SLIPPING AWAY

Wednesday, 28 August, 2013

Pos: 43 54.1’N x 081 51.2’W
Wx: NNE F 4, Seas 1-2′ Sunny

Pride of Baltimore II under all plain sail, t’gallant and stuns’l. After nearly two weeks of exploring the ports, coves, and islands of the Georgian Bay, Pride of Baltimore II is back on Lake Huron. And at a steady six to seven knots, seemingly won’t be long for this Lake. Departing Midland on Monday after a happily busy festival and a morning of thunderstorms, we’re bound for Windsor via Detroit for some logistics. And while the Georgian Bay is astern of us now, it’s still on our minds – no one aboard was too eager to leave.

It seemed Georgian Bay wasn’t quite ready to be rid of us either. Not long after we sailed away from the dock on a fickle southwesterly breeze Monday, the wind shifted north and embayed Pride II. While a few of the other visiting vessels motored out against the contrary breeze, we stuck to our sailing and, with our sister privateer Lynx joining in from her berth in Penetanguishene, clawed our way back to our old anchorage at Giants Tomb Island until around sunset, when the breeze fell still and the flat water gleamed with rippled orange streaks.

Retracing our steps back toward Tobermory, we alternated between sailing and motor sailing through the night, then picked up the sailing with an unexpected westerly on Tuesday morning, threading our way through the islands off the Bruce Peninsula – Bears Rump, Flowerpot, Middle and Echo – before sailing into Tecumseh Cove, on Cove Island, to join Lynx, who’d motored ahead. We happily spared the crew the back-breaking work of dropping and heaving up the anchor by hooking on to a mooring and settled back to take in the view. The protected cove was rocky, abyssal deep, crystal clear and ringed with lush pine along its steep-to shores. It was perhaps our most remote and sedately beautiful anchorage in the Georgian Bay.

But even more than the natural beauty, the name was significant, particularly for a Baltimore Privateer replica (or two) in this bicentennial year of commemorations. Tecumseh, for whom the cove was named, was the chief of chiefs for the native allies to the British during the War of 1812. He possessed charisma and savvy enough to unite the tribes in common cause to support the British in the hopes that the relentless American expansion Westward could be stopped. But the American victories in Autumn of 1813 destroyed that hope – Perry’s victory on Lake Erie opened the gates for another invasion of Ontario, and ultimately led to the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh fell.

In the spring of each year, the staff of the US Naval Academy History Museum give the Pride II crew a special War of 1812 lesson. In it they say, “The War of 1812 was a conflict between the Americans and the British that was won by the Canadians and lost by the Indians.” They’re only partly joking. There’s a satisfying symmetry to the portrayal — two contestants, a winner,  and a loser, all arranged like the cardinal points of the compass. But there is a bitter truth to it as well. For the Native Americans, or First Nations Tribes of Canada, there is little to celebrate about the War of 1812, and much to lament and mourn, including the loss of a leader who might have done more to unify the tribes and keep hold of their lands.

So for a quiet evening we enjoyed a view of largely untouched North American interior and in the stillness offered by the cove of his name we had time to remember Tecumseh, and ponder what might be different had he lived. Lynx sailed off near sunset, and the silent cove was ours alone. But closing in on midnight, the light southwesterly shifted northeast and made the mooring untenable. The Georgian Bay, in its magic, spooky way, was telling us it was time. We slipped the mooring and slid away beneath the rise of last quarter  moon.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and crew of Pride of Baltimore II

NEW WATERS ON AN ANCIENT BAY

Thursday, 22 August, 2013

Pos: At Anchor off Giants Island, Georgian Bay – 44 53.65’N x 079 59.63’W
Wx: N F 2, Brilliant Sunshine
Pride of Baltimore II at Anchor in 60′ of Water

A week ago tonight Pride of Baltimore II first entered the Georgian Bay. It was overcast, we were towards the end of a stressful and tightly timed passage, and suffering from an acute case of motoring fatigue. At sunset, with Cove Island, the Bruce Peninsula and the entrance to the Bay still out of sight, a favorable breeze filled in, and we started truly sailing for the first time since Chicago. While general contentment surged through the ship as the insistent engine drone gave way to the groaning symphony of wood, canvas, and water, none of us took the breeze as a sign. We should have been more attentive.

For all her travels around the Northern Hemisphere, for her dozen trips to Great Lakes, Pride II had never before been to the Georgian Bay. Once she skirted the edge on a transit from Detroit to Duluth that included a bit of sightseeing in the North Channel, just, in fact, north of here. But that was in on her maiden voyage in 1989, before half of the current crew were even born. As if to ask “What were you waiting for?” that unexpected sunset breeze was part welcome mat and part tractor beam, I think. The Georgian Bay had awaited our coming for too long.

