Going south for the first time since Lake Erie

September 23, 2010

Sailing with Foresail, reefed Square-topsail, staysail and jib.
Wind west to northwest 20 to 25 knots.
Steering toward Canso Straits to the southeast.

After dropping off the last and third set of paired pilots at Escumins, Quebec Tuesday evening, the crew set the foresail, staysail and jib below the already set square-topsail and we turned off the engines for the first time since departing Montreal Monday afternoon.

At first the wind Tuesday evening was moderate and Pride moved along at nearly 7 knots. But by midnight the wind was down to less than 10 knots and Pride was down to one knot. But I did not choose to start engines because of a long range weather report that indicated high winds for later in the week in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that would be against us if we were there. With no reason to rush to meet those strong contrary winds Pride was left to drift along with the outgoing river current and what little favorable wind there was through the rest of Tuesday night.

The drifting plan seems to have worked out. We are now comfortably getting along toward Canso Straits with a favorable west to northwest breeze, having dawdled properly enough in the estuary portion of the St. Lawrence River to avoid the gale force southwesterly winds that blew last night in the Gulf of St Lawrence. While we avoided the strong and contrary winds we are experiencing the left over swell of last night’s gale. 

Not that we avoided gale winds! The same weather system that produced the gale winds from the southwest in the Gulf produced gale winds from the west in the river estuary. Last night Pride sailed along dead downwind at between 10-12 knots with only her reefed square-topsail and full staysail set . With a full moon and cloudless night the evening was bright and surrealistically beautiful, enhanced by the bright view of the tall hills of the Gaspe Peninsula passing by on our starboard. 

Looking forward to the next five days of weather it seems we should again not be in any hurry. Another low system with associated high following behind is forecast to pass across our path as we look to go around Nova Scotia. It seems there will be fresh southwest winds on the Atlantic side of Nova Scotia Saturday…just after we pass through the Canso Straits and start to make our turn to the westward at Cape Canso on the east end of Nova Scotia. I am not interested in trying to go against 20 odd knots of southwest wind…so it looks like we may be considering finding an anchorage for the forecast southwesterlies. Hopefully they will not persist for long. A couple of days worth of delay will put some pressure on our deadline to arrive Boston the Saturday after this coming one.

We continue to have the company of our “smaller” privateer friend Lynx. She is just ahead of us by less than 5 miles having motored longer in the St. Lawrence than we did. Even without setting the mainsail aboard Pride we seem to be slowly closing the gap on Lynx. Meanwhile, if the forecast of weather pans out, we will be arriving Canso a full day earlier than we can make use of considering the forecast of fresh southwesterly winds…so maybe we will be anchoring together for a bit waiting for the contrary winds on the south side of Nova Scotia to change.

In other more mundane news…but singularly important to us aboard Pride…The engineer just fixed a problem with the generator’s cooling system. It is not certain what actually went wrong. But proper diligence by engineer John Pickering identified a cooling pump malfunction during morning start-up procedures. With a full spare pump at hand as well a drive belt…less than an hour later…the generator was running smoothly and coolly as it refilled batteries and fresh water to last us the next 10 hours before the generator is started again for another two hours or so every 10 hours for as long as we sail. Our little island civilization continues to be as comfortable as ever it has been on voyages of several days length due to extensive planning and preparation.

Signed
Captain Jan C. Miles and the southbound crew of Pride of Baltimore II


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