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North and Out

31 August 2010
Pride of Baltimore II
Sailing Northbound on Lake Michigan
POS: 43 55. 4’N x 086 36.7’W
Abeam Ludington, MI
Wx: SSW Force 4-5, Overcast, Seas 2-4′

Pride of Baltimore II has left the big city behind and is headed back toward the wild country of Northern Michigan. After a hot weekend in Chicago during which over 18,000 people boarded the vessel, she is now bound for a town with a population of just over 15,000. That will be quite a switch for the crew!

Traverse City, our destination, is a tourist town though, so on Labor Day weekend, there is likely to be a heavy influx of tourists in town for the last hurrah of the summer. Having lived in the area for nearly two years myself, I understand the draw. Traverse City itself is nestled at the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay, a long a very pretty piece of water that would be represented as the nail of the little finger if you do your Michigan geography using your hands and maps – which all the Michiganders I’ve ever met do. The whole region around the Bay is known simply as “The Grand Traverse.” Its coastlines are cut with beautiful bays and coves, a few islands dot the bay, and just inside the shore there seems to be an inland lake at every turn. Aerial photography of the region is simply stunning.

The Northern half of the Bay is North of 45 degrees Latitude. When I worked in the area years ago aboard the Educational Schooner Inland Seas, we would joking claim ourselves “half way to the North Pole,” or “half way to the Equator,” twice a day during our education programs. Not surprisingly, summer is short in the Grand Traverse. But it is also well enjoyed, as all the seasons seem to be in Grand Traverse Bay. Visiting in September will give Pride II a glimpse of people going all out to get the most out of the warm days before autumn sets in to cool things down.

This also represents a winding down of Pride II’s summer tour. The ASTA events are over. The fleet is going its separate ways. There are relatively large festivals in Erie and Montreal, and then the mad rush to get out and back to Maryland again. It seems like just yesterday I was trying like crazy to catch Pride II on her way to Oswego while in command of Lynx, and in just over a week, I’m scheduled to rotate back to the other Baltimore Clipper and turn command of Pride II over to Captain Miles. Where did all the days go?

So now, with Pride II surging North on brisk Southerlies, topping 10 knots from time to time, the real trek out to sea begins. Our Lake Michigan “detour,” which started over three weeks back when we motored under the Mackinac Bridge coming from Duluth to Green Bay, is nearly done. We are slowly working our way home, though quickly today with the breeze we have. Just as any place that is seldom visited and much appreciated, however, the Lakes deserve a few more days of appreciation. I’m hoping, with this forecast, that we can get to the Grand Traverse ahead of schedule and do just that.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the fast-sailing crew of Pride II