PRIDE SPRINTING TOWARD THE FINISH – STILL A LONG WAY AWAY

Wind returned as last night overcame yesterday. Wind has remained since. Pride is now around the Keweenaw Peninsula and on the straight away to the finish line some 85 nautical miles away to the southeast as I write.

As Pride rounded the Keweenaw Peninsula connectivity to the internet was established for a short while and we were able to “see” where Niagra and Denis Sullivan were via an AIS vessel tracking web site. Niagra was some 32 miles behind us and making nearly the same speed as PrideDenis Sullivan was all the way back near the Apostle Islands. The rest of the fleet remained invisible but we assume are between Niagra and Denis Sullivan.

The wind forecast for the rest of today suggests some slowing down could happen and also veer more toward the west from southwest it is flowing from now, making for a broader sailing angle than currently is the sailing angle. Slower wind speeds will make our race longer. Currently Pride is going 8.3 knots. Maybe, just maybe, a finish can occur before this day ends. The question remains if the rest of the fleet will be slowed down at the same time that Pride is. If the rest of the fleet does not experience a slow down at the same time Pride does it could be possible for another vessel to win the race by handicap even though the other vessel crossed the finish line after Pride  did. It depends on how much time she must “give” to another vessel because it is smaller than Pride or less capable of going to windward. If it takes us 72 hours to finish the race, Niagra must finish less than 3 hours behind PrideLynx must finish less than 14 hours after Pride. Those two vessels have been the most consistent threats to Pride in this Great Lakes Tall Ships Challenge Race Series. But the other races were short races. In a longer race it is possible another vessel could create an opportunity for their handicap to win the race for them. Sorlandet is a big (long) and graceful full-rigged (all masts have yards) sail training ship from the early 1900’s with strong sailing capabilities. Maybe she will cross the line soon enough behind PRIDE to steal away the win from Pride.

Jan C. Miles and the Lake Superior racing crew of Pride of Baltimore II 

BECALMED AGAIN

Becalmed Again.

Halfway between the Apostle Islands and the east end of the Keweenaw Peninsula there is calm lake water as far as the eye can see, mirroring the much cloudy sky.

The forecast says south winds 5-15 knots expected to go southwest tonight and into tomorrow. We have almost nothing.

What does the crew of sailboat do with no wind? In a sail boat race on a perfectly smooth surface we count our blessings! Pride just sits like she was at a dock in a well protected harbor. Everything aboard feels comfortable and serine. Everyone aboard tends to conduct themselves in a somewhat hushed manner. Members of the Off Watch are playing cards down below.

There is no avoiding the waiting for the next breeze when sail boat racing. It could be so much worse. Having no wind and a large left over swell heaving the ship about, for instance.

Yeah, we count our blessings.

Jan C. Miles and the calm lake water crew of Pride of Baltimore II 

AT ANCHOR IN THE APOSTLE ISLANDS

Wednesday July 24, 2013

0700 hours Central Daylight Time

Pride dropped anchor last evening in the “good anchorage…mud bottom” of the eastern anchorage between Rocky and South Twin Islands of the Apostle Islands National Park in Wisconsin’s portion of Lake Superior. The scene was pastoral with a view of other islands as well the north shore of Lake Superior that is Minnesota.

The strategy of departing Sault St. Marie and the Soo Locks Sunday evening and get west past the east tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula by midnight Monday was successful for reducing exposure to a fresh northwest breeze forecast for Eastern Lake Erie. Late afternoon Monday the favorable southerly wind pushing Pride along at better than 10 knots died out as she reached abeam and north of Manitou Island off the east tip of Keweenaw Point. From there is was a relatively gentle motorboat ride against a slowly developing west wind of 15-25 knots till around 2 AM Tuesday when the northwest wind arrived and Pride was north of the Keweenaw Waterway. From there she sailed again the remaining 80 odd miles to just 5 miles short of her anchorage.

