Dawdling for Tropical Storm Dorian

Dark skies over the St. Lawrence River

Photo: Cloudy skies over the upper St. Lawrence River, courtesy of Jeff Crosby

Date: Friday, September 6, 2019

Location: Lower St. Lawrence River.

Activity: Moving between night anchorages as we await passage of Tropical Storm Dorian

TS Dorian is expected to cross over Nova Scotia Saturday and Sunday. Dorian has a wide diameter of storm winds. Such is expected to cover most of the width of Gulf of St. Lawrence. We will not be venturing into the Gulf until Dorian passes by. So we dawdle at protective anchorages from local current weather as it changes while we await Dorians’s passing well east of the lower St. Lawrence River.

After a non-stop downriver run of the upper & middle St. Lawrence River (Thousand Islands to Montreal then Montreal to Cap aux Oies, Quebec) we anchored yesterday morning at Ile du Bic. An island on the southern shore of the Lower St. Lawrence near the Quebec town of Rimouski. Time of transit allowance consumed? 3 calendar days out of the allowance of 19.

Reason for anchoring? Tropical Storm Dorian.

As the storm passes over Nova Scotia it will present storm winds all across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Assuming there is not a surprise move still to be played by Dorian. A storm that has already logged surprises. Therefore we dawdle here rather than risk surprises.

Ile du Bic presented a nice anchorage from decently fresh southwest-west winds. Too bad we could not take advantage of them winds for sailing out of the river … eh?

Those winds have passed now. There is calm today. With a promise of northeast winds tomorrow. No protection from such for our anchorage at Ile du Bic. So we are shifting today to Matane, Quebec.

At Matane is a fortress of a manmade harbor that causes me to think of the fortress walls of Mordor described in the Ring Trilogy. Pride has anchored there before. Shielded from strong northeast winds some years ago during a past transit homeward bound from a summer in the Great Lakes. So here we visit again. New northeast winds are due Saturday, tomorrow. Today we shift and re-position at Matane ahead of the arrival of the forecast northeast winds.

When do we get moving again towards home waters? Early Sunday it seems. As Dorian passes by and heads on away from this area, the strongest winds go away with it and more moderate winds are forecast to fill in behind. The new winds are expected to be favorable for recommencing this voyage home. If all goes as weather oracles suggest, we start out again early Sunday morning bound for home waters. Total dawdle time consumed? Three nights out of a total of eighteen. Or, 16% of total night travel allowance used protecting ourselves from very strong marine weather conditions.

How much distance covered so far? 448 nautical miles. Total overall from Brockville to Baltimore? 1,847 nautical miles. Nearly 25% covered thus far. Using four calendar days. Out of an overall of 19 calendar days or near 21%. So we have 1,399 nautical miles remaining to transit home. But we cannot start till Sunday. This means 12 calendar days to cover 1,399 nautical miles. The standard for estimating required calendar days for transit is 110 nautical miles per day. Remaining mileage divided by remaining time allowance indicates 108 nautical miles per day. Still within feasibility for on-time arrival home. Assuming no significant delays.

Cross your fingers, everyone!

Captain Jan C. Miles

Boyne City R&R

Sunset on Lake Charlevoix

Photo: Sunset in Boyne City, courtesy of Daniel Duncan

Date: Thursday, August 22, 2019

Position: Northeast Lake Michigan motoring northward against a north wind

Pride departed Lake Charlevoix and Round Lake at the town of Charlevoix at 10:30 in the morning, heading toward the Straits of Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) ahead of continuing toward the bottom of Lake Huron — the first portion of a 700+-nautical-mile transit toward Brockville, Ontario, at the east end of the Thousand Island area of the St Lawrence River.

Boyne City for six full days spanning a weekend was both productive and restful. At least less pressure on the crew than is the average tall ship festival 3-day weekend preceded and ended by additional arrival and departure day formalities. Boyne City was productive for both engaging with the public and experiencing fully booked day sails, plus getting a bunch of ship maintenance done. Restful in the sense that all members of the crew received two days off within the six day visit, rather than the average of one day a week that is the norm for a busy Pride sailing season … With or without back-to-back tall ship festival weekends.

Why call into Boyne City? Now that there is a dock there that can accommodate vessels even larger than Pride, it is the closest the ship can get to Walloon Lake, where a longtime Baltimore family by the name of Kidd have spent summers for the last half century or more. They have generously hosted a day of R&R for crews of Pride since the summer of 1981.

