Captain's Log – Respite in Cape Vincent, NY

Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Time: 0800 EDT
Position: Northeast corner of Lake Ontario

Pride is underway again, motoring after a short evening respite at the very accommodating and friendly little village of Cape Vincent, New York.

US Customs formalities were smoothly and efficiently handled by very professional agents. Grocery shopping was arranged for the ship’s cook, Phil, by our liaison, Michael Chavoustie, a very attentive host and avid ambassador for Cape Vincent. 100 gallons of diesel fuel were donated (that’s cool, eh?). The ship was open for deck tours for a couple of hours and we received about 140 visitors aboard; I am told that is nearly the whole village. The crew took advantage of swimming in the lake before sunset, followed by dropping in on the local night life. This morning’s 0500 wake up went well; I am pleased that last evening’s revelry was kept within bounds. The crew is back into sea-watch groups. Wind is not favorable for keeping to the relatively tight schedule remaining to get to Toronto, so we are motoring again.

Maybe tomorrow we might actually do some sailing as we make ready for a grand entry into the Toronto Harbour in company with other honored guest vessels: the great, long Viking ship that recently sailed across the North Atlantic, Draken Harald Hårfagre, and the full-scale Spanish vessel, El Galeon.

Signed,

Jan C. Miles

Captain's Log – Navigating the Rapids at Île Richelieu

Date: Sunday, June 26, 2016
Time: 0645 EDT
Position: 10 nautical miles downriver from the Rapids at Île Richelieu

From more than a mile wide to a dredged ship channel trench 300 yards wide, the “Rapids” are an area of significant narrowing of the St. Lawrence River. As the high water level in this area recedes (ebbs) the rush of the water narrows down to 300 yards and 50 foot deep. Anecdotally, the currents at the Rapids are said to be as much as 10 knots, but I have not been able to find any data to support this; I have found strengths of 5 knots. As I write this, predictions say the Rapids will go slack-water around 10-11 AM. We are 18 miles away and going slowly to give the strength of the ebbing currents some time to slow.

This area of the St. Lawrence River is mostly farmland: pretty flat land with the river cutting through it. The sides of the river are sheer cliffs dropping to a bedrock bottom on both sides of the dredged ship channel. The climate has turned warm and buggy – a great contrast to the maritime cold and damp of just yesterday.

PRIDE has been motoring since early Thursday afternoon, beginning just north of the Gaspé Peninsula. Looks like motoring will continue until arrival in Toronto next Thursday morning. This is what it takes to get into the Great Lakes from the sea: a long trek up a flowing river, consistently gaining altitude until reaching Lake Ontario, around 243 feet above sea level. Most of the altitude gain occurs after Montreal. From Montreal until 123 miles southwest of Ogdensburg, NY, PRIDE will pass through a series of seven locks that lift vessels various heights (between just a few feet to 55 feet).

From where PRIDE is this morning, 111 nautical miles of freely flowing river remain before reaching the first lock in Montreal; the plan is to reach the first lock around 9 AM on Monday. Then another overnight run 40-odd miles beyond Ogdensburg to Cape Vincent, NY to stop for fuel, followed by a 140 mile run to Toronto.

As a saltwater sailing vessel, PRIDE must do a lot in order to sail in the Great Lakes.

Signed,

Jan C. Miles

Captain's Log – Light But Favorable Winds

Date: Wednesday June 22, 2016
Time: 1430 ADT
Position: 55 nautical miles southeast of Gaspe Peninsula in the Gulf of St.Lawrence

The sailing was indeed good this morning. However, winds fell light right after lunch. While favorable in direction, they were only enough strength to push Pride II along at 3 knots. Started the PORT engine. Been cruising along between 6-7 knots at a very moderate 1,200 RPM. I am guessing that is consuming a bit less than 3 gallons of fuel an hour, which means at the speed being made the fuel economy is around half a gallon per mile. With both engines, the economy would be more around three-quarters of a gallon a mile. With the wind against and wanting to keep a speed of 7 knots, consumption is more like one gallon a mile. Then, there is distance to go and time remaining. We have roughly 440 nautical miles to go to Quebec City and the first required pilot pick-up location. I would like to get there around 5-6 AM EDT Sunday morning some 86.5 hours away. This will require an average speed of 5.1 knots. Any time we can go faster with less fuel or none being used at all, the better it is for having a reserve of fuel and time to deal with unexpected situations. Or contrary winds of greater strength, that likely will require using more fuel through using higher revolutions (engine speed) to maintain the desired schedule.