The northwest wind brought clear skies and even cooler temperatures. Monday night was rather cold and crew clothing was doubled up. But Tuesday afternoon it was short sleeves again.

Today we have a soft departure for Duluth some 60 miles away. We are expected there late morning tomorrow (Thursday) to pick up some day-sail passengers to go back out again and perform the “official” Parade of Sail arrival in the afternoon. Between now and then the wind is forecast to be 5-15 knots from the southwest and west. This presents a sail to windward in winds that are just barely sailable up to winds that are as much as can be sustained without having to reduce sail to moderate how much Pride will lean over…heel. I think 24 hours to get the 60 miles ought to be adequate considering some of the wind will be very light.

The crew are facing a very full schedule in Duluth. Not only will Thursday’s (tomorrow) day of arrival start with having sailed all night in shifts of watches, but the day won’t end till after 8 PM because of a dockside reception after having entered into Duluth Harbor twice, and docked twice, in order to pick up passengers for the parade of sail. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will all be days that will start at 8 AM and end around 10 PM because of evening charter obligations. But being as there are three days, one third of the crew can be given a full day off each day. Sounds pretty good, considering. However it makes it hard to do other things for the ship, such as the crew laundry because it requires sending crew to do it…having the effect of reducing the number of crew aboard to manage the visiting public. There is also grocery shopping with a need to send assistance by the crew with the cook. It is our hope the volunteer liaisons assigned to Pride will be willing to help “do” the laundry so that only one crew will need to be sent. Same for grocery shopping, rather than merely driving crew to where they have to go and leaving them there till they are done. Not all tall ship festival port liaisons are so willing. But Duluth has a history of being very enthusiastic for visiting tall ships. So we are hopeful.

We are losing our new cook in Duluth. Tina says she will stay on through Duluth and help get the galley groceries organized with a menu plan for the next voyage leg from Duluth to Boyne City. Assuming we are not able to find another cook, the cooking will fall to the crew taking turns each day. Maybe the guest crew for that leg will be helpful with the preparations of each meal. There is also a tall ship race from Duluth going most of the length of Lake Superior. Having a crew member re-designated to the galley for a day could be a little frustrating. Oh well. Such is the life of a small society of a voyaging vessel. The travel, the remoteness, the living with others not of your choice, the regular physical output all day long is not for the uninitiated. It had been a long time since Tina had been aboard a vessel. Even then only for short periods of time, like a weekend or a week and voyaging overnight was not a regular thing. Her love of that past hid from her the real work that is to be found aboard a vessel with regular long range voyaging as its mission.

Jan C. Miles and the very flexible and understanding crew of Pride of Baltimore II.

LAKE HURON, STERLING HARBOR AND SAULT STE. MARIE

LAKE HURON – IT’S GETTING COOLER AGAIN!

Pride II is hove-to in the northern part of Lake Huron, near the entrance to St. Mary’s River that flows from the “Soo Locks” located at Sault St. Marie, where Lake Superior begins its flow into Lake Huron. We finished the Lake Huron Tall Ships Challenge Race around 7:10 AM Wednesday morning. What began as a nail biting finish, trying to lead Brigg Niagra across the finish line—but she was overtaking at upwards of 2 knots faster than Pride II. It looked like she may overtake us before we crossed the finish a full hour protecting – we think, we hope – the time allowance Pride owed Niagra. With that happy ending after Niagra had been a significant threat the whole race, the following six hours was spent hove-to near the finish-line waiting to see if the quick Privateer Lynx would cross soon enough to rob Pride of first place through means of her handicap. First Mate Jill Hughes calculated it could be nearly three hours. Now, six hours since finishing, no other participating vessel has become visible. So, it seems likely Pride not only earned “line honors” for being the first in the fleet to cross the Lake Huron Tall Ships Race finish line, but has done it far enough ahead of the rest of the fleet to likely have also earned a first place finish based on handicap. We won’t know for sure until the award ceremonies some number of days ahead.

