A Light Transit From New York to Boston

PRIDE II has just cleared the Cape Cod Canal on her way to Boston from New York. Wind is not favorable so we are motoring. We have a date this evening with the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) for a sailing reception starting at 1800.

The transit from New York was mostly light winds…except for a period of contrary 25 knot winds late Saturday afternoon, which lasted through the evening while PRIDE II was passing New Haven, Connecticut.

PRIDE II had been sailing much of Saturday with a down-wind configuration in light winds of less than 10 knots. The forecast had at first, the day before, indicated the contrary winds from the east would come in Saturday afternoon at 10-15 knots with gusts of 20 knots after having been blowing lightly from the west. But Saturday morning they said we would experience light north winds with contrary easterlies of 5-10 knots. We never saw the north winds…but we did see the west winds. Around 1700 the light west winds died and we could see there was wind ahead…not strong…but we could not tell from what direction. Location reports of wind direction and strength never indicated the new fresh easterlies. As the new wind came in…from the east…we maneuvered the ship to take in the downwind sails and trim up for going to windward. Not quickly…but steadily…the east wind increased and additional shortening down was required. After a little while with a full 25 knots blowing and only the four lower sails up (mainsail, foresail, forestaysail and jib) the sea was beginning to rise and I was seeing futility in thrashing to windward in Long Island Sound well into the night. I examined the chart and decided to bear away from the wind and loose only 8 miles or so by anchoring behind a outer breakwater of New Haven Harbor. Taking the mainsail in as we bore away meant we would have a comfortable fast ride to New Haven rather than a very fast and stressful sail fighting PRIDE II’s helm due to the strong weather helm that occurs with wind from abaft the beam in a schooner rigged vessel. PRIDE II was anchored by 2000 with all secure by 2100 and crew and Guest Crew were able to start a night’s rest while taking turns for a night watch.

Sunday presented more light winds…still contrary…but with a promise that some usable southerly winds would come up late in the day. PRIDE II sailed off the anchor and with all sail set, including the topgallant, sailed across Long Island Sound with light east winds. Early afternoon the wind conveniently shifted southerly and PRIDE II began to sail east again.

During all of the above was the considerable planning for dealing with the strong currents of more than 3 knots at The Race as well as in the Cape Cod Canal. With the southerly forecast turning true and the afternoon & evening ebb current in Long Island Sound and also through The Race, PRIDE II was able to sail well into Sunday evening and cover quite a bit of distance with the additional aid of a favorable ebb current. But around sunset and off the Rhode Island beaches, the wind died as forecast and motoring was commenced. The motoring speed chosen was to ensure we met favorable current in Cape Cod Canal.

The early forecast for the waters off of Boston indicated calm winds or light winds from the north expected to shift northeasterly through the day. A contrary direction, but not hard to motor against. Thus far the direction is accurate but the strength forecast was not. The wind is actually a moderate to fresh 15 knots. Not enough to make us late for our date with the MPA. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken to write this the wind has moderated to 10 knots…but remained contrary.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Tall ships cruise in company to Halifax

The non-parade of sail out of Boston was sort of a slow parade of sail with each visiting vessel departing hour by hour with a favorable northwesterly breeze that permitted all to sail out of Boston. Once outside of Boston the wind died and some of the fleet started motoring. But soon the wind was up from the south at a strength of 20 knots and all the fleet were gamboling eastward toward Cape Sable, the southwest tip of Nova Scotia, on their way toward Halifax. Last night’s sailing was cool…a big change from all the sailing before Boston…and all of PRIDE II’s crew are dressed with multiple layers of clothing and talking about using blankets below while sleeping.

Now, Tuesday morning some 115 nautical miles east of Boston out in the middle of the Gulf of Maine, the wind is very light from SW to West and many of the fleet have chosen to move on under power. With only 240 miles to go over the next 48 hours till the “official” arrival in Halifax the morning of July 16 and vague wind promises by weather forecasts it is a tough call deciding to motor PRIDE II or remain sailing. We can do 7 knots under power with quiet conditions, which means only 34 hours. But in 4 hours time there is supposed to be more wind coming from the SW. Maybe we will wait for that wind. Meanwhile, out of our company of local sailing friends…JOLIE BRISE, PETER VON DANZIG, TECLA, AMISTAD, URANIA…all but PETER VON DANZIG are now pushing on under power, so maybe we will continue to have some company today.

