PRIDE Motoring up the St. Lawrence

1030 hours Saturday June 19 2010

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II starts a dash for the upper St. Lawrence River and on toward Oswego.

It appears the last of the sailing for the beginning part of this voyage has been accomplished. I had hoped for more sailing today…but it appears to not be available. We sailed some early this morning. But since breakfast the air has been fitful…while favorable…only able to make 3 knots or so. Meanwhile Schooner LYNX is now in sight behind us. She stopped the last of her sailing last evening and with her propeller pitched shallow and her engine RPM set high all night long she has been making around 8 knots to PRIDE’s 6 knots.

Meanwhile, the weather machine is getting ready to throw us another bowling ball of contrary conditions. Soon, sometime tonight, we are supposed to experience SW winds of gale strength…maybe 35 knots. It won’t last long…just overnight…but it could be a show stopper in terms of continuing to make way. For the moment, with light winds that are favorable, both LYNX & PRIDE are motor-sailing towards the south shore of the upper Gulf of St. Lawrence, or the north shore of the Gaspe Peninsula as it turns toward the west and south a little on its way to the actual opening of the St. Lawrence River. If both vessels are able to get to the south shore and the forecast southwest wind is truly southwest, there could be a bit of a lee  provided by being really close to shore from any big waves. If that turns out to be true, maybe some sail area can also remain up to assist as engines burn fuel to push the vessels and their masts, yards and rigging against the gale force headwinds. However, if the SW winds turn out to blow right up the river, there will be no lee and the waves could get large. For PRIDE that could be a show stopper…until the wind and sea abate. Considering LYNX’s is going to stop in Montreal to get fuel anyway, as well attend to matters required to get a pass to transit the upper St. Lawrence River, she has plenty of fuel to burn fighting the gale. But would she be able to punch through any sizable waves created by the gale? Considering PRIDE will not be making a fuel stop, we cannot afford to burn a lot of fuel merely beating against the gale. Plus, hitting large seas on the bow is something we learned long ago is not worth the risk of damage…much less consuming gross amounts of fuel doing so…putting at risk running out of fuel at the very end of this voyage.

PRIDE’s fuel status is pretty good. We are still able to make way running only one engine. If we can do that all the way to the pilot station…maybe even beyond…we will have plenty of fuel to get to Oswego. If we can push through the gale, we should have no problem arriving Oswego in time for Friday’s kick off events. However, if we find the gale stopping us, it will be hard to make Oswego in time for Friday’s kick-off.

So, here is to hoping the gale does not stop PRIDE in her tracks.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Sailing off Gaspe Peninsula

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is sailing with double reefed mainsail plus full foresail, staysail and jib in NW winds of 25 to 30 knots between Cape Gaspe and Anticosti Island.

Wind remained calm since last evening as PRIDE pushed under one engine toward Gaspe across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Around 0300 hours the forecast SW wind started to fill in. Under full sail and no engine assist PRIDE sped along at 10 knots till 0430 hours. The appearance of an uncommon looking cloud to the west-northwest stimulated us to strike the jib-top and the main-gaff-top. Not soon enough did we get the mainsail and foretopsail down. Crew did a good job of getting the mainsail off in the wind squall as I steered to moderate the situation. Just as the mainsail was all the way down the wind abated. Knowing the forecast spoke of strong NW winds after the arrival of the cold front we went ahead and struck and stowed the square foretopsail then double reefed the mainsail and reset. It was another four hours before strong NW winds filled in. I guess the cloud/wind squall was the temperature change line between the warmer air and the new cold air making for an uncommon looking cloud representing a line of localized wind of nearly 40 knots. Now PRIDE is mid way between the tall hills of the Gaspe Peninsula and Anticosti Island and the wind is up to forecast strength from the NW and the sea is building. PRIDE is doing a bit of hobby-horsing in the sea but is otherwise making her way to windward. It looks like she will reach the shores of Anticosti Island by evening time and be forced to tack.

The weather report forecasts a dying out of this wind come evening. After some calm during the night a new wind from the SE and S is to come. That will be nice although it is unlikely to last long before it also dies out and winds from the west and north return. It will be important to make as much westing as we can once this NW’rly dies out and the favorable wind comes. If we can go far enough west, we may actually be able to use the future north wind to keep advancing along our way into the portion of the St. Lawrence River that leads toward the southwest.

Sailing north may not be toward our destination, but we are not using any fuel and gaining higher latitude ought to put us in a good position to make best use of the coming favorable southerly winds.

