Motorsailing under Fores’l and Stays’l towards Delaware Bay Entrance

September 8, 2009

Pride of Baltimore II: 40 41.7’N 072 01.8’W
Wind East Force 2, Seas East 2′ Overcast

The sea is beginning to build but the breeze hasn’t yet filled in enough to be useful. A low pressure system off the Carolinas is on a reciprocal heading to Pride II’s. This poses a bit of a dilemma: If we try and make use of the breeze as it fills, we’re likely to slow down enough for the low to make a real mess of things before we round Cape May. But motoring, or motor sailing, with a favorable breeze screeches as the wrong thing to do. These options end up weighed on a familiar scale.

On a Saturday morning on my parent’s powerboat when I was a teenager, we weighed anchor at dawn off a Lake Erie beach where friends had a cottage and ran back to our marina slip before a gathering thunderstorm. I was disappointed to leave my friends, all sleeping ashore in the cottage. When we were all secure in the harbor, I pointed out to my father that the storm hadn’t amounted to much. This was true – grey cumulus speckled the sky, but it hadn’t rained, the breeze had never gotten to be more than moderate, and the only lightning was far on the Northern Horizon.

He turned to me and said, without pause, “It’s better to be in here wishing you were out there, than to be out there wishing you were in here.”

I’ve heard that rule echo in my head a number of times in my life, and it’s echoing again as the sea builds. This non-tropical low does not promise to be particularly intense, but its slow rate of advance means it will agitate the waters off New Jersey and Delaware for quite awhile as it lumbers toward the Northeast. While the forecast winds are not to exceed 40 knots, the seas may churn up a good Easterly swell and make our entrance to the Delaware Bay quite an ordeal.

So rather than wallow around waiting for the breeze, Pride IIis motoring sailing at a moderate pace to round Cape May by mid-day tomorrow. It’s likely we’ll get some good sailing in on the Delaware Bay, especially if the slow moving low keeps the wind more East than Nor’east. If not, we could end up wishing we were still offshore. But I doubt it.

Signed,
Jamie Trost, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II


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