Why Quebec City Sunday morning? To be in Montreal for inspection by Seaway Inspectors first thing business hours Monday, so as to avoid a $600 overtime fee. Under average conditions and careful timing, it takes just less than 24 hours to get to Montreal from Quebec City. I want to start the trek up river to Montreal at close to low water at Quebec City so as to catch as much of the flood from Quebec City up toward Three Rivers (about half way to Montreal) as possible.

Then, if all goes well in Montreal Monday morning, it is another roughly 24 hours over 160 nautical miles and through 7 locks to Cape Vincent, New York for Customs Clearance. Not to mention more fuel before carrying on to Toronto.

This is just part of voyage planning.

Signed, Jan C. Miles

Captain's Log – Gulf of St. Lawrence

Pride of Baltimore, off the Magdalen Islands
Gulf of St. Lawrence
June 22, 2016

It always takes a couple of days to settle in to the routines of a passage. We are two days out of Lunenburg, and this life is beginning to be normal for everyone. It will get normal enough that when we reach port again, it will be an assault on the senses. The sight of cars zipping here and there, of brightly colored signs and flashing television screens, the sounds of too many people talking too loud and too fast, the smells of growing things and perfume and exhaust and pizza, will all be jarring in comparison to this sere, majestic world we now traverse, with its long sine waves of light and dark, wind and calm.

We are under sail, in the gulf of St. Lawrence, on a close reach in light wind. It’s quiet. Pride, even when sailing fast in a brisk wind, doesn’t make a heck of a lot of fuss. Many sailing vessels, both modern and traditional, will make a terrible racket — they creak and groan, they rumble and cavitate, they pant and shudder like exhausted athletes. Pride whispers along, throwing a moderate bow wave but leaving almost no wake, whether she is going 4 knots or 10.

The quiet rules. The ship ghosts along at 5 or 6 knots in a flat sea and a light west wind, and all of her crew — even the young, loud ones (you know who you are) — speak in low tones, unwilling to disturb the peace. And so, we are downright stealthy. We have snuck up on fishermen before, in the Chesapeake. Occasionally, we — a 157 foot sailing vessel, more than 100 feet high, weighing 185 long tons, with 14 people aboard — sneak up on a dozing seabird, and send it skittering across the water away from us, emitting a series of alarmed squawks. Now, sneaking up on some guys in a motorboat who have had a fair amount of beer is one thing, but sneaking up on a wild animal in its natural environment — that is sneakiness, indeed. Luckily, we have cannons for when we want to draw attention to ourselves, or else we would sneak into ports all over the Great Lakes and no one would be the wiser.

Anything that can blend that fully into an environment probably belongs there. This particular beast is in her natural environment — a wonderful thing, don’t you think?
-Jordan Smith

Captain's Log – Coasting Eastward

Date: June 22, 2016
Time: 0545 ADT
Position: 25 nautical miles WSW of the Magdelene Islands in middle of Gulf of St. Lawrence

This morning wind is 20-25 knots from SWxW. Pride II is sliding along at around 9 knots under reefed square-topsail, all three jibs (fore-staysail, jib & jib-top) as well foresail and mainsail. It has been a busy 24 hours.

36 hours ago Pride II had earlier departed Lunenburg to enjoy coasting eastward along the “Eastern Shore” of Nova Scotia with a fresh southwesterly breeze. The sail plan then was the romantic “all sail” because it included the gantsl (top gallant sail) and stunsl (studding sail) in addition to the more common “plain sail” (mainsl, maintopsl, foresl, foretopsl, styasl, jib, jibtop). Since that lovely sunny broad reach first afternoon out from Lunenburg the crew have struck and reset sail several times.