Sailing down the Bruce Peninsula in starless darkness, we saw its islands and headlands as mere silhouettes, darker blurs against the black span of night. They gave they eye no hint of their beauty as we slid by, yet their names – Tobermory, Whippoorwill Bay, Lion’s Head, White Cloud Island – carried magic and left a palpable sense we had entered someplace not only new, but quite special. Our singular focus on arriving to Owen Sound distracted us from the wonderment, and by dawn we were fully immersed in the logistics of setting up for a festival.

Our overnight transit of the Bay meant that the first thing we actually saw was Owen Sound, and the town of the same name. From a seafaring perspective, this is ironic because Owen Sound is at the inner most end of the Bruce Peninsula. But the bustling town of twenty-two thousand was eager for our arrival, and, as the regional center, had the feel of a base camp, the starting point for expeditions. In fact, all through the busy festival weekend, we were asked where we were headed next, and then promptly told what we should make a point of seeing along the way.

We needed no further invitation. Since early Tuesday morning, Pride II and her crew have been exploring waters new to both ship and sailors. Sailing all through the day past green capped bluffs and anchoring in brisk, crystal clear waters, we took in the full moon rise in company with Lynx off Lion’s Head, tacked close enough to Flower Pot Island that we could wave to the tourists on the beach, and tucked ourselves up into the Big Tub of Tobermory to anchor and explore for an afternoon. The rocky, pine speckled shores smack of Maine – but without the impossible range of tide or the insistence on consuming crustaceans. Warm summer winds have even aided our venture, and we’ve covered our ground all under sail.

With arrival to Midland tomorrow, we’ve sailed to the Southeast end of the Bay, past a collection of rocky islets mysteriously named The Watchers to anchor off Giants Tomb Island. A towering mound is said to eternally house the Giant himself. This all keeps with the mythic feel of the bay, and so I think it is best to leave him to his slumber, not to make him stir. Because here, in the otherworldly reaches of the Georgian Bay, there just might be a giant buried there. And while Pride II and her crew are always up for new adventures, we’ll stick to sailing new waters, and skip the tangling with undead giants.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the letting sleeping dead giants lay crew of Pride of Baltimore II

SALVAGING SOME SAILING

Thursday, 15 August, 2013

Pos: 45 22.865’N x 082 11.816’W

Wx: SW F 4

Seas 2-3′

Pride of Baltimore II sailing under four lowers at 8 knots.

Pride of Baltimore II has had one transit this year that was literally for 
the birds. With a slightly compressed timeline, and fierce northerly on Lake 
Michigan, and a day waiting at anchor for civilized conditions, it was 
starting to look like this passage from Chicago to Owen Sound was going to 
be for the Dinosaurs – strictly run on fossil fuel. Weighing Anchor in 
Muskegon Lake at 0400 Wednesday, we slogged along in the leftover churn from 
nearly 36 hours of oscillating north quadrant winds and were soon on a time 
line to make up the day lost at anchor, but just. And without any sailing.

Few things are worse for crew morale than a motoring passage. Everyone 
understands that it’s bound to happen eventually, but that doesn’t ease the 
harsh reality of having to move a sweet sailing ship from port to port 
without the inspiring magic of sail. August is a particularly dodgy month of 
that here in the Lakes, where summer doldrums seem to stretch on numbingly, 
interrupted only by eruptions of near gale. What made this passage all the 
more stinging was that by late afternoon Wednesday, as Pride II passed by 
the towering spectacle of Sleeping Bear Dunes, there was wind. Just not 
enough.

We could have sailed, by thunder, we could have SAILED! But in ten knots of 
quartering breeze it’s a tall order to ask any ship, even one as nimble as 
Pride II, to make much more than six knots. And less than half-way to Owen 
Sound, we needed seven and better to stay on schedule. We set what we could 
and motor-sailed – a poor substitute – hoping to get ahead of the curve and 
sail in the morning.

The plan worked, to a point. Out into Lake Huron at 1100, we set all plain sail, plus the T’gallant, and made a go of it. Five knots, four and a half – 
how long could we keep up the pleasant snail’s pace and still make our 0800 
arrival? Three hours, it turned out. At 1400, the wind took a siesta and we 
called it quits, took in almost everything and got a jump on our busy 
arrival by harbor furling the tops’ls.

Then, at sunset, the breeze came back, 14 knots of it, touching 15, 16 even. 
This was sailing wind. We still had the main and heads’ls set, then added 
the fores’l surge over eight. We were beating the curve under sail! As I 
write this, we still are, but barely. The future promises motoring, 
incinerating dinosaurs, loud and insistent noise. But for now it’s just 
creaks and groans in the rig, water gurgling past the planking, and quiet 
contentment throughout the population of the ship.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the (finally) sailing crew of Pride of Baltimore II

NOW HIRING APRIL 2013

April 14, 2013

Pride of Baltimore, Inc. is currently inviting applications for the positions of:

– Second Mate
– Bosun
– Cook

Prior experience and American citizenship (or authority to work in the United States) is required. Positions open in early September in Erie, PA. Pride of Baltimore II’s sailing schedule can be found here. 

