Saved by a Swim Call

Wednesday, July 6
Position: 41 57.6’N x 081 41.5’W
Wx: NE F 3, 3/8 Cumulus, Warm, Lake Water 72 degrees
Sailing at 7.5 knots, steering 265 for Pelee Passage under all plain sail, plus T’gallant

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II has been sailing for most of the length of Lake Erie now. After leaving Buffalo Harbor yesterday, we have been beating our way pleasantly up the Lake against the prevailing Westerly breezes. Last night a several hours shift to SxW allowed us to weather Long Point, Ontario. For a two hour stretch on the morning watch, we motored when the breeze dropped to less than 8 knots.

Getting this far – we’re abeam of Cleveland, OH now – nearly entirely sailing is pretty good, but around the 2000 watch change, I was thinking we’d have to pack away the sailing and start trucking to make our arrival on time. As a softening of the blow, however, we’d heave-to for a swim call before we took in everything. Last year, the crew was able to check off swim calls in all five Great Lakes. We let Ontario slip by and will have to brave it in September if we want to complete the challenge, but I wasn’t going to let another Lake slip by un-swum.

In the middle of our swim call, however, the wind shifted to an extraordinarily favorable Northeast. We quickly got hands back aboard, trimmed up the sails still set, reset the ones we’d taken in and are now going faster than we need to toward the Pelee Passage and the entrance to the Detroit River. We may not make the whole length of the Lake under sail, but we’re on a good run now.

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

The Port that Kept on Giving

Tuesday, July 5
Position: 12 nm North of Dunkirk, New York
Wx: SW F 3 Partly Cloudy and warm Sailing at 6.5 knots, close-hauled, steering 190 under all plain sail, plus T’gallant

After nearly a week of tours, daysails and all around excitement, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II left Buffalo’s Erie Canal Harbor this morning at 1100. As always there were details to attend to before getting underway, and more than in most ports lots of thank-you’s to say. Our visit to Buffalo was a crescendo of enthusiasm that seemed like it wouldn’t end. Thanks to the media blitz that followed our arrival, the ship was sold out for all her daysails by Friday morning, and the one we added for the afternoon of July 4th filled up in hours and over 1,500 visitors came aboard for dockside tours.

This is great news for PRIDE II, and for Buffalo. If the city ever wanted proof that a Baltimore Inner Harbor type development would be a big draw, I think the excitement of this weekend stands tall as supporting evidence. And aboard PRIDE II, we are happy to bring the flavor of Baltimore’s revival to other cities looking to emulate. Particularly when they give us such a warm welcome – special thanks to the Hilliman family of SPIRIT OF BUFFALO for all their help, and the same for Ardrey Manning for the host of volunteers she had ready to handle lines, manage crowds and stamp hands all through the weekend. Of course a huge thanks to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation for arranging docking and the media onslaught, as well as to Buffalo Place for your assistance with advertising and promotion.

Now it’s on to Detroit, with a whole Lake in between. Unlike the departure from Rochester, however, the weather is the typical Westerly and Southwesterly winds of summer. Not the right direction, in fact, the exact WRONG direction, but a pleasant and workable strength for PRIDE II to ply her way to weather. From here until Duluth we will be mostly working against the prevailing winds. Fortunately, PRIDE II is about as weatherly as schooners can be, so we have the chance to keep sailing as long as there is a breeze to work with.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost

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 Break in the Weather

Thursday, June 16, 2011
PRIDE II…finally able to depart Lunenburg bound for Rochester, New York.

For three days PRIDE II has been weathering out contrary weather on the Atlantic shore of Nova Scotia. But it looks now like the weather is changing and PRIDE II will be able to depart early Thursday for her destination of Rochester, New York.

So…what has been this contrary weather? And what is Lunenburg like for a weather bound vessel?

The weather has been a pretty consistent easterly wind of between 20 and 35 knots caused by a low pressure area south of Nova Scotia. Low pressure zones in the northern hemisphere rotate counter clockwise. As a result, being as there is a low to the south of Nova Scotia, there are winds rotating from east to west north of the center of the low, blowing along the Nova Scotia  shore, setting up sea swells of 2-3 meters…6 to 10 feet…coming from the east as well. For PRIDE II to proceed towards the Great Lakes, she must head east from Lunenburg. The easterly conditions are impossible to motor into without using a prodigious amount of fuel and risking damage to PRIDE II by pounding into the waves. Not motoring directly into the weather means zig-zagging first to the south, then to the north, while trying to gain distance to the east against the wind and the swell. Trying this also presents a lot of wear and tear on the ship and crew. In the end…it is my experience that it is better to wait…even at the risk of appearing at our next obligation behind schedule. Meanwhile, it is looking like the waiting might provide a bit of a favorable push along our way after we turn north at Cape Canso to cross the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This “push” might come in the form of another low system sliding east-southeastward from the bringing south to southeast winds ahead of it starting late on Friday. It might be that this new low pattern could track in such a way as to help PRIDE make a speedy run through the Gulf and around the Gaspe Peninsula. If such were to happen…maybe we can capture back much of our delay and not be altogether late into Rochester. The proof of this will be in the doing. But we can surely hope!

For any not-for-profit managed vessel like PRIDE II Lunenburg is a terrific port stop. There is a kind of language of special understanding about such vessels as PRIDE II in Lunenburg by many of those that live and work here. The commercial fishing vessel services understand the needs that a vessel like PRIDE II has and how they can help during our stay in Lunenburg. For instance Adams and Knickle generously provided complimentary docking with electricity and fresh water. The office of PICTON CASTLEprovided access to internet and local knowledge and transportation to run errands…as well the fax machine to complete Canadian Customs paper processing. Of course there are recreational establishments that know how to satiate the mariners thirst and hunger. There is also interesting marine history to be seen here…the rebuilding of the Canadian Fishing Schooner BLUENOSE II and The Fisheries Museum…if the captain provides time off to the crew so they might see such. Lunenburg is also home to the building of local small schooners…two by the company that operates the PICTON CASTLE…as well the sailing of them…kept on moorings out in the harbor during the summer, ready for immediate sailing and easily visible to PRIDE II’s crew as they work at tending to PRIDE II while waiting for a break in the weather.

But as nice as it is to visit and linger in Lunenburg…there is a job to do elsewhere…and time is slipping by. With the break in the weather…it is time to go. So off we go in pursuit of the job PRIDE II is tasked with doing.

Signed,
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