TSAC Race #3 ~ Alongside in Charleston Awaiting the Rest of the Fleet

KRUZENSHTERN and PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II entered Charleston at the same time today. The broken foremast of KRUZENSHTERN was plain and painful to see. It appears she was on a braced up sharp port tack with sails set to her royals when the breakage occurred. From the topmast trestles up, which is nearly the upper half of the whole mast structure, has folded over to the starboard side. The word on the street is that no one was injured. But the same source says that there is evident pain and sadness aboard. I sure hope there is available support to make KRUZENSHTURN whole again. She is an early 20th Century sailing machine that today has accumulated a nearly unbreakable track of international sailings throughout her life as both a cargo vessel and as a training vessel. The 21st Century sail training world and tall ships community will be wholly changed for the poorer if it is determined that repairing her is not worth the money and time. Speaking from personal experience, it is indescribable how one feels in such a situation. I can only imagine the difficulties with such a large and unique vessel that is also a significant sailing ambassador for her country. Let me be a voice to join others out-loud in the support of making KRUZENSHTERN whole again and sailing for her country out to the rest of the world!

Keeping the daily Race Control radio schedule has proved nearly impossible while dockside in Charleston. It was only by a radio relay via CAPITAN MIRANDA to Race Control that I was able to pass on PRIDE’s status and time of finish. To learn of PRIDE’s new standings for today I went to the TSAC 2009 web site and discovered PRIDE had increased her lead over JOLIE BRISE to take 2nd in Class and 2ndin Fleet. There is vindication in these results for where we sailed and how much work it was on the part of the crew to accomplish the finish. Now we wait to find out if JOLIE BRISE is able to reclose the gap and/or TECLA falls back enough for PRIDE to jump ahead. Meanwhile I got an email from TECLA asking for a local contact of a sail maker because “our mainsail has split”. I was able to get local tall ship liaison to tell me of a sail maker and get his email address. Then with the assistance of URANIA still being at sea and equipped with a powerful radio, pass onto TECLA the sail maker’s email address. In TECLA’s email message to PRIDE asking for help locating a sail maker they carefully wished us “good sailing (not too good) and good winds (not too good)”. Right back at you my good sailing friend!

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

TSAC Race #3 – Closing in on Charleston

The first vessel of the fleet has crossed the finish line. PETER VON DANZIG crossed just moments after the 1400 UTC schedule of radio call-ins to Race Control aboard MIRCEA, the Romanian Training Vessel.

The rest of the leaders of the fleet, mostly Class D vessels with PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II tagging closely behind, are near and far spread behind the first finisher. FAZISI is not far from the finish. Behind her some distance and sailing along the coast is RONA II. Fanned out in a circle behind her nearly equidistant from the finish are PRIDE, well to the north near the coast, with XSAAR and URANIA nearly forming an arc to the south from PRIDE.

Today’s 1st and 2nd in Class and 1st and 2nd in Fleet are TECLA and JOLIE BRISE of Class B. Their ranking today goes to demonstrate how well sailed those vessels are as well just how slim the lead has been for PRIDE. Tomorrow is another day and the weather is proving a bit fickle in terms of producing what the forecasters suggested might happen. While this is frustrating to PRIDE because she is not gliding along with a fair breeze to the finish…rather she is tacking her way around the coastal shoals looking to get out of the current and stay in the off-shore breeze…maybe the other competitors are having as much frustration. Well, we will all find out tomorrow when the daily position report results are transmitted.

The most interesting thing to observe is EAGLE. She has gone and produced the longest distance between position reports for the second day in a row. This time she came back from being in the far south to being pretty far north. She may not be pointing very high, but she is surely sailing pretty fast! Meanwhile CAPITAN MIRANDA remains the most westerly Class A. She has done very well I think. I doubt any fickle weather will please her at this time. Way to the north of the fleet “the fox” EUROPA has managed to sail 40 miles in the direction of the finish. I hope the northerly winds suggested for her area come to pass for her. Certainly the NW winds forecast for today have not materialized.

In spite of the fickleness of the wind, the weather is clear. Hot and muggy with the wind from land. There have been heat advisories ashore posting 100 F temperatures when accounting for the humidity. Weather forecasts suggest the weather will become “more seasonable” with the crossing of the cold front. I cannot wait!

