Farewell Newport, Hello Lady ~ LADY MARYLAND, that is

9 July 2012
Pos: 41°33.1’N x 070°47.8’ W
Wx: South Force 4, 2/8 Cirrus, 3/8 Stratus
Pride of Baltimore II sailing at 6.6 knots toward the Cape Cod Canal under all Plain Sail and T’Gallant.

Pride of Baltimore II has left the hustle and bustle of a busy and successful festival in Newport, Rhode Island astern and is now at sea once more. After arriving in grand style on Thursday 5 July, we opened for tours Friday and hosted nearly 9,000 visitors to the ship in a short three days. Busy, but not too busy for the crew to experience the depth and breadth of sailing, history, and sailing history of Newport. As hometown of War of 1812 hero Oliver Hazard Perry, victor of the Battle of Lake Erie, Newport has strong 1812 connections, and those are especially poignant to me, as Perry made his mark in my home waters of Lake Erie, and I grew up in the shadow of his legend in Erie, PA. Today, Tall Ships America, co-host of the festival with Ocean State Tall Ships fittingly has their offices in Perry’s home.

Modern Newport has its mind clearly focused on modern yachting, but its history is apparent on every block, and from every era. The imposing New York Yacht Club stands proud at the harbor entrance and serves as a constant reminder of the grand era of America’s Cup Racing, and layers upon layers of historic and recent racing memorabilia can be found in the shops along America’s Cup Way and Thames Street.

Our fleet of traditional sail made it’s own show today, Parading along the East Shore of Narragansett Bay from Castle Hill to the Newport Naval Station and back to sea. Fourteen ships in all, and when many back at our end of the Parade ducked back into Newport to disembark passengers or simply call it a day, Pride II was left alone to bring up the rear. No longer bound to the Parade speed, we quit motor sailing and ghosted out the Bay with aid from an ebb tide. Then a Southerly shift had us scrambling to trim sail and Pride II was alive again, beating to windward across a calm sea as Baltimore Schooners were made to do. And as if drawn by the Chesapeake like conditions, our little sister, Lady Maryland, also two weeks out from Baltimore, appeared to the southwest.

It would be un-neighborly, we thought, not to sail a board back to the West and say hello. The breeze would hold, Pride II was fast enough to make up a bit of time, especially time spent to hail old shipmates and friends. So we tacked away from our rhumbline and for a quarter of an hour had a “gam,” a chance meeting of ships on the open water. Lady Maryland reached down from windward and we put Pride II’s fore tops’l and t’gallant aback, effectively throwing the brakes on, to let her pass under our stern and to Leeward. We exchanged salutes, then braced up and slid along with her. Eager students gazed out over her rail at us while our guest crew took a curious look at this “other” Baltimore Schooner.

Among the crews of both ships, thick with old bonds, not much was said. Not much needed to be. We’d weathered squalls and sailed through gales together, froze our way through winter maintenance and up-rig with each other. Now, on a sun-speckled afternoon with the breeze running its fingers across the water, all we needed was to share a nod and a knowing smile that told each other all those rainy nights and long cold days were worth this chance to stumble upon each other and show off our ships. In our world of near constant voyaging, that’s enough. We tacked around to get on our way and Lady Maryland sailed on to her anchorage.

Fair winds, friends, we’ll see you back home.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the Crew of Pride of Baltimore II

PRIDE II ~ The Transformer of Schooners

Wednesday 27 June 2012
Pos: 41 10.7’N X 071 17.9’W
Wx: W F 3-4, Seas 2-4′
Pride of Baltimore II Sailing under All Plain Sail at 7-8 knots

Yesterday, I wrote about the various options available for sail combinations aboard Pride of Baltimore II, and narrowed it down to three basic options. Variations among these options mean there are essentially 23 different sail combinations for Pride II to ply the oceans under. That’s more combinations than the ship has bunks. And in two days of sailing from Cape May to Block Island, we’ve run through about a third of them. They have different nicknames, as groups – the “Daysail Combo” of Fores’l, Fore Tops’l, and Stays’l (called such because the ease of use and versatility mean we use is quite a bit on daysails), the self explanatory “Four Lowers,” and similar “Four Lowers and Foretop.” More traditionally, we have “All Plain Sail” which covers everything that’s actually attached to the rig. On top of that we have “The Kites” – T’gallant, Stuns’l and the nearly never used Ringtail.

