Sailing near the tip of Cape Hatteras

April 29, 2012

PRIDE is sailing near the tip of Cape Hatteras, the well respected East Coast cape of numerous shipwrecks.

The weather is favorable and moderate. Sailing here from the Chesapeake Bay was interrupted by weather changes beginning late yesterday and lasting through the night.

Before the weather changes PRIDE sailed out of the Chesapeake Bay under all working sail (full main, foresail, staysail, jib & square foretopsail) with a beam breeze from the NE-E of around 15 knots. Making between 7-9 knots the day was pleasant and comfortable. As PRIDE was sailing out of The Bay off in the distance the reproduction J Class Yacht HANUMAN was coming up from the south heading into the The Bay. We know this because our 2nd Mate John Pickering was the engineer for HANUMAN last year and he knew she was likely to be entering The Bay as PRIDE was departing because of information exchanged with HANUMAN’s crew via FaceBook during PRIDE’s sail down The Bay. In the days before such technology we would have been left looking with binoculars at an interesting sailing rig and wondering what/who it was. Maybe we would get on the short range VHF radio and introduce ourselves or they call us with similar curiosity. But no radio conversation was had…we both knew who the other was and there was nothing additional to converse about…all information had already been exchanged…remotely. Interesting.

The sailing fun was due to change as PRIDE gained her southing toward Cape Hatteras and also a weather disturbance moving eastward off shore just about right at Cape Hatteras. By evening time the approach of rain seen on echo returns of the RADAR signaled the imminent arrival of wind change from E’rly to SE and bringing with it increasing wind strength. Crew got the mainsail in, then the jib, then the foretopsail. Wind got up to around 20 knots for a short time. As the rain went away after supper time the wind dropped to less than 5 knots and returned to blowing from the north. Not enough wind to make much happen so we did not reset any sail. In fact we struck the foresail to protect it from flogging in the sloppy sea swell while PRIDE drifted and bobbed her way south. Around midnight the wind from the north increased a bit and the square foretopsail was reset. Deckhand Rohan Rao got his first experience being aloft in a rolling and heaving PRIDE and took quite a while to get the gaskets holding the topsail tight undone. Eventually, with help from recently joined deckhand Kris Jones the topsail was made ready to set and with Rohan and Kris down from aloft the topsail was set. PRIDE sailed faster than she had been drifting at around 2-3 knots dead downwind with just the square foretopsail and staysail till 4 AM when, due to the wind veering more to the NE hence more to the side of PRIDE rather then right from behind the foresail was set as well the jib. Now, at 1030 AM PRIDE is approaching Diamond Shoals, the shallow water that sticks out from Cape Hatteras, with somewhat stronger winds from the NE-E and is making from 4-6 knots depending on the vagaries of wind strength.

The weather forecasts indicate 10-15 knots of wind veering slowly from NE to SE over the next 48 hours. Assuming all this plays out, PRIDE should be able to sail all the way around Cape Hatteras today and get some distance toward the SW along the coast as well.

Cheers,
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II
Acting Executive Director


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