Motor, Motor, Motor

Have to keep the schedule, so it’s MOTOR, MOTOR, MOTOR. Fortunately, the reason for motoring is no wind. But Environment Canada, the Canadian Federal department responsible for analyzing and forecasting weather for mariners (and others), promises some significant wind very soon. So, we are in a small hurry to get along the route to Pictou as far as possible before that wind arrives, as it promises to be somewhat a contrary wind with some strength.

Currently PRIDE II is on the west side of Cape Breton Island, about midway between the north and south ends of that nearly straight western shore of the island. Cape Breton has some pretty high elevations right close to shore so in daylight it depicts some wonderful topography. At night when motoring pretty closely along the shore Cape Breton merely looms over us with its mass of darkness, a darkness that is at odds with much of the coast that PRIDE II sails along in North America, considering the abundance of electric lights we usually see. But all along the north end of Cape Breton there are no lights because there are no people residing there. Such a darkness can bring one back to the days of European exploration and what it must have felt like coming upon a land with no lights, wondering if there was a local population and what they might be like.

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is midway through an itinerary of four marine festivals organized in what has been termed “outer ports”; all are within Nova Scotia. The two ports recently visited, Port Hawkesbury and Sydney, are active commercial ports, with Sydney being associated with a city center, while Port Hawkesbury is more a rural center. Each has been strong in its effort to provide hospitality to the visiting vessel crews. While the hospitality is very much appreciated, considering that most of the vessels are pretty small, hence with small crews, it has been hard for some of the crews to both provide safety, education and crowd control aboard their vessel with the visiting public AND attend the various lunches, dinners, shore side bus tours or anything else being offered. I hope the hosts understand this conflict of obligations.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Bound for Sydney, NS

Departing Port Hawkesbury, NS
Bound for Sydney, NS
45Degrees 27.7 minutes North X 060Degrees 59.4 minutes West

The month continues to speed by us as we transition out of the “large festival” mode and get to savor some smaller, quieter towns around Nova Scotia and Quebec. As I write, we’re pushing out of Chedabucto Bay, bound for Sydney, NS. Our last stop of Port Hawkesbury showed us a small town filled with infinitely kind and polite people. I’m sure they won’t be a singular case as we make our way first east to the bigger town of Sydney then west to the smaller towns of Pictou, Pugwash then north to Gaspe and finally west again to big city of Montreal!

Matt Oates, 2nd Mate aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Tall Ships in Nova Scotia

It was not too long ago that we aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II were sweltering in the high humidity heat of Charleston. Now we are covered up in at least a couple of layers during the day and blankets at night, as we cruise-in-company with nearly a dozen vessels to a number of Nova Scotian ports, which are hosting small tall ship festivals.

From Halifax this small fleet broke away from the Tall Ship Atlantic Challenge 2009 race fleet when they started their race to Belfast, Ireland last Monday. Instead of going to Ireland or going to our respective home waters, this small fleet sailed on to tall ship festivals in two ports east of Halifax ~ Port Hawkesbury and Louisburg. Both ports are located on Cape Breton Island. After two days of public visits the fleet is now underway for Sydney, further to the east. Saturday and Sunday will be spent with Sydney’s public exploring the fleet. Then it is off again for the next small Nova Scotian port of Pictou. After two days there it will be time to move the fleet to Pugwash, the last Nova Scotian port to benefit from this year’s visit of tall ships and the curious and enthusiastic public coming to the waterfront to board them.

As I write this, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II and PICTON CASTLE ~ the two largest vessels of this small fleet ~ are motoring against a moderate breeze from the East. We are passing by the southwest entrance of the well-known holiday cruising ground of the Bras’ Dor Lakes, located in the middle of Cape Breton Island. Near us is ROSEWAY, the last American fishing schooner to be built at the famous Essex, Massachusetts fishing schooner building port. She is sailing at the moment, tacking to windward in the moderate breeze. It will be interesting to me to observe if she is able to sail well enough in the available breeze to make the distance to Sydney in the available time; at 1000 hours tomorrow the Sydney Tall Ships festival opens to the public with ticket holders expecting to board the ships. At any rate, sometime tonight PRIDE II and PICTON CASTLE should turn the southeast corner of Cape Breton Island and have a favorable breeze to do some sailing with up toward the entrance of Sydney Harbor. Till then PRIDE II’s crew are standing watches and getting some rest from all their public tours and the evening events put on by the locals in honor of the vessels’ crews. Not being able to sail due to the contrary breeze and the limited amount of time to shift to Sydney Harbor does provide captains with the opportunity to give the crew some added rest before facing the Sydney public tomorrow, right after a full night of travel.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Whale spotting off Nova Scotia

After a night of slowly sailing towards Port Hawksbury with everything but the stuns’l and ringtail set, I came up on deck today at noon to find only the Mains’l still set, and the midships awning up to keep the drizzle out of the boat.