Please email a cover letter and resume with references to: Captain Jan Miles (jan@pride2.org) and Captain Jamie Trost (jamie@pride2.org). In the cover letter, please describe what you would bring to the ship and her mission as well what you would gain from the opportunity.

This post is seasonal.

Phone inquiries: 410-539-1151

SHELTERED BY THE DUNES

Pride of Baltimore II

Pos: At anchor in Muskegon Lake — 43°14.337’N x 086°19.190’W

Wx: NNW F 4, Gusting 5-6, 3/8 Cumulus, Great Lakes early fall edge to the air

Pride of Baltimore II is tucked in behind the classic Michigan sand dunes of Muskegon State Park. On the other side, an unseasonably cool Northerly is tearing down the lake, and the water is erupting with the steep, jagged seas unique to open fresh water. The impressive fleet of ships that called on Chicago last weekend are scattered to refuges all over the Michigan and Wisconsin shorelines, waiting for the 25-30 knots and potential 12’ seas to finish their mayhem and give the Lake back to sailors again.

Departing Chicago, some ships scurried out on Sunday night, or crack of dawn Monday. Even the die-hard racers – Appledore IV, Lynx, and Pride II – agreed by consensus to truncate the final race of the series down to a mere eight nautical miles from its originally planned 172 miles and initially truncated 65 miles so that we could get a move. After a nail biting finish that will require a lengthy array of decimal places to score, all three vessels powered up and steamed across the flat waters towards a harbor.

Aboard Pride II, we were hoping for Ludington, Michigan, just below Little Cape Sable and about half way up the Lake. But around midnight the breeze came on to 25 knots, and the building sea made Muskegon, some 40 miles closer, the better bet. For those who have never sailed the Great Lakes, it’s usually rather astonishing to see how tightly spaced the waves are, and the wallop they pack is even more jaw dropping. With no salt molecules in them, the waves are literally solid water. And in the funneling confines of converging shore, they churn relentlessly. On the open ocean four to six foot seas are an accepted and tolerable norm. On the Great Lakes, the same sea is cause for concern, and can stop a ship like Pride II in her tracks.

So anchoring we went. Though getting into the anchorage was no simple matter, either. Along the southern half of Lake Michigan, all the harbors are either improved river mouths or interior lakes with man-made channels to the open waters. The entrances are usually through narrow gaps between piers or breakwalls, and Muskegon is no exception. Shooting the 400’ gap at 0330 with three to five feet of angry water on the beam took a focused group effort. Second Mate Will McLean monitored the electronic instruments and relayed information to me. Chad Lossing, who grew up in this part of Michigan, and was one of the two people aboard who’d ever seen Muskegon Lake before, got a workout at the helm. Chief Mate Jill Hughes had her watch readying the anchor gear as soon as we were inside, and, like clock work, we were ready to let go at the selected spot.

Hopefully, the Lake will calm itself down enough for us to reverse the process and be on our way tonight.

Sincerely,

Captain Jamie Trost and the patiently waiting crew of Pride of Baltimore II

OVERNIGHT GUEST CREW PHOTOGRAPHY SAIL – OCTOBER 2013

Photography Sail with Pride of Baltimore II and Schooner Virginia

From:             Norfolk, VA

To:                   Cambridge, MD

Board:             Sunday, October 20th at 7:00 PM

Depart:            Wednesday, October 23rd at 5:00 PM

Cost:                 $800 per person

Attention photographers! Come aboard for a three day, three night excursion aboard the most beautiful boats of the Chesapeake Bay – Pride of Baltimore II and Schooner Virginia, as they sail from Norfolk, VA to Cambridge, MD. Have your camera ready as the two ships spread their canvas aloft and cruise their way up the Bay. Photographers will be able to jump from one ship to the other over the course of the trip, and capture images from every angle imaginable – from above and below deck, up in the rigging, aboard the small pulling boats, and from shore while at anchor. The ship’s captains and crew will be happy to work with you to ensure you get the perfect shot. All participating photographers will submit their favorite photo to be featured in a special exhibit at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia and a local museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Not only is this sure to be an amazing sailing experience, but a unique opportunity to build your portfolio with images of these two magnificent ships . This opportunity is open to everyone – aspiring, amateur and professional photographers.

To make a reservation aboard Pride of Baltimore II, please visit our website, or call: 410-539-1151.