Before I forget. At 0600 ADT this morning, I was informed there have been Puffins flying around.

Monday evening took in the stunsl and gantsl because the weather forecast indicated strengthening winds from the south which would create a beam breeze rather than a following breeze. After midnight Monday (early Tuesday), the wind died altogether, so all but the mainsl and maintopsl were taken in and some motoring started. A couple of hours later (well before dawn), the forecast finally came true and foresl, foretopsl, staysl, jib & jib-top were re-set and engines turned off.

Late Tuesday morning, as the ship approached the large turn to the north around Cape Canso, the maintopsl was taken in ahead of the jibe. in consideration of the fresh 20 knot southerly. Did I mention heavy fog? Tuesday morning before dawn, a heavy fog was created by the southerly winds that tardily filled in.

Sailing up through the Straits of Canso Tuesday afternoon was fine and enjoyable in clearing fog and smooth seas of Chudabucto Bay until we got very strong & gusty winds up inside the Straits. Quickly, the crew struck jib-top, jib and foretopsl. Of course to go through the lock, all sail had to be brought in. That lock, Canso Lock, is a result of closing off the rushing waters of the Straits of Canso with a causeway years ago. Prior to that causeway, I have read currents in the Straits could go to 14 knots!

After the lock, the crew reset foresl, staysl, jib in gusty winds that later died off as Pride II moved into more open waters north of the Straits. With less gusty winds the crew set foretopsl, jib-top and mainsl. Only an hour later had to strike all but foresl and staysl due to threatening thunder cloud squalls. Last night, after the thunder clouds moved by, but other more distant rain clouds remained in evidence on the radar, the fresh southerly winds returned and the crew set a reefed foretopsl. Midnight last night, as the ship passed East Point of Prince Edward Island, the sky was clearing up and the moon was blasting through from astern the crew re-set jib and jib-topsl followed by the full mainsl.

So far, since midnight, Pride II has been making between 6 and 9 knots as the wind has been slowly re-organizing into a southwest breeze forecast to eventually become a fresh westerly breeze before eventually reducing to variable 10-15 knots. Between midnight, and now as I write this, the morning has been the longest period of time in the last 36 hours that there has not been a significant sail handling evolution. Whew!

Signed, Jan C. Miles

Captain's Log – Under Way Again…Departed Lunenburg

Date: Monday June 20, 2016
Time: 1740 ADT/1640 EDT

Pride II is under full broad reaching sail steering east past Halifax bound for Cape Canso at the east end of Nova Scotia about 100 nautical miles away.

Wind is on the starboard quarter and all broad reaching sail includes the top-gallant sail and the studding-sail. Wind is blowing about 15 knots from the south-southwest. Pride II is making around 7.5 knots. The sea is relatively smooth, so the ship is holding very steady on account of the pressure of the wind on the sails is preventing as much rolling as would occur if there was no sail set and we were motoring along.

The fuel truck was prompt this morning. Canadian Customs clearance protocols were also prompt with the assistance of the office of Picton Castle handling faxes and emails. Actual departure from the dock was just before 1100 local time. Captain Moreland and his staff were down to toss off dock lines and wish bon voyage. It was only about a 2 mile motor to a point for setting sail. Engines off since around 1130. Crew spent the day setting sail and were turned into watches at 1600 local. The ship is very quiet now, as those on watch work quietly and those off-watch are also quiet. Soon Phil, the Cook, will be making supper preparation noises for the first seating at 1930 local.

It is truly nice to be making progress in the desired direction, under sail, with no engines propelling us along.

Depending on the wind today, and overnight, we could find ourselves taking in sail tomorrow morning around Cape Canso and motoring up to Canso Straits Lock near Port Hawksbury. Once north of the lock, hopefully before mid-day, I am looking for the possibility of a fair and fresh breeze to keep sailing north-northwestward across the Gulf of St. Lawrence toward the Gaspe Peninsula, and the turn westward toward the St. Lawrence River, hopefully sometime Wednesday afternoon.

Signed, Jan C. Miles