Homeward Bound

 

Date: Friday, June 30, 2017 – the eve of arrival into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, marking the end of Pride of Baltimore II’s participation in Sail Training International’s Rendez-vous 2017

Position: Anchored near mouth of the Magothy River, north of Sandy Point State Park, east of Gibson Island’s Mountain Point

Homeward Bound

America’s Star-Spangled Ambassador soon returns to her home port from an International Tall Ship Rendez-vous voyage flush with successful representation across an international tall ship community.

On Saturday, Pride II will sail into her home port of Baltimore, Maryland, after six weeks of voyaging via Charleston, Bermuda, and Boston. A voyage that had Pride part of an international fleet of tall ships coming together to race as they advanced port to port toward Canada’s commemoration of 150 years since Confederation.

More than 15,000 visitors came aboard Pride over three tall ship festivals with visiting ships representing nearly two dozen nationalities from Europe, Central, South, & North Americas.

There were two races between a combined fleet of twenty vessels, ranging from the modern sloop or ketch up to 300+ feet of square rigger, from circa late-1700s, to modern sailing technology of today.

America’s Star-Spangled Ambassador earned…

  • Two first-in-class B wins
  • One first overall in fleet
  • One first in fleet to cross the finish line.
  • One 2nd overall in fleet (the overall performances are handicap calculation results)
  • And a first of the larger vessels to cross the finish line (larger meaning class A)

How does Pride stand out to the viewing public when there are vessels ranging in size from small to nearly 400 feet and 3 or 4 square rigged masts are on display?

Quite stunningly actually. The profile of the Baltimore Clipper is an eye-catchingly beautiful, unique to the world, as well to the United States. It is one of the most beautiful profiles of any sailing vessel around the whole globe. The astonishing rake of her prodigious sail plan is a wonder to all viewers. She is deeply admired for her successful ambassadorial voyages to the Far East and to Eastern and Western Europe, as well her strong performances in international tall ships races as well Tall Ships America races for decades.

Thus it is: Pride will be sailing home again, carrying with her a deep appreciation and great admiration from Sail Training International’s Rendez-vous 2017 for the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland and their beautiful sailing ambassador. A world renowned ambassador of Baltimore and of Maryland, and also the United States. No other state in the Union, nor city, is so uniquely identified and admired by the world of maritime nations as is Maryland’s vintage, War of 1812, Privateer Star-Spangled Sailing Ambassador, Pride of Baltimore II.

Come on down to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic shrine or to the shores of Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor to witness the return of your world renowned sailing ambassador. Maryland’s Pride is yet again returning home from another very successful campaign, reminding the world of Maryland and Baltimore with an open invitation to come visit and experience our proud history and strong interest to engage with the international community.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Hail to the Accomplished Crews of Sail Training International’s Rendez-vous 2017!

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sail Training International’s Rendez-vous 2017 Bermuda to Boston race results are now official: 1st place in Class B goes to Pride of Baltimore II.  

(…and the crowed roared…joke…maybe the roar we imagined merely whispered in our minds …).

2017 back-to-back 1st place wins by Pride of Baltimore II are now recorded in international tall ship sail training race history (via two Captains who alternated between the two races). No other American sailing vessel participating in international tall ship races has Pride’s record of 1st in class stretching back to her first 1st Class B win in the millennium year 2000 transAtlantic (eastbound Nova Scotia to England) tall ship sail training race.  

In the 2000 race, as well as in the 2009 Bermuda to Charleston race, and in these two recent races (Charleston to Bermuda and Bermuda to Boston) Pride was the first of the larger vessels, as well as the first traditional wood constructed and oldest rig style vessel in the racing fleet to cross the finish (she models the American Baltimore Clipper of the War of 1812 privateer fame). But she was not the first competitor to finish ( except for the 2017 Charleston to Bermuda race when Pride was actually the first vessel to cross the finish line). The vessels that led Pride across the finish line have all been the smaller, shorter, more modern 20 and 21-century sloops and ketch rigged vessels. Being shorter, they are to be complimented for besting Pride’s longer waterline. Being a much heavier vessel, I think Pride can be complimented for staying as close as she did to the smaller, lighter, and more modern vessels.  

