Bidding Farewell to Montreal and the 2010 Tall Ship Fleet

0830 hours DST Tuesday September 21, 2010
Near Quebec City
Motoring down river under guidance of river pilots.

Fall has fallen here in the St. Lawrence River. Everyone is wearing winter coverings when on deck and winter-cabin cloths below. The sky has a winter cast to it with high clouds thin enough to filter the sun’s heat out of the rays that otherwise continue to require sun glasses. Passing by Quebec City this morning at 0700 hours the city did not stand out in the dimmed down morning sun. Instead it too seemed uncharacteristically cold and all hunkered down appearing.

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II departed Montreal yesterday afternoon after a morning of shore side rushing around and targeted maintenance biding time till the pilots arrived. Weather in Montreal was a pleasant 70 degrees stimulating shirt sleeves while walking vigorously in the direct  sunlight…but as much as a sweater or a coat when idle in the shade. Since departing Montreal, PRIDE has been steadily gaining latitude to he north, while also losing altitude towards sea level, on her way northeasterly towards Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Ocean. Fall weather has been pushing PRIDE along since soon after departing Chicago at the end of August. Now that it is three quarters into September we are in a race with fall towards the Chesapeake Bay with hopes of PRIDE arriving on schedule October 12. I think fall will be awaiting PRIDE’s arrival.

The tall ship fleet that was assembled for the American Sail Training Great Lakes Challenge of 2010 is now disassembled for good. All member vessels are now on singular schedules. All but the two privateers that is. LYNX is again right behind PRIDE making like an escort as both vessels voyage towards their next official rendezvous in Baltimore Harbor in time for the start of the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. Once both vessels reach the American East Coast their routes will diverge until Baltimore. For now and until we reach the American East Coast it looks like anyone observing our passage might experience a double take as two similarly rakishly rigged vessels pass by separated by several miles to as much as half a day, due to the different length of the vessels hence potential speed difference.

Montreal’s tall ship festival seems by all accounts to have been a great success. Certainly the weather played a starring roll. After a cold and soaking parade of sail marking the arrival of the fleet on the eve of the festival the weather turned to marvelous…clear skies with high temperatures in the 70’s and lows at night near 50 that lasted throughout the weekend! The crowds to the ships were enthusiastic on all of the days. For the crews, the second largest French speaking city in the world beckoned. For North Americans seeking a Continental European experience, one does not have to go to Europe. Just go to Quebec Province in Canada! But be ready to pay European prices…at least in the city…beer for $8…just as a for instance. But the culture one experiences is dramatically different than that found outside of Quebec Province. City fashion appears to be singularly Continental European. Older architecture certainly is. Food and style of delivery is French…the common lingua is French…unless one goes out of one’s way to visit an Anglophone neighborhood.

All had to end…of course. We waved goodbye to our wonderful Old Port Marina hosts with a two cannon salute. Our hosts had been as attentive to all the needs of the vessels as new parents. I hope sincerely to a future visit.

But now it is time to refocus on getting PRIDE home…which entails close scrutiny and frequent monitoring of the weather. The weather fax machine has been turned on. The NAVTEX machine has been turned on. Periodic council with the pilots about the weather helps to put into perspective information coming in over the radio frequencies. Further council with LYNX (Captain Jamie Trost) refines the nuances of strategic choice that includes fuel conservation and alternative routing that might be available to achieve shelter for any really strong weather and certainly for any contrary weather. After the pilots debark sometime late this evening we will be in the position to consider sailing as the river will be wider and our timing will be less restricted…pilot time is money spent. Hence, even if there is sailable room, it is best to focus on minimum pilot time aboard then to consider sailing…unless sailing reduces pilot time.

With many PRIDE crew changes since mid August, it is also important to hold training meetings with the new crew. The latest changes occurred in Erie about 10 days ago. Since then there has only been two sailings made of only 6-12 hours and the mainsail was not set. The rest of the underway time has been motoring. When we next go sailing, should it include setting the mainsail, it will be the first time the mainsail is set since the ship was in Lake Huron back about September two weeks ago.

