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Sailing off Gaspe Peninsula

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is sailing with double reefed mainsail plus full foresail, staysail and jib in NW winds of 25 to 30 knots between Cape Gaspe and Anticosti Island.

Wind remained calm since last evening as PRIDE pushed under one engine toward Gaspe across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Around 0300 hours the forecast SW wind started to fill in. Under full sail and no engine assist PRIDE sped along at 10 knots till 0430 hours. The appearance of an uncommon looking cloud to the west-northwest stimulated us to strike the jib-top and the main-gaff-top. Not soon enough did we get the mainsail and foretopsail down. Crew did a good job of getting the mainsail off in the wind squall as I steered to moderate the situation. Just as the mainsail was all the way down the wind abated. Knowing the forecast spoke of strong NW winds after the arrival of the cold front we went ahead and struck and stowed the square foretopsail then double reefed the mainsail and reset. It was another four hours before strong NW winds filled in. I guess the cloud/wind squall was the temperature change line between the warmer air and the new cold air making for an uncommon looking cloud representing a line of localized wind of nearly 40 knots. Now PRIDE is mid way between the tall hills of the Gaspe Peninsula and Anticosti Island and the wind is up to forecast strength from the NW and the sea is building. PRIDE is doing a bit of hobby-horsing in the sea but is otherwise making her way to windward. It looks like she will reach the shores of Anticosti Island by evening time and be forced to tack.

The weather report forecasts a dying out of this wind come evening. After some calm during the night a new wind from the SE and S is to come. That will be nice although it is unlikely to last long before it also dies out and winds from the west and north return. It will be important to make as much westing as we can once this NW’rly dies out and the favorable wind comes. If we can go far enough west, we may actually be able to use the future north wind to keep advancing along our way into the portion of the St. Lawrence River that leads toward the southwest.

Sailing north may not be toward our destination, but we are not using any fuel and gaining higher latitude ought to put us in a good position to make best use of the coming favorable southerly winds.

Schooner LYNX is behind by about 16 miles. She appears to have reduced the separation between the schooners during the night by motoring faster. It is hard to tell if she has reached the combination of strong NW winds and the sloppy sea that it is making. We are not sailing PRIDE aggressively in these conditions as I am reluctant to rush up to Anticosti and then tack and rush back the other way. I am hoping to time our arrival to Anticosti for when the wind dies and then turn toward the west and start advancing toward our destination. Our fuel situation is still good so during the calm we should be able to economically advance toward the west under power once the wind dies. If we can again advance at speeds of about 6 knots then we should still be able to make our obligation in Oswego in a timely fashion with fuel to spare. I hope the forecasters are correct and my assessment of the best way to handle their forecasting is actually the best way.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II