Setting aside, for the moment, any pride in performance, even more to be celebrated is the more than half a century of these international sail training tall ship races. They have been and continue to be wonderful cross cultural & cross national adventures by those of all ages (15 years and more) who have the gumption to do something very few others have the gumption to do.

Sailing traditional and modern sailing vessels is not for the faint of heart. It is not about risk, however – sailing is one of the safest group activities around. But it does take gumption to be willing to go beyond one’s imagination of a sea-going voyage and actually do it and commit to going. A great deal of separation from the norm of societal opportunities occurs when one goes voyaging over the horizon beyond the sight of land aboard a sail training tall ship. It’s crowded with little privacy. You are disconnected from everyday communication with friends and family. Collaboration and group challenges with shipmates, most often previously unknown to you, happen day and night repeatedly and uninterruptedly for as long as it takes – could be for a few days to as long as a month. You are doing something you have little to no previous familiarity with, while being instructed and led by a core group of professional crew, who are fully interested in sharing their knowledge and experience.

So there you are – out of sight of land, extending the time from your last shower to your next shower. Shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, hip to hip with others who are your shipmates, responding together to the unforgiving sea and always changing weather elements in a vessel heaving and lurching to the motion of the sea – using those elements to get to the finish line sooner than the rest of the fleet. An international fleet can number from more than a half dozen vessels to over one hundred participating vessels ranging in overall lengths from a little less than 50 feet to over 300 feet, all making the same effort to get to the finish, through changes in seagoing weather, ahead of the others to win the bragging rights and self-satisfaction for overcoming the strangeness of new challenges in a long proven, many centuries old, means of transportation. Don’t forget the importance of making and cleaning up meals three or more times a day no matter the conditions and the motion, as well regular daily (or more frequent) cleaning of other facilities used by all aboard, and keeping your own stuff in your own space aboard a universe limited by length, breadth, and depth shared by as many as can be fit aboard.

While competitive performance is fun, the record established in a history of records is wonderful…what is best and most fundamental, are the successes of the very small isolated “island” societies that are the individual vessels with their crews of many ages & nationalities, most of whom have not been to sea at all before, successfully managing their vessels safely to the end of the race. Ending up in the destination port is a great celebration for the safe and vigorously accomplished sailing adventure from the previous port, gaining new friends from those that used to be strange shipmates along the way.

And so a toast…

Hail to the accomplished crews of Sail Training International’s Rendez-vous 2017!

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

48 Hours of Sublime Sailing

Date: Sunday, June 11, 2017 – morning
Position: 190 nautical miles east-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts

Almost 48 hours of sublime sailing.

Since Friday afternoon, following the early Friday gale, Pride has been sailing under full sail or all sail (meaning the recent addition of top-gallant and studding-sail over the top of mainsail, foresail, staysail, jib, main-gaff-topsail, square fore-topsail, and jib-topsail). It is now Sunday morning.

Life aboard Pride is a world of difference from the period of the favorable gale with its heavy squall and bouncy, jerky sea-capped by a windless period with the big sea remnant heaving us around a great deal.

Even with a smoother sea, it is still possible to be taken by surprise by a lurch or a heave. Meanwhile, the angle of heel is around 5 degrees or less and Pride has been gliding along almost effortlessly with wind ranging between 5 and 10 knots from the west since Friday evening, through the day yesterday, and into the night with promise of strengthening today to 10-15 knots from the southwest. As we crossed the Gulf Stream yesterday (Saturday), Pride sailed north across latitudes of 37.5 north and 38.5 north and the color of the water turned a cobalt blue enhanced by a sunny sky. Now the sunlight merely shows an ordinary, but still beautiful Atlantic blue.

With this morning’s sublime conditions, the first at-sea wash-down was performed. On deck, Pride now looks clean and shipshape.

