Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Position: Anchored in St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda
Rendez-vous 2017 Race Start to Boston
The tall ship fleet in Bermuda will start racing to Boston soon. There was an official delay to the original start set for Monday (6/5) afternoon. The new start might be described as a “soft start,” meaning there is a 48-hour window which a vessel can start on their own without any adjustment to the actual transit time of their race. There is no penalty or added time by starting within the 48-hour window or any advantage. The official start window is 3 PM Wednesday (today) to 3 PM Friday local Bermuda time (3 PM local Bermuda time equates with 1800 hours GMT/UTC).
For all intents and purposes, the race has already started, meaning there has been a lot of watching the weather to decide when to start within the 48-hour window. The goal being to commence racing at a time that is going to provide the shortest sailing time to cover the race distance. There are at least two overarching factors that every vessel is likely thinking about: wind angle and longest period of consistent wind speed. Square riggers will hope to avoid having to sail with wind direction near the bow. For fore-and-aft rigged vessels, there will be a greater willingness to sail closer to the bow wind angles, but only if there is moderate wind strength and a smaller sea size. For the shorter vessels, sailing in lighter conditions that are more close winded (wind closer to the bow) will be more desirable than broad reaching conditions of fresh to strong winds. Being shorter, they will have lower top speeds as compared to the longer vessels that will likely have higher top speed potential, unless the wind is very light. Hence the longer vessels might be looking for strong reaching angle winds.
My guess is that all crews are pondering when to start in the 48-hour window and have been since Monday as I have. So, I think it is fair to say I have been “racing” since Monday evening. 😎
Paradise Near and Far
While the fleet has been waiting in St. George’s Harbor, Pride‘s crew have been attending to ship care and cosmetics. The surrounding panoramic scene in St. George’s Harbor is white painted roofs with pastel color walls nestled in tropical greens, highlighted by the clear light green/blue tropical harbor water with fast moving, low scud clouds bringing intermittent gray and bright sunshine. Within is a picturesque view of traditionally rigged and modern rigged sailing vessels of all sizes, including a few motor yachts.
By the day’s end, however, there is little motivation to go ashore. It involves a lengthy ride in the small boat with the wind blowing 20 knots and kicking up harbor water such that ride can be wet and salty. Once ashore after supper, darkness soon arrives and what is left are night time establishments with drinks of $5 or more a serving. No movie theater. Limited internet requiring a fee as well. Ice cream? Sure. Same cost as a drink, but also a small boat ride in two directions with risk of getting wet required. So mostly crew remain aboard. Yet another day on the very small atoll of Pride of Baltimore II, from which there is a great view. The weather forecast promises even stronger winds in the harbor which doesn’t provide encouragement to make the trip after a day of ship board voyage prep. It might be with relief when the actual sailing toward Boston starts! The destination will have Pride moored to a dock right near the center of Boston – a mere stroll ashore whenever there is time off.
Captain Jan C. Miles