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Last Day of Lake Erie

6 September, 2011
Position: Alongside Port Colborne, Ontario
Wx: NxE F 1, Overcast

After a full and festive Labor Day Weekend, Pride of Baltimore II concluded her second visit to Buffalo. This traditional last hurrah for summer has brought changes in full store. In addition to a crew rotation of five crew departing the ship and five new hands to replace them, Captain Miles and I have also turned over command of the Pride II. On top of that, the weather definitely got the memo that summer was over – Pride II entered Buffalo in sweltering 90 degree heat on Friday, but a double cold front passage Sunday night has made certain the highs never topped 65 degrees yesterday or today. While that’s still pretty mild, it represents a nearly 30 degree change.

So out come the long pants, the occasional sweater, and the message is clear: Autumn is coming, and it is time to start the passage back to our home in the relatively temperate Chesapeake. While Ardrey Manning, Kaitlin McGee and all the volunteers and staff from the Erie Canal Harbor Development and the Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club made Pride II’s holiday weekends in Buffalo a smashing success for all involved, we had to be on our way. After all the thank-yous and good-byes, we cleared customs outwards for Toronto and broke the happy inertia of being in port at 1500, making one last show by sailing off the dock in Erie Canal Harbor and out the breakwaters toward the Welland. In contrast to the thrumming crowd we’d grown used to in Buffalo, just a few onlookers watched, applauded and wished us well as we made our way West under sun-cracked grey skies. Thanks again to all who made Buffalo a home away from Baltimore for Pride II and her crew.

Once underway, there was no shortage of training to do with so many new hands. Keeping the sail plan conservative with just the “day sail combo” of Fores’l, Stays’l and Foretops’l, we still had Pride IItopping 8 knots with a moderate Northeasterly breeze while we ran through drills for Fire and Man Overboard scenarios. With good performance and attentive hands, the drills went smoothly. There is still, as always, a great deal for both new and old hands to learn, but the crew is solid. After debriefing the drills and throwing in a few maneuvers, we secured alongside in Port Colborne at sunset. Lake Erie is behind us now – bittersweet for me, since it is quite a thrill to have Pride II in the waters on which I grew up sailing. But now on to tomorrow’s challenge, the big descent through the 8 Locks of the Welland Canal.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the fresh faced crew of Pride II