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Captain's Log – PRIDE II in Toronto

Date: July 2, 2016

Position: Toronto Harbor

The weather is gorgeous! Dry, partly cloudy with wind from the northwest: a classic post cold front and new high-pressure onset phenomenon.

The Toronto Harbor is a natural phenomenon that suggests high-end resort planning.

Yacht clubs, parks with beaches, and some wonderfully exotic small residences (that were squatter homes first) make up a barrier of islands that create the harbor.

On the mainland is the city. Rising up vertically in a modern 21st century city center way, it also has a re-purposed waterfront right on the edge of Lake Ontario. What used to be 20th century industrial and commercial shipping warehouses and manufacturers has turned into residential high rises with lots of local community parks interspersed; the architecture is eclectic and avant-garde.

The Tall Ship Festival is a periodically recurring event. The stars are vessels from far-off waters brought to the Great Lakes for the passionate enthusiasm of the public. This year, the stars include the replica 9th century Norwegian Viking Longboat, Draken Harald Hårfagre, and the replica 16th century Spanish Galleon, El Galeon. They join the replica 18th century American Baltimore Clipper, Pride of Baltimore II.

The local brigantines of Toronto and Kingston, St. Lawrence II, Playfair and Pathfinder, are the most wonderfully conceived youth training vessels in the world – they are out racing each other in the harbor as I write this log. Their crew, made up of high school students, sail and perform maintenance. Great little ship’s they are; very seaworthy and sea-kindly. They have been around since the 1950 and I don’t understand why they have not inspired more water-based youth development interests. Teamwork and collaboration are what make these little ships sail so well – there is responsibility for everyone aboard. Pride of Baltimore II has experienced a few graduates of these little ships as short term volunteers. They are great and hard working shipmates; they completely understand the command, control, and nature of complicated sailing vessels, as well the need for pro-active cleanliness, tidiness, maintenance, and the huge responsibility for looking out for one another’s safety. By the time these trainees reach their 20s, having started around the age of 14, they are great contributors to any vessel they get aboard.

Tomorrow the festival ends in a crescendo Parade of Sail. The first Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016 race will begin in the evening. It is a 60-mile race set up to zig-zag down Lake Ontario and finish near the south shore in time for the participants to make their way to the Welland Canal. Once there, Pride will enter into another lock system that helps vessels “climb” nearly 300 feet over the Niagara Escarpment and into Lake Erie.


Captain Jan C. Miles