WESTWARD BOUND ALONG NOVA SCOTIA WITH A NICELY TIMED AND RARE NORTHERLY BREEZESeptember 17, 2013
Location: Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia
Date: Tuesday Morning September 17, 2013
PRIDE is making 9-10 knots with a fresh 20-knot northerly breeze pressing a moderate amount of set sail. Northerly winds are rare, in my experience, along the Atlantic shores of Nova Scotia. Northwest or northeast winds are more common than northerlies. With a north wind PRIDE is not sheeted in tight nor beating into a head sea. Rather she is sailing comfortably and fast with a beam to quartering sea with started (eased) sheets of merely the sails forward of the mainmast. I.E. PRIDE is a square-topsail sloop just now – a pretty fast one.
The timing of this breeze is considerably fortunate. PRIDE is down to 350 gallons of fuel and 400+ nautical miles remaining to Boston. The best normal motoring fuel economy for PRIDE is 0.8 gallons per mile. It would seem we are in good shape for making Boston even if the wind were light-to-moderate strength against us. Wind along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic Shores is often from the westward quadrant (SW to W to NW). So, to have a northerly is hugely fortunate at this time. It is helping to conserve fuel and also to bank extra time on this voyage to Boston from Erie.
PRIDE was hugely helped in this goal of conserving fuel and gaining extra time by finding a fresh and favorable breeze for nearly the whole length of her crossing of The Gulf of St. Lawrence. That sail was the first long duration sail we have had this trip from Erie to Boston. The sail started up at the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula Sunday evening and went southward the length of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to just south of the eastern tip of Prince Edward Island by Monday afternoon; that’s about 18 hours of pretty fast sailing for some 165 miles. The close reaching breeze from SW-W of 15-20 knots had PRIDE sailing at steady 8 knots and heeling at 15 degrees and bouncing over a short sea. Newly aboard cook Kit Cusick got seasick and newly aboard Deckhand Rebecca Prasher stood in for him. She did a great job!
Going westward along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore fast under this northerly breeze adds hopeful possibilities to the logistics of this part of the voyage to Boston. If enough time is saved up with fast sailing and no fuel consumed, it might be practical to consider a diversion into the American Windjammer waters of Maine. Those schooners are beautiful and some are over 100 years old while still making a living for their owner. Over the years crew from those vessels have come to sail aboard PRIDE, as well past PRIDE crew have gone to sail aboard the Maine Windjammers. If time allows and it does not take a bunch of extra fuel to achieve, a diversion to Maine could be fun, don’t you think?
The key to this diversion to Maine waters is the combination of future wind and PRIDE’s fuel reserves. We could force the diversion by consuming fuel but that could be a cost consequence to the company; we would be purchasing extra fuel just to arrive in Boston as scheduled next Tuesday as a result of diverting to Maine using fuel. We could sail the whole way to Maine – that would be ideal. But if the wind goes light we could loose the extra time through sailing slow and not motoring toward the diversion by only using the remaining fuel to get toward Boston rather than toward Maine. We are not due to arrive in Boston until a week from today, and from where PRIDE is now there are 420 nautical miles remaining without a diversion. Looking at the long range forecast it seems quite possible we would be able to sail the rest of the way to Boston without using the engines and still arrive in a timely fashion. With more than 300 gallons remaining for this trip to Boston, it also seems we are in good position to arrive on time even should there be some contrary winds hence likely use of the engines. So the questions are these: Can we divert to Maine without consuming additional fuel that is properly slated to get us to Boston? Can we divert without using the remaining fuel and arrive Maine in enough time to actually enjoy the diversion, saving the fuel for the last dash to Boston from Maine? Light winds during the diversion could result in all of the saved up time being used to sail to Maine only to have to depart right away to keep our date with Boston.
Is your brain twisted into a knot yet? This brain teaser is just one of an unlimited number of brain teasers for long-distance-voyaging, traditional-sailing vessel captains – especially in our 21st Century world of keeping promises made to arrive at a certain time at a certain place using a traditional sailing vessel as much as possible, just as it was originally conceived to be used back several centuries ago.
Jan C. Miles and PRIDE’s voyaging crew.