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A swell ride out of Boston

0900 hours Tuesday October, 2010
Eastern Long Island Sound
NE wind 15-20 knots with constant mist
Sailing with foresail, fore-topsail, staysail, jib & jib-topsail

Strong onshore winds are not to be dismissed. Departing Boston yesterday presented the problem of dealing with a strong onshore wind and sea condition with the beguiling promise of an offshore breeze condition (and the smaller sea state provided by a lee from the land) after PRIDE passed through the Cape Cod Canal on her way to New York Harbor. 10 foot swells were coming at Boston Harbor yesterday. The imponderable was could we achieve a slant to them for the first 10 miles at which point we could turn and point PRIDE across the wind for the Canal. With the foresail set as a steadying sail and moving ahead moderately under power PRIDE was able to negotiate the 10 foot swells without dipping her long head-rig deeply into the sea. It dipped a little bit a number of times…but not once very deeply. Meanwhile as PRIDE plunged and gulped her way out to the turn point offshore of Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse, on the south shore from Boston, one of the Guest Crew became seasick. Eventually she went below and took the safe position of passed out in her bunk. From Monot’s Light turn point, with the aid of additional sail in the form of the staysail, PRIDE darted off at speed with the wind on the beam and the engines off. With the swell on the beam PRIDE’s motion was large but more regular than it had been when she was pointed 30 degrees to the swell. This was due to her increased speed and the extra sail area helping to keep her from rolling to windward in the large swells.

Timing PRIDE’s departure was based on a likely arrival time at the east entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. That canal has a reversing current capable of speeds up to 4 knots or more. It was out of the question having PRIDE arrive at the east entrance during a foul current because such a current would be running towards the northeast wind and sea swell…hence creating much greater sea swell at the entrance…not to also mention having to fight the foul current the length of the canal. There are two periods per 24 hour period that the canal current would be favorable. Yesterday the starting times were at 8 am or 7 pm. While we could have departed in the dark late Sunday night during the initial onset of the onshore wind and sea, I decided, based on several new crew and also the new Guest Crew, it was going to be better to depart in daylight. And that it was practical, in spite of the building overnight weather, to wait till midday Monday so as to arrive the canal after 7 pm. While the strategy worked, had the wind been stronger and the sea greater it would not have been wise to try and depart. But the plan worked just fine and by 9 pm PRIDE was transiting the Cape Cod Canal with the favorable current and the wind behind her.

Once out of the canal and into Buzzards Bay the engines were again turned off and PRIDE was sailed westward through the dark, wet and windy night across Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound and into eastern Long Island Sound. Recently the wind has moderated some and veered some toward the east, more behind PRIDE. With the moderation the square-topsail was set along with the jib and the jib-topsail. Meanwhile, the sea is smooth, making all aboard very happy.

Jan C Miles and the comfortable in the L.I. Sound crew and guest crew of Pride of Baltimore II