Fading breezes yesterday afternoon had us set All Plain Sail, plus the T’gallant and carry that plan until around midnight, when we experienced 20-25 knots just forward of the beam. We stripped down to Four Lowers and still charged along through the night at a comfortable 9 knots, with the wind slowly backing to the west. This combination is, as described in yesterday’s blog, Pride II’s most feminine. And while the attribution to masculine and feminine qualities was described yesterday, I realize no real explanation was given. Well, there are at least a dozen to choose from, depending on whom you ask, but only one seems plausible to me. Despite the tradition of referring to all vessels as “she” or “her” in English, the French differentiate, referring to nearly all vessels in the masculine. Except the schooner – La Goélette. Add a few square sails and you get to the “hermaphrodite” tag. If you want to spend countless hours in utter confusion, Google up a discussion board focusing on the term “Hermaphrodite Brig.”

Back aboard Pride II, call her what you will, she’s our girl! And she’s the transformer of tall ships.  From our simple Four Lowers sail plan we’ve been building up with the backing and moderating breeze and are carrying All Plain Sail again, this time plus the T’gallant. Lots of changes for a 36 hour run. Lots of blisters, sweat and bruises for the crew. And we haven’t even tacked or worn ship . . . yet.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the constantly sail changing crew of Pride of Baltimore II

Pride of Baltimore II Sail Diagram


Back in the Saddle — The Complex Versatility of PRIDE II

Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Pos: 39 13.5’N x 074 12.3’W
Wx: NxW F 4-5, Seas 3-5′ Clear
Pride of Baltimore II Sailing under Fore Tops’l, Fores’l, Stays’l, and Jib at 9-10 knots

Pride of Baltimore II is back at sea today after a month in her home waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Having relieved Captain Miles yesterday morning in Baltimore, I’m back at sea aboard her for the first time in nine months. Shoreside logistics kept us alongside until after noon yesterday, and our sail out from the Inner Harbor was shortened because the North wind would allow no progress up the narrow channels to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. But this morning at 0426 we secured engines and ran down the Delaware Bay like a thoroughbred horse penned up too long. Now – with a Northwest breeze intent on blowing the summer sky clear of clouds, the Ocean off the Jersey beaches alive and frothy, and six eager guest crew aboard – it’s a fine day to be back “in the saddle.”

I’ve often described the power and drive of Pride II under sail as akin to riding a strong, determined horse, a living thing that will accept direction only from knowing and deliberate hands, and then only grudgingly, and with constant reminders that, while the motivation may be yours, the power is still all hers. And crossing the lively chop at ten knots, she is still a handful. Today, however, the challenge is not how to handle her, but what to mode to sail her in. With her ever sleek Chesapeake Schooner hull, Pride II will make the most of any sailing breeze. The complexity of her Tops’l Schooner rig – sometimes called “hermaphrodite” for incorporating elements of both the more modern fore and aft rig (supposedly booms and gaffs and sails along the centerline are more “feminine”) and the husky, traditional square rig (as the theory goes yards set perpendicular to the centerline are “masculine”) – gives so many combinations of sail she’s almost three ships in one.

In more moderate or more downwind conditions, we’d simply set all sail and go with it, but as Captain Walter Rybka of the Brig Niagara famously said, “You see traditional ships with all of their sails set in two instances: idyllically perfect sailing conditions, and really bad maritime art.” And while today is a fine sailing day, it’s a shade, or a slight wind shift, shy of idyllic. Our other options demand a choice between the huge schooner mains’l and the square fore tops’l, both of which represent the same heeling force on the ship. Truth be told, we’d like to set both, but it’s too windy for that. We opted for the more versatile fore tops’l, hoping for a westerly shift. And we don’t think Pride II looks one bit less elegant and feminine without her mains’l.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the swift sailing crew of Pride of Baltimore II

A Festive Stay in Greenport

Motoring in calm wind down the Atlantic Ocean side of Sandy Hook, New Jersey having just spent the dawn and early morning hours motoring down the East River through Hell Gate and on through New York Harbor and the Verrazano Narrows to the Atlantic.

