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Too Busy for Blogs and Setting Up for Southerlies

22 September 2011
Pos: 48 12.2’N x 064 02.9’W
Wx: South F 1, seas calm, 3/8 Stratus in the Southeast Distance

When I last wrote and said we had sailing to do, I had no idea how intense an understatement I was making. We had a forecast, past the pilot station, for Southwest and West winds of decent strength, and I was guessing that with the current, we’d be able to sail. I never expected that we’d see stretches longer than a mere gust into gale force, or that we’d have Pride of Baltimore II surging up to 13 knots over the bottom.

But that’s how the story played out. Sailing through the night of the 20th to 21st under Fores’l, Stays’l, Foretops’l, Jib, T’gallant and Stuns’l, we made great progress with a West-Southwest breeze. As the forecast called for a Westerly veer, we didn’t set the Mains’l to minimize the work of the crew in wareing ship – this is the action of turning the stern of the vessel through the eye of the wind. Commonly, it is called gybing these days, but though the terms are nearly synonymous, gybing is what you do with a fore-and-aft rigged sail such as Pride II’s Mains’l, while wareing is the action of the ship itself.

Whichever way you slice it, making that maneuver with Pride II’s 2200 square feet of Mains’l is a lot of work. So we left it off and were still making seven and eight past the steep to shores along the South side of the river. Our friends on Highlander Sea — an historic Boston Pilot Schooner on her way from Port Huron, Michigan to Gloucester, Massachusetts in search of a potential new owner – were either in sight or trackable on radar through the night and appeared hull-down (with only the sails visible) the next morning well to the North of us.

After completing what seemed like our last ware at 1000, we finally did set the Mains’l in the hopes of using the Westerly to get clear out of the river and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence before the forecast calm had us motoring. With the Mains’l set Pride II was constantly over 10 knots and topped off at 13.2. As if competing with our increased sail plan, however, the winds in the lower river exceeded their forecast strength and got up around gale force. The combination of wind increase, wind shift and moderately confused sea was making Pride II more than a handful, so the Mains’l came in around 1500.

The sail suffered some minor damage from chafing on a ratboard while we took it in, so Pride II crew have been working ardently on a patch repair during all the daylight hours, and sometimes with headlamps at night too. Having worked for a sailmaker, I often find myself one of the few aboard who can effect such repairs, but fortunately for us, there are several crew who are handy with a needle and thread. Having sailed aboard Picton Castle under Captain Dan Mooreland, deckhands Susie Ordway and Meredith Spratt are well versed in sailmaking, as the seamanship training program aboard Picton Castle includes teaching sailmaking skills by actual making sails for the ship by hand. Alex Peacock and Barbara Krasinski also did some fine sewing, as the job was traded off between the watches.

Fortunately, we haven’t needed the Mains’l for the last 20 hours. Unfortunately, we haven’t had enough wind to use any of the sails for the last 10 of those hours. We lost the breeze and started motoring around midnight last night, having nearly reached the official mouth of the St. Lawrence at Cap Rosiers. Stacked on top of our exciting sail from Hamilton, which included sailing the entire American section of the river (except for maneuvering in and out of the Iroquois lock), our performance the last few days means Pride II sailed nearly every mile of the river where she was not required to carry a pilot. Hats off to the crew and guest crew for all the work involved in maneuvering her along those waters.

Now, out in the Gulf, we are set up to make use of the Southerlies and Southwesterlies in the forecast. In our motoring so far we have hugged the Western shore of the Gulf, and now have Pride II set up with a favorable slant to lay a course to East Point on Prince Edward Island without tacking. As I write, the breeze is teasing its way up to sailing strength and we’re ready make good use of it.

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