WHIRLY BIRDSJune 4, 2013
Tuesday, 4 June, 2013
Pos: 48 14.0’N x 064 13.6’W
Wx: Your guess is as good as mine, we’ve seen just about everything in the last 12 hours
Sail Plan: Changes almost minute to minute, but currently four lowers and fore tops’l
This weather is for the birds, literally. Since a brief rain squall at 0300, Pride of Baltimore II has been host to an ever increasing population of finches. Probably blown out to sea in the fresh to strong southwest breeze we sailed under, they found our hundred feet of deck as a refuge in an otherwise inhospitable salt water world – so we’ve got that much in common. In the 12 or so hours since then, they have frolicked, fought, and occasionally agreed to be held by some of us sailors. Too far from shore to make it back to land, they occasionally dare a sortie, but usually never get out of sight before struggling back to the shrouds, the rail, or the transom. They’ve cleaned us out of bugs, and don’t seem too fond of crackers, so some trial and error is ongoing to keep them fed.
They’re likely pretty dizzy by now, as the Gulf of St. Lawrence has offered a stunning series of wind shifts, all associated with a weak low pressure that is almost directly overhead. There are forecasts that can chill a sailor’s bones, and ones that can make a seafaring heart leap for joy, but none can so infuriate as the dreaded “variable winds 10-20 knots.” That’s what Pride II – and our sister privateer, Lynx, about three miles to the east of us – have been dealing with since pre-dawn. After a busy weekend in Miramichi, where nearly 7,000 visitors stepped over the rail, the four American vessels (the two privateers, along with Unicorn and Peacemaker) all departed together in a miniature parade of sail. Once out the river, we took advantage of a favorable breeze and were quickly on our way toward Cape Gaspe and the entrance to the St. Lawrence River.
Now we are spinning circles at the mouth of Chaleur Bay. There’s no rush to turn the corner at Gaspe, as the forecasts for tonight and tomorrow up there are for 20-30 knots out of the west and an associated two to three meter sea. So Pride II is chasing the breeze, and between the sometimes frantic evolutions required by the shifting winds, the crew are chasing finches around the deck, occasionally getting one to settle in their hand, or even, as happened to Chief Mate Jill Hughes, find one hungry enough to pick the remnants of lunch out of their teeth.
Captain Jamie Trost and the Birdmen and Birdwomen of Pride of Baltimore II