0800 hours Tuesday September 28, 2010
Sailing towards Penobscot Bay with 20 knot southerly wind. Scattered rain. Fog. Took in main-gaff-topsail last night and topgallant this morning. Wind expected to increase to 30 knots and veer to SW sometime later today. Looking to take shelter at Rockland Harbor.
Overall the plan to wait in Cape Breton Island for the weather to change continues to prove successful. It was always uncertain what would happen after getting around Nova Scotia, largely due to the uncertainty factor of very long range weather forecasts. Hence the Cape Breton Island waiting strategy was mostly focused on how best to get around Nova Scotia and afterwards as far west in the Gulf of Maine before the next contrary weather system arrived. For a while it looked like we would be able to sail all the way to Boston and as a result arrive a long way ahead of schedule. But…that is not the situation now. To escape 30 knot southerly to southwesterly winds forecast in the Gulf of Maine for later today and because we were able to get around Cape Sable last evening, having advanced so well from Cape Canso after departing from Cape Breton Island, the updated weather reports helped me decide that the thing to do was race to upper Maine and get into a lee behind a good headland as smartly as possible. Penobscot Bay is only 120 nautical miles to the west-northwest from Cape Sable, easily sailed with a southerly wind; at 10 knots only about 12 hours away. It took till midnight to get around the blunt point of Cape Sable, and we are now making about 9 knots because the wind is more on the beam so we are having to reduce sail to keep angle of heel within the comfort zone, so it will be more like 14 hours to cross the Gulf and start to reach into the mouth of Penobscot Bay early afternoon today. Arriving back into the USA today here in Maine leaves the rest of this week till our deadline in Boston on Saturday to wait out another weather change to make the run from Maine to Boston. With luck we will be able to sail that distance rather than motor. Even if we motor, the trip from Montreal at this time of year will have been a minimum fuel consumption trip as compared to other trips around Canada coming from the Great Lakes at this time of year.
Meanwhile clearing US CUSTOMS needs to be arranged. Since 9/11 the big change in Customs procedures is the advance notice aspect. Before 9/11 a smaller vessel like PRIDE would notify Customs “upon arrival”. That is no longer permitted. Advance notice is required and must include information about who is aboard. Fortunately Pride has very able office staff to depend on to handle communications between ship and shore during those times the ship is not in harbor and able to handle communications directly. So Customs already knows we are on our way to
the United States from Montreal. They also know that we are a sailing vessel subject to weather vagaries. Now that I know where I intend to sail Pride due to the current weather forecast and have informed Pride‘s office staff, US Customs will be informed and instructions sought for what needs to happen to achieve a Customs clearance in Rockland, Maine. This should not present a great problem in Rockland as it is designated as a “Port of Entry” in the “Northeast District” of Customs, managed out of Portland, Maine. If required, we can wait till Wednesday to clear
Customs, considering the significant change in circumstances and how quickly they have precipitated. After all, this recent development is about avoiding thrashing around unnecessarily in fresh to strong contrary weather, not about getting an early clearance into the States. We can remain aboard till such time as arrangements for clearance can be organized.
Jan C. Miles and the US bound crew of Pride of Baltimore II