At last…quiet, calm as we head up the Potomac

At 4 AM this morning, after 34 hours of steady motoring for a distance of 268 nautical miles (7.8 knot average) against a steady 25 to 30 knots of wind, PRIDE was able to stop motoring at the Patuxent River and sail into the Potomac River after breakfast this morning.

The above represents an atypical grind for PRIDE. Very fortunately, itineraries established for PRIDE usually enable her to sail more than half of all her transits. But in this instance, as in a small number of instances over the more than two decades of scheduling PRIDE, it was necessary to push PRIDE along with her engines most of the distance between New York and Washington D.C. because the weather was not only contrary for the overall direction of travel, but strongly so.

Right now, the peace of having the engines off is almost shattering for the absence of the muted grinding roar of two turbo-charged 4-cylinder engines heard down below and the constant buffeting blast of 25 to 30 knots of wind one received while on deck. The lack of motion due to the virtually calm Potomac River also provides a near unreal bliss of ease for any effort to move around the ship. The transit along the New Jersey Coast was a jerky heaving motion that could often send one to their knees or lurching heavily to the side. While there was a respite from motion during the transit up the upper Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal and down the upper Chesapeake Bay, the main body of the Chesapeake Bay created a definite hobby horsing motion as a result of 25 to 30 knots of southerly wind all last night.

But after all of the above, PRIDE is not only now sailing in some friendly wind, she is on target to make the scheduled Tuesday 4 AM lift of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River at Alexandria, VA. To be sure, the Route 95 traffic that will crossing the bridge at that hour will not be pleased!!! But at least it is a lift that won’t be happening between 5 AM and 11 PM.

PRIDE just spent a week in Manhattan as guest of Denis Connor’s North Cove Marina, managed by the Manhattan Sailing Club. She was there to participate in the New York Classic Yacht Regatta over Columbus Weekend and remained the following week to host an evening reception for Visit Baltimore, a tourism arm of the City of Baltimore, and to do a number of public day-sails to raise revenue for Pride of Baltimore, Inc. There was no wind for the Classic Yacht Regatta, but the weather was unseasonably warm and dry, so it was a pleasant day on the water for the 35 regatta guests on each of the three race days of the weekend.  The ship was filled to capacity for each race, representing a successful weekend of revenue raising business for Pride, Inc. through the direct use of PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. Later in the week there was a lot of rain and wind during the scheduled day-sails, as a result those were cancelled. But the Visit Baltimore reception last Tuesday evening experienced very pleasant weather indeed, along with a spectacular view of Jersey City across the Hudson River during the evening sunset.

PRIDE’s scheduled departure of North Cove last Friday was delayed due to fresh southerly winds creating a significant contrary sea state along the Jersey Coast. Friday evening a cold front came through as forecast, bringing strong southwest and westerly winds. By Saturday, the sea state along the Jersey shore was down enough, knocked down by the fresh westerly winds, that it was deemed appropriate to depart New York. The loss of 24 hours from the delayed start and the lack of truly westerly winds, meaning that sea state along the Jersey shore was still somewhat robust and winds were still south of west, meant that PRIDE could not sail fast enough through such sea state due to the wind being south of west, and make the speed needed to remain on schedule. So instead, her two engines pushed her along.

There was some serious debate concerning going all the way to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay rather than up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D Canal then down the Chesapeake Bay. There is only an additional 20 odd miles to Washington D.C. using the “outside” route rather than the “inside” route. But the prevalence of the west wind turned out to be much less than originally forecast. Instead there would be additional southerly to southwesterly winds of some strength returning again Sunday afternoon. Those winds would be useful for going up the Chesapeake Bay, but PRIDE would not arrive the mouth of The Bay till early Monday morning, meaning there would be some stout headwinds while still off shore of the DelMarVa Peninsula. Meanwhile the Atlantic sea state persisted and looked like it would only be added to by the return of the southerly winds. By arriving near the mouth of the Delaware Bay around breakfast on Sunday, PRIDE could ride the Delaware flood current all the way up to the C&D Canal, plus catch a favorable “ebb” current thru the canal and down the upper length of the Chesapeake Bay. Turning up the Delaware would also eliminate exposure to the Atlantic sea state. The serious debate ended around 6 AM Sunday as PRIDE approached the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

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

Landfall, Gloucestering, Bean-town and New York Bound

6 October, 2011

Pos: 41 07.1’N x 072 39.5’W
Wx: WNW F2, Seas calm, Sunny

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II made landfall in Portland, Maine, five days ago. I can hear what you’re thinking – if you were so early getting the boat to the US, why is the blog so late? Well the interim days have been a bit of a whirlwind. In making Portland, we drove PRIDE II hard from the time of the last blog. Starting with a strong breeze just abaft the beam, we slowly took in sail as the wind veered, all the while laying a rhumb line for Portland. The Stuns’l had to come in when a fairlead for it parted, the T’gallant and Gaff top were too much by sunset, and near midnight, with the wind ahead of the beam, we reefed the Mains’l and took in the Jibtops’l. Even still, PRIDE II was charging along at 10 knots through the inky black and squall speckled night. Approaching Portland harbor, we took in the Foretops’l and saw the last of the rain.