Back when Pride of Baltimore, Inc. was formed in 1980 to assume management of the first Pride of Baltimore as a favor to the city of Baltimore, Jack Kidd was the head of sales for the Maryland-based manufacturing company Tate Access Floors. The company makes special flooring for businesses needing to have plenty of computer cable space. Jack believed in the magnetism of Pride of Baltimore to attract and preserve business relationships. Wherever Pride went, anywhere on the East Coast, and all over the Great Lakes, he would charter the ship for dockside receptions for Tate Access marketing outlets and their clients. During my first year with the Pride Legacy back in 1981, as a thank you to the crew for their work during that Great Lakes campaign, he convinced this captain to add a stop and sail the ship into the port of Charlevoix so he could host the crew to some R&R in a lovely part of Michigan. Over the decades, mostly with the second Pride, he and his wife Ann would have the crew over to their home on the shore of Walloon Lake whenever the ship was able to spare a couple of days during a Great Lakes campaign. Over the three decades of the second Pride, she has had a campaign in the Great Lakes an overall average of every three years. Each time, the Kidd family has hosted Pride’s crews for a Lake Walloon R&R occasion. Over time this tradition has been taken up by the sons Kidd.

This most recent visit to the Kidd family homestead on Walloon Lake included their assistance to Pride, Inc. staff with organizing local publicity for the ship’s visit. Notifying locals of the opportunity to learn about the 1812 War in the Atlantic directly from a reproduction of the most notorious American privateer models that exclusively came from Baltimore shipyards, today referred to by historians as Baltimore Clippers. But also to learn about Baltimore and Maryland’s most worldwide renowned sailing vessel. More recognized and known by today’s world than any currently sailing American sailing vessel. And, oh, by the way, please also come for a short day sail or sunset sail in Lake Charlevoix. No better way to learn about Maryland’s and Baltimore’s Pride. Wouldn’t you say?

Suffice it to say, all day sails were full. There were at least two local TV news videos about Pride’s visit to Northern Michigan (code for the northern lower peninsula of Michigan … just in case you were confused). And deck tours were well attended. Small town regions are like that. Especially when they are well connected to the internet. Considering just about all citizens, local or not, young and old, are carrying smartphones, I think it ought not be a surprise that a strong turnout was witnessed. So, many thanks to the Kidds for connecting Pride, Inc.’s media staff.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Position: At anchor in Cleveland

Got here late Saturday afternoon. Actively avoiding a contrary wind pattern blowing right now over Lake Erie. Dry weather in a protected anchorage adds to the chance to get maintenance done. ‘Tis tough to have weeks of back-to-back weekend port stops with the required transits between and also get more than essential maintenance done. Our time in Boyne City provided a catch-up day of more than just essential maintenance. Some painting. Some varnishing. Some rigging care. Some mechanical power and systems upkeep. With today’s waiting for favorable wind rather than bounce around out on Lake Erie with it, another very beneficial maintenance day is underway. More paint. More systems care and checking. More rig care and maintenance.

When do we get underway again? Looks like an early departure Monday. And it looks like the wind forecasters continue to be correct, starting some few days ago, about this period of contrary wind. Ending by or before mid-Monday. For the early part of Monday, I think we can actually go ahead and get underway and use wind that would otherwise be contrary if we were starting out from other than Cleveland. Here in Cleveland, we are at one of the most southerly ports to be found on Lake Erie. A southeast wind can be used to get toward the east as the south shore of Lake Erie in this part of the lake runs near northeast. Maybe we can time this next leg toward the eastern end of Lake Erie so that it is all favorable wind. Meaning as we advance toward the east end, we experience a conveniently timed wind direction change toward the south, as forecast. And arrive at the Welland Canal Tuesday morning.

That’d be nice. Especially with Tuesday morning arrival, there is no major hold up in the Welland Canal. Upbound back in early July, we had a 24-hour wait before Pride could be permitted to transit the eight locks of the Welland. That was not an issue of congestion. Meaning not so many commercial vessels that Pride as a lower priority class had to wait for. Nope. The problem was no extra Welland Canal staff on hand to perform as line handlers in the locks. Over the last two to three decades, there has been near continuous trial of an automatic system to keep ships in locks from moving forward and aft-ward while the lock is filling or draining. Without an automatic system, staff at the locks and on the ships were needed to send and retrieve mooring lines that were used to keep a ship in position. The automatic system is now dependably working for ships that are of enough size to receive the vacuum clamps that are sent out to the ship’s sides when in a lock. Ships not large enough cannot use the automatic system. Seems there are so few smaller vessels that the staff of the canal locks have been reduced. Coordinating with vessels that cannot take advantage of the automatic systems booking/reserving the needed line handlers seems difficult. With plenty of warning, maybe this downbound experience will not suffer undue delay for lack of line handlers.

