struggled against the suction of the disappearing boat; each remembers that a half-hour later, when the storm was gone and the waves still high, two people could not be found: Elsaesser and Vinnie Lazzaro, the ship's engineer. Flanagan saw Elsaesser swimming away from the crew. "He probably saw someone we couldn't see. He probably would have gone to help someone," Flanagan said of Elsaesser.

One of the rafts had been pierced by the rigging of the sinking ship. The one that was left had popped its valve upon inflation and had to be blown -- puff by puff -- into use.

Crew members floated on buckets, foul-weather pants made buoyant with air, anything they could find, while inflating the raft. They worked as Schack's body floated by and Duckworth drew his last breath. Six hours passed before the eight were on board their new vessel, a 5 1/2-foot-square raft meant for six people. The raft had two flashlights, three flares, an emergency food kit of biscuits and seven cans of water, a first aid kit and a large container of fresh water that had been tainted by the sea. Nibbles and Sips

Flanagan, a professional sailor with eight years' experience, decided quickly that the crew, cramped and uncomfortable, would have to nibble and sip their way slowly through the rations. A bit of biscuit and a drink of water twice a day was all anyone could have.

No one complained. Between songs and hugs and reminiscences about the fallen shipmates, the group huddled under the life raft's canopy and thought about what might be next.

"A lot of thoughts went through my head," Huesman said. "I'm supposed to be in a wedding June 20 and I kept thinking: I gotta get back for that. There's another wedding on Aug. 2: I gotta get back for that . . . . I never thought we weren't going to make it."

"I'm sure [the thought of dying] went through people's minds," said Foster, who graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1985. "Everybody kept it to themselves. At times somebody would be unable to stand up or move their legs or have abrasions and hurt -- and it sounds kinds of corny -- but we were all in the boat together and we all had to bear it together."

"In the night, you tried to sleep and couldn't and you had no sense of depth perception," said McGeady, a graduate of Virginia Tech who said he had joined the Pride in search of adventure. "Anytime things are bad, you always wait for the sunrise to come. I know that things seem to get better when the sun comes up. But when the sun came up, you'd say: This is not so great . . . . Then you'd look forward to your little biscuit and your drink."

Six times during the hot, sunny days and the cold, cramped nights, vessels passed the life raft, and the crew set off flares that went unseen. The crew rotated watch duty. During the day, they watched the horizon on 15-minute shifts. At night, the duty stretched out to a half-hour each.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on May 19, Leslie McNish was on duty. She spotted a ship, she said yesterday at a Coast Guard inquiry into the incident. She waited for 20 minutes until the tanker came closer. Then, with Foster holding onto her legs for balance, she began signaling with their two flashlights.

"I wasn't sure what I was flashing," she said, explaining she heard a voice from just inside the canopy telling her how to signal the dots and dashes of an SOS. "I was standing up with two flashlights. One I was just waving. One I was doing an SOS."

Suddenly, the red and green running lights of the tanker disappeared.

McNish watched as the bigger deck lights appeared to turn, but she did not know whether the vessel was leaving or coming toward them. She told Foster and Scott Jeffrey, who was also helping to hold her up. They did not yet tell the others.

"After it looked like a sure thing, we told everybody," Foster said. "We broke out a couple cans of water. Leslie kept signaling and illuminated the color of the raft. When the vessel got close, we all started screaming."

Within minutes, the tanker had sent down a rescue boat. When they neared the raft, a tanker crewman yelled: "How many people in that life raft?"

The sailors answered: "Eight."

The crewman responded in amazement: "Oh shit." A New Romance

The Pride was constructed beginning in 1976, a replica of ships with a storied past. Its construction was spurred by the new romance with tall ships that enveloped the United States during the Bicentennial celebration when they drew huge crowds to the harbors of Baltimore, New York and other coastal cities.

The ship, built by the city for $475,000, was a reincarnation of the Baltimore clippers of the 1800s -- small, speedy vessels known for their heroics at sea as they captured British merchant ships and then raced away from the warships that tried to catch them.

The new Baltimore clipper was designed to capture tourism and trade for her namesake city, but she was not without her critics. Some said that a ship fashioned after ones also used for slave trading in the 1800s should not be the symbol of renewal for the city. Others wondered if Baltimore, with all its urban ills, should be spending a half-million dollars on a sailboat.

