326 Ft. Climb

28 June 2011
Position: Alongside West Street Wharf, Port Colbourne, Ontario
Wx: WSW F 3-4 Partly Cloudy and Warm

Pride of Baltimore II has made it up Niagara Falls…Sort of…By using the eight locks of the Welland Canal, the ship has “climbed” 326 feet today, and bridged the gap between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. A fitting event for my first passage back in command, because just sixty-five nautical miles to the Southwest are the very waters on which I first learned to sail. And meanwhile, yacht racers from my childhood are in a Canadian port just ten miles to the East of us, finishing up the Annual “Interclub” racing series between Lake Erie Yacht Clubs.

Our sailing aboard Pride II was overly speedy en route from Rochester, but thanks to favorable breezes we sailed from the entrance channel of Rochester to within sight of the entrance to the Welland, reducing sail at times to make the canal at day break so our guest crew could get a good look at the spectacle that moving ships vertically can be.

Compared to the sailing, the locking through the Welland was much more work. The crew have plenty to do rigging wooden fendering to protect the ship and lines to take up as furiously as the water fills the deep box of the locks. There are eight total locks in the canal, seven of them raising the ship over 40 feet. Thanks to careful positioning by the lock crews, Pride II encountered minimal turbulence, which translates to less work for the crew. But still lots of work. As a pay off, the crew was able to look astern from the top of Lock 7 and see clear back (7 miles) and down (326 feet) to Lake Ontario.

With eighteen hours of sailing and twelve hours of locking behind us, we are sitting pretty to make Buffalo – a mere 20 miles East – for a grand arrival tomorrow. Lake Erie has churned up a 5 foot chop, and the forecast is for moderation tomorrow, so we are taking the opportunity to rest up and get ready to wow them in Buffalo tomorrow.

All best, 
Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

A Great Weekend in Rochester

DATE: SUNDAY JUNE 26, 2011
LOCATION: ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
CHANGE OF COMMAND BETWEEN CAPTAINS MILES & TROST

Rochester has proven to be a very busy port. The usual set up of the ship takes crew several hours rearranging the ship from voyaging mode to port festival mode. This involves a myriad of activities:

  • re-stowing emergency gear (designed to be available in case of abandon ship) down below to permit PRIDE II to appear more as she might have appeared back a couple of centuries ago;
  • furling sail used to parade PRIDE II into port;
  • setting up, both ashore and aboard, propaganda displays depicting the coming Star-Spangled 200 and bicentennial of the War of 1812;
  • figuring out and setting up electrical hook-up of the ship to the local power grid, as well connecting to the fresh drinking water network.
Pride of Baltimore II approaching Rochester with the Schooner Lynx.

It is most beneficial to all that PRIDE II was able to catch up to her original schedule and parade into Rochester Harbor on schedule with Schooner LYNX last Thursday at noon. Arriving any later would present the specter of doing all of the above prep in a compressed rush.

On top of the above there is the need to figure out crew work schedule between maintenance needs, festival needs and of course some time off. Oh, did I forget shopping? What about the needs of the galley? How and where do we send the cook to shopping? Then the phone rings…concerning daysail passenger candidates wanting to reserve space…or the local festival organizer regarding logistics or the mail that has been received on behalf of the ship…or getting the latest passenger manifest from the office for the scheduled daysails…or a friend of the ship living locally offering a car and a summer cottage for the crew!?!

Bob Castle is father to David Castle, PRIDE II crew alumnus currently out in Portland, Oregon. Young David arranged with his family to let PRIDE II’s crew use the family summer cottage and have transportation to get between that cottage and the ship, as well as any other errands wanting to be run. Thursday evening Bob met with me and took me on a tour of the cottage a mile and a half away and turned a car over to me. What a sublime setting and thoughtfully useful gift to the crew and the ship!!! And what a lot of coordinating added to the regular coordinating. The festival organizers had also provided a hotel room to the ship…some 8 miles away. With the Castle car, it became possible to get the crew between the cottage and the ship in shifts as well as get this captain to the hotel. But wait…LYNX’s captain does not have any transportation and also has a hotel room. And LYNX’s crew are welcome to the cottage as well. OK. PRIDE II’s captain has the car. So there was a lot of end of the day driving to get folks back and forth. By the way, late in the day was often around 11 PM! Because both Friday and Saturday the ship had obligations that went that late.

Now it is time for the “change of command”. Captain Jamie Trost returns to PRIDE II and Captain Jan Miles head’s off for Maryland and home & office till the end of July when he returns to PRIDE II. Jamie is coming from LYNX…only a couple of boat lengths away…so the captains discussion of the status of things is spread out over several days rather than compressed into less than a day. Sunday afternoon finds Jamie heading off for a daysail aboard PRIDE II and Jan standing on the dock dropping dock lines.

