PRIDE in Nantucket

Two 1812 War Baltimore Schooner Privateers, a fleet of classic racing yacht 12 Meter America’s Cup sailing vessels, a fleet of classic yacht International One Design (IOD) sailing vessels and numerous classic yacht sailing vessels marked by the presence of the only New York Yacht Club “50” footer to survive from the early 20th Century SPARTAN have been mingling daily this week. The iconic Privateer PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II and the smaller yachting version LYNX have been marking their presence by salutes of gun (cannon) fire. An enhancement to the gathering that seems to be well enough received despite the shock of the sudden loud reports.

To accommodate all of these vessels, as well as visiting yachts of all kinds to one of the East Coast’s summer yachting meccas, it is necessary that the larger vessels seeking access to a dock (rather than anchor out) must “Med-moor”. A form of both anchoring and tying up to a dock common in the Mediterranean Sea, Med-moor is a stern-to the dock orientation using anchors forward and dock-lines aft with gangways extended over or out of the stern. This is a somewhat awkward mooring method for PRIDE. Her stern bulwark, or transom, must be climbed over and her gangway must be attached at the top of the back of the transom. Some special modifications were arranged with the assistance of past builders of PRIDE II, Paul Powichroski and Gary (Leroy) Suroski of Baltimore. The system of quick and easy to install & remove steps to get up and down from the transom rail-cap works very well. The new brackets for hanging the gangway work dependably. The whole assembly works perfectly.

What is iffy about this type of mooring is the vagaries of the wind. A change of the wind blowing on one side to another or from either the bow or the stern to one side send the bow off-center and make for a pivoting reality that risks jamming the gangway against a piling and possibly begin to tear it off the transom. Maybe this could be prevented by the use of two anchors spread to either side of the bow. But anyone familiar with “traditional” crew-driven anchor hauling systems will know such a system is a tremendous amount of work…especially when sailing everyday…and sometimes twice a day! So we are for the moment hoping to stick with only one anchor.

PRIDE’s welcome to Nantucket is one of sincere appreciation for the history she represents. But what is most complimentary is the appreciation for such a world renowned American sailing vessel paying Nantucket a visit. PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II thanks Nantucket very much for the sincere welcome! More specifically, I would like to thank the Nantucket Community Sailing Association and Nantucket Boat Basin.

In addition I would like to thank Panerai, the high quality Italian watch manufacturer for the opportunity given to PRIDE to assist in honoring cancer victims and their medical staff through the charity organization ‘Sailing Heals’ of New York and their relationship with the Nantucket Hospital.

Meanwhile PRIDE has been host to Maryland families who summer in Nantucket. Last night’s evening reception with these families, which included ESPN sailing commentator Gary Jobson, and many of their Nantucket friends, seemed to be much enjoyed; especially with the visit of Sgt. Mike Fraser of the U.S. Marines, a wounded veteran of 3 tours in Iraq and a tour in Afghanistan, who assisted PRIDE’s crew with the gun salute at evening colors. Sunday PRIDE will take many of these Maryland families, including Sgt. Fraser, will sail aboard PRIDE, partaking in the exhibition start of two PRIVATEERS to be performed prior to the official start of the 40th Anniversary of the Nantucket Opera House Cup Regatta. With both PRIVATEERS discharging guns throughout the exhibition, it ought to be quite the spectacle. If not, certainly noisy and smokey!

Jan C. Miles, Captain
Acting Executive Director

Nantucket Bound

The weather is light & the sea slight. Motoring along at around 6.5-7.0 knots, PRIDE is making her way south from Bath, Maine on the Kennebec River and her weekend visit at the Maine Maritime Museum toward the Massachusetts island of Nantucket, near Cape Cod. Her route is through the western side of the Gulf of Maine and along the outside of “The Cod”…to others…The Cape. This route will pass nearby or over such underwater locations as PASTURE, POLLOCK HUB, DOGGETT RIDGE, SAGADAHOC, MISTAKEN GROUND, PLATT’S BANK, JEFFREYS LEDGE, TILLIES BANK, WILDCAT KNOLL, MURAY BASIN and of course STELLWAGEN BANK, “summer feeding home” for whale. These underwater names come from fishing history. Famous fish like Cod Fish.

We got underway a day late due to the weather. In this instance light & dry weather. Yesterday the crew worked on cosmetics…namely painting the lower third of the above water hull…the lower topsides. (The upper topsides had been attended to during the “lay day” time scheduled last week in Portland.) Other cosmetic work on deck was also done. Like patch varnishing, de-rust-streaking and patch painting. Outside in the Gulf of Maine wind was forecast to be stronger than today while promising light conditions for today. So we took advantage of smooth river water and dry conditions yesterday to get a lot of near the waterline painting on the hull done.

Today as PRIDE motors along in light winds and relatively smooth sea each of the watches in turn are attending to additional on deck cosmetics as they steer PRIDE along. What is all the effort for cosmetics? True, we are always attending to maintenance all season long. The focus we have right now is the Classic Yacht Regatta PRIDE will be a part of in Nantucket this week and coming weekend. Unlike most of the attending yachts, PRIDE will have been working hard all sailing season since early April traveling from as far south as Savannah to as far northeast as Halifax, hosting thousands of visitors nearly every weekend, as well as sailing and racing distances between ports. The sailing and the visitors take a toll on PRIDE’s paint and varnish. While we generally attend to cosmetics as needed all season long, our pride drives us to see if we can get PRIDE looking her best “now”, when she will be amongst the classiest vessels yachting provides. Vessels that for the most part do not welcome visitors by the thousands while also sailing thousands of miles.

