Last Day of Lake Erie

6 September, 2011
Position: Alongside Port Colborne, Ontario
Wx: NxE F 1, Overcast

After a full and festive Labor Day Weekend, Pride of Baltimore II concluded her second visit to Buffalo. This traditional last hurrah for summer has brought changes in full store. In addition to a crew rotation of five crew departing the ship and five new hands to replace them, Captain Miles and I have also turned over command of the Pride II. On top of that, the weather definitely got the memo that summer was over – Pride II entered Buffalo in sweltering 90 degree heat on Friday, but a double cold front passage Sunday night has made certain the highs never topped 65 degrees yesterday or today. While that’s still pretty mild, it represents a nearly 30 degree change.

So out come the long pants, the occasional sweater, and the message is clear: Autumn is coming, and it is time to start the passage back to our home in the relatively temperate Chesapeake. While Ardrey Manning, Kaitlin McGee and all the volunteers and staff from the Erie Canal Harbor Development and the Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club made Pride II’s holiday weekends in Buffalo a smashing success for all involved, we had to be on our way. After all the thank-yous and good-byes, we cleared customs outwards for Toronto and broke the happy inertia of being in port at 1500, making one last show by sailing off the dock in Erie Canal Harbor and out the breakwaters toward the Welland. In contrast to the thrumming crowd we’d grown used to in Buffalo, just a few onlookers watched, applauded and wished us well as we made our way West under sun-cracked grey skies. Thanks again to all who made Buffalo a home away from Baltimore for Pride II and her crew.

Once underway, there was no shortage of training to do with so many new hands. Keeping the sail plan conservative with just the “day sail combo” of Fores’l, Stays’l and Foretops’l, we still had Pride IItopping 8 knots with a moderate Northeasterly breeze while we ran through drills for Fire and Man Overboard scenarios. With good performance and attentive hands, the drills went smoothly. There is still, as always, a great deal for both new and old hands to learn, but the crew is solid. After debriefing the drills and throwing in a few maneuvers, we secured alongside in Port Colborne at sunset. Lake Erie is behind us now – bittersweet for me, since it is quite a thrill to have Pride II in the waters on which I grew up sailing. But now on to tomorrow’s challenge, the big descent through the 8 Locks of the Welland Canal.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the fresh faced crew of Pride II

Feels Like a Laid Back Weekend

We are now sailing on the longest leg since late July when PRIDE made her transit from Marquette to Boyne City. We departed Monday from Port Washington and are not scheduled to arrive Amherstburg till Saturday. It will be the longest time frame of non-public, in-port busy-ness in the last four weeks. Yesterday, Monday, felt like a typical shore-based lifestyle Saturday with the crew doing maintenance like everyone else does chores. Today, Tuesday, feels like Sunday with no chores…just enjoying the sailing and the sleeping between being on watch. Weather is favorable, making the sailing easy as we again slide by Sleeping Bear Dune near Traverse Bay, Michigan…at least for now. Overall it seems we are enjoying a “weekend” like experience…only that it is actually being experienced on a Monday and a Tuesday.

Meanwhile we partner captains of PRIDE, Jamie Trost and myself, are up to our eyebrows in crew selection. By the time PRIDE departs Boston in early October all of this year’s crew are likely to have changed save for maybe two…the Chief Mate and a Deckhand. The rotation started earlier in August. We have Hannah Mahan aboard now…she replaces Paul Wiley and came aboard August 11. The next change will be next week as Joe O’Hara gets off. Then over the Labor Day Weekend four more positions will change as 2nd Mate Carolyn Seavey, Bosun Rebecca Pskowski, Engineer Andrew Kaiser and Deckhand Arwyn Rogers all depart the ship. In Boston we will loose the cook and two more deckhands. All these vacancies need to be filled and the process to do so started back in July…and won’t end till we identify all the replacements…only about half are identified at this time. Coordinating the interview process so that both captains can assess each candidate is quite time consuming and must take place as one of us sails PRIDE and the other of us take’s personal time during time off of the ship.

