Waiting out the storm at anchor in Portland

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II rests at anchor in Portland Harbor, Maine after sailing in at 0800 hours this morning (Saturday). Rain and wind that started around 0200 hours out in the Gulf of Maine created a decent swell that caused quite a bit of heaving and yawing for PRIDE while also making all on watch in the pitch black night dripping wet. With the wind came a chance for PRIDE to sail at 10 knots after motoring most of the way across the Gulf of Maine through near calm conditions.

Approaching Portland Harbor entrance in the pre-dawn light with the ocean swell and the rain at great speed created a lot of fast action on deck for the crew to prepare for entrance while also executing a jibe. First take in the mainsail, then take the jib, then pre-brace the square topsail yards, then turn the ship and jibe the foresail and staysail, then set things up properly for the new reach while steering into the narrow slot of the harbor entrance. A slot with ample space but looking pretty small with the heaving and the yawing brought about by the increasing swell.

We are invited to lay alongside a floating pier at Portland Yacht Services to clear Customs and remain the weekend if we want. But the dock is exposed to the SE to E winds and I have decided it is not prudent to lay alongside in the current conditions. So we are at anchor. We launched the small rigid bottom inflatable boat to go fetch the Customs Agent aboard for clearance.

Now that all the formalities are completed we can settle down a bit and wait developments with the weather. Till things change for the better no one is going ashore and we remain in watches keeping an eye on PRIDE’s anchorage…to be sure we do not start dragging without knowing…should the wind come up a bit more than predicted. Improvements will come…maybe sooner if Danny drifts offshore a little more than projected as he passes by. We can hope. We all hear that Portland is a great town for an evening.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Saying Goodbye to Canada Brings Us One Step Closer to Home

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is likely to be back in the USA tomorrow in Portland Harbor, Maine. Currently she is motoring along in virtually calm wind conditions with little to no sea swell. A beautiful high pressure like day. Tropical Storm Danny has recently been forecast to nearly fall apart…i.e. is forecast to be somewhat smaller than earlier forecasts. This is not a bad thing…eh?

PRIDE got into Lunenburg the day before yesterday…very early in the morning.  With the awesome generosity of locals like the Captain of the Schooner BLUENOSE II, the folks at the Museum of Fisheries and the staff at the office of the Barque PICTON CASTLE, the crew were able to attend to the necessary details of ship care and preparation for eventual departure by lunch time. So they got Wednesday afternoon off in that wonderful pocket of just barely surviving traditional sail-centric activities in this new 21st Century we are experiencing.

Yesterday (Thursday) was spent on more maintenance as I dealt with Canadian Customs, US Customs and determined the best time to get underway considering local weather and the developments of TS Danny. Eventually we got underway in a decent NW breeze and sailed out of Lunenburg and down the Southwestern Shore of Nova Scotia. The goal being to get across the Gulf of Maine quickly, within 48 hours cover the 300 nautical miles to Portland ahead of Danny, and be positioned on the “safe semicircle” side of Danny and located in a safe well protected harbor of Portland as he passes by mid-day Saturday. Since sundown yesterday we have been motoring with little to no wind. At this writing there remains 150 miles to go and it looks like we will be on schedule to be in good shelter for Danny and meet with US Customs in Portland at 1000 hours Saturday…tomorrow.

Then we will have to keep an eye on ole’ Danny. Smaller it may become…but still there are forecasts of 30 knots or more along the coast of Maine for Saturday night into Sunday. It is unclear if there is a dock PRIDE can lay at for those winds. We may have to go to anchor at first when the wind is out of the East. But when it shifts to NW…as is expected…maybe then we can go to a dock and be able to let the crew get ashore for a visit in downtown Portland.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Hurrican Bill is upon us.

Rain. Lots of rain. Monsoonal rain. But no wind as yet. Forecasters have steadily been downgrading the likely wind strength PRIDE is likely to experience while sheltered in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

What was a possibility of 50 knots forecast all they way back to when PRIDE was sailing past the north side of the Gaspe Peninsula on Thursday has dropped to maybe 30 knots. But that does not mean there is the same kind of reduction of strength on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia. They will still experience more than 50 knot winds as Hurricane Bill runs more or less parallel to the coast from Cape Sable in the west passed Cape Breton Island to the east. The closest distance to PRIDE that Bill will have as it goes by is around 110 nautical miles. The farthest 50 knot winds reach from Bill’s center is forecast to be 40 miles at the time it passes by PRIDE. So it makes sense that with PRIDE being so much further away from Bill’s center than 40 miles, we would experience substantially less wind strength than 50 knots.