The forecast indicates a freshening of SW’rly winds between Sunday midday and on into Monday to around 20 knots. With increased speed as the wind strengthens, timing of arrival to the first waypoint off the east end of George’s Bank looks to be pre-dawn Monday. The course change to the northwest and the second waypoint will likely mean a reduction in sail – at least the kites. My sense is also the jib-top and main-gaff-topsail. Another robust ride seems to be in the offing due to a beam to close reach in a beam sea. Hmm…

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Bounce. Heave. Lurch.

Date: Saturday, June 10, 2017 – morning

Position: 340 nautical miles east of Ocean City, Maryland

Bounce. Heave. Lurch. Jerk. Boom. Crash. Fall. Lift. Slip. Roll. Slide. Bump. Rise. Plunge. Heel. Smash.

Physical life aboard Pride has been the above – add salt water spray. All clothing was soaked during a heavy rain squall, no matter waterproof outerwear. It is stuffy below deck, but fresh outside air comes through near deck openings.

When the motion is not so irregular and the sails are keeping full with a breeze of moderate strength so the ship is at a pretty comfortably moderate heel, life is pretty good. The temperature is comfortable. No sweating down below with hatches open. Meals are regular as clockwork. Phil Keenan, ship’s cook, is always cheerful despite wondering if he is in an extreme motion fun house.

The racing battle goes on. It has been two days and 316 nautical miles so far for Pride. She is 340 nautical miles east of Ocean City, Maryland. 240 nautical miles to go north to the first waypoint off the east end of George’s Bank of cod fishing fame. From there, the race course turns toward the northwest to another waypoint before the finish and on to our destination port of Boston, Massachusetts, some 468 nautical miles from where Pride is this morning.

As one can surmise from above, there has been some weather out here. Wind has gone from a sublime 10 knots southwesterly (Thursday) to a pretty damp and heavy 30 knots with gusts of 40 and maybe more in actual heavy rain squalls (Friday morning), followed by some virtual calm winds leaving behind an out of control sea state (Friday midday). Wind eventually filled in again from the west Friday afternoon and we had some good ol’ reaching sailing in drying conditions all night long till this Saturday (this morning) and a new even dryer northwest breeze and associated heaving sea. Forecast is for southwesterly winds again starting out light before filling in Sunday to around 15 knots (fingers crossed). Ought to let the sea swell moderate some. The timing might make for a bit of thrusting and bumping power reaching going from the first waypoint to the second. Not so sure I look forward to that. Likely to be more of the above heavy motion fun house.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Paradise Near and Far

Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Position: Anchored in St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda

Rendez-vous 2017 Race Start to Boston 

The tall ship fleet in Bermuda will start racing to Boston soon. There was an official delay to the original start set for Monday (6/5) afternoon. The new start might be described as a “soft start,” meaning there is a 48-hour window which a vessel can start on their own without any adjustment to the actual transit time of their race. There is no penalty or added time by starting within the 48-hour window or any advantage. The official start window is 3 PM Wednesday (today) to 3 PM Friday local Bermuda time (3 PM local Bermuda time equates with 1800 hours GMT/UTC).

For all intents and purposes, the race has already started, meaning there has been a lot of watching the weather to decide when to start within the 48-hour window. The goal being to commence racing at a time that is going to provide the shortest sailing time to cover the race distance. There are at least two overarching factors that every vessel is likely thinking about: wind angle and longest period of consistent wind speed. Square riggers will hope to avoid having to sail with wind direction near the bow. For fore-and-aft rigged vessels, there will be a greater willingness to sail closer to the bow wind angles, but only if there is moderate wind strength and a smaller sea size. For the shorter vessels, sailing in lighter conditions that are more close winded (wind closer to the bow) will be more desirable than broad reaching conditions of fresh to strong winds. Being shorter, they will have lower top speeds as compared to the longer vessels that will likely have higher top speed potential, unless the wind is very light. Hence the longer vessels might be looking for strong reaching angle winds.

