At last…quiet, calm as we head up the Potomac

October 17, 2011

At 4 AM this morning, after 34 hours of steady motoring for a distance of 268 nautical miles (7.8 knot average) against a steady 25 to 30 knots of wind, PRIDE was able to stop motoring at the Patuxent River and sail into the Potomac River after breakfast this morning.

The above represents an atypical grind for PRIDE. Very fortunately, itineraries established for PRIDE usually enable her to sail more than half of all her transits. But in this instance, as in a small number of instances over the more than two decades of scheduling PRIDE, it was necessary to push PRIDE along with her engines most of the distance between New York and Washington D.C. because the weather was not only contrary for the overall direction of travel, but strongly so.

Right now, the peace of having the engines off is almost shattering for the absence of the muted grinding roar of two turbo-charged 4-cylinder engines heard down below and the constant buffeting blast of 25 to 30 knots of wind one received while on deck. The lack of motion due to the virtually calm Potomac River also provides a near unreal bliss of ease for any effort to move around the ship. The transit along the New Jersey Coast was a jerky heaving motion that could often send one to their knees or lurching heavily to the side. While there was a respite from motion during the transit up the upper Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal and down the upper Chesapeake Bay, the main body of the Chesapeake Bay created a definite hobby horsing motion as a result of 25 to 30 knots of southerly wind all last night.

But after all of the above, PRIDE is not only now sailing in some friendly wind, she is on target to make the scheduled Tuesday 4 AM lift of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River at Alexandria, VA. To be sure, the Route 95 traffic that will crossing the bridge at that hour will not be pleased!!! But at least it is a lift that won’t be happening between 5 AM and 11 PM.

PRIDE just spent a week in Manhattan as guest of Denis Connor’s North Cove Marina, managed by the Manhattan Sailing Club. She was there to participate in the New York Classic Yacht Regatta over Columbus Weekend and remained the following week to host an evening reception for Visit Baltimore, a tourism arm of the City of Baltimore, and to do a number of public day-sails to raise revenue for Pride of Baltimore, Inc. There was no wind for the Classic Yacht Regatta, but the weather was unseasonably warm and dry, so it was a pleasant day on the water for the 35 regatta guests on each of the three race days of the weekend.  The ship was filled to capacity for each race, representing a successful weekend of revenue raising business for Pride, Inc. through the direct use of PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II. Later in the week there was a lot of rain and wind during the scheduled day-sails, as a result those were cancelled. But the Visit Baltimore reception last Tuesday evening experienced very pleasant weather indeed, along with a spectacular view of Jersey City across the Hudson River during the evening sunset.

PRIDE’s scheduled departure of North Cove last Friday was delayed due to fresh southerly winds creating a significant contrary sea state along the Jersey Coast. Friday evening a cold front came through as forecast, bringing strong southwest and westerly winds. By Saturday, the sea state along the Jersey shore was down enough, knocked down by the fresh westerly winds, that it was deemed appropriate to depart New York. The loss of 24 hours from the delayed start and the lack of truly westerly winds, meaning that sea state along the Jersey shore was still somewhat robust and winds were still south of west, meant that PRIDE could not sail fast enough through such sea state due to the wind being south of west, and make the speed needed to remain on schedule. So instead, her two engines pushed her along.

There was some serious debate concerning going all the way to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay rather than up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D Canal then down the Chesapeake Bay. There is only an additional 20 odd miles to Washington D.C. using the “outside” route rather than the “inside” route. But the prevalence of the west wind turned out to be much less than originally forecast. Instead there would be additional southerly to southwesterly winds of some strength returning again Sunday afternoon. Those winds would be useful for going up the Chesapeake Bay, but PRIDE would not arrive the mouth of The Bay till early Monday morning, meaning there would be some stout headwinds while still off shore of the DelMarVa Peninsula. Meanwhile the Atlantic sea state persisted and looked like it would only be added to by the return of the southerly winds. By arriving near the mouth of the Delaware Bay around breakfast on Sunday, PRIDE could ride the Delaware flood current all the way up to the C&D Canal, plus catch a favorable “ebb” current thru the canal and down the upper length of the Chesapeake Bay. Turning up the Delaware would also eliminate exposure to the Atlantic sea state. The serious debate ended around 6 AM Sunday as PRIDE approached the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

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


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