With all of changes in crew we are “back” to the spring after a winter of lay-up and a “new” crew that needs training time. But unlike the spring, we have thousands of miles to cover in limited time rather than short sails scheduled frequently over a month in home waters at the beginning of the season. Voyage planning for the run to Baltimore will be further affected by the newness of the crew.

Cheers,
Jan Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Great Lakes Sailing in the Fall Season

Pride of Baltimore II is sailing eastbound in Lake Ontario with a cold front wind from the west and low 60 degree weather. This is a great weather pattern for going east…the wind is nearly 20 knots strong…Pride is gliding along downwind directly along her desired course. Weather reports suggest this favorable wind should last through the day and well into the evening. Maybe Pride will be in the Thousand Islands at the east end of the lake before the wind dies. That will be the beginning of the St. Lawrence River with no room for sailing, so motoring will be necessary.

I am back aboard Pride after a two month hiatus ashore after having sailed Pride into the Great Lakes earlier this year. Now, after providing management support to the ship and the office of Pride, Inc. while I was ashore, it is time for me to do my active marine part and bring Pride out of the Lakes and on home to the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore. My partner Captain, Jamie Trost, is off aboard another vessel (Lynx) after having completed two months aboard Pride sailing her to all those tall-ship festivals that occurred in the Lakes this year. I look forward to Captain Trost returning aboard in November to help with the end of the sailing season, as well assist in putting Pride “away” for the winter.

Pride spent this last weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania supporting a fund-raising tall ship festival in benefit of the Flagship Niagara, an 1812 War naval vessel that starred in Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s winning a significant naval battle against the British back in 1813. In these especially hard modern economic times the traditional sources of financial support coming from the State of Pennsylvania have been significantly reduced putting at risk the possibility that Niagara would be able to continue sailing. Hopefully this fund raising festival will be a significant boost toward preserving Flagship Niagara as a teacher of traditional sailing methods of her original era. For two decades she has been a source of information on how sailing was done way back when and many of those that have learned from her have gone on to become professional mariners, while others have been able to interpret historical details in a “living” and functional manner that goes beyond merely describing such in a book.

There is a great friendship between Pride and Niagara. While it may at first seem logical considering the common perspective of both vessels representing different aspects of the 1812 War, there is also the connection of crew and officers that have spent time working in both vessels together, as well in other vessels. The traditional sailing vessel world is a rather small one and most every one of the professional sailors knows each other. This festival was special for the chance for all of the sailors to visit together while supporting one of our own during what would otherwise have been merely another marine festival with thousands of curious to inform about our vessels. It is all of our fervent hope that the Erie Maritime Festival was successful in its goal to raise supporting funds for a great vessel and program.

Yesterday Pride bid fond farewell to Niagara and headed east from Erie toward the Welland Canal on her way to Montreal and another tall ship festival…this one with a French Canadian flavor. Yesterday’s wind was fair and fresh and Pride made as much as 10 knots at times. With such speed she arrived the vessel locking system that takes vessels over the Niagara Escarpment just after sunset and proceeded to spend 8.5 night time hours negotiating 8 locks over 27 nautical miles while lowering almost 300 feet down to Lake Ontario. The booming sound of rushing water visited the crew on deck as they constantly adjusted mooring lines as Pride followed the lowering lock water levels down 50 odd feet in locks with heavy metal doors that are reminiscent of the Doors of Mordor in Tolkien’s Trilogy of the Ring.

Today we enjoy another sail that we hope will last the length of Lake Ontario. With luck this wind will put us at the top of the St. Lawrence River around dawn tomorrow in good position to view the Thousand Islands as Pride begins her run down river to Montreal and eventually the Atlantic Ocean and home.

Cheers,
Captain Miles and the eastbound crew of Pride of Baltimore II

VOTE For PRIDE II ~ It's FREE and It Counts!

 

Pride II Needs your VOTE

It’s FREE and it really DOES COUNT!

Pride of Baltimore, Inc. is in the running for a $50,000 Grant through Pepsi to develop a boating safety program to reach under served students in port cities of America.

