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

Motorsailing under Fores’l and Stays’l towards Delaware Bay Entrance

Pride of Baltimore II: 40 41.7’N 072 01.8’W
Wind East Force 2, Seas East 2′ Overcast

The sea is beginning to build but the breeze hasn’t yet filled in enough to be useful. A low pressure system off the Carolinas is on a reciprocal heading to Pride II’s. This poses a bit of a dilemma: If we try and make use of the breeze as it fills, we’re likely to slow down enough for the low to make a real mess of things before we round Cape May. But motoring, or motor sailing, with a favorable breeze screeches as the wrong thing to do. These options end up weighed on a familiar scale.

On a Saturday morning on my parent’s powerboat when I was a teenager, we weighed anchor at dawn off a Lake Erie beach where friends had a cottage and ran back to our marina slip before a gathering thunderstorm. I was disappointed to leave my friends, all sleeping ashore in the cottage. When we were all secure in the harbor, I pointed out to my father that the storm hadn’t amounted to much. This was true – grey cumulus speckled the sky, but it hadn’t rained, the breeze had never gotten to be more than moderate, and the only lightning was far on the Northern Horizon.

He turned to me and said, without pause, “It’s better to be in here wishing you were out there, than to be out there wishing you were in here.”

I’ve heard that rule echo in my head a number of times in my life, and it’s echoing again as the sea builds. This non-tropical low does not promise to be particularly intense, but its slow rate of advance means it will agitate the waters off New Jersey and Delaware for quite awhile as it lumbers toward the Northeast. While the forecast winds are not to exceed 40 knots, the seas may churn up a good Easterly swell and make our entrance to the Delaware Bay quite an ordeal.

So rather than wallow around waiting for the breeze, Pride IIis motoring sailing at a moderate pace to round Cape May by mid-day tomorrow. It’s likely we’ll get some good sailing in on the Delaware Bay, especially if the slow moving low keeps the wind more East than Nor’east. If not, we could end up wishing we were still offshore. But I doubt it.

Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Saying Goodbye to Canada Brings Us One Step Closer to Home

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is likely to be back in the USA tomorrow in Portland Harbor, Maine. Currently she is motoring along in virtually calm wind conditions with little to no sea swell. A beautiful high pressure like day. Tropical Storm Danny has recently been forecast to nearly fall apart…i.e. is forecast to be somewhat smaller than earlier forecasts. This is not a bad thing…eh?

PRIDE got into Lunenburg the day before yesterday…very early in the morning.  With the awesome generosity of locals like the Captain of the Schooner BLUENOSE II, the folks at the Museum of Fisheries and the staff at the office of the Barque PICTON CASTLE, the crew were able to attend to the necessary details of ship care and preparation for eventual departure by lunch time. So they got Wednesday afternoon off in that wonderful pocket of just barely surviving traditional sail-centric activities in this new 21st Century we are experiencing.

Yesterday (Thursday) was spent on more maintenance as I dealt with Canadian Customs, US Customs and determined the best time to get underway considering local weather and the developments of TS Danny. Eventually we got underway in a decent NW breeze and sailed out of Lunenburg and down the Southwestern Shore of Nova Scotia. The goal being to get across the Gulf of Maine quickly, within 48 hours cover the 300 nautical miles to Portland ahead of Danny, and be positioned on the “safe semicircle” side of Danny and located in a safe well protected harbor of Portland as he passes by mid-day Saturday. Since sundown yesterday we have been motoring with little to no wind. At this writing there remains 150 miles to go and it looks like we will be on schedule to be in good shelter for Danny and meet with US Customs in Portland at 1000 hours Saturday…tomorrow.

Then we will have to keep an eye on ole’ Danny. Smaller it may become…but still there are forecasts of 30 knots or more along the coast of Maine for Saturday night into Sunday. It is unclear if there is a dock PRIDE can lay at for those winds. We may have to go to anchor at first when the wind is out of the East. But when it shifts to NW…as is expected…maybe then we can go to a dock and be able to let the crew get ashore for a visit in downtown Portland.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Homeward Bound

We are down to the last 2 pilots of a total of 6 for the outward bound run of the St. Lawrence River. We departed Montreal yesterday at 4 pm. It is now 11 am and we are already past Quebec City. Going down stream is sooo much faster than struggling up stream! Estimates are we will be dropping these last pilots off before midnight…then we will be on our own again…save for the regular check-in calls with Vessel Traffic Control.

PRIDE’s reception in Montreal was very appreciative by the local organizers of our visit. The setting is a good one for PRIDE to amplify the potential beauty of the older part of the port, an area that has been under re-development for a couple of decades. In fact PRIDE’s presence was to help transmit the message that there is more development to be done…so please approve budgets for that to be done…or support such budget approvals.

For the crew Montreal has been a great experience. French style culture, big city, old architecture, and all the amenities right at hand. For a short stay what more could a sailor ask for?  Especially with the local friends that were around.  There were a number of up-bound Guest Crew who came back during the weekend and shared “their” Montreal. Meanwhile a staffer with the American Consul in Montreal, also a traditional vessel sailor from the West Coast, escorted the crew to some of Old Montreal.

Au revoir Montreal.  From here it is on to Lunenburg, our last Canadian port of call this season. 

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II