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Superior Sailing

24 July 2010
Pos: 47 44.4’N x 085 12.5’W
15 nm East of Michipicoten Island, Canada

Pride of Baltimore II is back in Lake Superior for the second time in three years. This time, as last, it is the ship-enamored city of Duluth, Minnesota that draws her there. Prior to our 2008 visit to the world’s inland-most port, Pride II had been there only once, on her first Great Lakes tour in 1989.  So to be making such a quick return to a unexpectedly exotic place creates a feeling of familiarity and excitement. Our last visit there was marked by a good sailing passage and completely unanticipated reception by the people of Duluth and the surrounding area, who came out in the tens of thousands to see Pride II, the Brig Niagara and the Schooner Madeline.

So far, our passage has been decent. The breeze came up to sailing strength from the West Northwest at sunset last night, and we used for about 12 hours until it faded, gaining some ground to the North for a forecast shift to North Winds later today. We are within sight of some high and beautiful Canadian Shoreline, and motoring on one engine in a calm until the breeze returns.

During the 2008 passage there was a sense of wonderment among the crew to be bound for the “inland most” port in the world. The collective emotion aboard was hard to express, but carried the compounded awe of being so far from the ocean, so high above sea-level and passing 90 west longitude while sailing in a gigantic lake. This time around, most of the crew have changed, and for all but Jeff Crosby, a Duluth native who first introduced himself to Pride II by applying to be a deckhand during our 2008 visit, this is their first time on Superior. So, aside from the local knowledge Jeff provides, and my tales of our previous visit, the sense of newness and excitement are the same.

This marks my third trip to Duluth in three years. Last year, during one of my off stints away from Pride II, I took the Schooner Denis Sullivan from Milwaukee to Duluth. It is odd to have such a consistent run of trips to such an out of the way place – in fact, the most out of the way place – but I enjoy it and, like those in crew on their first journey here, I am still a bit awestruck.

The landscape, when we are close enough to see it, is gorgeous, and the geography of the lake lends itself to vivid and unique description. Lake Superior appears on a chart or map as a Wolf’s head. The St. Mary’s River end of it at Whitefish Bay is the throat, the Keweenaw Peninsula, jutting out from the Michigan Shore, is the open mouth. Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands dot the muzzle like whiskers and Isle Royal National Park is the eye.  Far off at the West end, at the tip of the Snout, is Duluth. And as I write, the breeze has come back and we headed that way under full sail.

All best,

Jamie Trost and the “snout”-bound crew of Pride of Baltimore II