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326 Ft. Climb

28 June 2011
Position: Alongside West Street Wharf, Port Colbourne, Ontario
Wx: WSW F 3-4 Partly Cloudy and Warm

Pride of Baltimore II has made it up Niagara Falls…Sort of…By using the eight locks of the Welland Canal, the ship has “climbed” 326 feet today, and bridged the gap between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. A fitting event for my first passage back in command, because just sixty-five nautical miles to the Southwest are the very waters on which I first learned to sail. And meanwhile, yacht racers from my childhood are in a Canadian port just ten miles to the East of us, finishing up the Annual “Interclub” racing series between Lake Erie Yacht Clubs.

Our sailing aboard Pride II was overly speedy en route from Rochester, but thanks to favorable breezes we sailed from the entrance channel of Rochester to within sight of the entrance to the Welland, reducing sail at times to make the canal at day break so our guest crew could get a good look at the spectacle that moving ships vertically can be.

Compared to the sailing, the locking through the Welland was much more work. The crew have plenty to do rigging wooden fendering to protect the ship and lines to take up as furiously as the water fills the deep box of the locks. There are eight total locks in the canal, seven of them raising the ship over 40 feet. Thanks to careful positioning by the lock crews, Pride II encountered minimal turbulence, which translates to less work for the crew. But still lots of work. As a pay off, the crew was able to look astern from the top of Lock 7 and see clear back (7 miles) and down (326 feet) to Lake Ontario.

With eighteen hours of sailing and twelve hours of locking behind us, we are sitting pretty to make Buffalo – a mere 20 miles East – for a grand arrival tomorrow. Lake Erie has churned up a 5 foot chop, and the forecast is for moderation tomorrow, so we are taking the opportunity to rest up and get ready to wow them in Buffalo tomorrow.

All best, 
Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II