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

TSAC #3 – The Weather AND the Competition are Heating Up

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II managed to regain 1st in Class and 1st in Fleet overnight. To give a small idea of what it took, the distance between 1400 UTC plotted positions of yesterday and today was 98 nautical miles. But the distance actually sailed was 150 nautical miles. Looking at the plotted positions of the fleet, it is hard to see if many of them had to work as hard or not. Certainly EAGLE has the longest run between 1400 positions of any Class A vessel. But it was all to the south and east of her position yesterday! Going dramatically so far south from her somewhat northerly position should do well for positioning her to approach the finish line with the southwest winds now in place and should also help with crossing the Gulf Steam more directly. Meanwhile EUROPA is way to the north with nothing seeming to advantage her position for getting to the finish line. Not only will the next day or so bring southwest winds to her, but the Gulf Stream will slow her down with any effort to steer for Charleston. But maybe she is like the fox…a cold front is due to come over her Sunday and maybe it will provide her with a favorable beam breeze for getting down to Charleston. The Class A that is closest to Charleston is CAPITAN MIRANDA. She looks in pretty good position weather and Gulf Stream wise.

The vessels leading the fleet seem to be mostly Class D vessels with lonely ol’ Class B PRIDE doing her best to keep up. SPIRIT OF BERMUDA was right there in the mix with us…but she dropped out unexpectedly this morning and started motoring to the west…we could see this on our Automatic Indication System (AIS). During today’s radio schedule position report she declared her situation. She was headed into port to meet a dry-docking schedule set for early next week. Between her and SPIRIT OF SOUTH CAROLINA dropping out there are now five Class B vessels contending, down from an original seven vessels. TECLA posses the biggest threat to PRIDE by not only being sailed very well, but posses a very big handicap that could very easily gobble up any of the lead PRIDE may have. Meanwhile JOLIE BRISE, always sailed well, is also closing in from behind with her significant handicap. ETOILE also looks in very good position for dealing with the southwest wind and Gulf Stream. So PRIDE cannot rest at all.

While the competition in Class B seems pretty hot from PRIDE’s perspective, the weather is getting significantly hot and muggy. While the sea has been nearly smooth and the sky clear during day and night, the wind is so full of moisture that standing on deck makes one soggy. With the sun up now it is adding to the embedded heat in the southwest air that is coming from the Gulf of Mexico. While being on deck causes evaporation through the affect of wind blowing, down below is nearly a sauna…with only the occasional puff of air coming through open sky lights and deck hatches. Charleston will probably not be cooler. Oh boy!

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

TSAC Race #3 Differing Strategies Emerge Among the Fleet

The sea conditions continue to remain benign for the whole fleet. Especially those to the south with today’s sunny and moderate sea.

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II managed to find the center of the dissipating low hence sailed right into the center of the wind-less hole left by the passing low. She remained in that hole for almost the whole night. As such, after yesterday’s most mileage performance in the fleet, PRIDE produced the least mileage today at 82 miles sailed between 1400 hour positions. The longest distance sailed goes to XSAAR at 146 miles. But I do not think that is the story.

There is another strategy emerging between the members of the racing fleet. In the main the fleet is trying to go west along the rhumbline to the finish. To the north is some independent thinking coming from EUROPA. To the south is JOLIE BRISE. Those members of the rest of the fleet seem to be divided into two groups…those going west and those trying to get to the southwest. In the southwest are most of the modern sailing vessels represented by Class D with a couple of Class B members…specifically SPIRIT OF BERMUDA and PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. Early on TECLA was seeming to drift south some as she sailed west, but between yesterday and today she chose to go north of west…she did well with the available wind and recovered her position of being 1st in Class as well 1st in Fleet. Now that a large contingent of the fleet has passed the midway mark in the race to Charleston the question remains as to what the members of the fleet will do with the coming weather.

Aboard PRIDE it looks like tomorrow will bring the start of at least two days of fresh southwest winds. Those in the fleet that are more to the south might spend less time tacking towards the finish than those that are more to the north when they meet the southwest winds. So stay tuned, especially considering the complications that will be brought on by the Gulf Stream Current flowing strongly northeastward right across the racing track.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

TSAC Race 3 – Taking Advantage of Good Sailing While it Lasts

The weather gave PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II a very big boost over the last 24 hours. After all kinds of plotting of positions and comparing yesterday’s fleet positions with today’s, PRIDE turned in the longest distance advanced in 24 hours of 194 nautical miles. The next longest was PETER VON DANZIG at 182 nautical miles. Longest distance advanced in 24 hours does not establish a fleet standing…but it sure can help. PRIDE is currently…and probably only for a short time…1st in Class and 1st in Fleet having advanced from yesterday’s 2nd in Class and 3rd in Fleet.