Mayor William Donald Schaefer answered them at the Pride's commissioning in May 1977.

"It isn't easy . . . to weigh things like this against the other needs in a great city," he said at the ceremony. "But we had to make a decision: were we a city with a dream or just a city?"

The Pride sailed off to advertise the charms of Baltimore, first at ports on the East Coast, then through the Great Lakes and a 17,000-mile voyage to the West Coast, and finally, in March 1985, on its most ambitious journey across the Atlantic.

"At first, there was a lot of hype about it possibly going to Europe," said Executive Director Gail Shawe, who helped plan the first major trip to Puerto Rico. "That started out as a vision and then it became a tangible vision as the Pride's reputation grew."

The European trip began March 31. Pride's captains Armin Elsaesser and Jan Miles, who rotated every three months during the trip, chronicled her arrivals in their logs. Oslo: "We staged an exuberant celebration of America's 209th birthday . . . . " Copenhagen: "We come roaring into the harbor with all our kites set to sail in and out along the waterfront with our cannons thundering our salute." Stockholm: "We are making our way . . . as come. I know that things seem to get better when the sun comes up. But when the sun came up, you'd say: This is not so great . . . . Then you'd look forward to your little biscuit and your drink."

Six times during the hot, sunny days and the cold, cramped nights, vessels passed the life raft, and the crew set off flares that went unseen. The crew rotated watch duty. During the day, they watched the horizon on 15-minute shifts. At night, the duty stretched out to a half-hour each.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on May 19, Leslie McNish was on duty. She spotted a ship, she said yesterday at a Coast Guard inquiry into the incident. She waited for 20 minutes until the tanker came closer. Then, with Foster holding onto her legs for balance, she began signaling with their two flashlights.

"I wasn't sure what I was flashing," she said, explaining she heard a voice from just inside the canopy telling her how to signal the dots and dashes of an SOS. "I was standing up with two flashlights. One I was just waving. One I was doing an SOS."

Suddenly, the red and green running lights of the tanker disappeared.

McNish watched as the bigger deck lights appeared to turn, but she did not know whether the vessel was leaving or coming toward them. She told Foster and Scott Jeffrey, who was also helping to hold her up. They did not yet tell the others.

"After it looked like a sure thing, we told everybody," Foster said. "We broke out a couple cans of water. Leslie kept signaling and illuminated the color of the raft. When the vessel got close, we all started screaming."

Within minutes, the tanker had sent down a rescue boat. When they neared the raft, a tanker crewman yelled: "How many people in that life raft?"

The sailors answered: "Eight."

The crewman responded in amazement: "Oh shit." A New Romance

The Pride was constructed beginning in 1976, a replica of ships with a storied past. Its construction was spurred by the new romance with tall ships that enveloped the United States during the Bicentennial celebration when they drew huge crowds to the harbors of Baltimore, New York and other coastal cities.

The ship, built by the city for $475,000, was a reincarnation of the Baltimore clippers of the 1800s -- small, speedy vessels known for their heroics at sea as they captured British merchant ships and then raced away from the warships that tried to catch them.

The new Baltimore clipper was designed to capture tourism and trade for her namesake city, but she was not without her critics. Some said that a ship fashioned after ones also used for slave trading in the 1800s should not be the symbol of renewal for the city. Others wondered if Baltimore, with all its urban ills, should be spending a half-million dollars on a sailboat.

Mayor William Donald Schaefer answered them at the Pride's commissioning in May 1977.

"It isn't easy . . . to weigh things like this against the other needs in a great city," he said at the ceremony. "But we had to make a decision: were we a city with a dream or just a city?"

The Pride sailed off to advertise the charms of Baltimore, first at ports on the East Coast, then through the Great Lakes and a 17,000-mile voyage to the West Coast, and finally, in March 1985, on its most ambitious journey across the Atlantic.

"At first, there was a lot of hype about it possibly going to Europe," said Executive Director Gail Shawe, who helped plan the first major trip to Puerto Rico. "That started out as a vision and then it became a tangible vision as the Pride's reputation grew."