The welcome in Bay City was just as sincere and marked by vigorous hospitality and logistical support as it has proven to be for the previous four Bay City tall ships festivals occurring every three years. The liaison officers were most helpful to Pride’s new cook Tina, who came aboard last Thursday replacing our previous cook, Mark. Deckhand Sarah had been cook for a week after Captain Trost’s wife Kathleen had filled in for nearly three weeks. Between Sarah and the Bay City liaison officers, Tina had more assistance shopping for the next leg than ever has or is likely to happen with newly aboard cooks. In the meanwhile the crew and officers handled some 11,000 visitors over three days, as well all the usual extra things that occur around a tall ships festival – water replenishment, waste water pump out, electrical hook up, gangway set up and approval by safety oversight authorities, coordination with festival crowed-control volunteers, visits from refrigeration repair technicians, visits from portable propane storage tank re-certification technicians, coordinating and assisting with new food boarding and storage, welcoming and orienting new guest crew voyagers for the sail to Sault St. Marie, and the usual minor wear and tear maintenance Pride requires. All this plus each of the two crew watch groups were given a full day off – one group per day.

What started out as great summer weather in Bay City, by the end of the festival had turned into one of those typical summer heat waves. Temperatures into the low 90’s (considered high for Great Lake Region) with rising humidity. Official warnings and advisories were being announced frequently by all forms of public media. Advice to seek cool environments and drink lots of water and reduce physical activity. All great guidance and save for the drink lots of water advice not possible to abide aboard Pride. There are the ship needs at any time but also the voyage itinerary. So Pride departed Bay City bound for the next scheduled port with hopes there would be greater comfort away from the city out on the lake. Sadly, not much greater comfort was found. Sure, motoring along at 7 knots provided a deck breeze, but the water temperature was 75 degrees F. Anchoring on a calm wind night put an end to the mechanically provided breeze, but swim call sufficed as a substitute. At least for a few moments. Night time swelter had a few sleepers spread out on the hard wood deck (no shipboard bedding permitted on deck).

Smooth sea heaving-to is an interesting experience. Heaving-to was a common activity back before the age of power boating. It is a very effective way for a sail vessel to slow down, nearly stop, for any amount of time when wanting to wait for a while. (Wait for a pilot. Wait for daylight.) Two or more vessels may do it together so officers may visit directly aboard, but remember – no electricity, no radio, code flags or other signaling were inconvenient communications forms. Heaving-to required little of the crew. Turn the helm (rudder) hard to one side and adjust sail to prevent the ship from overpowering the rudder. Done with a sense for balance and the ship can lay oriented near head to wind, riding any moderate swell comfortably. The on watch crew can stand easy while keeping an eye to the weather and any other potential threat. The two off watch crews can be at rest in a vessel that is not moving around a lot under the influence of moderate wind and wave. Drift will occur when hove-to. So it is possible such will require re-arranging the heave-to in order to stay in an area or avoid drifting onto shore. Rough sea heaving-to is a totally different experience. Deciding to do so is often a matter of reducing motion for safety reasons or to provide rest to those on board. In today’s modern and busy maritime world being hove-to in rough conditions requires very diligent lookout for approaching shipping. There have been tragic collisions with big vessels not bothered by the rough conditions and not being aware a smaller vessel is in the area, hence unaware they might be steering right through a smaller hove-to stationary vessel.

 

STERLING HARBOR, ST. JOSEPH ISLAND, ONTARIO, CANADA OCCUPIED BY AMERICAN 1812 VESSELS

St. Joseph Island, Ontario, Canada has a small cove called Sterling Harbor on its southeast side. Sterling Harbor is a nearly undeveloped pristine cove. There are moderate sized private homes well spaced and much hidden by the local fauna. There are some private docks, but they are small being as they accommodate relatively small vessels (not more than 30 feet) and only a few of them. Mostly there are canoes and kayaks. As a result, this cove appears as natural as can be – at a quick glance.

