Race Two Recap

NIAGARA during race two of the Tall Ships Challenge

Photo: Niagara seen from Pride of Baltimore II. Photo courtesy of Jeff Crosby

Date: Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Position: Somewhere in Lake Huron

Pride of Baltimore II wins second place on handicap results.

The vessel Fair Jeanne was the first Place Winner on handicap. Niagara is the winner of third place.

In terms of the actual order of vessels crossing the finish line, it was HMCS Oriole, Pride of Baltimore II, Niagara, Denis Sullivan, & Fair Jeanne.

What is interesting to me about this race is the last vessel to cross the starting line is also the last vessel to cross the finish line. But still, become the overall winner based on handicap.

Handicaps are interesting puzzles. I have sailed Pride with several different handicap rules. The “tall ship” handicap is the fairest of them all for comparing the huge spread of different types of vessels in the sail training community worldwide.

The race was in quite light winds. For almost half the race the wind was near a beam reach. During which Niagara was holding her own with Pride. Occasionally going faster.

Halfway along the racecourse, the wind veered behind. So all of the vessels were needing to go straight downwind. Some vessels do that very well. Pride does not. So we wound up altering course to keep the wind on her quarter. Which meant not steering directly toward the finish. Near the finish line Pride’s crew did a great job with jibbing the rig. Including taking down the studding-sail and resetting it on the new reach.

Captain Jan C. Miles

Busy 2019 Great Lakes Tall Ship Festival Schedule

Photo: Pride of Baltimore II at the 2019 Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, Michigan, July 21, 2019, by Great Lakes Drone Works

Date: Monday, July 22, 2019
Position: Bay City, Michigan

The heat is upon us all. Even here in the Great Lakes port town of Bay City on the Saginaw River. Just about the whole nation is in a significant heatwave. So it’s a hot festival. 😎

Bay City is festival port weekend number four in three weeks, starting with Toronto’s weekend tall ship festival, followed by Buffalo’s, followed by Cleveland’s, now Bay City’s.

There have been two tall ship Races. The first was on Lake Ontario between the first summer weekend festival in Toronto and the second summer weekend festival in Buffalo. Then on western Lake Erie between the third summer weekend festival in Cleveland and the fourth summer weekend festival in Bay City.

The fifth summer weekend festival will be in Green Bay. Followed by the sixth summer weekend festival in Kenosha. The seventh summer weekend festival will be in Midland, Ontario, for a part of the fleet; another part of the fleet will be in Sarnia, Ontario, across the St. Clair River from Port Huron, Michigan. Summer weekend number eight will be in Kingsville, Ontario, on Lake Erie — a small harbor that will only have a small portion of the fleet. Yet a different part of the fleet is skipping the options on weekends number seven and eight (Midland/Sarnia and Kingsville) and instead going to Duluth from Kenosha for a separate and unaligned port festival rendezvous. Most of the port festivals are part of a series under the umbrella of Tall Ships America. This series is called TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2019.

For the eighth summer weekend, Pride II will go her own separate way and spend a “long weekend” on Lake Charlevoix, Boyne City, Michigan. Come summer weekend number nine, Pride will be underway, bound for Brockville, Ontario, for summer weekend festival number ten. Those vessels that went to Duluth will have returned in time to rendezvous with the greater fleet for summer weekend number nine in Erie, Pennsylvania. Some of the Erie fleet will meet Pride in Brockville. The tenth summer weekend is Labor Day weekend, the symbolic end of summer, the last formal port call of Pride’s Great Lakes tour, and the beginning of her voyage toward home. Starting with going down the St. Lawrence River, then on in to the Atlantic and around Nova Scotia to the American East Coast.

Anyone tired yet? More likely confused. ‘Tis a pretty complicated summer.

The hosts of each of these port festivals are very activist minded. There are liaisons for each ship for every day in port. Squads of volunteers for each festival day are tasked with public crowd control and preserving festival security in partnership with individual ship security preserved by ships crews. There is coordination of ship logistics, like pumping out waste water and supplying fuel if needed; assistance with a myriad of ship errands; keeping up with informing ship personnel of parties in their honor; and services such as showers. Of course, coordination with the United States Coast Guard and local marine police forces regarding parades of sail, entry, mooring, and maintaining external security of the assembled vessels is always required.