Rochester is the first Great Lakes port for this campaign. It was a busy stop with a number of day-sail events per day scheduled between being open for deck tours. During this port stop, with all of the public activities as well as getting crew to and from the cottage as well as the captains to and from the hotel, it was also important to locate and procure fuel, food and spare parts. Considering the tremendously thoughtful gift of the cottage and transportation provided by the Castle Family…something that will not be available at future ports…it will be interesting how similar scheduling & logistics will transpire. I am certain we will all look back at Rochester as particularly special for the most thoughtful gift provided by the Castle Family!!!

Signed,
Jan C. Miles, A Captain with PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Nearing Rochester…On Time!

DATE: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2011
TIME: 1430 EDT
POSITION: CROSSOVER ISLAND
WEATHER: STEADY DRIZZLE & LIGHT NORTHEAST WINDS

PRIDE II is now negotiating the 1000 Islands of the Upper St. Lawrence River. The challenge of catching up three lost days of transit out of a planned total of ten seems to be met. The plan is to arrive off Rochester in company with Schooner LYNX at noon tomorrow…a plan put into play more than a month ago…but was at risk when PRIDE II was trapped in Lunenburg early last week…weather bound for three days. 

The key to catching up the three lost days was balancing fuel use with sailing opportunities while keeping a high enough average speed to catch up the lost three days of time. It is 1,160 nautical miles to Rochester from Lunenburg. Having ten days to cover the distance required 4.8 knot average speed. Covering the same distance in seven days required 6.9 knot average. Meanwhile there is not enough fuel aboard PRIDE II to motor for whole distance. Plus the distance is not truly representative of the actual through the water distance traveled considering the need to motor against the flowing current of the St. Lawrence River.

There was not much wind to use right after departing Lunenburg. In fact no wind was there till 36 hours after departing Lunenburg. When the wind did show, it came from a helpful direction with enough force to help PRIDE II cover over two hundred nautical miles in less than 24 hours. Except for that short fresh breeze, PRIDE II would not be able to contemplate arriving Rochester on the originally intended day.

While we did not get much sailing beyond a day in. We caught a significant break! Typically wind in the St. Lawrence River comes from the southwest. This is the first time in almost two dozen trips up & down this river the wind has been predominately northeasterly. Having a favorable wind while motoring makes a huge difference in PRIDE II’s motoring speed and fuel efficiency. I had been worried that going fast enough under power to make up the lost time could use too much fuel and we might just be on time only to lose to the need to stop for fuel. As it stands now, it looks like PRIDE II will arrive Rochester with less than seventy gallons…which is less than ten percent of fuel capacity and represents only twelve hours of engine time.

With so much motoring, what kinds of things do the crew do when not sailing? If the weather is good, maintenance. With the additional good fortune of dry weather while motoring up the St. Lawrence River the crew were able to do quite a bit of painting while PRIDE II was grinding her way up river to the Great Lakes.

We still have more than a hundred nautical miles to go…something could still go wrong…so please keep an eye out for the Rochester news. There ought to be two Chesapeake Bay Schooners arriving at noon tomorrow.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Playing the Game of "Catch Up"

DATE: FRIDAY JUNE 17, 2011
TIME: 1300 ATLANTIC DAYLIGHT TIME = 1200 EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME
POSITION: NORTHUMBERLAND STRAIT BETWEEN CAPE BRETON ISLAND AND EAST END OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND.
WEATHER: FLAT CALM, SUNNY, PLEASENTLY DRY & WARM

We are making a stab at catching up with the original itinerary from Lunenburg towards Rochester, New York. We are three days behind schedule due to the easterly winds that kept PRIDE II in Lunenburg.

So far we are keeping to the new “catching up” schedule of still trying to arrive in Rochester on the original date…despite being behind by three days at the start of this transit. The problem with this effort is that it is right on the edge of feasibility. Several things can go wrong. The central trick is to keep a reserve of fuel for the required motoring up the narrow part of the St. Lawrence River, i.e., not use more than the excess allowance of fuel beyond what is required to climb the narrow part of the river as we make our way through open water to the narrow part of the river.