The sail was especially good last night. A broad reach with all sail including the studding sail (pronounced stuns’l by sailors). Since around mid-morning today the weather has changed to lighter winds that have veered further ahead. The studding sail has been struck, but PRIDE is still making decent speed.

Looking down the “road”, these last two days are likely to go down with the fleet as the best days of all for this race. The future, starting tomorrow, promises a significant slog to windward toward the finish. This will give the more weatherly vessels the chance to get ahead and/or have their handicap get ahead of the vessels that are actually out in front. That is the simple element of the promised future.  The not so simple element is the Gulf Stream…a significant ocean “river” of current rushing out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea up through the gap between the Bahamas and Florida. That current can be 4 knots in strength pushing north and east along the continental shelf of the American East Coast. In the vicinity of Charleston it can be 100 nautical miles wide. A vessel sailing hard on the port tack against a southwest breeze could inter the current with a “safe” sailable course to Charleston and find themselves many miles north of their original lay line by the time they sail out of the Gulf Stream. Assuming the southwest wind is still prevalent, the sail to Charleston will require actually tacking against the southwest wind to get to the finish line. Have any of you readers figured out I am not looking forward to the next couple to three days?

Meanwhile, PRIDE’s crew feel pretty pleased with the sail and the fleet standings. So they should. But I am pretty sure the future conditions sailing close hauled out of Bermuda will be the way of life over the next couple to three days of trying to close the last 400 nautical miles to Charleston…ugh!

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

TSAC Race #3, Day 2 – A Day of Changes

How the weather has changed! It is a trade wind like day with favorable winds for all in the fleet.

Also, how the rankings have changed since yesterdays results. When I thought PRIDE would have fallen back in fleet since yesterday she has managed to gain. She also gained in class. That was a surprise to me as well. Very gratifying to the crew of PRIDE which have so many things they must do to keep this 190 displacement long-ton reproduction of an American 1812 War Baltimore Privateer vessel moving.

There seems to be two strategies that have played out in the fleet since the start. Those that can point and foot well to windward have seemed to concentrate on loosing latitude. Those that cannot point as close and still foot along have found themselves well to the north of the direct racing track to the finish. For some of the Class A vessels the reality of not being able to point as high as the fore&aft rigged vessels in the fleet put them into the new and favorable winds sooner than any vessel that tried to hold to the race rumbline. That new wind was from the NW at first but quickly veered to North andput the vessels that gained a lot of latitude during their sail close to the wind after the start of the race in a powerful sailing position sooner than any of the rest of the fleet positioned more to the south.

CAPITAN MIRANDA (jumped from 2nd in class and 6th in fleet to 1st in class and 1st in fleet) and EAGLE (jumped from 3rd in class and 7th in fleet to 2nd in class and 4thin fleet) seem to have benefited most by their inability to match the fore&aft rigged vessels for sailing to windward. While Class A MIRCEA did not gain in class they gained four places in fleet with their long sail out to the north while much of the fleet remained “in the middle” so to speak.

Of the “middle of the road” members of the fleet it seems Class B TECLA has done well to preserve 1st in class and only lose one place in fleet by dropping to 2nd when CAPTAIN MIRANDA gained 1st in fleet. The results of the Class A movement in fleet since yesterday gave me pause to realize that for some of the fore & after rigged vessels it might have done them well (maybe PRIDE…had I thought to do so) to bear off the wind a little more and sail the same courses as the Class A members…thereby gaining speed…and maybe a more comfortable ride. Doing so might have put them into the new wind sooner than they actually received it by being more to the north. Ah well. The wonder of hindsight, eh?

Life aboard PRIDE has become nearly bliss for the crew with the change in the weather from banging away to windward to rolling along with the wind. Not to be outdone by the fickle weather, PRIDE’s cook Robert, provided all hands with a German Chocolate cake for desert after a dinner of barbequed pulled-pork and/or baked ham with fixin’s like baked cut potatoes, roasted corn kernels and a salad.

So, life is good aboard. And like all crew of all vessels, no one is thinking about the next weather to come and how it may change their fortunes on board or in the race. Leave that to the officers. The hard work of sailing to windward has been justly rewarded with favorable winds, positive results on the “leader board” and a swell meal. Plus many of the new members of the crew are eating now that they feel better.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II