In that cove are three American 1812 War-era sailing vessels at anchor. They are the only anchored vessels in the cove. If one squints their imagination, one can just about see it is 200 years ago, and the American Navy is at anchor. Maybe they are aware of coming weather – a cold front has been forecasted – and are waiting for it to pass before venturing forth again.

From a modern perspective the scene is pastoral. The vessels are handsome in epochal forms of their historical past. Nothing distracts from the view of them save the weather. It is intermittently overcast and lightly rainy with sunshine.

For those looking on from ashore there is nothing obvious indicating the types of activities taking place aboard. Aboard Pride there is detailed down below cleaning. All the nooks and crannies are being cleaned out and all exposed surfaces are being wiped clean. Niagra was indulging in a very untypical activity of the 1812 era… swim call. Lynx was quietly going about adjusting rig tension.

After several days of nonstop activity in back-to-back tall ship festival ports, with racing voyages in-between, this day of “rest and repair” is well received by Pride‘s crew. Our guest crew seem just as appreciative after some time in unrelieved heat with watch after watch sail handling of a racing voyage to the next tall ship festival port.

Tomorrow will come early as the ships get underway to form a parade past 1812 War era Old Fort Joe on the west side of the southern end of St. Joseph Island. Thence continue some 35 nautical miles up the St. Mary’s River to the Ontario Canada port of Sault St. Marie, set to arrive around 2:00 – 3:00 PM. Immediately upon arrival things get busy…very busy. Hopefully the cold front will have arrived and forced the heat away, at least for a short while.

 

Monday July 22, 2013
1300 Hours EDT
Position : 30 nautical miles east of Keweenaw Point

Currently we are enjoying 10.5 knots of sailing speed in high cirrus clouds and sun to the port side (south) with grey darkness to the starboard side (north) with the occasional rumble of thunder. Wind is from the south at a measured 25 knots. Pride is broad reaching with full sail. That means about 9,000 square feet of canvas shared between four lower sails, and four upper sails – they being the main-gaff-topsail, the square-fore-topsail, the jib-top-sail and the square-top-gallant-sail. The lower sails are the mainsail, the foresail, the forestaysail and the jib.

We started from “The Soo Locks” last night rather than waiting till this morning. A forecast of coming northwesterly winds for later today gave Pride and Lynx the incentive to use the favorable calm and southeasterly wind of last night and this morning to motor at cruising speed toward the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan with hopes of being able to use this southerly wind to keep speed up and conserve fuel and possibly get into the western half of Lake Superior before the northwest winds arrived. Currently the strategy is going as anticipated. But we still have 6-10 hours to monitor for the actual arrival of the northwest winds and the possible rain and squalls that could be part of it. By midnight tonight we will know how well the strategy worked out. Did we avoid the stronger parts of the new wind? That was the key goal. Did we get far enough west to be able to use the northwest wind without having to tack away from the Keweenaw Peninsula northern shoreline? That is the secondary goal. Or did we have to take in most sail and motor some to the west to get to a point we can proceed under sail without having to thrash around a lot? Or will we wish we stopped to anchor on the south side of the Keweenaw Peninsula for the coming winds? Time will tell.

The local 1812 War history of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada is a stark contrast to that of Baltimore, Maryland’s 1812 War history. Our hometown experienced a need to defend. The mixed race frontier citizens of the St. Mary’s River area with Sault St. Marie at the head waters executed a preemptive attack of The American Fort of what is today called Mackinaw Island (more properly spelled Mackinac following the Indian name for the island). This attack on the part of British military, local frontiersmen and “First Nation” natives preempted any initiative for attack by the Americans. This preemptive action protected the “Canadian” residents of the St. Mary’s River area from American aggression for the duration of the war.