 We are competing in a sea of 1,000 other great ideas. We really need your help.

It doesn’t cost anything.  Your vote can help Pride, Inc. win $50,000 to “Teach Boating Safety from the Deck of Pride of Baltimore II” to students.  Only 10 Awards will be made in the $50,000 price category.

Vote EVERY day – now through September 30th.  It’s free and it really can make a difference.

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If you would like a daily reminder to Vote, please send an email to missy@pride2.org and enter “Pepsi” in the subject line.

Thank you for your support!

Waiting out the weather en route to Erie

Tuesday 7 September 2010
Pride of Baltimore II
Alongside in the St. Clair River
Wx SSW F 4 gusting 6, 1 foot sea in the river

After a weekend tucked into the excellent facility and protective dock at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Pride of Baltimore II had to make a mad dash around the “Tip of the Mitt” – the Northern Part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Our weekend in Traverse City was not the picturesque and mellow time I had hoped – even though the Grand Traverse is beautiful and quite a lot of fun for the crew, autumn definitely decided to arrive in force. There was no good weather for daysailing as the winds were gale force from the West and Northwest, but our evening event with the Maritime Heritage Alliance on Saturday was well attended. It even featured a double rainbow as a reward for each of the three squalls that passed through – a fitting natural phenomenon for the impressive landscape of the area.

Leaving Traverse City, our transit through the Mackinaw straights was fortunately timed during a lull in the breeze down to 20-25 knots from the North Northwest, going West and then shifting to South West with some more moderation. All of that represented good, possibly great, sailing conditions, but giving into the temptation to sail alone would have left us still on Southern Lake Huron and dealing with a Southerly Gale. Instead we motor-sailed, and then motored to get into the relative protection of the river before things went, literally, South.

Now we are sitting tight and waiting for the Southerlies to become Westerlies and allow us to leave the Detroit River without the experience of meeting a sea state that has been heaped up against the River’s two knot current. A bit of a breather after a full force summer tour through all five Great Lakes. It is also my last breather before leaving Pride II to rejoin her “sister” Baltimore Clipper, Lynx in Erie. My last passage aboard Pride II promises to be another downwind blast, and will take me back to the very waters I first learned to sail on as a kid. And strangely, though I sailed in and out of Erie aboard the Brig Niagara for several years, and countless other times on everything from a Sunfish to a 46-foot racing yacht, this will be my first passage into Presque Isle Bay as Captain.

What better way to do it – aboard such a splendid schooner, with a terrific crew & excellent support staff at home, and at the end of a tour-de-force of the Lakes that has totaled over 50,000 visitors to the ship, over 2,000 nautical miles sailed and awards for three races plus a First Place in the ASTA Tallships Challenge Series. To all the liasions, volunteers and organizers, and particularly to the crew and staff of Pride II and Pride, Inc. Thank you for an amazing summer.

 All best,
Jamie Trost and the Erie bound crew of Pride of Baltimore II

"Welcomed" to Traverse City

2 September 2010
Pride of Baltimore II
Alongside Great Lakes Maritime Academy
Traverse City, Michigan
Wx: S Force 3, Overcast with light rain

Pride of Baltimore II just ended a “Welcoming” engagement into Traverse City, featuring the Armed Sloop Welcome from Maritime Heritage Alliance (link to www.mha.org). Welcome is a replica of a Revolutionary War vessel captured out of the American Merchant Service on the Lakes by the British and made into a Military Ship. The replica was launched during the American Bicentennial at Mackinaw City and, after falling into disrepair, was donated to MHA for a restoration.

With Welcome and Pride II exchanging salutes and other MHA vessels tagging along for photo ops, we had a great entrance to Traverse City, our first ever. Pride II’s entrance into Grand Traverse Bay, however was far less dramatic as we motored in under pouring rain Tuesday night, having lost all of our splendid breeze at sunset.

That’s right, Tuesday night. Leaving Chicago at 1400 EDT on Monday, we made it through the Manitou Passage by 2000 Tuesday. A total of 30 hours and four gybes (technically wares) on a downwind sleigh ride. The total distance covered under sail was about 220, with the actual distance sailed more like 260 with all the waring — an average speed of 8.6 knots.

