Motoring in calm wind down the Atlantic Ocean side of Sandy Hook, New Jersey having just spent the dawn and early morning hours motoring down the East River through Hell Gate and on through New York Harbor and the Verrazano Narrows to the Atlantic.
The Memorial Weekend was spent in a Tall Ship festival in Greenport, NY, out at the end of Long Island. It was the second of four Tall Ship America Tall Ship Challenge Festivals scheduled for this year in commemoration of the Bicentennial of the start to the 1812 War with England. It has been some time since Greenport hosted a half dozen or more sail training vessels. For a small town, they went all out and so did the visiting crowds! The shopping streets were closed to vehicular traffic and the ships were mobbed. Many of the local establishments supported the Town of Greenport’s efforts to host a Tall Ship festival. A couple of the proprietors we visiting crew got to know commented that no other type of festival drew as many visitors to town. The result of this draw – every proprietor was exhausted along with all of their staff. “You ships are welcome back any time…but don’t come back for three weeks…I need to get some rest!”
The weather was terrific for such a festival as well. Leading up to Memorial weekend there had been 4 or more days of cool & wet weather. Saturday the weather broke into sun and warmth and the crowds came from the full length of Long Island and beyond.
These Tall Ships America Challenges and Festivals are built around some inter-ship competition in the form of voyage racing. The first race of the 2012 series was out of Savannah and was along the Southeast US Coast up towards Frying Pan Shoal off of Cape Fear. PRIDE earned a First in that race. There was one planned out of Greenport. But as luck would have it every festival vessel in Greenport had financial obligations that precluded them participating with the planned race from Greenport down to the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. As an alternative a “drag race” concept was created as a substitute. I call it the Tall Ship Challenge Sprint Race. Over the four days following Greenport’s Tall Ship Festival each ship will compete with the other ships by finding an opportunity to put as many miles under sail in 6 consecutive hours as they can. The results will be compared and a winner…under their “handicap”…will be identified by the most amount of miles sailed in 6 continuous hours. Each ship can try to do this as many times as they want till midnight on Friday. A vessel can even sail back and forth in a favorable wind slot rather than pick only one single direction to sail for six hours. It will be quite interesting to find out if any vessel does this.
PRIDE’s first stab at this was the sail out of Greenport and westward in Long Island Sound. The wind was just favorable being out of the southwest and fresh at 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots. After starting the “sprint” the wind got gusty and the crew had to strike the jib-top and the main-gaff-top. At the beginning of the afternoon PRIDE snored along at better than 10 knots over the bottom with the aid of the flooding Long Island Sound. Her speed through the water was near 9 knots. Late into the afternoon and into the early evening the current slowed down and even began to flow against PRIDE. Still, she was making better than 7 knots over the bottom while indicating near 8 knots through the water due to some moderation in the wind strength. Not sure when the next sailing 6 hours will occur. This calm is looking like it will last most of today. There is hope of a favorable breeze Thursday further down the Mid Atlantic Coast on our way to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. I hope so, we have some 245 nautical miles to cover by Friday afternoon. So we cannot wait for the wind. It must catch up to us.
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II