So we sit tight and keep an eye on things. We have had some heavy rain this morning…the wind that is due will not be here till after lunch and maybe not till mid afternoon and last into late evening before reducing. This morning I am holding forth to the crew on what I know about hurricanes and how they move.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Homeward Bound

We are down to the last 2 pilots of a total of 6 for the outward bound run of the St. Lawrence River. We departed Montreal yesterday at 4 pm. It is now 11 am and we are already past Quebec City. Going down stream is sooo much faster than struggling up stream! Estimates are we will be dropping these last pilots off before midnight…then we will be on our own again…save for the regular check-in calls with Vessel Traffic Control.

PRIDE’s reception in Montreal was very appreciative by the local organizers of our visit. The setting is a good one for PRIDE to amplify the potential beauty of the older part of the port, an area that has been under re-development for a couple of decades. In fact PRIDE’s presence was to help transmit the message that there is more development to be done…so please approve budgets for that to be done…or support such budget approvals.

For the crew Montreal has been a great experience. French style culture, big city, old architecture, and all the amenities right at hand. For a short stay what more could a sailor ask for?  Especially with the local friends that were around.  There were a number of up-bound Guest Crew who came back during the weekend and shared “their” Montreal. Meanwhile a staffer with the American Consul in Montreal, also a traditional vessel sailor from the West Coast, escorted the crew to some of Old Montreal.

Au revoir Montreal.  From here it is on to Lunenburg, our last Canadian port of call this season. 

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

St. Lawrence River salute in Quebec

PRIDE just received and returned a salute from “the” venerable gentleman of Cap-Charles, Quebec, located right on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

For years this gentleman has raised the flag of the nation of registry of any ship passing by Cap-Charles on their way to or from Montreal. Included in the salute is the playing of the national anthem from huge speakers set facing the river from the shore. As PRIDE has traveled this part of the St. Lawrence River each time she has gone into and departed the Great Lakes, there have been a number of salutes exchanged over the years.

In this salute we heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Anchors Away”. In return PRIDE fired a single gun salute and dipped The Star-Spangled Banner.

Anyone interested in reading about this tradition one can visit the web site at www.bencancour.net/capcharles

Jan C. Miles Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Pilot Change at Quebec City

Cloudless sky, light winds, warming temperatures, Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Plains of Abraham where the French and British armies fought…oh yeah..and a change of pilots.

We carried the first two pilots from Escomins (near the Saguenay River) to Quebec City. At 0930 hours the exchange by small boat was made and while our first two pilots, David and Silva, got off (they boarded the ship yesterday at 1530 hours and have been aboard 18 hours) two more pilots have come aboard. They will likely be aboard about 12 hours…or until PRIDE reaches Trois-Rivieres (Three Rivers).

Motor, motor, motor…since 1100 hours yesterday. This will continue till tomorrow in Montreal…till maybe around mid day. With pilots aboard my own focus changes from acute oversight of navigation and recreational & commercial traffic to a more relaxed oversight.  To have the pilots aboard is a great expense…for me this is an unnecessary service as until 1999 PRIDE’s size did not require a pilot.  I made this trip up and down this river almost two dozen times in a mixture of vessels of similar size to PRIDE on my own without pilot.  But the regulations are the regulations and in 1999 a change was made and it has been required since then that PRIDE take pilots between Escumins and Montreal.

Meanwhile with such good weather and smooth conditions it is possible for PRIDE’s crew to get some significant cosmetic maintenance done. Not only for preparation of being in Montreal, but for catching up with the wear and tear that has accumulated since PRIDE departed from the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of May.

Arrival in Montreal will be tomorrow.  We’re running a little ahead of schedule so have to work out logistics with the port organizers in Montreal.  Ideally, we’ll be able to time it so that we get the largest audience possible so we can make a real show of it! 

Jane C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II