Starting out well below this average, we had a pleasant sail away from the heat and crowds out into the open lake. With the Southerlies, we saw building seas and breezes as we sailed North. By Noon on Tuesday, Pride II was in a choppy 3-5 Great Lakes Sea, with breezes over 25 knots, still carrying everything but the stuns’l, which we’d taken in at sunset the night before. With the speed surging regularly over 10 knots, there didn’t seem much need to set it again. Pride II’s stuns’l and ringtail are egyptian cotton of very light weight, and so a bit delicate. When we are racing, we might risk carrying or setting them when the breeze is up. When we are not racing, the inclination to save them for the races is strong.

The weather was still hot, but Lake Michigan had taken on the apparance of an autumn gale, frothy and churning, the swell never consistent. We charged out toward the middle of the Lake, set up to make the Manitou Passage and gybed. The breeze kept surging up –- 26 knots, 27, 30. We took in the gaff tops’l to reduce the weather helm as we entered the Passage, the high dunes of Sleeping Bear and South Manitou seeming to funnel the wind, now gusting to Gale force. Pride II was flying, surfing down waves up over 13 knots.

Anticipating a need to gybe to clear Cathead Point in the north end of the passage, I decided on a double reef in the mains’l. Just before we started the process, Pride II surged up to 14.4 knots, the fastest I’ve ever seen her go. With the second reef in, we settled down to 12 knots with a much more manageable helm.

But then, not two hours after reefing, the breeze died out to 7 knots. Getting into the lee of the Leelenau Peninsula, the sea and wind subsided. Clouds started gathering, and the long range radar indicated some thunderstorms. The idea of ruining such a good sail with a night of drifting around in the rain was horrible, so we motored the 27 miles to Suttons Bay Michigan to anchor there at midnight.

Suttons Bay is an idyllic Northern Michigan town, tucked in a neat bowl of a deepwater harbor, it has good anchoring on a 30’ hump about mid-bay, and quaint down town and gorgeous landscape. Crystal clear water ends in pebbled or sandy beaches, then rolling green hills speckled with houses. The town of 600 people is also home to the Inland Seas Education Association(link to www.schoolship.org), which runs one of the best science education programs in the country aboard the schooner Inland Seas.

After a tending to the maintenance needs of the ship, the crew were sent ashore to explore the town and stretch their legs after such a brisk sail – the reward for working so hard on such a fast sailing schooner. For me, this was a special treat, as I worked as a Deckhand, then Mate for Inland Seas earlier in my career. The expansive volunteer core of the organization welcomed me in as if I were their son, or nephew back when I joined the ship in 2000, and I liked the place so much I stayed for two years – a rarity for deckhands there. In a life where we as sailors spend so much time on the move, finding a place that feels as much like home as Suttons Bay does to me is always a thrill.

I have not been back enough in the nine years since I left, though I did make a point of getting there last summer. The last time I actually sailed in was six years ago, as third mate of the Brig Niagara. The town has changed some – more condos and restaraunts than most of the citizens would like – and some of the volunteers have moved on or passed on. Even ISEA has changed its office from a cramped little rented space to an excellent new building with a woodshop, classroom and aquarium. But the feeling of the place is the same. The gorgeous park alongside the Inland Seas dock is still the same as I remember when I lived aboard the boat alone a decade ago.

The crew seemed to enjoy the place too. A few of them got as far afield as a custom Cidery up the road, run by a former Inland Seas cook. And, well rested at anchor they all made a fine show of exchanging salutes with Welcome this afternoon. Now, Traverse City awaits and we await its citizens. Pride II will be open more than expected to the public in this port, as the weather forecast is for horrid sailing conditions tomorrow. In Chicago, we had more people than the total population of Traverse City visit, so I suppose we are ready for them.

But first, the crew of Welcome want to “welcome” us to town again, this time with dinner instead of gunfire.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the thoroughly “Welcomed” crew of Pride II