The Memorial Weekend was spent in a Tall Ship festival in Greenport, NY, out at the end of Long Island. It was the second of four Tall Ship America Tall Ship Challenge Festivals scheduled for this year in commemoration of the Bicentennial of the start to the 1812 War with England. It has been some time since Greenport hosted a half dozen or more sail training vessels. For a small town, they went all out and so did the visiting crowds! The shopping streets were closed to vehicular traffic and the ships were mobbed. Many of the local establishments supported the Town of Greenport’s efforts to host a Tall Ship festival.  A couple of the proprietors we visiting crew got to know commented that no other type of festival drew as many visitors to town. The result of this draw – every proprietor was exhausted along with all of their staff. “You ships are welcome back any time…but don’t come back for three weeks…I need to get some rest!”

The weather was terrific for such a festival as well. Leading up to Memorial weekend there had been 4 or more days of cool & wet weather. Saturday the weather broke into sun and warmth and the crowds came from the full length of Long Island and beyond.

These Tall Ships America Challenges and Festivals are built around some inter-ship competition in the form of voyage racing. The first race of the 2012 series was out of Savannah and was along the Southeast US Coast up towards Frying Pan Shoal off of Cape Fear. PRIDE earned a First in that race. There was one planned out of Greenport. But as luck would have it every festival vessel in Greenport had financial obligations that precluded them participating with the planned race from Greenport down to the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. As an alternative a “drag race” concept was created as a substitute. I call it the Tall Ship Challenge Sprint Race. Over the four days following Greenport’s Tall Ship Festival each ship will compete with the other ships by finding an opportunity to put as many miles under sail in 6 consecutive hours as they can. The results will be compared and a winner…under their “handicap”…will be identified by the most amount of miles sailed in 6 continuous hours. Each ship can try to do this as many times as they want till midnight on Friday. A vessel can even sail back and forth in a favorable wind slot rather than pick only one single direction to sail for six hours. It will be quite interesting to find out if any vessel does this.

PRIDE’s first stab at this was the sail out of Greenport and westward in Long Island Sound. The wind was just favorable being out of the southwest and fresh at 15 knots with gusts to 20 knots. After starting the “sprint” the wind got gusty and the crew had to strike the jib-top and the main-gaff-top. At the beginning of the afternoon PRIDE snored along at better than 10 knots over the bottom with the aid of the flooding Long Island Sound. Her speed through the water was near 9 knots. Late into the afternoon and into the early evening the current slowed down and even began to flow against PRIDE. Still, she was making better than 7 knots over the bottom while indicating near 8 knots through the water due to some moderation in the wind strength. Not sure when the next sailing 6 hours will occur. This calm is looking like it will last most of today. There is hope of a favorable breeze Thursday further down the Mid Atlantic Coast on our way to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. I hope so, we have some 245 nautical miles to cover by Friday afternoon. So we cannot wait for the wind. It must catch up to us.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II

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

Becalmed off Charleston, SC

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
70 nautical miles to go to entrance of the Savannah River.

What would they have done back before motors? Sat out the lack of wind…that is what!  Maybe dropped the anchor if it was shallow enough. But that would represent a lot of work…so maybe they would do what we are doing, merely drifting and do maintenance while waiting for the weather to change.

In our case, with access to cellular radio waves, I am able to check out weather reports and forecasts on the internet. Having done so I am able to see that it is unlikely that the wind conditions we are experiencing will change significantly enough for PRIDE to sail the rest of the distance to Savannah and arrive as scheduled early Thursday (tomorrow) morning. Hence, sometime later today we will take the sails in and start the engines and mosey slowly over to our appointment in Savannah set for early tomorrow morning.

The weather along the Southeast Coast of the United States has been light and the sea slight. Up until breakfast time this morning we had enough wind to sail between 3-4 knots against the light southerly winds of the last 24 hours. In that time PRIDE sailed from Frying Pan Shoal near Wilmington, NC to the vicinity of Charleston, SC.

The little bit of usable wind died out at breakfast and since we have been drifting with sails up but strapped in tight to reduce chaff. The on-watch crew have been getting deeper into cosmetic maintenance. Maybe at the mid-day watch change there will be swimming call. Kind of depends if there will be any wind at all. If none…yes. But if wind comes around…probably not.

Jan C. Miles, Captain Aboard Pride of Baltimore II