Slow Racing Day after a Night of Thrashing to Windward

Tall Ships Challenge Race #1 – Savannah to Cape Fear.

PRIDE got off to a Weatherly advantage at the start of the first Tall Ships Challenge race for 2012. But that does not mean it was a comfortable experience. 15-20 knot conditions on the bow after such winds have been blowing for 24 hours is not a lot of fun. Heavy weight to setting and trimming sails. Significant sea swell of 6 odd feet to bash against. Significant angle of heel for everyone to stumble over with a leaping PRIDE along with spray on deck and some down below because a hatch was carefully left open for ventilation…forgetting that water could also go down it. Some bunks got wet. Still good for sleeping in though after a very physical time of it on deck.

Overnight the wind strength eased to 12-15 knots and direction veered from directly ahead to a bit to the side…ENE to SE…and that enabled PRIDE to sail parallel to the coast between Savannah and Charleston. After dawn the hoped for continued veering to SE did not appear. Instead the wind backed to ESE and since PRIDE has been closing the shore and tacking when water depth was running out. She is now near Winyah Bay. We still hope for veering wind. For now the only sign of change is easing of strength.

Yesterday’s parade of tall ships out of Savannah was a windy affair and somewhat overcast out in the Atlantic. A little rain as well during the start of the parade. Like other vessels so equipped PRIDE gave a number of gun salutes as she progressed down the river. Today the weather has been sunny and the water a slightly tropical green. Last nights moon came up after sunset and chased away the darkness that fallowed sunset.

There is 24 hours time left to finish the race and 90 nautical miles still to go…so we are only about half way along the race course. Two vessels have dropped out…LYNX and APPLEDORE V. They have appointments in New England and considering the long range weather reports is for northerly-northeasterly winds they are worried about the time remaining to meet their obligations. For now I think PRIDE has the time to try and finish the race.

Best Regards from aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Superior Sleigh-ride and a Secluded Sunset

13 July 2011 2135 EDT
Pos: 46 58.6’N x 090 48.1’W
At Anchor off Raspberry Island, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Twenty four hours ago off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula PRIDE of BALTIMORE II came through stays for the fifth and final time in her efforts to round the northern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Once sail was passed she was on a course to lay Duluth close-hauled, still carrying all plain sail and the T’gallant. Then the West-Northwest wind became a true Northwest and gave us the opportunity to ease the sails out from strapped in tight and let her rip. She was hovering in the mid nine knot range on a close reach when the wind veered further and increased to just over 20 knots. With a beam reach and relatively flat water, she quickly surged up to 10.7 knots and stayed over 10 for nearly six hours.

It is hard to describe the power and exhilaration of a sailing vessel charging along in conditions like that. If you’ve ever ridden a track horse you might empathize. Better yet if you’ve ever had the experience of riding such a horse with just a halter and not a bridle. The sensation of having control, but working hard to exercise the fact of that control, is similar. The ship at that point is, both literally and figuratively, a beast. Every evolution takes increased brute strength and additional mechanical advantage. Tackles are clapped on to existing multi-fold purchase gear. Then as many bodies as can get hands on the tackle sweat, grunt and chant for everything they’re worth. Success are recorded and called out in inches with coordinated repetitions of explosive group energy.

Once all the trimming and tinkering is done — the pace set, so to speak –the humming energy of sailing is felt through the ship. No place more than at the helm where the excitement of control and the weight of responsibility balance out to a feeling that the phrase “King of the World” falls a bit shy of capturing. But standing at the weather rail, propped up high by the angle of heel, or carefully walking the steep and surging slope of deck, there is a sense of real joy in being aboard. Even below, or in your bunk, hearing the million pieces of wood in her hull creak and groan to the rhythm of water rushing past outside, you might wake up, startled for an instant, and then smile to yourself with the sheer rush of it all.

Sad thing is ideal conditions rarely last forever. By the eight am watch change however, things began to lighten up and though we had made it to within 100nm of Duluth on our overnight run, not even the stuns’l and the rarely used ringtail could keep us moving. At eleven, the wind literally wound itself down, clocking through at least 720 degrees at three knots as it did and sending PRIDE II on a dizzying hunt for a heading. After a ninety minute period where PRIDE II once went faster backwards than she ever did forward, we were completely becalmed and had to use engines for the first time in over 165 nautical miles.

With little to get excited about in the forecast for the day or night, we made for an anchorage off Raspberry Island one of the smallest in a gorgeous chain of uninhabited national treasures off the Wisconsin shoreline. Last year we had to pass by these Apostle Islands due to impending weather, but as I write the crew are ashore exploring in the seemingly endless daylight of these Superior evenings – all the more so since we have not changed the clocks to Central Daylight Savings Time, even though we are technically in the next time zone. We’ll save that detail as one more among all the others to be handled when we reach Duluth. For now, the ship is snug at anchor, the breeze is light and the scenery is spectacular here at the West end of navigable waters.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the Island hopping crew of PRIDE II

Boston and the War of 1812

The War of 1812 did not play out in Boston the way it did in Baltimore. Boston was never directly bombarded due to Fort Independence, which guarded Boston from marine invasion, and possibly the fact Boston was not building a type of vessel that was causing the British fits like the Baltimore Schooner did that caused the British to be interested in getting past Fort McHenry so as to burn the Fell’s Point shipyards building the fast “sharp built” Baltimore Schooners. But the waters off of Boston did see a number of American vessels captured by the British Navy during American efforts to conduct trading by water near Boston.  