The Sail Boston event was a fun event for PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. There was not the press of enthusiastic crowds lined up to get aboard due to special restrictions for this tall ship festival where only some of the fleet were open to the public. As a result PRIDE II’s crew was able to get some maintenance done as well as have some time off rather than get no maintenance done. Also, the fleet was spread over a distance of almost three miles of Boston’s waterfront. With PRIDE II positioned in the middle along with EUROPA, JOLIE BRISE and all of the Class D vessels we were the happy recipients of a lot of visiting crew from other vessels located some distance to either side of us as they traveled from one end of the fleet to the other.

No shortage of work for the crew!

What do the crew do at a tall ship festival?

If you are a member of the professional part of the crew, you have a lot of work that needs to be done. If you are a member of the training crew, you have a lot of shore based events to attend and participate in.

For PRIDE II, the professional crew have ship maintenance and consumable resupply to attend to while also hosting private receptions and tours of PRIDE II with school age kids learning about the origins of our country’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

PRIDE II’s cook must get out into town and shop for food to resupply what was consumed coming to Boston, then also fill the ship up with food for the sail to Halifax. He will also shop for more than is needed to get to Halifax as a strategy to keep food costs down while in Canada till mid-August.

PRIDE II’s engineer must attend to an electrical glitch in the reverse osmosis water maker, an irritating problem that has been troubling us since just before arriving Bermuda at the end of the first week of June.

The bosun and the rest of the crew will take advantage of the good weather and check the rig for any wear or tear, as well try to catch up on some cosmetic maintenance.

Meanwhile, PRIDE II’s Captain splits time between talking to officials of the festival, organizers of the sail training races, consulting with crew about maintenance and the technical glitches, phone calls to technical advisors, co-hosting the private receptions, attending official festival events and scraping time together to spend with his wife, who took a train to Boston to see him…the last opportunity before PRIDE II leaves the country till near the end of August.

Included in all of this is splitting the crew up so they too get some time off…even at the expense of not getting some general maintenance done.

Altogether the time in Boston flies by very quickly. Tomorrow PRIDE II and the fleet depart bound for Halifax. 

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Rushing to Boston to Rejoin the Fleet

Fourth of July in Norfolk, Virginia, along with foreign visitor sail training vessels CISNE BRANCO and CAPITAN MIRANDA, was blessed by some of the most uncommonly fair weather for the time of year. Low humidity and not extremely high temperatures. To complete the picture there was no rain…until today.

So called “tall ship” festivals have been an annual event for Norfolk for 33 years now…a somewhat unique track record as American East Coast ports are concerned…and both the Brazilian and Uruguayan vessels are frequent guests. Why neither of them wanted to do the Atlantic Challenge race between Charleston and Boston is an interesting question considering both vessels are financially fully supported by their home governments and not receiving monetary exchange from Norfolk for attending. Maybe it has to do with both vessels being naval training vessels hence are taking the opportunity to further enhance a close relationship with the American Navy during a holiday that has popularity outside of the United States as well within.

CISNE BRANCO did not participate in the Bermuda to Charleston race either…but she sailed from Bermuda around the time of the Class A start from Bermuda and she did indeed take off very quickly (as observed via IS) to lead the Class A’s both in speed and in going to windward. Considering how well CAPITAN MIRANDA did in the Bermuda to Charleston race it is too bad the Brazilians did not participate.

All three of us (CAPITAN MIRANDA, CISNE BRANCO and PRIDE) are motoring ahead quickly for Boston now. The weather is not favorable for covering the distance under only sail power…we have almost 500 nautical miles to make by Wednesday July 8th. The wind is not blowing strongly enough to provide the power to sail fast enough and it is forecast to go against us for a bit as well. Hence I believe this leg will be more a motorboat ride than usual. But there is compensation at the end of this leg…rejoining the rest of the international sail training vessel fleet in Boston to be followed by the cruise in company to Halifax for the last port festival in North America for TSAC 2009 fleet. Unlike in Europe, international sail training fleet gatherings in the United States are rare and often are smaller in the number of attending vessels…especially this year considering the Tall Ships Race in the Baltic numbers some 150 odd vessels. So it is with great pleasure and anticipation that we aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II look forward to seeing again our international sailing friends.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II