Great Lakes Sailing in the Fall Season

September 14, 2010

Pride of Baltimore II is sailing eastbound in Lake Ontario with a cold front wind from the west and low 60 degree weather. This is a great weather pattern for going east…the wind is nearly 20 knots strong…Pride is gliding along downwind directly along her desired course. Weather reports suggest this favorable wind should last through the day and well into the evening. Maybe Pride will be in the Thousand Islands at the east end of the lake before the wind dies. That will be the beginning of the St. Lawrence River with no room for sailing, so motoring will be necessary.

I am back aboard Pride after a two month hiatus ashore after having sailed Pride into the Great Lakes earlier this year. Now, after providing management support to the ship and the office of Pride, Inc. while I was ashore, it is time for me to do my active marine part and bring Pride out of the Lakes and on home to the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore. My partner Captain, Jamie Trost, is off aboard another vessel (Lynx) after having completed two months aboard Pride sailing her to all those tall-ship festivals that occurred in the Lakes this year. I look forward to Captain Trost returning aboard in November to help with the end of the sailing season, as well assist in putting Pride “away” for the winter.

Pride spent this last weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania supporting a fund-raising tall ship festival in benefit of the Flagship Niagara, an 1812 War naval vessel that starred in Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s winning a significant naval battle against the British back in 1813. In these especially hard modern economic times the traditional sources of financial support coming from the State of Pennsylvania have been significantly reduced putting at risk the possibility that Niagara would be able to continue sailing. Hopefully this fund raising festival will be a significant boost toward preserving Flagship Niagara as a teacher of traditional sailing methods of her original era. For two decades she has been a source of information on how sailing was done way back when and many of those that have learned from her have gone on to become professional mariners, while others have been able to interpret historical details in a “living” and functional manner that goes beyond merely describing such in a book.

There is a great friendship between Pride and Niagara. While it may at first seem logical considering the common perspective of both vessels representing different aspects of the 1812 War, there is also the connection of crew and officers that have spent time working in both vessels together, as well in other vessels. The traditional sailing vessel world is a rather small one and most every one of the professional sailors knows each other. This festival was special for the chance for all of the sailors to visit together while supporting one of our own during what would otherwise have been merely another marine festival with thousands of curious to inform about our vessels. It is all of our fervent hope that the Erie Maritime Festival was successful in its goal to raise supporting funds for a great vessel and program.

Yesterday Pride bid fond farewell to Niagara and headed east from Erie toward the Welland Canal on her way to Montreal and another tall ship festival…this one with a French Canadian flavor. Yesterday’s wind was fair and fresh and Pride made as much as 10 knots at times. With such speed she arrived the vessel locking system that takes vessels over the Niagara Escarpment just after sunset and proceeded to spend 8.5 night time hours negotiating 8 locks over 27 nautical miles while lowering almost 300 feet down to Lake Ontario. The booming sound of rushing water visited the crew on deck as they constantly adjusted mooring lines as Pride followed the lowering lock water levels down 50 odd feet in locks with heavy metal doors that are reminiscent of the Doors of Mordor in Tolkien’s Trilogy of the Ring.

Today we enjoy another sail that we hope will last the length of Lake Ontario. With luck this wind will put us at the top of the St. Lawrence River around dawn tomorrow in good position to view the Thousand Islands as Pride begins her run down river to Montreal and eventually the Atlantic Ocean and home.

Cheers,
Captain Miles and the eastbound crew of Pride of Baltimore II


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