The European trip began March 31. Pride's captains Armin Elsaesser and Jan Miles, who rotated every three months during the trip, chronicled her arrivals in their logs. Oslo: "We staged an exuberant celebration of America's 209th birthday . . . . " Copenhagen: "We come roaring into the harbor with all our kites set to sail in and out along the waterfront with our cannons thundering our salute." Stockholm: "We are making our way . . . as other large sailing vessels appear from behind islands to join us. There is one! And another! And another! . . . We speed by and lead the fleet . . . toward one of the most beautiful ports in the world."

"It was fantastic to see this American schooner sail into England," said W. Bruce Quackenbush, a Baltimore financier and member of the board that runs the ship. "Pride fired its cannons as it came under the Tower Bridge. I don't think the British realized it, but we were taking London." Receptions Everywhere

Everywhere there were receptions, some run by Maryland's economic development officials, others by Maryland corporations. Each was a well-planned assault designed to capture new business and industry for Baltimore and the state. On board, there was music, fresh seafood -- sometimes flown in from Maryland -- and tours of the ship conducted by crew members who were turned out in Navy blue blazers and blue "Pride ties," which sported miniature golden Prides as emblems.

The lure of the ship awed those familiar with the development game. Normally, state officials or business persons holding similar parties at posh hotels would get a 25 percent turnout, according to Mike Lofton of the state Department of Economic and Community Development. When a reception was held on the Pride, they would expect nearly 90 percent.

"I am told the Pride cost about a million dollars," Lofton said. "If it did, it was the smartest million anybody ever spent."

Seven years before, no one could have envisioned such praise. The ship, crippled and leaking, was ignominiously towed into port in April 1979 after it was blown off course and lost for several days, and then ran aground on a sandbar. The city agency that operated the Pride could not support her financially and did not know how to tap the private sector effectively for funds.

The mayor, who already had used a partnership between business and government to revitalize his decaying city, decided to try the same technique on the Pride. Christopher Hartman, the mayor's press secretary, called on a group of bankers, financiers and business persons to form a private nonprofit corporation to operate the Pride.

"Our advice was run the ship on a businesslike basis and begin to build a base of financing other than city funds," said Eamonn McGeady, an uncle of crew member Joseph McGeady and one of the original board members. Pride of Baltimore Inc., the corporation they formed, did just that, wooing corporate donors who soon were writing checks "in the five-figure range," according to McGeady, and sending the ship on ever more ambitious journeys.

The Pride went through some changes during those years. Although built to be historically accurate with few amenities, it was refurbished to make certain the crew could last weeks on the sea, and newer safety features were added.

A refrigerator was placed on board, a stove and toilets were installed. The deck was replanked, the bottom was recaulked and a long-range radio was purchased. The Coast Guard, which had previously approved the Pride as a yacht, reconsidered the classification in 1981 in light of the expanding business of the boat. It was inspected yearly as a dockside platform for parties. Since it did not carry passengers, it did not have to be inspected for commercial travel.

Plans for the European trip began in 1982. The corporation decided to hire two captains and worked out a schedule of sailing that would give them time to rest and time to select new crew members, who would be rotated throughout what was to be a 20-month tour.

Those plans were cut short in January this year when terrorist bombings abroad caused Baltimore civic leaders to wonder about the wisdom of keeping a conspicuously American ship in unfamiliar waters. The Pride headed home with plans to lead a parade of boats that would celebrate the Statue of Liberty centennial.

On May 9, the Pride home base was radioed that the ship was leaving St. Thomas. We will be home, the crew said, in the Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk, on May 19 or 20. Search Has Ended

A week after the sinking of the Pride, the Coast Guard is no longer searching for the missing captain and the engineer. One memorial service has been held for Nina Schack. Another for the Pride and its lost crew members is scheduled for next Sunday at Fort McHenry.

Coast Guard officials are questioning the survivors about what happened. Other sailing experts are asking whether the Pride, a ship that recreated the splendors of an age gone by, did not also recreate risks that were best left to the past. But those who sailed her and those who watched her sail are vigilant in their defense of what once was.

"To build the Pride differently would not be building the Pride," Flanagan said last week. "I mean, you could go out there and make a tanker that would never sink, but that wouldn't be the Pride. The Pride itself was somewhat of a racehorse, she was an elite craft, a wonderful sailing machine,and to try to build her differently would be taking away from her qualities."