Here’s to hoping.

Captain Jan C. Miles


Squall on the Horizon, 2014

Photo: Squall on the horizon, 2014, courtesy of Patrick Smith

Date: Friday, August 9, 2019

When do the sails get taken in? Might be the quintessential question for all sailors.

The drive to remain sailing for sailors is strong. For traditional working sail rig sailors, it might be strongest. As sailors of the working rigs, there is common knowledge and admiration for the days before any mechanical propulsion was even in the dreams of sailors back in the days of the age of sail. Thus, there can be interest for today’s working sail mariners to emulate.

Departing from Kenosha on August 5, there was a light but fair wind to sail with. Knowing of the squall forecast, the sail combination was kept easy and quick to take in and stow. Meaning Pride’s mainsail was not set, nor was her jib. What we nicknamed the “day sail combo” was set: foresail, staysail, and square foretopsail. Out on the smooth Lake Michigan, there was plenty of sail power with this combination. We were making 5 knots on a broad reach with 10 to 12 knots of wind — adequate speed for the time limit and distance to Midland, Ontario, with a deadline of middle of the day Friday.

The motion of the sea is a significant matter when it comes to the amount of sail desired. Not enough for the given sea state and the vessel is rolling and heaving and yawing. Shaking the sails causing, bang, pop, and heaving jerking of inadequate sail area set for the wind speed available. Set some more sail and pretty much most of that jerking and banging and popping will go away. With a smooth lake, the little bit of sail area set remained undisturbed. Performed quietly. So it was pretty easy to skip setting the mainsail and the jib. If a squall threatened, the time it would take to reduce sail would be short. The mechanics of the day sail combo provide for near-complete furling in the process of striking. Specifically, the foresail brails to the mast so the act of taking that sail furls that sail at the same time. The foretopsail is somewhat similar with brail lines that collapse the sail up under the yard. It is not far different than a raised theater curtain, a little loose, but not billowing. A lot of wind can be sustained with a little bit of looseness. Furling more completely to the yard takes two persons, one per yard arm, a mere 5 to 10 minutes to climb up and wrap gasket lines around the mostly brailed-in squaresail and return to deck. Such lashings bring that sail tight to the yard … a whole lot more wind can be sustained when furled with the gaskets. The forestaysail is a typical triangular jib. It has no brail lines, but does have a downhaul that is used to bring the luff of that sail down the length of the forestay. Once down, the staysail can billow if not tied down with its gaskets that are attached to the bowsprit.

So, from the point of view of merely dousing sail, those three sails can be pretty quickly struck and stowed without calling all hands. Instead, handled by the on-watch and the ever-ready standby watch. Leaving the off-watch undisturbed. After dousing sail, some extra time to tie in the staysail. If the wind could be very strong, a bit more time to climb up and sea stow furl the brailed-up squaresail and return to deck.

Squall threat monitoring in our modern age is aided greatly by radar. Rain in the air creates an echo with radar. The degree of density of that echo can be a very general clue to the amount of water in the air. Water in the air is always evaporating. Moisture evaporation is a cooling event to any air mass. That cooled volume of air by the suspended evaporating water creates new weight for that air volume. That air volume drops due to it becoming heavier than the surrounding air that does not have suspended water in it, i.e. no evaporation going on. The dropping air mass can develop significant speed. If/when impacting the surface of water or land, or any obstruction, that fast moving downward air mass is forced to go around or bend horizontally and go along the top of land and water surfaces. Typically, doubling or tripling the pre-existing local wind speeds at the surface. So, 10 knots can easily turn suddenly into 20 to 30 knots of wind for the initial impact experience, suddenly arriving in a gusting manner. In strong squall scenarios, gusts can multiply pre-existing surface wind speeds more than five times. In extreme squall scenarios, there is no multiplier that makes sense. According to deep research done by the National Weather Service starting as far back in time as the 1970s, the “micro-burst” associated with very strong cumulus development can produce a gust front at the surface of more than 50 knots to upwards of 200 knots!!!

