Superior Skies

Pos: 46:47.6’ N x 085:36.9’ W, 7 Nautical Miles North of Muskallonge Lake, Michigan
Wx: WNW F 4, Clear, with a sky full of stars
Sailing under Fores’l, Foretops’l, Stays’l and Jib at 7 knots

Pride of Baltimore II arriving Marquette…Oh Say Can You See!

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is spending what seems like her final night in Lake Superior for 2011 sailing along happily with a steady West Northwesterly breeze. Simply writing the words “steady” and “breeze” together may just jinx us, but I have a feeling this time it will hold. This time.

Our weekend in Marquette was a great one. Starting off with Grand Arrival of short tacking up the Lower Harbor in company with our sister Privateer LYNX, crowds of onlookers gave a warm welcome to this excellent Michigan Harbor town. The Maritime Festival was well-attended and we enjoyed the hospitality of our friends from the Michigan Maritime Museum and aboard Marquettes official Flagship COASTER II a charming little family run schooner that we got to know when they were in our Flight for the Duluth Parade of Sail last year. With all three schooners underway together all three nights of the festival, Marquette Harbor took on the feel of another time. Though Baltimore Privateers were never a historic feature of Marquettes Sailing Era, this principal port of Michigans Iron Mining lands once saw scores of schooners sailing in and out.

War of 1812 Privateers Lynx and Pride of Baltimore II arriving Marquette, MI

By Monday morning, however, it was time to go. At muster, the wind was a light Southeast, despite the forecasts for West at 10-15 knots. As we prepared to depart Marquette the breeze shifted to the predicted values and allowed PRIDE II to make a departure under sail. With our sister privateer LYNX following along, we cleared the breakwater and set everything, including the Stuns’l and T’gallant, only to have the breeze fade a few hours later. With miles to go, we grudgingly turned on the engines and motored with a good deal of sail still set in the hopes of finding a breeze again.

With its larger than life scale yet completely landlocked placement, Lake Superior has some wildly unexpected weather. Trying to pin-point what conditions will be in three hours, let alone over several days, must lead forecasters to a great deal of hair pulling and shoulder shrugging. After two weeks of sailing here, we certainly empathize!

Breathlessly, our route took us along the shore and threading through Grand Island Harbor, off Munising, Michigan, where tree crowned rocky cliffs stood bold along both sides of the ship. Though a few miles out of the way, the passage was a worthwhile detour, and tantalized the crew for the spectacle of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which lays just East of Grand Island.

In the shelter of the island, the faint breeze faded to nothing and we hoped there might be something workable once PRIDE II was back on the open Lake. There were distant squalls to the North and South on the radar, though nothing of threat immediately nearby. Clearing Sand Point and into the Northeastern reach of the passage, however, a drysquall gave us gusts in excess of 30 knots and had the crew scrambling as we shortened down to a manageable plan of just the Foresl and Staysl. Eventually, we took in even those, as the wind veered Northeasterly. Nearly as quickly as it had come on, the squall faded to a faint Easterly, leaving behind only a remnant chop.

With the excitement of the squall subsided, the crew and guest crew took in the drama of Pictured Rocks. For miles, the shore is sheer sand stone and limestone, stratified layers of brown, purple and sandy blonde, inset with caves and arches that centuries of Superior winters and storms have smashed in with waves and bored out with ice. In the late afternoon light, with sun focused through fissures in the clouds, the rocks nearly gleamed in places. A line of cumulonimbus far to the south piled on the intensity of the image.

Now, out in the dark of the early morning on the open lake, PRIDE II weaves her way eastward. The next watch change we will wear ship toward Whitefish Bay, leaving the open Lake behind us, likely for a couple of years. We have sailed much of it, often times puzzled and frustrated by the erratic weather. And like everyone who has ever sailed Superior should do, we will leave with sense of wonderment and a healthy respect for this mightiest of the Lakes.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and crew of PRIDE of BALTIMORE II