Jan C. Miles,  Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

1812 History ~ much to share and learn

PRIDE is in Port Washington, Wisconsin. This tall ship festival with three vessels…PRIDE, NIAGARA & FRIENDS GOODWILL…marks the beginning of PRIDE’s homeward bound trek from the Great Lakes. PRIDE left Baltimore May 30 and visited 12 ports to reach Port Washington August 18. From Port Washington PRIDE will visit 11 ports to reach Baltimore on November 1st. As much work as all of this represents to the crew that sail PRIDE, maintain her and explain her, the crew would have it no other way. The most intense learning is aboard a busy vessel. A busy vessel that is visiting a new port every time it moves presents a whole lot more learning. This is what any up and coming sailor seeks…as much learning as possible in as short a time as possible. It helps with promotion and the obtaining of professional licensing which also helps with promotion. Meanwhile PRIDE’s fame continues to be supported and expanded by her travels sharing her stunning image to her viewers in all the ports she visits…always leaving a good impression of Baltimore and Maryland.

PRIDE’s goal during this 2011 Campaign in the Great Lakes is to make everyone aware of the coming Bicentennial of the 1812 War and how much of that history took place in Baltimore & Maryland, and all of it is available for visitation, so make plans to visit Baltimore & Maryland to see that history. Interestingly she is not completely alone in her efforts. Brig NIAGARA and square-topsail sloop FRIENDS GOODWILL are two other vessels of the 1812 War…but specifically of the Great Lakes. PRIDE is from the Atlantic. Here in Port Washington, as it was in last weeks maritime festival at Navy Pier in Chicago, all of the vessels of the festival represent aspects of the 1812 War. In Chicago there was the additional vessel Privateer LYNX…she, like PRIDE, is from out of the Great Lakes. I find it interesting there is this concentration of vessels representing the 1812 War. But when one considers how many fronts there were in that war it starts to make some sense. Brig NIAGARA, built in Erie, Pennsylvania, represents the successful naval campaign between the US and British (Canada) that took place in Lake Erie under the leadership of Oliver Hazard Perry. FRIENDS GOODWILL represents an 1810 built vessel from Detroit that sailed for both the Americans and the British, having been caught by the British, eventually playing a roll in the Battle of Lake Erie. Privateer LYNX is a miniature of a Baltimore Privateer that was caught by the British in the lower Chesapeake Bay before she could perform any privateering voyaging, instead being used by the British to blockade American vessels from departing the Chesapeake Bay.

By the above sampling, one can begin to see that there is a lot about the 1812 War to be learned. The most significant activities of the war took place in Maryland. Where the burning of Washington, DC by the British Army took place, where the successful defense of Baltimore from British invasion took place and is the story of our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, and is home of the most famous Baltimore Schooner Privateer CHASSEUR (nicknamed “pride of baltimore”). I hope, during the next three years of the Bicentennial, all of you will come see and learn.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Just Passing Through

10 July 2011 1735 EDT
Pos: 45 19.4’N x 083 17.1’W
Sailing under all plain sail, plus T’gallant, making 4.5 knots, Wind SxW F2,
Mostly Cloudy

Departing Detroit’s Port Authority Dock yesterday, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II had a hot, steamy motorboat ride up the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. The route offers an interesting mix of summer cottages, waterfront communities, industrial docks and factories. We even encountered a racing fleet of 40 sailboats off St. Clair, Michigan and threading through them made for some interesting navigation. Finally, meeting the strongest current of the rivers near Port Huron, we saw the historic pilot schooner HIGHLANDER SEA at the Bean Docks. Though she hasn’t operated in two years, HIGHLANDER SEA still presents a striking image at the docks.

After the Port Huron it was out into Lake Huron itself, and with a decent Northeast Breeze to work with. We quickly set all sail and started off for the “Thumb” of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Near sunset, however, the breeze faded to a breath of easterly. To wash off the heat of the day and check off another Great Lake, we had a pre-sunset swim call, much to the delight of a few pleasure sailboats that were following us and taking pictures.