Calculating the speed of approach of rain in the air is another thing that radar can assist with. Understanding such speed of advance calculations must be treated with the understanding that squalls are forever changing characteristics. Meaning they cycle through increasing strength phases and decreasing strength phases constantly for as long as there is concentrated cumulus development. Such development are boiling activity in the atmosphere. Hot air, created either from land or water, climbs into the atmosphere from the surface. Rising means the temperature of that hot air rising will at some point start to cool. Moisture in that rising air will begin to condense as the temperature cools. Rising that does not continue past 30 thousand feet height and beyond are not the strongest squall creators. Not when it is a lone sole cumulus development. Those that build to 50 thousand feet and higher can be the source of very strong to extreme squalls. How does one tell the difference? I don’t know, not with conventional shipboard radar. Shore-based weather radar has developed to provide altitude information and much more. That capability requires huge antennae and lots of electrical power. So the sailor at sea with sails set and monitoring rain in the air with radar is stuck with guessing the possible strength of an approaching squall, along with pondering any potential meaning of whatever is the rate of approach.

Sailors wanting to keep sailing and to keep enough sail area up to prevent extreme rolling and heaving and yawing are challenged with guessing when a squall threat will actually arrive. As well as guessing the potential strength when it arrives. This guessing is not completely answered by radar. There are squall scenarios that can push out a wind gust front more than 10 miles ahead of the rain echo. Calculating threat by only assessing the range of the rain echo is risking getting a gust long before the rain.

As things turned out for Pride late Monday evening after departing Kenosha, the three sails set came in ahead of what turned out to be 50+ knots of wind from a totally different side of the ship than had been the sailing direction of wind. The initial gust strength leaned the ship over to near 10 degrees with only her masts and yards and rigging as resistance. The initial maximum strength gust did not last long. And the direction also changed pretty quickly. The initial gusts dropped quickly to around 30 knots for a period of time, no longer from the northeast, but instead from the north. After about a half-hour, wind speed was down below 20 knots and continuing to drop. The direction was backing back toward the northwest. But the rain remained for a couple of hours. After more than three hours, the sky was again clear to the west. The wind was from the south at maybe 10 knots. Pride continued motoring, waiting for better wind, having started motoring as sails were being secured ahead of the radar-indicated suspended water.

Over the following two days, there were several more squalls as Pride made her way eastward through northern Lake Huron. A period of nearly 12 hours of waves of bunched squalls. Radar was chock full of echos. The waves of echoes oriented north-northeast to the south-southwest and tracking west to east. Meaning coming from astern and passing over Pride and carrying on ahead toward the east. Plenty of rain. Not one gust of wind. Yet the onboard radar echo looked the same as was the experience the evening after departing Kenosha.

How to decide about sail area with this truth?

That is the question … ain’t it?

I got a bit of a clue to the difference by having connectivity to the internet. There were warnings on national radar about high wind threats for the squalls the evening after departing Kenosha. No such warnings for the 12 hours of squalls in northern Lake Huron. I left the foresail and the fore-staysail up for the first few hours of those squalls. Because of the need to make more speed, took sail in and pushed toward Pride’s date in Midland, Ontario.

Ocean sailing, with its perennial swells, presents a real challenge to the sailor interested to keep sailing when squalls approach. Sail area is required to both make way as well to damp rolling. But sail area is the cause of angle of heel based on wind speed. So, sometimes the rolling must be accepted, considering it is pretty much impossible to evaluate the strength of squalls by the rain echo seen in the radar.

By the way, there are dry wind gusts: dry squalls that have no moisture clue for radar to bounce off of and show an echo.

We can ask ourselves how, in the days of the age of sail, mariners managed squalls. Probably by a keen eye developed over time and great good fortune … till fortune turned bad.

Captain Jan C. Miles

Fiji Aboard

Fiji the cat!

Photo: Fiji the cat, courtesy of Picton Castle

Date: Monday, August 5, 2019

Fiji? Aboard? Huh?

Fiji is a cat. Calico colors … if I am not mistaken.

She is Picton Castle’s ship’s cat. Came aboard Picton Castle during the recently ended seventh round-the-world voyage.

Fiji is a wanderer.

According to Picton Castle’s cook, this wandering around ashore is new. Hmm … a cat goes wandering is not novel. Wandering from home and returning home is a common event for domestic cats that have a home base to return to from their neighborhood wanderings.