At first our four hour afternoon watch looked as though it might be an uneventful motorboat ride. But minutes into the shift, an off-watch deckhand, Louise, spotted a whale. It surfaced twice, and judging by the dark, smooth body, blunt, bulbous head, and the location and size of its dorsal fin, we decided we were looking at a pilot whale. A guest crew member confirmed that Pilot whales are common in this area —   about 12 miles off Nova Scotia in about 350 feet of water.

Now we are settling into the watch routine — it’s 1230 — hopefully we see some more interesting marine life before we go off watch at 1600.

Sarah Herard, Deckhand aboard Pride of Baltimore II

After a great stop in Halifax, we bid fair winds to the TSAC Fleet

At 0800 local time Tuesday, July 21, light rain is falling on PRIDE II as she begins to motor to her Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada destination of Port Hawkesbury with the intention of arriving tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

I believe this rain is likely to envelop the TSAC 2009 Race #5 fleet as both the race fleet and the weather track east towards Europe. Fortunately the rain should bring a new wind to the race fleet…assuming they experienced the near flat calm that PRIDE II experienced overnight.

Halifax was a good stop for all; certainly all of the fleet was somewhat more accessible to each other than in Boston. In Halifax, it was merely one long walk from end to end of the fleet mooring area rather than the significantly longer and multi-directional walk with two bridges to cross that existed in Boston.  Halifax does benefit for having a waterfront that permits a sizable sail training vessel fleet to be moored pretty close together and also pretty close to the center of town. With such accessibility came a lot of crew and officer inter-ship mingling when not on watch. I am tired, PRIDE II’s crew is tired, and I heard others mention that while it has been a good stop in Halifax, they will be quite happy to get to sea. Certainly after a quiet night underway I feel rather refreshed.

PRIDE II hung around the starting line of TSAC Race #5 to observe the Class A start as well the smaller class start. All vessels got off to clean starts. Class A showed some strong effort to get to the line on-time and in front…three Class A’s hit the line with speed…at least the speed available for the moderate wind of 10 knots. EUROPA to windward, CAPITAN MIRANDA to leeward with SAGRES in between. For the smaller Class B and D vessels it looked like JOLIE BRISE was first across the line well down at the leeward end of the starting line with PETER VON DANZIG to windward of her but a bit back and RONA II further to windward and back a bit further. Unlike JOLIE BRISE the other two were carrying spinnakers so they slowly sailed ahead of JOLIE BRISE after the start.

Strategically speaking I found it interesting that EUROPA, JOLIE BRISE and TECLA seemed to be sailing a more southerly shaped course than the rest of the fleet. Doing so would put more power in the their sailing…but it would represent not sailing directly to the first waypoint. It will be interesting to see how, or if, doing that represents any advantage.


Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

36 hours and 200 miles to Halifax

For the last 72 hours, the weather forecasters have been correcting their original forecast for a coming northwest wind with every update. Yesterday’s evening forecast indicated there would be no northwest wind…that the wind would remain light. With 200 nautical miles to go, and only 36 hours left to cover the distance, PRIDE II got moving ahead under power. Of the small fleet of collected vessels within range of PRIDE II’s AIS that left PETER VON DANZIG as the only vessel remaining underway under sail at 2100 EDT yesterday.

Off in the distance, with the aid of some VHF propagation “skip”, yesterday afternoon I had seen on PRIDE II’s AIS both KRUZENSHTERN and EAGLE some distance to the west-southwest; they were right next to each other and evidently sailing by the indication of their speed and their course over the ground. Considering they can motor pretty fast, maybe they continued their “match sailing” well into last night as well.

Light wind sailing can be pretty frustrating. Aboard PRIDE II it was seen as quite acceptable this time around because of everyone being tired from all the activities in Boston. There is anticipation of a lot going on in Halifax, so there is no desire to get in early. Hence everyone aboard was quite comfortable drifting along until it was absolutely necessary to push on.

This morning PRIDE II is just to the east of the fabled Cape Sable and its strong ocean currents located at the southwest end of Nova Scotia. The morning weather report suggests some wind coming off of the land before shifting to parallel the coast and increasing to 20 knots in a typical summer day southwest flow. We have 110 nautical miles to go and do not really have to be in Halifax till business hours open tomorrow. I think we will go sailing again!

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II