We motored through the night until a South-Southwesterly built up and we were able to shut down and sail, occasionally getting up to nine knots and warily watching the string of rain clouds coming across the aptly named Thunder Bay area. Averaging seven knots for most of the day, we seem to be at the end of the breeze now and will have to start motoring soon. With a little push, we should be into the St. Marys River by dawn and through the SOO locks by early afternoon. That schedule will have us into the Greatest of Lakes before sunset. We have also crossed the 45th parallel for the third time this season – once along the East end of Nova Scotia, once at the American Locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway and now here. We’ll stay “half way to the North Pole” for nearly a month.

Excitement for arriving to Duluth builds among the crew. This is probably in no small part because in my four consecutive years of sailing there – three aboard PRIDE II and once with the schooner DENIS SULLIVAN – I have come to like the city and its unique status as the inland most port in the world. But there is an oddity to be simply passing through the whole of Lake Huron without a stop. In past years PRIDE II has made port calls at Bay City and Alpena, Michigan, or at least stopped in for a quick rest at Port Huron. But this year all we’ll see of the Lake Huron shoreline is from over the rail. Not to worry, though, we’re busy enough. And we’re sure to have a Huron port in 2013.

For now, however, we have a third of the lake left to cover, and the wind has taken a break of the evening.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the Superior Bound crew of PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Lake Erie Astern, Detroit to Port and Canada to the SOUTH!

8 July 2011
Pos: Alongside Port Detroit Dock
Wx: East F 2, Sunny. Hot

Pride of Baltimore II dockside in Detroit

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II now has two Lakes under her belt in 2011. With the Northeasterly filling in on Wednesday evening, we sailed until midnight, then used engines to assist for a few hours so we could make our ETA to Pelee Passage on time. Once through Pelee – a pass formed by the Southernmost point on the Canadian mainland and the Southern most island of Canada – we had enough breeze to reach the Detroit River under sail. Finding our sister Privateer LYNX at anchor off the river mouth, we sailed close under her lee, then took in sail and motored up the river. All told, we were able to sail roughly 170 of the 200nm from Buffalo to the Detroit River.

Along the river, LYNX passed us as we prepared to reset sail for our grand arrival into Detroit. LYNX is heading straight through to Duluth, MN, where we will see them again so we have some catch up to play once we leave Detroit. Before she motored on, LYNX made use of the J.W. WESCOTT II, also called “Mailboat,” to deliver a package of goodwill. As the world’s only ship-to-ship Postal delivery service, the Mailboat is typically used to deliver mail on a pre-arranged basis to passing freighters. In this case it was an assortment of snacks and other things courtesy of Captain LeeAnne Gordon and the crew of LYNX.

Making our grand arrival, we secured at the snug inner slip of the new Detroit Port Authority Facility. This marks another stop where PRIDE II is being used to showcase a waterfront development project. Tucked in between the towering Renaissance Center and the green lawn of Hart Plaza along Detroit’s Riverwalk, PRIDE II has attracted quite a bit of attention and will hopefully be the first of many traditional vessels to make an appearance here.

Today was quite busy, between the public, the logistics and the unforeseen visits. The day started with a thorough hose down of the whole boat – a sure sign of summer arrived last night in the form of the Mayfly hatch. Thousands and thousands of these strange, mouthless insects covered the deck, the sails and the river. Walking across the footbridge from the outer wall had the sound effects of rice crispies. Fortunately, that should be the last of the hatch, and serve as a good omen of warm weather.

Once the ship was cleared of the overnight plague, nearly 1200 visitors crossed the gangway, with some crew working the decks to answer questions and interpret the details of PRIDE II, while others were off handling the laundry and the provisioning and all the other details of being in port. Fortunately logistic support was near brimming from Engineer Andrew Kaiser’s mother, and from last year’s Cook, Amanda Doren, who is living locally and fixing up her own sail boat.

And though we scarcely got here, we’re off again in the morning, with three lakes and two rivers to cover before Duluth. In the meantime, we enjoy Detroit’s hospitality, as well as the novelty of having Ontario to the South of us.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the crew of PRIDE of BALTIMORE II