Besides, this will also be PRIDE’s first visit to Nantucket in decades and many Marylanders take summer holiday there. We want them to be as proud of their PRIDE as we and many others are in all the ports she has visited these 24 years.

Jan C. Miles, Captain
Acting Executive Director

Gunkholing Maine

Tuesday, 7 August, 2012  /  Pride of Baltimore II

Pos: At Anchor off Portland, Maine’s East End  /  Wx: SE F 3, 3/8 Ci, Pleasant

With scarcely 24 hours at the dock, Pride of Baltimore II was back from her Nova Scotian foray, cleared into U.S. Customs and off on a five-day cruise along the Maine Coast. With no particular destination and the only directive being to sail, we approached the trip in the storied local tradition of “Windjamming.” Originally referring to the last all-sail cargo ships of the early 19th Century, the term now applies to the fleet of vessels in the Penobscot Bay region of Maine which carry passengers on scenic adventures to spectacularly beautiful places. Largely unequipped with engines, the schooners on these trips typically sail through the day and find a quiet anchorage for the night.

And so, for this trip, would Pride II, though in Maryland and other parts south, this practice is also called, “gunkholing.” Admittedly a horribly unattractive term for anchoring in serene and tranquil places, it is descriptive – a good, solidly protected anchorage is often referred to as a hole (as in hiding hole, swimming hole, hurricane hole) and the best holding ground known to sailors is thick, oozy mud, or “gunk.”

 Maine being, well, Maine, our cruise got off to a slow start with Portland Harbor socked in fog. But by early afternoon, we could see some of the alleged 365 “Calendar Islands” of Casco Bay and got underway. Setting sail in front of downtown Portland for increased visibility, we were accompanied out of the harbor by the classic Alden schooner Wendameen. Owned and operated as a day-sailer by Portland Schooner Company, Wendameen is a fine sailing yacht-style vessel and one of my commands previous to Pride II. In the hands of Captain Troy Scott, she was besting Pride II in the protected reaches around Peaks, Cushing and House Islands, but her lighter displacement had us break away from her once we reached the exposed channel. We saluted with a single gun; she honked in reply and tacked back in to finish her day sail as we sailed off into a re-thickening fog to anchor between Ministerial and Stave Islands.

A breathless and foggy morning followed our first anchorage, and we motored out of Casco Bay, passing close abeam of Eagle Island, a Maine State Historic Site and formerly the retirement home of Admiral Robert Peary of Polar Exploration Fame. With plans to return later in the week, we carried on toward Penobscot Bay, the foggy conditions giving relevance to a lesson on Deduced Reckoning Navigation until the breeze came up southwesterly and cleared fog. With a downwind run ahead, we impersonated a sloop for the day and set everything but the stuns’l on the foremast, but kept the main and gaff top in their furls, sailing past Monhegan Island and on to anchor in Tenants Harbor.

Saturday, we made Rockland. Ironically, this typical “starting out point” for many of the modern Windjammers, was the farthest afield for us. With good friends and former shipmates around, we were treated to the luxury of a dock at the relatively new “Windjammer” wharf, and nestled in between the schooners Steven Taber and Nathaniel Bowditch. Also sharing this dock was the gorgeous Tancook Whaler Vernon Langille, whose sleek double ended hull, while at home in Penobscot Bay, originated in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, between Halifax and Lunenburg.

With a night ashore and a few hours of waiting for the tide, we set off again in, naturally, thick fog, motoring back past Tenants Harbor without ever seeing it, and setting sail just past the horribly named Mosquito Island. Carrying on through fog, the breeze built steadily and soon Pride II was her usual self, skimming along at seven knots. But the breeze was southerly, forecast to build to near gale strength and carry with it a fathom or so of sea. With the toothy rocks of Maine’s coast looming hungry under our lee, every tenth of a knot increase was heartily welcomed. The building breeze scattered the fog, and soon we were up to eight knots. From Monhegan to Seguin Island we carried four lowers and the foretops’l, topping nine knots with regularity, soaking the lee channels, pressing on to make the “corner” and get the wind behind the beam at Seguin.

But it was too much. We wrestled the foretops’l down and walking the deck stopped being a tactical maneuver. But the western horizon sprung up black, and the wind shifted west-southwest, so we brought down the main and jib as well, all hard-fought sail handling as we had no room to fall off and make the job easier. To get us out of the exposed waters, we put engines on line and motor-sailed toward shelter inside Casco Bay. And as if we’d actually sailed through a doorway into another weather world, Pride II was now somehow protected from the whirl and churn beyond the small barriers of Broken Cove, West Brown Cow, and Mink Rocks. Eagle Island lay off to starboard, but our plans of exploration were mere fantasy in this weather.

Sheltered by Great Chebeague Island for the night, we feasted on lobster bought for the crew by volunteer historian Pierre Henkart, then sailed off the hook in moderate and sunny weather for our final day, sailing leisurely through Casco Bay and grandstanding into Portland to end our “Windjammer” cruise Pride II-style – with four guns and flurry of taking in sail.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the Windjamming crew of Pride of Baltimore II