Schooner LYNX is behind by about 16 miles. She appears to have reduced the separation between the schooners during the night by motoring faster. It is hard to tell if she has reached the combination of strong NW winds and the sloppy sea that it is making. We are not sailing PRIDE aggressively in these conditions as I am reluctant to rush up to Anticosti and then tack and rush back the other way. I am hoping to time our arrival to Anticosti for when the wind dies and then turn toward the west and start advancing toward our destination. Our fuel situation is still good so during the calm we should be able to economically advance toward the west under power once the wind dies. If we can again advance at speeds of about 6 knots then we should still be able to make our obligation in Oswego in a timely fashion with fuel to spare. I hope the forecasters are correct and my assessment of the best way to handle their forecasting is actually the best way.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

PRIDE of BALTIMORE II in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence

0900 hours Thursday June 17, 2010
Near east end of Prince Edward Island.
Wind SW’rly 15 knots.
Sailing with eased sheets under all working sail (3 jibs, square topsail, foresail, mainsail & main-topsail).

The Gulf is pretty flat just now. Just yesterday the weather reports indicated there were 3 meter seas (more than 10 feet) due to strong northwest winds. All that has died down and the Gulf is placid while PRIDE makes about 6 knots under sail pointed at the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula.

The northwesterlies were what helped us get started from Lunenburg going east to Cape Canso. Had we departed Monday as scheduled rather than late Tuesday as we did we would have run into headwinds of between 30 and 40 knots from the northwest during the leg between Cape Canso and the Straits of Canso and beyond into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Such wind strength would have stopped us in our tracks and would have been very hard to find safe anchorage with plus we would have used up a lot of fuel getting into a safe position to wait the northwest winds to die off. As it was, PRIDE ran into 20 knot northwest breezes last evening around 6 pm as she started her turn around Cape Canso toward the Straits. Fortunately as the sun went down so did the wind strength to less than 15 knots and also backed towards the west. So it was possible to motor to and through the Straits with only one engine hence conserving fuel while still making 6 knots or better.

I have been bothered by the late departure from Lunenburg. Figuring the timing for PRIDE getting from port to port involves a standard rule of thumb calculation of how many miles we think we can make in 24 hours without knowing what the weather will actually be for any of the legs. In over two decades PRIDE has been late to arrive less than a dozen times. Each time she has actually been late it involved weather that just could not be avoided and time ran out. I fear we will run out of time getting to Oswego considering it was prudent to delay departure because of the northwest winds that blew on Tuesday. Interestingly, when conversing with the Canso Lock Master I learned that it was blowing almost 50 knots from the northwest yesterday morning. Yep, we would have been stopped in our tracks at Cape Canso! So the delayed departure from Lunenburg was well advised. However, any additional significant weather that creates a reason to stop our advance will surely cause us to be late arriving Oswego.

But we are making way now under sail…not motor…and if we can keep 6 knots or better as we cross the Gulf, and if we can do it without motoring, it will be of great benefit towards our effort to arrive in Oswego on time.

Behind us by 30 miles or so is the privateer schooner LYNX. Being smaller than PRIDE she is unable to sail as fast as PRIDE when there are strong winds. In moderate to light winds there would not be much difference between the vessels. However there appears to be a difference in motoring. LYNX carries more fuel than does PRIDE notwithstanding being smaller. Also, she is equipped with the ability to change the pitch of her single propeller anytime she wants. PRIDE has two fixed pitch propellers. Being able to increase or decrease the bite of her propeller gives LYNX the opportunity to keep her one engine, which is equal to the power of PRIDE’s two engines when added together, at the most efficient and powerful portion of the power curve no matter the conditions. For motor sailing situations where the sails are doing some pulling, the pitch can be made larger and the engine run slower and help the sails drive LYNX at a faster speed than PRIDE in the same circumstances using only one of her engines with its fixed pitch propeller. Or, if it is required to push against strong weather, LYNX can reduce the pitch of her propeller and keep the engine at an efficient and powerful RPM. While PRIDE has two engines and propellers that when used together provide fully adequate power to handle most situations, using one engine makes for greater economy but less power which can mean less speed if one is trying to push against the wind while conserving fuel. With yesterdays favorable northwest breezes PRIDE was able to get ahead of LYNX under sail. Since both vessels have been motoring from just after mid day yesterday, LYNX has been able to keep the pace if not actually do some catching up.

It is fun having a “friend” vessel in close proximity during a voyage. I have been having weather and itinerary strategy discussions with LYNX’s captain over the radio on a regular basis. Captain Jamie Trost has been and continues to be a regular relief captain here aboard PRIDE hence we have worked together. Having two Chesapeake Bay 1812 War privateer reproductions making a voyage together into the Great Lakes with two captains that have worked closely together a lot makes for some very efficient and on-topic conversations. Not a lot of background conversation has to be made because we have had these conversations before when discussing PRIDE business. Jamie has never sailed or transited the St. Lawrence River and he has not been bashful to ask me about things. In turn, I have done this trip almost two dozen times over the last 30 years. Jamie’s questions remind me of what I have experienced hence actually helps me focus better on this voyage.