This story was told at a theater performance right after desert of the formal welcome diner for the visiting 1812 War Era Tall Ship Captains and First Officers. The room of over 100 attendees was filled with rein-actor uniforms. The theater show was a series of dialogues representing actual characters of the period. A lot of emotion was depicted of the stress having to consider such a preemptive action against what was otherwise a friendly neighbor nation that was expressly attacking to the north for reasons of obtaining a bargaining chip with England. The attack on Mackinaw Island is reported to be the first actual combat of the War of 1812.

Our Sault St. Marie hosts were gracious and attentive to the realities of visiting sailing vessels allowing their decks to be visited by local citizens. The citizens were most respectful of their opportunity to visit aboard, some 7,000 of them over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

Departure required Customs clearance from Canada and because the USA is only a half a mile across the river, we made American Customs clearance immediately after in Sault St. Marie, Michigan. We departed the Canadian shore at 6:45 PM and arrived on the American shore at 7 PM. We departed again at 8:20 PM and navigated the 21 vertical feet of the Soo Locks by 9:30 PM. With our fresh southerly wind at this moment, we could reach the eastern most tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula around 4 PM. The further west we can sail before wind change the better off I think we will be at the actual time of wind change to the northwest.

Jan C. Miles & the very happily sailing crew of Pride of Baltimore II

NOW HIRING!

Pride, Inc. is looking to fill the position of cook! The ship is currently participating in Tall Ships America’s 2013 Great Lakes Challenge, spanning all five Great Lakes. Prior cooking experience and American citizenship or working privileges are required. If interested in applying, please email cover letter, resume, and list of references to Captain Jan Miles (jan@pride2.org) and Captain Jamie Trost (jamie@pride2.org). Please include in your cover letter what you feel you will bring to the ship and her mission, as well as what you hope to gain from your experience working aboard Pride of Baltimore II.  This position is seasonal.

CLEVELAND TALL SHIPS FESTIVAL & LAKE ERIE TALL SHIPS RACE

PRIDE Pride II is motoring up the Detroit River this morning on her way to Lake Huron. There is significant current to stem. This current comes from Lake Huron being slightly more than 6.5 feet above Lake Erie. This height difference is spread over some 80 miles. As a result, the current speed is between one and two knots – not so much that vessels cannot make way under their own power against the current. So there is no need for a lock to go into and stop to wait to fill (or empty if down-bound) to the next water level, as there was for the St Lawrence River between Montreal, The Thousand Islands, and The Welland Canal. But the current does mean making a slower motoring speed as we go up the river.

Yesterday was the second Great Lakes Tall Ship Challenge race. The race was from Cleveland some 35 miles toward the islands at the west end of Lake Erie. While Pride led the fleet across the finish line, she was closely followed by Lynx, which Pride owes handicap time. Being we were not so far ahead of Lynx, she will no doubt receive a first, while Pride receives a second place. No other vessel in the fleet was able to cross the line before the race time limit, although Niagra looked to us in the deeply dark night to have crossed the finish line less than fifteen minutes after the time limit. Why did it take so long for so few vessels in the fleet to actually cross the finish line before the time limit? The wind was rather fickle and changeable due to several rain squalls. Altogether this made it hard to conjure a cohesive wind strategy. Lynx did a great job of putting together a very productive sailing plan and was able to keep close to us and save her handicap time for a first place finish behind Pride, even though we crossed the finish first. I know the crews of these three vessels worked hard and very well to sail their vessels in such changeable and even threateningly squally weather!

This fickle weather has been around since the fast sail Pride had from The Welland Canal to Cleveland last week. It has been raining a lot and the wind has been light and vague since last Wednesday. Notwithstanding the vaguely threatening rain, the Tall Ship Festival went well. Pride had no less than 11,000 persons cross her decks in four days!!!

Next festival is Bay City, Michigan. Three days starting Friday.

Cheers,

Captain Jan Miles