PRIDE II, 1812 Privateers and New York Harbor Fortifications

New York played a contributive role in the “privateering” war the Americans practiced for the War of 1812. The British Royal Navy embargo (blockade) of the American East Coast was particularly focused and problematic off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, those Chesapeake Bay privateers who were successful at getting out of the Bay and past the Royal Navy blockade often used New York Harbor as a base of operations because the Royal Navy was not as prevalent with their blockade efforts off of New York, making departure and return rather less risky for the American privateers. PRIDE II’s namesake CHASSEUR operated out of New York Harbor after getting out of the Chesapeake Bay. It is from New York Harbor that Captain Boyle sailed CHASSEUR on his privateering campaign that took to the British his proclamation of giving “vigorous” blockade of all of the United Kingdom…creating a national panic among the close to shore trading vessels that cried aloud for Royal Naval escort to protect them from CHASSEUR and Captain Boyle…no matter what part of the United Kingdom they were from.

New York Harbor has four fortifications that were important during the War of 1812. One in what is now Central Park, called Blockhouse No. 1, was meant to protect from attack coming from East and North. Another is Castle Clinton located in Battery Park. It was constructed before the War of 1812 and was meant to protect the approaches to Manhattan. The third and fourth are on Governor’s Island, Castle Williams and Fort Jay. Both were built to protect New York Harbor. A quick way to get information on these forts is to go to the “United States Daughters of 1812” – New York City Chapter/1812 War

Pride II at North Cove Marina with World Financial Center as the Backdrop

PRIDE II’s stay in NYC this time is a short stay. The sail up from Baltimore was only three days long and the next leg to Boston from New York is only two days (not including departure day). These shorter trips are quite popular among those interested in making trips as GUEST CREW aboard PRIDE II. On the long trek to the Great Lakes, it is helpful for marketing and fund raising the Guest Crew opportunities if the legs are shorter.

The transit up from Baltimore was pretty warm with an early summer heat wave covering the Mid Atlantic Coast. But we got a nice sail between the mouth of the Delaware Bay and Verrazano Narrows with light NE to E then building S to SW winds during the 30 hour sail. We were accommodated with an early arrival at North Cove Marina when it became clear the approaching cold front had tornado advisories posted approaching New York. Also, the plan to do day-sails out of North Cove Marina had to be cancelled due to the strong cold front that pushed out the hot weather. Afternoon winds of 20 knots with gusts of 30 knots were forecast and seen. With a new docking situation set up by North Cove to provide a place for PRIDE despite having her usual locations filled by motor yachts of 140 to 180 feet long, the wind made it inadvisable to try day-sailing from the unfamiliar “Mediterranean Mooring” style we were provided. Already a neighboring schooner got out of control in the cove and hung up on PRIDE II’s head-rig when she tried to leave the cove. The NW winds had increased during the morning…as predicted…but the schooner did not anticipate the strength of the wind and could not complete her badly planned maneuver…so drifted down on PRIDE. With the quick action of PRIDE II’s 1st Mate Ryan Graham with PRIDE II’s small boat, followed up by North Cove’s own marina staff and small boat, the problem was quickly dealt with before anything beyond scuffed paint could occur.

Being able to moor in North Cove Marina since 2006 has been a great opportunity for PRIDE II in dock-starved New York Harbor. Compared to Baltimore, New York has been slow to recognize the recreational value of its waterfront. There have been tremendous improvements in certain areas over the last 20 years…but so much of the city’s waterfront docking is still of the old vintage of the regular cross the Atlantic passenger ship days as well direct cargo ship loading and unloading…the aging of those piers makes for an expensive and difficult urban planning challenge. There is a shortage of secure mooring options in New York for moderate to small sized vessels, hence the accommodating North Cove Marina operators are most appreciated for the welcome they extend to PRIDE II.

Meanwhile, surrounded by great weather, PRIDE II is open for deck-tours and a moderate stream of folks, often with children in tow, have been coming aboard and getting a reminder of the 1812 War. They are also being informed of the coming Bicentennial of that war, as well the creation of our national anthem The Star Spangled Banner in 1814 down in Baltimore, Maryland. We tell everyone they should make plans to visit Baltimore and Maryland to get a first-hand look at the history 1812 War and the birth place of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we head off before breakfast to catch a favorable flood current up the East River on our way towards Boston.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II