Wednesday, 5 June, 2013

Pos: 48 36.4 N x 064 15.9 W
Wx: NNW F 4, gusting 6, 6/8ths cumulus, scattered showers
Pride of Baltimore II at anchor in 30 feet of water

The current weather around Gaspe is relentless: 20-30 from the West to North West, violent seas six to nine feet, nothing to go charging into. The worst of it is in the Strait of Honguedo, between mainland Quebec and Anticosti Island, precisely in our route. Pride of Baltimore II is waiting it out in La Malbaie, Quebec along with her sister, Lynx. I imagine this is the first time two Baltimore Clippers have shared this anchorage, perhaps the first time one has ever anchored here. In any case, it’s probably the first time in 200 years.

La Malbaie is French for Bad Bay, but we can’t find a single fault with it. Aside from its convenient location within easy striking distance of the St. Lawrence River mouth, the surrounding shoreline is nothing short of stunning. In the long stretch of northern afternoon yesterday, we finally started motoring after the wind faded and shifted for the 10th time, and set off for La Malbaie through the narrow passage between Perce Rocher and Ile de Bonaventure. Grumpy as we might have been about the weather, this diversion was worth every moment of frustration.

Ile de Bonaventure stands a mile and a half off the town of Perce, Quebec. Sheer red cliffs rise like castle walls from the gulf to mark the island. A few houses speckle a grassy streak near the west face and tall pines crown the island’s cap. As we approached, thin, cool sunlight streaked through a cloud shot sky to gleam against the rock walls. On the near shore, the ragged rock arch of Perce Rocher glowed a near purple in the shade. Beyond, the town of Perce crammed itself into the gaps and hollows of ragged coastal mountains. As we rounded the corner into La Malbaie itself, farms and roads climbed rolling hills into the interior of the Gaspisie. The sunset offered incredible drama. The scene, taken whole, was spellbinding. In myths or storybooks, our schooner might be waylaid here for centuries, all our obligations, adventures, and memories dissolved into the greens, blues, and soft purples of the land and seascapes.

In reality, however, we’re due into Clayton, New York in a week to clear US customs, re-supply the ship, and handle a dozen other logistic details before launching into the twelve Tall Ship festivals that fill the summer of 2013. We’re wind bound, not spellbound. But if the wind doesn’t let up, we’ll continue to enjoy staring at this captivating scenery.

All best,

Captain Jamie Trost and the fairly mesmerized crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Tides, Again

20 September 2011
47 21.4’N x 070 15.5’W
Wx: SW F3, Light Rain

Some say all good things must end – casting off lines and heading out from Montreal yesterday at 1230, the crew of Pride of Baltimore II were in full agreement. Canada’s little piece of Europe had plenty to interest and even overwhelm the crew ashore, while Pride IIwas herself a spectacle for 8,789 visitors to Les Grand Voiliers sur les Quais. After brilliant weather for the opening Parade of Sail, things turned to chilly rain for Thursday, keeping all but the hardiest away from the ships. The visit brought a crescendo of improving weather which crested Sunday with clear skies, calm winds and temperatures near 70 degrees. A perfect late summer day in a perfect port!

With good weather continuing through yesterday, we went through the hustle and scramble of getting Pride II ready for sea again. Customs forms and currency exchanging, packing up and stowing of all the in-port gear while turning on the weather fax and sat phone. With the westbound vessels – the Brig Niagara, the brigantines St. Lawrence II and Pathfinder, and the schooner Challenge – all held up for traffic in the Seaway Locks until noon, we made our departure together. This unintentional spectacle once more drew eager crowds to the dock – we saluted before racing down the current under the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Our sister Privateer Lynx was off the dock just after us and the schooner Highlander Sea locked through just ahead of our departure. The three schooners are all bound for coastal Massachusetts, and have a number of shared friendships among the crews, so we’re sure to be in contact as we make our way out the river and through the gulf.

It is good to be traveling with friends, so to speak. As I write this, Pride II is well beyond Quebec, having past its enormous Citadel just before 0400, and into the lonely stretches of the lower river. The shores are lined with high wooded mountains and washed soft with the light rain. There is scant population along the shore. In some sections, only the buoyage in the river gives indication that we aren’t traveling with Champlain or Cartier some 400 years ago. This landscape is at once beautiful and foreboding, settled little since the days of exploration.

