BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For nearly three decades, the Pride of Baltimore II has been representing Charm City across the globe, but the tall ship may not be able sail this year.
Under cover and cloaked by uncertainty, the Pride of Baltimore II is docked for the winter, and without the funding it needs, possibly beyond.
“Tall ship vessels such as Pride of Baltimore, they can’t sustain themselves through vessel-use alone. Through our day sales, our souvenirs, our guest experiences,” said Rick Scott, Pride of Baltimore, Inc. executive director.
Scott said the Pride’s future voyage requires about $500,000 they just don’t have.
The vessel serves as a goodwill ambassador, representing Baltimore and Maryland around the world.
It received a financial commitment from the state for the 2016 through 2018 fiscal years, though there are no guarantees beyond that.
“We don’t have a firm commitment, yes or no,” Scott said. “This is the people’s boat and we need to let the public know this is the people’s boat.”
The lack of locked-in funding is already having a ripple effect.
The Pride has turned down several invitations to tall ship festivals, which is a missed opportunity to showcase what Baltimore and Maryland are all about.
“The United States doesn’t have a bunch of these vessels representing different boards,” said Jan Miles, captain of the Pride of Baltimore II. “Only Baltimore and Maryland have.”
With the mission in peril and the sailing season growing closer, they’re sending up a flare to lawmakers and everyone who appreciates this symbol of Maryland’s rich maritime history.
“It was built for the people, by the people,” Scott added.
The first Pride of Baltimore sank in 1986. Pride II will turn 30 this October.