Guest Blogger: On the front lines of Race Two with Pride of Baltimore II
Posted by Erin on June 1, 2012
By Joe H., Deckhand
They said it would be a sprint. A continuous six hours to achieve the longest distance possible. Every vessel could start wherever they wanted, going in any direction, under any conditions. And if they thought they could do better? Well, each vessel gets four days to try and try again. So what does this mean? No start line, no finish line, no competitors but ourselves. We are racing ourselves.
Captain Miles said the weather was forecast to be blowing out of the southwest as we were to depart into Long Island Sound. That coupled with the flood tide would be great conditions. We left the dock noon on Tuesday rejuvenated and jubilant after a relaxing weekend in Greenport. We ended up in an impromptu parade of sail between Picton Castle and Bounty. Picton Castle was on our starboard beam as we raised our sails and hopefully got within earshot as we chanted, “What’s up- PICTON!”
We endeavored to raise as much canvas as we could on this tack so we worked our way around the deck and raised all three of our heads’ls, our fores’l, foretops’l, mains’l, and main gaff tops’l. We laughed, charged, and cheered as we hauled the halyards and sweated the sheets. The weather had cleared up from a foggy morning and turned to a sunny afternoon with a fresh breeze creating a good atmosphere among the crew. I dare say, we may have had fun.
It was the start of our third month on board for most of the deckhands and our hard work and diligence paid off as we maneuvered the boat. We ran with purpose from line to line starting to understand the question, “What happens next?” We had two guest-crew sign up for our transit down to the Chesapeake for a graduation present. They are young and spry and followed our heels quickly ready to jump in on a line wherever they could.
The boat heeled steeply and our scuppers filled, soaking our shoes as we hauled on leeward sheets. The wind started to overpower us so we decided to drop the jib tops’l, and our main gaff tops’l. When everything had settled down and our course was set, we mustered all hands and split into our watches. I was stood down for four hours and I went to my bunk and slept through all of them. When I was called on deck to stand my watch, we got the word that a storm was quickly approaching and we needed to drop our sails immediately.
There was a quick rush to put on our foulies, scaring the crew down below, and we hustled to bring the rest of our sails down. The clouds appeared in a dark curtain to starboard and covered the rest of the daylight with a steady downpour. We turned on our engines and our race was over.
We arranged the best six-hour period from the day and made around fifty miles within that timeframe. We could have done a little better but we could have done a lot worse. The excitement was over, but knowing what the boat and ourselves can handle we anxiously await the next leg.