Boston is the home of “Old IRONSIDES”, the American Navy’s longest surviving warship, the USS CONSTITUTION. During the War of 1812 with England, OLD IRONSIDES engaged the Royal Navy on four separate occasions and won all of them. While none of these engagements had any pivotal impact on the course of the 1812 War, they did have a significant impact on the self esteem of Americans at an uncertain time during our early years as a nation, as well as earning the grudging respect of both the British Empire and the rest of the world for American boldness, seamanship and inspirational maritime naval prowess. USS CONSTITUTION is reputed to have gotten her nickname of OLD IRONSIDES due to sailors observing a cannon shot “bouncing” off of USS CONSTITUTIONS hull during the vessel’s first naval engagement, which took place off of Nova Scotia against the HMS GUERRIERE.

PRIDE II is moored in Boston at Rowes Wharf.  Over the years Rowes Wharf has been very generous permitting PRIDE II to dock as a guest through the auspices of Sail Boston, a not-for-profit organization that concentrates on providing welcome of sail training vessels on behalf of Boston. On this arrival yesterday the Colombian sail training vessel GLORIA was leaving just as PRIDE II arrived to take her place. PRIDE II’s stop in Boston on the inbound voyage to the Great Lakes was primarily for the purposes of exchanging Guest Crew between transits. 

The Maryland Port Administration (MPA) took advantage of PRIDE II’s stop in Boston by hosting a sailing reception of their commercial maritime partners in the Boston area. There was not a breath of wind so PRIDE II was motored around the edge of Boston harbor. Just before the end a cannon salute was made toward Faneuil Hall

Today the crew are completing some “get ocean ready” details for the long trek around Eastern Canada on the way to Rochester in Lake Ontario. By 1400 hours…all crew could be given the rest of the day off. With only two nights in port it is very hard to both keep PRIDE II functional and  provide the crew with time off. But to tell the full truth…the crew are very anxious to make this voyage. So, even a little time is received very well.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Post Dry-Dock ~ Rig-up Continues…

Saturday April 2, 2011

We have been afloat since last Monday. It has been steady rain and cold since then. Today is the first dry & sunny day in a week. But it is still cold plus it is windy. USCG came back aboard yesterday for a very short boat ride to satisfy a new local to Norfolk area requirement to “view” (verify) that a recently dry-docked wooden vessel is no longer leaking before they award the dry-docking credit. This new requirement seems to be about checking that such leaking can no longer be “blamed” on “she is still swelling up” after drying out during dry-dock. Pride II passed with flying colors…meaning there was no leaking. Now we are fully focused on rig-up so that we can go sailing to check the ship and the rig and the sail and train the crew. It looks like we won’t be sailing till Monday.

Once we go sailing, we will take most of the week to return to Baltimore. The plan is to anchor during the evenings and sail during the days. There is a lot for the crew to learn…Setting and stowing sail…tacking and gybing sail…Fire drill….Man overboard drill…Abandon ship drill….Small boat deployment drill….Anchor handling….Just to name a small portion of all that needs knowing.

Amidst our post dry-docking week with the cold and rain we discovered the aft cabin shower stall basin was emitting ants. The shower stall basin had to be removed…which involved quite a bit of disassembly of wood trim and also the base to the aft head toilet. The 1st Mate Ryan Graham is a qualified carpenter so has taken lead on the project. But being 1st Mate means that he has been distracted by questions coming from crew. Yesterday was a fork-in-the-road day…do we continue to save the existing, custom made shower basin…or do we hunt down a ready-made replacement? In the end we are sticking with the original basin. Today things should start going back together. Even so, there is another delay. The 1st Mate is spending the first two hours today on administration. Printing extra deck log pages. Arranging the watch schedule for the coming week of sailing. Printing those out. Arranging the schedule of crew domestic chores for the next week. These activities are a demonstration of how things go day-to-day during spring rig-up. Plan on actually working…but become distracted by training, teaching, instructing and administration.

During rig-up, each day is a full 9-12 hours long. Typically we try to have breakfast at 7:30 AM and go to work at 8 AM. Lunch is a half-an-hour starting near noon. Supper is usually at 6 PM. But since being re-launched and moving back aboard to live we have had a hard time having dinner by 7 PM. The evening daylight goes till 7 PM and quitting before then has been hard. Not because anyone is happier to work than to quit working, but because it is so apparent to everyone that there is so much to do. Even then, for officers there are things that still need to be done after supper to keep up with details like log keeping, communications with the office and the needs of public relations like this blog, Facebook etc. The crew had its first day off in a month last Sunday, March 27, the day before we launched (their first day on the job was February 28). That last Saturday of work prior to re-launching did not end till 8:30 PM (after starting at 7 AM) because of the need to get the bottom painting done before the coming rain.

Now that sails are actually being tied on and the deck is becoming more clear of debris associated with rig-up there is a growing recognition that the putting-together aspect of rig-up is going into the final phases. Everyone looks forward to getting underway and going sailing with a completed vessel with all of its bits in their proper places. Reaching such a status will bring Pride II back to her proper and normal functional beauty. Once we reach that, the sense of accomplishment will be short lived because of all the mission preparations that need to be completed in preparation of the first public event…Privateers Day Weekend in Baltimore April 15/16.

Jan C Miles, A Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II