The only way we can achieve this goal is to find favorable wind during the more open water areas of the route to Rochester…wind that will push PRIDE II along at the needed speed, or faster, for at least a day without motoring…hopefully nearly two days. In other measure, we need to be able to cover at least 200 nautical miles under sail…it would be better if we could cover 400 nautical miles…before we reach the pilot station at Les Escoumins, Quebec (about 150 nautical miles east and down river from Quebec City). If we cannot find enough wind to carry PRIDE II the needed distance in short enough time…we will arrive late through waiting to sail the needed minimum distance…no matter how long it takes. So I am keeping track of the weather forecast and continually reassessing what fuel we can use while the wind is not strong enough to push PRIDE II along fast enough to catch up with the itinerary.

Right now, and since departing Lunenburg, there has been very little wind. The little bit of wind that showed itself Thursday as we traveled east along the Nova Scotian coast was favorable, but not enough strength to keep speed up with the goal of catching up our lost time. Had we decided the lost time was lost to us and accepted a late arrival in Rochester…we could have sailed yesterday about half to two thirds the time. But we would have taken almost half again as long to cover the distance. If we had done that, we would be near 12 hours behind where we are now. The current strategy is to go ahead and see if we can keep a higher speed while under power when the wind is not blowing, with the hope the new and favorable wind expected tomorrow (Saturday) will enable us to turn engines off and still sail at our motoring speed, or even faster. If we can get at least 24 hours sailing time (preferably longer) of similar speed to what we are achieving under power, or faster, I think we can conserve enough fuel to not risk running out at the last little bit of distance before arriving Rochester, while also catching up to the original itinerary.

The success of this strategy is dependent on the weather report. If the forecast I am seeing turns out to be mostly correct, it looks like we may be able to get 24 hours, maybe even longer, of similar or faster speed while sailing without engines during Saturday and part of Sunday. If we are able to achieve that, I think we could be successful with this hurry up effort.

Wish us luck!

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard  PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

A Light Transit From New York to Boston

PRIDE II has just cleared the Cape Cod Canal on her way to Boston from New York. Wind is not favorable so we are motoring. We have a date this evening with the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) for a sailing reception starting at 1800.

The transit from New York was mostly light winds…except for a period of contrary 25 knot winds late Saturday afternoon, which lasted through the evening while PRIDE II was passing New Haven, Connecticut.

PRIDE II had been sailing much of Saturday with a down-wind configuration in light winds of less than 10 knots. The forecast had at first, the day before, indicated the contrary winds from the east would come in Saturday afternoon at 10-15 knots with gusts of 20 knots after having been blowing lightly from the west. But Saturday morning they said we would experience light north winds with contrary easterlies of 5-10 knots. We never saw the north winds…but we did see the west winds. Around 1700 the light west winds died and we could see there was wind ahead…not strong…but we could not tell from what direction. Location reports of wind direction and strength never indicated the new fresh easterlies. As the new wind came in…from the east…we maneuvered the ship to take in the downwind sails and trim up for going to windward. Not quickly…but steadily…the east wind increased and additional shortening down was required. After a little while with a full 25 knots blowing and only the four lower sails up (mainsail, foresail, forestaysail and jib) the sea was beginning to rise and I was seeing futility in thrashing to windward in Long Island Sound well into the night. I examined the chart and decided to bear away from the wind and loose only 8 miles or so by anchoring behind a outer breakwater of New Haven Harbor. Taking the mainsail in as we bore away meant we would have a comfortable fast ride to New Haven rather than a very fast and stressful sail fighting PRIDE II’s helm due to the strong weather helm that occurs with wind from abaft the beam in a schooner rigged vessel. PRIDE II was anchored by 2000 with all secure by 2100 and crew and Guest Crew were able to start a night’s rest while taking turns for a night watch.

Sunday presented more light winds…still contrary…but with a promise that some usable southerly winds would come up late in the day. PRIDE II sailed off the anchor and with all sail set, including the topgallant, sailed across Long Island Sound with light east winds. Early afternoon the wind conveniently shifted southerly and PRIDE II began to sail east again.

During all of the above was the considerable planning for dealing with the strong currents of more than 3 knots at The Race as well as in the Cape Cod Canal. With the southerly forecast turning true and the afternoon & evening ebb current in Long Island Sound and also through The Race, PRIDE II was able to sail well into Sunday evening and cover quite a bit of distance with the additional aid of a favorable ebb current. But around sunset and off the Rhode Island beaches, the wind died as forecast and motoring was commenced. The motoring speed chosen was to ensure we met favorable current in Cape Cod Canal.

The early forecast for the waters off of Boston indicated calm winds or light winds from the north expected to shift northeasterly through the day. A contrary direction, but not hard to motor against. Thus far the direction is accurate but the strength forecast was not. The wind is actually a moderate to fresh 15 knots. Not enough to make us late for our date with the MPA. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken to write this the wind has moderated to 10 knots…but remained contrary.

Signed,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II