BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG RIVERJune 10, 2013
Friday, 7 June, 2013
Pos: 49 18.4’N x 065 54.7’W
Wx: ENE F 1, 2/8ths cirrus, seas flat
Pride of Baltimore II: motoring?!? (Alas, it’s true)
The St. Lawrence River is a mill pond this morning. Maybe only for this morning, as strong, favorable breezes are forecast to fill later, but for now there’s scarcely a ripple and no remnant of yesterday’s heaping sea. We’re also bucking a two-knot current – that much moving water will subdue nearly any left over sea. Last night, Pride of Baltimore II officially entered the St. Lawrence River, as defined in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. From a line between Cape des Rosiers and Pointe de l’Ouest on Anticosti Island, the river stretches 662 nautical miles to Cape Vincent and Lake Ontario. Pride II’s current latitude is roughly as far north as she’s been in seven years. Shortly, we’ll pass sixty-six degrees west longitude, the first Call-in Point (CIP) for Escoumins Traffic.
For the next 600 miles or so, we’ll be part of some such vessel traffic service, reporting at dozens of such CIPs while negotiating intense currents, massive passing ships, and seven tall locks until we reach Lake Ontario. The backdrop will be some of the continent’s most pleasant scenery – foggy mountains steep against the shore, rolling farm lands, the imposing Citadel of Quebec, the urban chic of Montreal, the quaint summertime lake cottages of Ontario and New York, and the elaborate castles of the rocky Thousand Islands.
To start this leg of the passage, we escaped La Malbaie just after lunch yesterday. True to form, the bay tried to keep us ensnared. As we started heaving up the anchor the breeze came in force five east-northeast. Pinned on a lee shore, the crew raced through evolutions to get Pride II clawing her way back to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. With the mains’l to keep her head toward the weather, we walked the narrow path of breaking the anchor and backing the jib simultaneously in order to cast the ship onto port tack and toward the Gulf. Then a fury of setting fores’l, then stays’l while the watch working the anchor catted and fished the hook, securing it for sea, and Pride II happily defying the bay’s entrapments under her four lowers. Once clear of the outer reaches, we tacked to starboard and set a reefed foretops’l to help drive her along. Then, as suddenly as it sprang up, the embaying breeze faded as we passed La Malbaie’s northern limit at Pointe Ste Pierre. We’d escaped, but were left with curse of motoring.
As curses go, it’s not that bad. After 40 hours of waiting for weather to subside, we certainly aren’t going to dawdle in the outer river, waiting for the next gale to come bowling along. At any rate, the sky seemed to celebrate our escape from La Malbaie. Last night Aurora Borealis consumed the northern heavens, flashing and stretching up from the horizon far enough to obscure Polaris and even the Big Dipper in their spectacle. Dreamlike and tireless, they flaunted throughout the short, near-summer night, reveling in the flawlessly clear sky, fading only when the orange hint of dawn upstaged them.
Captain Jamie Trost and the finally underway again crew of Pride of Baltimore II