Except Fiji’s home base is moving from port to port. Weekly moves during this summer. Only three to four days at each new port. Going ashore for Fiji might possibly be akin to exploring by Europeans in far-off continents never before visited by Europeans. A time before maps made by European explorers.

The first I heard about Fiji was a story from Picton Castle’s Captain Dirk Lorenzen of getting a phone call during Basil Port of Call: Buffalo, the festival that kicked off our nation’s 4th of July long weekend.

This call came from an animal shelter. One some thirty miles from Buffalo. They figured out how to contact the ship through the chip installed in Fiji. Part of the amazement of the story is that the chip seems to indicate Fiji is from Fiji? Or is it the ship is her home and it is from the Cook Islands? Whatever, it seems the animal shelter twigged to the tall ship festival ongoing in Buffalo, thirty miles away, and managed to make contact and arrange for Fiji to be transported to Buffalo and back to her floating home, only temporarily, in Buffalo.

Now, how did Fiji get thirty miles away from Buffalo? Someone took her, of course. A good Samaritan. From that event, Fiji now carries a big sign (big for a cat with a collar) that tells of her floating home and provides a number to the captain. But I recently learned from the same captain that the phone number has been taken off. He was getting calls at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. declaring, “we found your cat.” The captain’s response each time was, “No, you did not find the cat. You picked her up near her home floating in your harbor. Please put her down and let her be.”

So, Fiji is aboard, meaning aboard Pride — something I heard a few times during Kenosha Tall Ships®. Seems Fiji makes visits pretty frequently. Seems logical. Here in Kenosha, Pride is the first ship Fiji would come across when departing her ship for her exploring. Some couple of times Fiji has taken to sleeping on Pride‘s captain’s bunk, the bunk I use aboard Pride. I have not been using it. I am fine with Fiji making use of it. I have been using the air-conditioned hotel room provided by the festival organizers.

Unlike Toronto and Buffalo, all of the other port festivals have had all of the participating vessels moored near each other. All in one compound, so to speak. Whereas in Toronto and Buffalo, there were two or three separate compounds of ships. Each compound some distance apart. Upwards of half a mile in Toronto. More like a third of a mile in Buffalo. For the all-grouped-together-in-a-compound scenarios, I have witnessed Fiji ashore making her way along the row of ships. Seems by the stories I have heard, Fiji visits all of the ships. Not sure, nor can I guess, as to why Fiji chooses Pride’s captain’s bunk for lengthy naps.

My wife, Leslie, a friend to all animals, possessor of four house cats, and a friend to a yard cat that has adopted Leslie as much as she has adopted him, indicates that I may have some of our home cat smells for Fiji to identify with, having brought clothes from home.

Other factors that might play into the frequent visits aboard by Fiji could be smells to be found aboard Pride. Maybe also because Pride is pretty quiet. Only a dozen living aboard. All the other larger vessels have twice or more living aboard. Whatever Fiji’s thinking, she is welcome. And we make sure she is not aboard when we move Pride.

A different kind of inter-ship friendship story. Eh?

Captain Jan C. Miles

Goodbye, Kenosha, Heads Up, Midland!

Pride of Baltimore II arriving in Kenosha, August 1, 2019, courtesy of Kenosha News

Photo: Pride of Baltimore II arriving in Kenosha, August 1, 2019, courtesy of Kenosha News

Date: Monday, August 5, 2019
Position: Sailing from Kenosha, Wisconsin, toward Midland, Ontario

The sixth festival weekend over a span of five weeks just now completed in style. Blessed with great weather, the public responded with enthusiasm to Kenosha’s own Tall Ships America Tall Ships Challenge® festival, which is great for Kenosha’s festival organizers. A lot of effort goes into setting such an event up. Well done!

And as is common practice with Pride of Baltimore II‘s departures, we took advantage of favorable winds, those being winds right from astern where Pride was tied up. So, with square-fore-topsail loosed from its harbor furl while still secure to the harbor wall, Chief Mate Jeff Crosby maneuvered the ship with her two engines and propellers to a point directly off the wall out in the middle of the harbor channel. With that getting away from the dock wall maneuver complete, he called for the setting of the square-fore-topsail. As soon as the clews were drawn out, even before the yard was hoisted, Jeff turned off the engines and with wind from aft, blowing on the rig and the stern, now also the spreading canvas of the square-fore-topsail, Pride advanced forward with increasing speed to the entrance of the harbor. Once outside and clear of breakwaters and any shoals and out into Lake Michigan, we turned toward the north and re-trimmed the square-fore-topsail for the southwest wind coming over the port quarter, the crew setting the fore-staysail and the foresail. Under “easy” canvas, Pride is gliding up Lake Michigan near its western shore. Squalls are promised. We will wait for them under less sail so that it is easy and quick to strike for the coming squalls.