As can be imagined, festivals are all-day affairs: overnight security of all the venues within festival grounds, daylong management of public interest and safety, daylong availability of emergency services. This list is only the tip of the iceberg of requirements. Leading up to such festivals are years and months and back-to-back days of fundraising and planning.

After the summer is over, a tally from the participating vessels “grading” of each port will occur. At some point, a port festival will be identified as the one that satisfied vessels the most. There is a great deal of hope in each port to be named the most satisfying by the fleet.

Monday, July 22, as I finish this log up, Pride is the first of the fleet to depart Bay City. The wind is against us in Saginaw Bay. So it is best to get over to Lake Huron and the more open expanse of that lake to see about getting some sailing in … Maybe around mid-afternoon.

Captain Jan C. Miles

Toronto Bound!

Photo: Southern shoreline of the Saint Lawrence River, photo courtesy of Shevawn Innes

Date: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Time: 1100 hours EDT
Position: 20 nautical miles east of Toronto, middle of Western Lake Ontario
Sails: foresail, staysail, square-fore-topsail
Conditions: light westerly wind of 5 knots. Lake waters calm
Heading: northwesterly
Speed: 2 knots

The travel of Pride of Baltimore II up the last three-quarters of the St Lawrence River was a steady motor-boat trip. Of the past six days since last Friday, all of it has been spent motoring except for time spent at anchor a bit upriver of Quebec City for 10 hours Saturday (while waiting for a second flood cycle); then at anchor for 10 hours Sunday night in Montreal (waiting to have seaway inspection next morning); and 22 hours moored in Clayton, New York, at the town dock from Tuesday midday to Wednesday morning. All without any sailing. Of course, no sailing in the narrow confines of the river, but also not in Lake Ontario because the wind was either contrary or hardly at all. Now that Pride/em> is a mere 20 miles from Toronto with tomorrow the time to actually show up for the entry parade of sail, we are able to enjoy the quiet and peaceful sail that started only a couple of hours ago.

Down Wind, Up River

Southern shore of the Saint Lawrence River

Photo: Southern shoreline of the Saint Lawrence River, photo courtesy of Shevawn Innes

Date: Friday, June 21, 2019
Time: 1100 hours EDT
Position: abeam of the port of Rimouski, Quebec, St Lawrence River
Sails Set: foresail, staysail, jib, square-fore-topsail, topgallant, and jib-topsail
Conditions: foggy, damp, and cool with NE wind of around 15 knots
Speed Over Ground: 3+ knots

Sailing without mainsail and main-gaff-topsail due to the wind being dead aft. Such a situation risks jibing the mainsail unintentionally. Not enough room in the river to jibe downwind due to the maritime traffic separation scheme. If there was the room for jibing downwind and jibing timed for change of the watch, we could go faster and cover more distance toward the destination without tiring crew. Jibing every hour or two would be tiring. However not being able to cross the traffic scheme except at ninety-degree angles does not cause a delay. We got ahead of the minimum speed needed early on. Some of that time in the bank remains. Thus we are able to keep sailing dead downwind with no jibing for now.

We are squeezing out as much sailing as can be done to ensure ample fuel for the 84 hours of motoring it likely will be before arrival Clayton, NY.

The higher water in the Great Lakes is creating some mischief for St Lawrence River navigation between Quebec City & Montreal as well the Seaway Lock System between Montreal and the Thousand Islands. Word is there is higher than usual river current due to more water spilling out of the Great Lakes.

Forecast for today indicates the current favorable NE winds we are experiencing are expected to weaken later today.

I am thinking there is motoring for the next 4 days starting later today.