My guess is that all crews are pondering when to start in the 48-hour window and have been since Monday as I have. So, I think it is fair to say I have been “racing” since Monday evening. 😎

Paradise Near and Far

While the fleet has been waiting in St. George’s Harbor, Pride‘s crew have been attending to ship care and cosmetics. The surrounding panoramic scene in St. George’s Harbor is white painted roofs with pastel color walls nestled in tropical greens, highlighted by the clear light green/blue tropical harbor water with fast moving, low scud clouds bringing intermittent gray and bright sunshine. Within is a picturesque view of traditionally rigged and modern rigged sailing vessels of all sizes, including a few motor yachts.

By the day’s end, however, there is little motivation to go ashore. It involves a lengthy ride in the small boat with the wind blowing 20 knots and kicking up harbor water such that ride can be wet and salty. Once ashore after supper, darkness soon arrives and what is left are night time establishments with drinks of $5 or more a serving. No movie theater. Limited internet requiring a fee as well. Ice cream? Sure. Same cost as a drink, but also a small boat ride in two directions with risk of getting wet required. So mostly crew remain aboard. Yet another day on the very small atoll of Pride of Baltimore II, from which there is a great view. The weather forecast promises even stronger winds in the harbor which doesn’t provide encouragement to make the trip after a day of ship board voyage prep. It might be with relief when the actual sailing toward Boston starts! The destination will have Pride moored to a dock right near the center of Boston – a mere stroll ashore whenever there is time off.

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles

Race to Boston Postponed

Date: Monday, June 5, 2017

Position: At anchor in St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda

Sail Training International (STI) has postponed the start of the race to Boston.

The delay is weather based. The Western North Atlantic is kicking off a phase of boisterous weather and it was thought best to avoid and/or reduce exposure to the racing fleet. There is a lot of time – the Rendez-vous armada is not expected to parade into Boston until Saturday, June 17. The overall distance is 800+ nautical miles as the race is laid out (going out around George’s Bank, east of Cape Cod). At 100 nautical miles a day that would be 8 days. So even if start is delayed to late Wednesday afternoon or 48 more hours to late Friday afternoon, there is between 7 and 9 days to cover the distance, and always the fall back to “calling” the race if the fleet actually winds up going too slow.

So what do you do with visiting vessels who can’t depart and more vessels who are scheduled to arrive because of the America’s Cup competition? On the one hand, Monday’s Parade of Sail will go off as scheduled (it did). On the other hand, you explain how the special guest status of each vessel is changing to that of average/typical visiting “yacht.” With limited dockside space and much of it already committed for new arriving vessels, all remaining vessels are invited to go to anchor. But add the “helpful news” that some Tall Ships Bermuda volunteers have volunteered again to be available for last minute desires for errands to run ashore. And that is no small gesture! And it is very much appreciated!!

For some vessels, the waiting period could be a pleasantly quiet and productive time. For others, it could be a good sail-training/ship-familiarization opportunity. There is always maintenance, but also a chance for some relaxation. Movie night? Swim call? It will be frustrating to deal with the delayed start for some. As I am finishing this log, the Italian Navy cadet training ship, Amerigo Vespucci, proceeded to sea at the end of the Parade of Sail. I can only assume she will bob about until the eve of the formal Sail Boston® entry Parade of Sail set for Saturday, June 17. Picton Castle has a full load of around 40 trainees, aging from teenager to septuagenarian. It seems the possibility of being idle at anchor is not conducive to good moral. They likely have great visions of voyaging. Stuck aboard a virtual island nation with little privacy and strict leadership might be a challenge to accept. But if you go to sea, there is the “battle of the sea” to occupy such a wide range of perspectives. Eh? And bobbing on the ocean in rougher conditions won’t be nearly as personal or close as such aboard a much smaller vessel.

Pride of Baltimore II? I am opting to wait. Plenty to do to care for the ship, not the least of which is getting her clean down below. With all the other post Charleston-Bermuda race needs, the down below aspect of the ship had to be put on hold. Meanwhile, I watch the weather along with everyone else, looking to see if it might make a difference to wait until the late part of the start window or not. Hmm…

Signed,

Captain Jan C. Miles