PRIDE II sailing off Fort Smallwood

Photo: Pride II sailing off Fort Smallwood Park courtesy of Timothy Smith

Date: Monday, May 11, 2020
Time: 2000 hours

A fresh to strong westerly wind helped get us to a 1730 (5:30 PM) anchorage near Herring Bay. A little bit north of there actually. A nice lee from westerlies and forecast change to north-westerlies of around 20 knots overnight.

All morning long the crew got last moment details for getting underway, attended to after more than a month of maintenance. After lunch, Pride was backed away from her Clinton Street compound and turned south for the narrows between Fort McHenry and Lazaretto Point. The fore-staysail was set first and this permitted securing of engines, considering local winds were on the beam. Meanwhile, the square fore-topsail was being tied loose for setting. After turning southeasterly into Fort McHenry Channel and the gusting to higher than the 20-knot apparent wind was well aft on the starboard side, the square topsail was set. With just the two sails and gusty winds of upwards of 30, she sped along her way between 8 and 9 knots.

As she passed by Sparrow’s Point, the crew reset the foresail that had been lowered while moored at Clinton Street to reduce windage for passing gale winds. Raising the foresail with 20 knots of wind filling is a bit of a grind. By the time Pride reached near North Point and the turn southeastward into Craighill Channel (upper range) from Brewerton Channel, the foresail was set and properly drawing. Under the so-called “day sail combo” of foresail, square topsail, and staysail, Pride made speeds of 8-9 knots all the way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and on down the bay.

Below the Bay Bridge, the westerly wind was channeling as it flowed out of the Severn River. Steady winds of 25 knots with gusts breaking 30 knots meant striking the square topsail, particularly as the bay bends a bit southwest, forcing a heading that would bring the apparent wind somewhat forward of the beam. North of the bridge, wind was either on the quarter or somewhat less strong when around the beam. The maneuver for striking the square fore-topsail in strong winds is best accomplished in a coordinated manner that includes turning the ship directly downwind as the square top-yard is lowered. While pointed directly downwind, the lee square topsail clew and brailing lines are hauled in. At the point, the lee clew is home, as well as the lee reef clew up at the yard-arm, the crew switch to the windward clew and windward reef clew and brailing gear. As they hauled away, Pride was turned back toward the wind. Soon after, a couple of crew went aloft to tie in a tight square fore-topsail “sea stow” to reduce windage and protect the sail from any possible flogging. The rest of the crew trimmed the foresail and staysail for a closer apparent wind angle of around 60 degrees and tidied up all lose lines.

At this point, I confirmed the anchorage destination. It would provide a pretty decent lee and would be pretty easy to sail toward with next to no maneuvering. Under foresail and staysail alone, during some of the 30+ knot gusts flowing out of the Severn and South Rivers, Pride occasionally made more than 10 knots. Once south of those rivers some distance, the speed slowed down as Pride got close to the western shoreline and the wind was somewhat fluky in both direction and strength.

Anchoring under sail from a starboard tack without the mainsail set with the intention of using the port side anchor is more conveniently handled by not trying to tack with the loose-footed foresail, but rather by making a downwind turn that will enable easy brailing of the loose-footed foresail and, when attempting to complete a full circle, bringing the port bow up toward the wind before falling away to starboard when forward way ends. This maneuver also provides for the likelihood of not overrunning the anchor chain when the port anchor is dropped. Before the turn, the fore-staysail had already been struck. When Pride was pointed mostly downwind, the foresail was brailed tightly to the foremast and standing gaff. There was a short period of time spent keeping Pride pointed downwind because she turned faster than the crew could achieve a complete brail of the foresail. When completed, Pride was turned to the left so her port bow could turn up into the wind. When all forward way was ended and the bow started to swing to leeward, to starboard, the port anchor was dropped. Two shot of chain was heaved out to the waterline. A shot is 90 feet. So, 180 feet of chain in the water. For an overall depth of 16 to 21 feet.

Final stowing of the ship included quickly sorting out the topmast flags that had gotten a full turn around their masts. Reset port side fore-topmast running backstay and also the port side main running-stay. Sharpen the square yards bracing to port. Yards are advised to be sharply braced to reduce windage. Braced to port helps keep the bow to starboard and the port anchor chain from hitting the bowsprit bobstay. The rudder is made hard to starboard as well. All uncoiled lines coiled and hung. When all was accomplished, an all-hands muster was held below. Questions answered and the general plan for the night described. Then supper.

With sunset, flags will be taken in and the already rigged anchor light when the anchor ball was set turned on. The chief mate will organize the crew for overnight monitoring of our anchorage. To assist, using electronic charting by TimeZero, an electronic anchor-drag alarm had already been set.

With temperatures hovering around 60 F and winds of 20 to 30 knots, it has been a cool sail. The ship is closed up for the somewhat cooler night. The midship space is comfortable with the galley diesel stove kept on. The generator cycle has run. Some water made. Batteries freshened. Refrigeration pumped back down as well. This first and somewhat robust sail in well over a month appears to have been both refreshing for the crew as well as draining. Spirits are up.


Captain Jan C. Miles

Please note that when PRIDE is on the bay on shakedown sails, only crew, whose home is the ship, are on board. They have been socially isolating & continue strengthened hygiene protocols.