Between Green Bay, festival number five, and Kenosha, there was the third and last race for this year’s Tall Ship Challenge®. Participants were Denis Sullivan, Niagara, and Pride of Baltimore II.

The whole race was a light wind reach or run. During the reaching wind phase, all vessels were enjoying a easy sail. Once sails were trimmed, it was “steer small” and proceed down the race track. But when the wind drew aft sometime after midnight the first night, around the one-third point in the 125-odd-nautical-mile race, plenty of sail handling started and continued through the rest of the race.

The light winds had the characteristic of being fickle and capricious. What was at one point a working very broad reach angle of wind for power and speed, through careful sail trimming from the most recent change in wind character, would suddenly change for no apparent reason at all and make for slower sailing, forcing another round of adjustments. But not always only sail adjustments. A number of totally changing of sides for the wind to come over for the best direction toward finishing the race. Jibing and wearing-ship started to happen. Pride’s crew jibed her five times over the span of the 18 hours that it took to reach the finish.

As it so happens, being in the right place at the right time and having the right stuff, Pride was captured by a photographer in Kenosha just as she was approaching the finish line. The photo was published in online Kenosha news publications. For the locals, one could tell where the shot was taken due to the foreground view of Kenosha’s harbor entrance lighthouse-like towers with their distinctive white with red or green middle field, depending on being located on the right during entrance, or on the left. Red to the right side. Green to the left side. (I think I saw it was the red one in the photo.) Meanwhile, in the background, big enough and sharp focused enough to see that Pride’s sails were drawing well. Plus, for those that know, that strange extra sail out to the far side of the big square topsail is the studding sail.

A great way to mark the end of a busy race in light winds.

Outcome? Learned Saturday during the crew party that Pride took first, Niagara second, and Denis Sullivan third. Lots of work by all the crew. My compliments to all.

Now ‘tis off toward Midland, Ontario, for tall ship festival number seven at the end of week six.

Captain Jan C. Miles

A Sailor’s Sense of Accomplishment

Photo: Sailing off into the sunset, courtesy of Jeff Crosby

Date: Friday, July 26, 2019
Location: Green Bay

There was more “actual” sailing than all of the transits combined made between Toronto and Buffalo, Buffalo and Cleveland, and Cleveland and Bay City.

Over the three day transit to Green Bay, three separate eight-hour sails of speeds between six and eight knots occurred. All the other transits were often less than half the speed … or were drifters.

Interestingly, it seems there is a feeling among the crew of having done something. Meaning physically worked over the last three days of transit between Bay City and Green Bay.

All three sailings between Bay City and Green Bay were upwind. Sails closely trimmed. What we sailors call close-hauled. Such sailing at speeds between six and eight knots means Pride’s angle of heel was at least 15 degrees. Sometimes near 20 degrees. Deck edge is still dry. So such angle is dry deck sailing. All such sailing feels good. For those on deck. For those off watch down below in their bunks, the feeling ranges extremely from being in a hammock, snug a sorta gravity well, or being catapulted out with more than several feet to fall.

What was going on between those three sails? Motoring with all sails forward of the mainsail secured, doused, sea stowed. This was done to keep to the arrival deadline in Green Bay. With all sails forward of the mainsail secured. There were three “settings” of sails, except mainsail, set just the once, not something that can be counted on, so a small blessing. Foresail, staysail, jib, and square-topsail. With new wind to sail with, all require quite a bit of energy to set and trim for close-hauled sailing.v

For this transit, once set, the sails did not need much tending for each of the three separate eight-hour fast wind-powered upwind, close-hauled sails. And being the length each sailing was, there were watch changes. No single watch was the only watch to do any heavy lifting. All three watches, in turn, had the experience of the heavy lifting and trimming for the best shape of the sail. As per normal, all the heavy lifting & trimming was done with two watches (never all-hands … save for an emergency). Two watches means at least six persons, plus also the addition of guest crew. After all the work is complete, one of the two watches is stood-down while other maintains the watch. Those on watch steering in turns of one hour and checking the ship’s condition each hour. Walking the length of the heeled ship on deck and down below.

