Sailing Under the Bridge

Beginning this morning, the 2012 Star-Spangled Sailabration began with the arrival of 40 vessels in Baltimore Harbor. Celebrating the Bi-centennial of the War of 1812, these ships are sailing along the eastern shore stopping at various ports.

Baltimore will be filled with a week of celebration and ship tours throughout the inner harbor. Departure of the ships will be on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

In hopes of capturing the Tall Ships arrival under sail, I planned on heading out to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge either by land or by sea this morning. A large rain storm passed by yesterday, which always results in high winds the following day. With an early departure, we got to the mouth of the Magothy River and were accosted by three to four foot white-capped swells. Quickly turning back, my friend and I jumped into a car and drove to Sandy Point Park in hopes to capture passing ships.

With hazy skies and 20 mph winds, the morning proved to be a photographic challenge. First, the winds were coming in from the north – the direction the ships were heading, so no ships were under sail. Secondly, we were facing east through a hazy sky.

Luckily I had packed my Manfrotto 290, a B& W UV filter, a Hoya HRT circular polarizer filter and the Canon 100-400mm F4.5 L IS lens. Trying to not get knocked down by the wind, we were fortunate to capture the tail end of the ships sailing into Baltimore Harbor. Lightroom adjustments made included noise reduction, sharpening, exposure corrections, addition of blacks & contrasts, and clarity.

Even with my best efforts, one can only work with the light that is available. I also learned that if I really wanted to have the full experience, I should have gone up to Fort McHenry early and staked my photographic location for the Armada arrival. Nevertheless, it still was a really cool morning, and I’m excited about being able to visit these ships this week while docked at Baltimore Inner Harbor.


ARC Gloria, Colombia

Launched: 7 September 1968

Length: 257 feet, four masts, 23 sails


ARM Cuauhtemoc, Mexico

Launched: 9 Jan 1982

Length: 220 feet, 3 masts, 13 sails

Sister ship of Gloria

Dewaruci, Indonesia

Launched 1953

Length: 191 Feet, 3 masts

“Gray Hulls”

FGS Hessen, Germany

Launched: April 2006

Length: 469 feet

USS Fort McHenry, USA

Launched 1 Feb 1986

Length: 610 feet

10 replies »

  1. Hi. Any idea what time the ships passed by Annapolis on Tuesday (19th – departure)? We were at Sandy Point from 1:45 – 7:00 and only saw one ship. #verydisappointed

      • Oh, thanks for responding. I saw online that Thomas Point Park was listed as a “viewing” site, so I figured they would be going south. There were actually a lot of people there… waiting. I guess they all read the same bad info that I did. 😦
        Where did you find their route info? Would love to use it and try again in 2 years. #hopeful

        • The OPSAIL.COM website listed their destination list. So this past two weeks was – Norfolk to Baltimore. Then to Boston. Pretty simple to figure out what direction they went.
          I had a really tough time figuring out the timing for their arrival into Baltimore under the Bay Bridge. It was quite vague. We had to guess on our own.
          I hadn’t realized they’ll be back in 2 years, that’s awesome as I feel as if I didn’t get to see them nearly enough!

  2. These are really cool shots Bella! I got to see Gloria in Tampa back in July of 2010! As a matter of fact my 3rd ever blog post was a picture of it. They are all very impressive in person!

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