Goodbye, Kenosha, Heads Up, Midland!

Pride of Baltimore II arriving in Kenosha, August 1, 2019, courtesy of Kenosha News

Photo: Pride of Baltimore II arriving in Kenosha, August 1, 2019, courtesy of Kenosha News

Date: Monday, August 5, 2019
Position: Sailing from Kenosha, Wisconsin, toward Midland, Ontario

The sixth festival weekend over a span of five weeks just now completed in style. Blessed with great weather, the public responded with enthusiasm to Kenosha’s own Tall Ships America Tall Ships Challenge® festival, which is great for Kenosha’s festival organizers. A lot of effort goes into setting such an event up. Well done!

And as is common practice with Pride of Baltimore II‘s departures, we took advantage of favorable winds, those being winds right from astern where Pride was tied up. So, with square-fore-topsail loosed from its harbor furl while still secure to the harbor wall, Chief Mate Jeff Crosby maneuvered the ship with her two engines and propellers to a point directly off the wall out in the middle of the harbor channel. With that getting away from the dock wall maneuver complete, he called for the setting of the square-fore-topsail. As soon as the clews were drawn out, even before the yard was hoisted, Jeff turned off the engines and with wind from aft, blowing on the rig and the stern, now also the spreading canvas of the square-fore-topsail, Pride advanced forward with increasing speed to the entrance of the harbor. Once outside and clear of breakwaters and any shoals and out into Lake Michigan, we turned toward the north and re-trimmed the square-fore-topsail for the southwest wind coming over the port quarter, the crew setting the fore-staysail and the foresail. Under “easy” canvas, Pride is gliding up Lake Michigan near its western shore. Squalls are promised. We will wait for them under less sail so that it is easy and quick to strike for the coming squalls.

Between Green Bay, festival number five, and Kenosha, there was the third and last race for this year’s Tall Ship Challenge®. Participants were Denis Sullivan, Niagara, and Pride of Baltimore II.

The whole race was a light wind reach or run. During the reaching wind phase, all vessels were enjoying a easy sail. Once sails were trimmed, it was “steer small” and proceed down the race track. But when the wind drew aft sometime after midnight the first night, around the one-third point in the 125-odd-nautical-mile race, plenty of sail handling started and continued through the rest of the race.

The light winds had the characteristic of being fickle and capricious. What was at one point a working very broad reach angle of wind for power and speed, through careful sail trimming from the most recent change in wind character, would suddenly change for no apparent reason at all and make for slower sailing, forcing another round of adjustments. But not always only sail adjustments. A number of totally changing of sides for the wind to come over for the best direction toward finishing the race. Jibing and wearing-ship started to happen. Pride’s crew jibed her five times over the span of the 18 hours that it took to reach the finish.

As it so happens, being in the right place at the right time and having the right stuff, Pride was captured by a photographer in Kenosha just as she was approaching the finish line. The photo was published in online Kenosha news publications. For the locals, one could tell where the shot was taken due to the foreground view of Kenosha’s harbor entrance lighthouse-like towers with their distinctive white with red or green middle field, depending on being located on the right during entrance, or on the left. Red to the right side. Green to the left side. (I think I saw it was the red one in the photo.) Meanwhile, in the background, big enough and sharp focused enough to see that Pride’s sails were drawing well. Plus, for those that know, that strange extra sail out to the far side of the big square topsail is the studding sail.

A great way to mark the end of a busy race in light winds.

Outcome? Learned Saturday during the crew party that Pride took first, Niagara second, and Denis Sullivan third. Lots of work by all the crew. My compliments to all.

Now ‘tis off toward Midland, Ontario, for tall ship festival number seven at the end of week six.

Captain Jan C. Miles