Captain Jan C. Miles

Rounding the Gaspé Peninsula

Sunrise over the Gulf of St.Lawrence

Photo: Sunrise on the St. Lawrence, June 19, 2019, courtesy of Chief Mate Jeff Crosby

Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Time: 1100 hours EDT
Position: Passing along the north side of the Gaspé Peninsula
Status: Motoring
Conditions: Calm

The weather in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been very light since Monday. What wind there has been, has been contrary. Sometimes enough to sail close-hauled from near along the southeastern shore of Anticosti Island over to mid-gulf between the Magdalen Islands and east tip of Gaspé. Thence, up toward the northwest and around that eastern tip of Gaspé.

Have been motoring along the north coast of Gaspé Peninsula since early this morning. Forecast from Canada indicates there might be some sailing soon with more contrary winds of light to moderate strength from the southwest. Then later on, after another light & variable wind period, wind from the northeast. It would be helpful to get some more sailing along our route accomplished before having to commit to only motoring when the extra time runs out. The more sailing in the right direction that can be done, the greater the fuel reserves will be for the paddle up the river past Quebec City and Montreal, and on in to Lake Ontario.

Captain Jan C. Miles

Catching the Most Favorable Breeze

Lunenburg to Toronto, June 16, 2019, by Jeff Crosby

Photo: Sailing in the Atlantic, northbound out of Lunenburg, June 16, 2016, by Jeff Crosby

Date: Monday, June 17, 2019
Time: 1100 EDT
Position: In the middle of Cabot Strait’s narrowest part
Speed: Close to 7 knots; motor sailing by one engine with 4 lowers (mainsail, foresail, staysail, jib), main-gaff-topsail, square-fore-topsail, and jib-topsail set
Conditions: Fog, with a light southeast breeze

Pride was able to sail most of the way from near the Halifax traffic separation scheme to the southeastern side of Cape Breton Island, a distance of 247 nautical miles. How much is most of the way? Motoring was only about 4 hours and 20 nautical miles during a no-wind situation near dawn Sunday morning. So, sailed 227 miles; from around early afternoon Saturday to midnight Sunday, except for the little bit of motoring early Sunday morning.

Since midnight last night, have been motoring northward into Cabot Strait. First with no wind and two engines after taking in all sail forward of the mainmast. Then with one engine after resetting this morning sails forward of the mainmast. All except the t’gallant and studding sail.

The sailing from near Halifax was almost all at great speed — more than 8 knots much of the time and quite a bit around 10 knots. Such favorable wind was an opportunity to get east without consuming fuel before the turn north. We could have turned north sooner and gone through the Strait of Canso. But with a persistent favorable southwest wind along the coasts of both Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, I decided to skip going through the Strait of Canso, which would have meant dropping the favorable wind for significant motoring through the strait, then meeting no wind or contrary wind as Pride exited the strait northbound into the lower Gulf of St. Lawrence. By continuing to sail east with the favorable and fresh southwesterly, my hope was to at least find light southeasterlies forecast for today in Cabot Strait. If light enough to force motoring to keep speed up, would mean most economical motoring with sails also up for capturing the southeasterlies. If stronger wind, maybe only sailing and still keep speed up.

Passing through the Gulf of St. Lawrence is always a matter of timing. Would there be usable wind? Going via the Strait of Canso would be okay this time because of either no wind or light contrary wind. However, going via Cabot Strait offered the chance of having favorable winds for longer.

True, it is a longer distance to go around Cape Breton Island. But if not using fuel and making good speed, the longer distance is not a net loss. Might actually be a net gain. Meaning little to no fuel used going east. Conserving it for going north and eventually west. While the Canso option would also mean no fuel going east this time around. But it would be more fuel expended going north than was likely to happen by the longer Cabot Strait route because of the chance of light favorable wind to keep resistance of the rig from being a factor while motoring.

Forecasting for waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence indicates tomorrow will bring northwest wind. If we can get through Cabot Strait and some bit into the Gulf, there will be sea room for sailing close hauled toward the north with the new northwest wind. Come Wednesday the northwest wind is supposed to weaken and swing toward the west. And is forecast to die off later Wednesday. And be followed Thursday by weak south, southeasterly, and easterly breezes. More motoring. But again with reduced resistance. And maybe a chance to sail around the north side of Gaspé Peninsula.

We shall see what we shall see.

Captain Jan C. Miles