And in it Pride II is experiencing her first taste of tides in exactly three months. And they are no small tides. Even fighting the weaker flood current has slowed us down over two knots, and when the ebb begins, we’ll gain three or four in some sections. The return to salt, or at least brackish, water has her feeling more buoyant and springy, even though the draft changes a mere two inches with the density of water. The Lakes are behind Pride II now, for another year. We bid them a fond adieu, but have no time now to reminisce. Boston is still 1000 miles off, and we have sailing to do.

All best,
Jamie Trost and getting saltier by the minute crew of Pride of Baltimore II

St. Lawrence River salute in Quebec

PRIDE just received and returned a salute from “the” venerable gentleman of Cap-Charles, Quebec, located right on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

For years this gentleman has raised the flag of the nation of registry of any ship passing by Cap-Charles on their way to or from Montreal. Included in the salute is the playing of the national anthem from huge speakers set facing the river from the shore. As PRIDE has traveled this part of the St. Lawrence River each time she has gone into and departed the Great Lakes, there have been a number of salutes exchanged over the years.

In this salute we heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Anchors Away”. In return PRIDE fired a single gun salute and dipped The Star-Spangled Banner.

Anyone interested in reading about this tradition one can visit the web site at www.bencancour.net/capcharles

Jan C. Miles Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Pilot Change at Quebec City

Cloudless sky, light winds, warming temperatures, Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Plains of Abraham where the French and British armies fought…oh yeah..and a change of pilots.

We carried the first two pilots from Escomins (near the Saguenay River) to Quebec City. At 0930 hours the exchange by small boat was made and while our first two pilots, David and Silva, got off (they boarded the ship yesterday at 1530 hours and have been aboard 18 hours) two more pilots have come aboard. They will likely be aboard about 12 hours…or until PRIDE reaches Trois-Rivieres (Three Rivers).

Motor, motor, motor…since 1100 hours yesterday. This will continue till tomorrow in Montreal…till maybe around mid day. With pilots aboard my own focus changes from acute oversight of navigation and recreational & commercial traffic to a more relaxed oversight.  To have the pilots aboard is a great expense…for me this is an unnecessary service as until 1999 PRIDE’s size did not require a pilot.  I made this trip up and down this river almost two dozen times in a mixture of vessels of similar size to PRIDE on my own without pilot.  But the regulations are the regulations and in 1999 a change was made and it has been required since then that PRIDE take pilots between Escumins and Montreal.

Meanwhile with such good weather and smooth conditions it is possible for PRIDE’s crew to get some significant cosmetic maintenance done. Not only for preparation of being in Montreal, but for catching up with the wear and tear that has accumulated since PRIDE departed from the Chesapeake Bay in the middle of May.

Arrival in Montreal will be tomorrow.  We’re running a little ahead of schedule so have to work out logistics with the port organizers in Montreal.  Ideally, we’ll be able to time it so that we get the largest audience possible so we can make a real show of it! 

Jane C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

Position Report August 11 – St. Lawrence River

Favorable winds for a change! But now we are looking to be early to the pilot station in the St. Lawrence River and may need to absorb 18 hours or so before we start the pilot-run up the river past Quebec City and on into Montreal.

Currently PRIDE is just inside the first of the narrowing part of the river as one moves from the gulf portion to the estuary portion. PRIDE is a little west of the Gaspe Peninsula with an easterly wind of about 10-15 knots letting PRIDE glide along on a smooth sea heading on a port jibe towards the southern shore. Just 16 nautical miles east of us is Matane, Quebec…a small port town with cross-river ferry service to the north shore.

Tomorrow, sometime in the afternoon, we will pick up a St. Lawrence River pilot (or two) at Escoumins, Quebec, located on the north shore just east of the Saguenay River. From there it is about 270 odd nautical miles to Montreal. It is likely to take 44 hours to motor to Montreal. This will require three different pilot boarding’s with the likelihood of two pilots coming aboard to start and again at Quebec City as the original two get off.  Last there will be a pilot exchange at Trois Rivieres (Three Rivers) about half way up to Montreal from Quebec City that will guide us into Old Port Montreal.