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The Niagara Blog:     1812 - Continued! Port Dalhousie Harbour Proudly Displays 3 Tall Ships

Two 1812 replica vessels, Pride of Baltimore II and Lynx, along with the Unicorn, the only tall ship in the world with an all-female crew, docked at Port Dalhousie Harbour as part of the St. Catharines 1812 Tall Ships weekend celebration. Unicorn

Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned in 1988 as a sailing memorial to her immediate predecessor, the original Pride of Baltimore, which was tragically sunk by a white squall off Puerto Rico in 1986, taking her captain and three crew members down with her. Both ships were built as reproductions of 1812-era topsail schooners, the type of vessels, called Baltimore Clippers.

Lynx is an interpretation of an actual privateer named Lynx built by Thomas Kemp in 1812 in Fell's Point, Maryland. She was among the first ships to defend American freedom by evading the British naval fleet then blockading American ports and Pride of Baltimore II serving in the important privateering efforts.

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, the American Navy consisted of only 17 ships - eight frigates, two brigs, and seven assorted smaller vessels including a few schooners which saw service in the Barbary Wars. When a nation went to war, owners of private vessels were granted special permissions, called "letters of marque," to prey upon the enemy's shipping; thus, "privateers." While rarely engaging enemy warships, their impact was felt by English merchants who insisted on warship escorts for their vessels. To perform this duty, warships were drawn away from engaging the scant American Navy and blockading our coast, and thus did the privateers, motivated by profit, assist in our national defense. Among the Baltimore privateers was the sharp-built tops'l schooner, LYNX.

Privateers were so effective at running the British blockade and harassing the British merchant fleet that the ship yards, which built them, became primary targets for British revenge. The most notorious of these were at Fell's Point.

But in order to get to them, the British force had to sail beyond Ft. McHenry, which protected the entrance to Baltimore's inner harbor and Fell's Point. For 25 hours on 13 and 14 September 1814, the British bombarded the fort with over 1500 iron shot and mortar shells, but were unable to achieve their goal. It was here, on the morning of 14 September that Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Georgetown, DC, was moved to write the "Star Spangled Banner" which, 131 years later, became the National Anthem.

Although captured early in the war, the original LYNX with her rakish profile and superior sailing abilities, served as an inspiration to those ships that would follow.

Holland-built in 1947 from German U-boat metals, Unicorn partners with Sisters Under Sail, a New Jersey based non-profit corporation established in 2005 dedicated to helping teen girls and women build confidence, develop leadership skills, and witness first-hand what women can do together when focused on a common goal.

Admission: $2 for children ages 3-12 and $5 for adults ages 13 and up, at the gate. Visitors will climb aboard the three ships, enjoy live entertainment and mingle with the 2nd Lincoln Militia, encamped in the centre of the action.

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Tall Ships in Port

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