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Sailing 10 knots toward Toronto

0930 hours Wednesday June 30, 2010

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is docked at Toronto’s people friendly waterfront park and residential harbor side.

PRIDE helped form a mini-tall ship parade into Toronto Harbor yesterday afternoon with EUROPA and ROSEWAY. I am told there was good imagery captured by the news media helicopter that made two passes over the small fleet. The wind was fresh at near 20 knots and PRIDE’s crew put their hearts into sail handling under full sail and her sometimes 10 knots of speed.

For PRIDE’s crew the work associated with full-sail sailing in 20 knots of wind was significant in that this was the first time they had sailed her in such conditions with full-sail set. For this captain, the work was keeping track of when the helicopter was going to be passing by so as to minimize the time PRIDE would be in the middle of a turning maneuver with the associated reality that such a maneuver puts the sails in all kinds of weird orientations. When not turning, PRIDE’s sails are all harmoniously trimmed and full of wind pulling her along at best speed for the angle of wind. Sometimes that means sails trimmed tight, flat and close for sailing as close to the wind as possible. Sometimes that is a broad reach with the wind coming over the after (stern) quarters and filling the properly trimmed “full looking” sails, resulting in some of the fastest boat speeds available for the wind strength. Broad reach sailing in 20 knots means near maximum speed for PRIDE of around 10 knots. Staying close to other vessels that are moving at lesser speeds presents the trick of maintaining parade position for the short time frame of the “live shot”.

Setting up the parade by falling into line behind EUROPA, who was in an up-wind location from us, required sailing PRIDE first upwind to get behind her, then turning downwind to reach along behind her in parade position. To do this my focus was on avoiding collisions, maneuvering outside of shoal water waters, keeping an eye on spectator traffic, keeping an eye on deck maneuvers and calling out sail trim orders, as well as keeping track of the helicopter, all while figuring out an expeditious route to sail to get into parade position and hopefully provide an attractive and dynamic image in harmony with the other vessels for the camera to capture for the mid-afternoon live TV coverage.

From the crews’ perspective this was some of the best sailing they had seen so far this year. Especially as they were seeing for themselves that they knew more about what they were doing and could anticipate better than ever what was needed and when. From my perspective I feel we should have provided some good imagery for the camera. But a “live” showing does not offer the opportunity to pick and chose the best imagery. Like a theatrical stage show…we either got it right at the right time…or we got it right at the wrong time.

We followed up this sailing dance and parade by sailing into Toronto Harbor right up to within 100 feet of our assigned dock. Soon after docking Canadian Customs came aboard and within half an hour we were cleared and the crew proceeded with tidying up the ship in preparation of a full maintenance day come Wednesday. As I write there is a scramble to sand the bulwark rail cap and get it varnished today. Tomorrow we are open to the public, so on-deck cosmetic maintenance must come to a stop.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II