Limited fuel and winds that are often blowing from where you need to go with traditional sail vessels across international borders makes for a potent brew of conflicting realities on a voyage to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic. Take for instance the question of fuel. Why can’t we just pull into a place along the way and get more fuel if we use more than we hoped to? Well, first of all, we have formally “cleared” out of Canada. To go back into Canada requires time spent re-entering and then re-clearing. Meanwhile the nearest American port is more than 75 percent of the distance from Lunenburg to Oswego. Stopping there will require formally entering into the United States, which is not a problem except it takes time. But I just learned from Jamie that LYNX’s office has learned that no fuel delivery trucking companies near that ‘first American’ port are permitted to deliver fuel to a vessel unless they have “passed” the security requirements and have the required extra liability coverage in case of a fuel spill. Since no trucking company wants the extra expense of all the formality plus the liability on the “off chance” a vessel will need fuel, no delivery of fuel by truck is available when a few years ago it was. Most marinas in the St. Lawrence River on the American side are too shallow or small to accept PRIDE alongside for fuel. So…at this point, it seems to me we best not run into strong head winds or we may risk running out of fuel trying to push against such wind while trying to keep to the schedule set for arrival in Oswego. Push come to shove, such a circumstance will require choosing to be late so as not to run out of fuel.

Well, the wind is back from recently being light. PRIDE is sailing along fast and in the right direction. The more she can do this the better off we might be for keeping to the schedule and the better it will be when the time comes to stop sailing and motor up the narrow portions of the St. Lawrence River.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Lunenburg, NS

We are biding our time for departure watching a strong wind pattern. Looks like we will depart this evening. We will have company, the smaller 1812 War Chesapeake Bay privateer LYNX is here, headed to Oswego same as PRIDE is. Jamie Trost is her master…when he cannot work for us providing relief to me, he finds work with other schooners; currently he is with LYNX. So we will see how much company we can keep together as the two widely different sized vessels head off at the same time with the same route in mind and the same destination in mind. Smaller usually means not as fast…but with Chesapeake Bay privateers…who can really be sure?

 

PRIDE has been underway bound from Baltimore for the Great Lakes since Memorial Day. Since then, we have traveled about 1,000 miles, making stops for two nights in each of New York Harbor and Boston before arriving Lunenburg. In that distance and time we have used less than 200 gallons of fuel…so the sailing has been pretty good. PRIDE was full of our Guest Crew trainees for the three legs so far sailed. But we only have one Guest Crew (out of a potential for six) for this longer leg to Oswego. There will be a little adjusting by the crew necessary with the reduction of available willing hands to lay on a line or give a hand.

 

Lunenburg is a very nice town. If you have noticed the Cisco Systems TV ad with the doctor in Scandinavia talking to his patients in Lunenburg via TV, or the Lunenburg students waving hello to the Japanese students waving back through the TV you have seen Lunenburg. It is also home of the Cod Fishing Schooner replica BLUENOSE II. Soon she will be rebuilt. A large wooden boat construction project. I am glad to see this coming together. For many decades now BLUENOSE II has been the sailing icon for the Canadian Atlantic Maritimes…particularly Nova Scotia. Her image is on the Canadian dime. It is only appropriate she be rebuilt. What would Canada be without their BLUENOSE? Not as proud as they have reason to be now and long into the future after she is rebuilt.
Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II
 

 

Sailing up the coast

0900 Hours

Becalmed. 8 miles east of Point Pleasant, New Jersey and 22 miles south of Sandy Hook. Sea a glassy undulating surface under a partly cloudy sky with a horizon of haze to the west and northwest coming from shore.

PRIDE departed from her home port on Memorial Day, after spending a very busy April and May in Baltimore and Annapolis.  It was the longest stretch of time that PRIDE has remained in her home port for a number of years.  On departure day wind was light from the east. After topping off fuel tanks at the Rusty Scupper marina facility we motored towards the Chesapeake Bay. After a lot of safety review with Guest Crew and lunch the wind came up. Set all plain sail and did tacking drills down The Bay and through the Bay Bridge till evening time. Turned around and sailed downwind to the C & D Canal. Passed through around midnight after taking in all sail.

Motored down the Delaware River and Bay till dawn when the expected SW wind picked up. Re-set 4 lower sails and proceeded to sail out of the mouth of the Delaware around breakfast time on Tuesday. Set foretopsail and reached off before the freshening SW’rly breeze. Fast sailing all day at around 9 to 10 knots. Executed a gibe late afternoon to head north for New York Harbor entrance. Thunder squalls arrived at dusk. Struck foretopsail followed soon thereafter by mainsail and jib. Wind died and rain fell. Drifted all night in light winds.

Morale aboard is high after yesterday’s fast sailing. Not even the initial motion sickness felt by some as PRIDE entered the undulating Atlantic or the inundation of flies that came aboard suddenly as we left the Delaware Bay were able to dampen the awe of PRIDE’s power filled sailing. I think we will wait out this calm for southerly winds promised for later today. We have the time as we are not expected to arrive North Cove Marina in Lower Manhattan till late morning tomorrow.

Signed
Jan Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II