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A Light Transit From New York to Boston

PRIDE II has just cleared the Cape Cod Canal on her way to Boston from New York. Wind is not favorable so we are motoring. We have a date this evening with the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) for a sailing reception starting at 1800.

The transit from New York was mostly light winds…except for a period of contrary 25 knot winds late Saturday afternoon, which lasted through the evening while PRIDE II was passing New Haven, Connecticut.

PRIDE II had been sailing much of Saturday with a down-wind configuration in light winds of less than 10 knots. The forecast had at first, the day before, indicated the contrary winds from the east would come in Saturday afternoon at 10-15 knots with gusts of 20 knots after having been blowing lightly from the west. But Saturday morning they said we would experience light north winds with contrary easterlies of 5-10 knots. We never saw the north winds…but we did see the west winds. Around 1700 the light west winds died and we could see there was wind ahead…not strong…but we could not tell from what direction. Location reports of wind direction and strength never indicated the new fresh easterlies. As the new wind came in…from the east…we maneuvered the ship to take in the downwind sails and trim up for going to windward. Not quickly…but steadily…the east wind increased and additional shortening down was required. After a little while with a full 25 knots blowing and only the four lower sails up (mainsail, foresail, forestaysail and jib) the sea was beginning to rise and I was seeing futility in thrashing to windward in Long Island Sound well into the night. I examined the chart and decided to bear away from the wind and loose only 8 miles or so by anchoring behind a outer breakwater of New Haven Harbor. Taking the mainsail in as we bore away meant we would have a comfortable fast ride to New Haven rather than a very fast and stressful sail fighting PRIDE II’s helm due to the strong weather helm that occurs with wind from abaft the beam in a schooner rigged vessel. PRIDE II was anchored by 2000 with all secure by 2100 and crew and Guest Crew were able to start a night’s rest while taking turns for a night watch.

Sunday presented more light winds…still contrary…but with a promise that some usable southerly winds would come up late in the day. PRIDE II sailed off the anchor and with all sail set, including the topgallant, sailed across Long Island Sound with light east winds. Early afternoon the wind conveniently shifted southerly and PRIDE II began to sail east again.

During all of the above was the considerable planning for dealing with the strong currents of more than 3 knots at The Race as well as in the Cape Cod Canal. With the southerly forecast turning true and the afternoon & evening ebb current in Long Island Sound and also through The Race, PRIDE II was able to sail well into Sunday evening and cover quite a bit of distance with the additional aid of a favorable ebb current. But around sunset and off the Rhode Island beaches, the wind died as forecast and motoring was commenced. The motoring speed chosen was to ensure we met favorable current in Cape Cod Canal.

The early forecast for the waters off of Boston indicated calm winds or light winds from the north expected to shift northeasterly through the day. A contrary direction, but not hard to motor against. Thus far the direction is accurate but the strength forecast was not. The wind is actually a moderate to fresh 15 knots. Not enough to make us late for our date with the MPA. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken to write this the wind has moderated to 10 knots…but remained contrary.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II