Three eight-hour sails with similar times of motoring in between. Struck and sea-stowed sails (furled in a fast and tight way rather than in a tidy “harbor stowed” way all smooth and almost disappeared from view). Sea-stowing requires clambering out to the head-rig for securing staysail and jib and climbing some seventy feet above water up to the top-yard to the square-topsail.

When the sailing opportunity appeared, to shake loose sail that clambering out and climbing up was repeated ahead of the setting and trimming of sail. Weight of setting and trimming taking at least three persons on the same line. Often four & five. Then revert to one watch steering and checking. The other stood-down to either a gravity well of a bunk or one that is gonna by more like a dumpster in the act of being dumped depending on if you are on the high side or low side of the boat.

Where were the sailings? The first was Monday night to Tuesday morning along the east side of Michigan from near Tawas City northward, ending eastward of Alpena. The second was Tuesday evening to wee hours of Wednesday from the middle of upper & western Lake Huron south of St Mary’s River through Round Island Passage by Mackinac Island and westward under Mackinaw Bridge to near White Shoal Light on the Lake Michigan side of the Mackinac Straits. The third sail was from breakfast Wednesday to late afternoon. A two-leg upwind, close-hauled zigzag that started near northern mid-Lake Michigan east of Point aux Barques, on Garden Peninsula of Upper Peninsula Michigan. Thence south and southeastward on a starboard tack towards Manitou Island. Tacking to port-tack at noon west of the Fox Islands, thence heading westward toward St Martin Island Passage, just one of the passages into Green Bay. That sail ended right at St Martin Island Passage with the approach of a significant squall line crossing the length of Green Bay as it moved down from the north.

So, four motorings at between 6 and 7 knots of around eight to ten hours length each between three solid sails of 6 and 8 knots for around eight hours each. Altogether covering the 350 odd nautical miles between Bay City and Green Bay over a period of 72 hours from start to finish.

Maybe the crew feels a little exercised. I feel accomplished for finding the sailings. Deadlines must be met. There are contractual agreements to honor. For sure can be met by motoring. But not a soul aboard wants to only motor. Yet all understand deadlines and how motoring is a tool for ensuring timely arrival. How to find a usable wind? Weather forecasting is the first tool. All such are somewhat general in the scope of time and area. All told it was apparent from the start wind would largely be contrary. Timed to change to remain contrary as em>Pride moved around Lower Michigan. At first heading northeastward out of Saginaw Bay. Then north and west and south around Lower Michigan. I focused on when there might be a chance to sail to advantage versus times for motoring with expedience. I think the most fortunate choice made was to motor up “high” into western north Lake Huron between the end of the first sail near Alpina to near south of St Mary’s River rather than towards the shortest route between Bois Blanc Island and Lower Michigan. Adding a little distance was rewarded by a sailable wind that enabled a close-hauled “sunset” sail westward through Round Island Passage. Passing Mackinac Island and seeing “Big Mack” bridge in the western sunsetting twilight. There would have been no sailing taking the shortest distance through the channel between Bois Bland Island and Lower Michigan. Tuesday’s northwest wind would have bent to come from the west under the channeling effect of the two landmasses bordering the shortest distance route. What caused me to take the long way around Bois Blanc Island? Partly the forecast indicating northwesterly wind all day Tuesday and on into the evening. The further north we went the better chance for slant for sailing close-hauled on a starboard tack. Plus a close pass of the 1812 Fort at Mackinac Island, a tourist island where there are no automobiles, instead, horses and horse-drawn carriage or wagon. Plus knowing the shortcut would be a channel with land on both sides that would funnel the wind from northwest to west. Would mean no useable wind for sailing the narrow water of that short-cut. The other two rewarding sails were the simple out of everyone’s hands result of wind arriving to fill a calm or dying and going contrary or threatening squalls approaching. The in-between sailings motoring positioned em>Pride ahead of schedule. So when new winds came, there was time to go sailing. Particularly as those sailings would be pretty quick and mostly in the right direction. Meant progress. With progress could continue sailing. The moment, not enough progress, switch to motoring. Except when sailing was threatened by approaching squalls.

Overall a good transit. One leaving a sense of accomplishment. Maybe tiering accomplishment. But a sailors sense of accomplishment.


Captain Jan C. Miles