Originally intending to anchor off of Portland Yacht Services (PYS), we sailed all the way to a spot I’d picked days before near the mooring field. But Phin Sprague, owner of PYS is a lover of tall ships and was kind enough to offer us a dock for clearing customs. There is no sailing through all the classic yachts and fishing vessels off PYS, so we took in sail where we would have anchored, and picked our way through the scattered boats under engines for the first time since securing in Lunenburg. Arriving at dawn, we were cleared through customs by 0815, but the crew was another three hours in stowing. We had, after all, used every sail we had.

With the rest of the day and night off in Portland, the crew had time to themselves, and I had a chance to ponder what the weather might do after the strong Southerlies faded. Originally, the lackluster forecast was tempting me to stay another day at anchor. Having lived for a time on Peaks Island, just off of Portland, I have a strong affinity for Casco Bay. But Saturday’s dawn weather report was calling for a significant Northeaster, lasting for days and heaping up a rotten good sea. It was time to close the distance to Boston. Unable to arrive before 1200 on Monday, we’d have to find an anchorage. The commercial anchorage in Boston Harbor is a forlorn place, with deep water, reversing current and little nearby ashore. Just 26 nautical miles north, however, is Gloucester, where our traveling companions LYNX and HIGHLANDER SEA were already alongside.

So we cast off and motored out of Portland, making a flyby of Peaks Island, and setting some steadying sail against the rolling swell. We arrived at sunset in Gloucester Harbor, anchoring within sight of both the other vessels we’d been traveling with since Montreal. Strange to reflect, but in two weeks, the three ships had never been further apart than 123 nautical miles – and the distance only got to that point because PRIDE II had lingered an extra day in Lunenburg.

After a Sunday evening of final farewells (for now) PRIDE II weighed anchor for Boston Monday morning at 0700. LYNX would be Newport, Rhode Island bound later the same day, while HIGHLANDER remains in Gloucester for downrig, and a potential new owner.

In Boston, PRIDE II arrived in PRIDE II style, then quickly opened to the public for the first time in two weeks. There to greet us were Alex Peacock’s parents Don and Nancy and Kevin Moran’s mother Sarah, offering logistic support but also collecting their sons. After seven months, our cook and deckhand cousin pair have signed off, along with deckhands Susie Ordway and Barbara Krasinski. Lots of new faces filled the ship, and we now have a few guest crew who have been aboard Pride II longer than the new crew! So much for these new crew to learn, so much for those remaining aboard to teach.

Boston’s events gave us a great start for getting our new hands acclimated to both the history and mission of Pride, Inc. and the esprit de corps of PRIDE II herself. Our Baltimore promoting partner Visit Baltimore hosted a reception aboard Tuesday evening, complete with excitement and fervor about all the impressive historical sites our homeport has to offer. Wednesday morning, after a quick diversion to Mystic Fuel to take on fuel for probably the last time this sailing season, we sailed off the dock and did some close quarters maneuvers in the harbor with a film crew from Puma Cast, a production company making a series of internet episodes following the crew of Mar Mostro, the Puma entry in the extreme sailing Volvo Ocean Race. While the focus of Puma Cast’s episodes will be the crew of Mar Mostro pushing the envelope of performance for the 60 foot high performance racing machine, they also wanted perspective on how sailing had evolved from the days of the Pilgrims to the 21st Century.

And who better to exemplify the dawn of speed under sail than PRIDE II? She evokes a class of schooners who first gave a currency to speed, who took the world, and the British Navy, by surprise with their swiftness, and forever put Baltimore on world stage as both a maritime center and a town full of hard-nosed citizens who repelled invasion and refused to yield. The style of the Baltimore Schooner influenced ship building for decades to follow, inspiring the great clipper ships of the late 19th Century and the Schooner Yacht America, one of the first vessels designed to race for the sake of racing.

And as PRIDE II strutted her stuff to illustrate just why her ancestors were so revered and feared, in her backdrop lay the most storied ship of her era. USS Constitution’s yards rose high above Boston Harbor, and the maritime heroines of 1812 shared a stage together once more.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the once more rearranged crew of Pride of Baltimore II