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Sailing up Delaware Bay under Jib, Stays’l, Mains’l and Foretops’l

Pride of Baltimore II in Chesapeake & Delaware Canal
Winds NE Force 4

Pride IIis a rare sight today. Close-hauled and flying up the Delaware Bay at 8-10 knots, laying the buoys and lighthouses of the narrow deep-water channel only through good helmsman-ship and careful watch keeping. Jib and Stays’l trimmed in flat, Mains’l hauled tight, yards braced up sharp to carry the tops’l. But wait – where’s the Fores’l?

Our work horse sail, the one usually set first and taken in last, isn’t part of the sail plan today because it’s also our oldest sail, and while the cloth – a polyester called Oceanus made to look like honest to goodness canvas – is holding up marvelously after 10 seasons, the stitching is deteriorating due to ultra violet exposure. Yesterday afternoon we noticed about six feet of seam open up near the tack (the lower forward corner) and took the sail in, then reefed it to gather the damaged portion into the reef. But at midnight another seam had opened above the reef band, so we took the sail in entirely.

So now Pride IIis sailing “Split-Rigged,” with the Heads’ls and the Mains’l. It’s not the best configuration, as the center of effort in the rig isn’t as balanced, and it makes it difficult to bear off in a rising breeze. But for an upwind sail in protected waters, it will do the trick. And now that we’re getting a good sail of it, who’s to complain? Except maybe anyone taking pictures.

Jamei Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II