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Notes from the Lynx-Cambridge to Chestertown via Annapolis Anchorage

Posted by Tall Ships America on October 28, 2010

26 October, 2010
Cambridge to Chestertown via Annapolis Anchorage
Pos. 38 58.6’N x 076 28.6’W
Wind SSE F 1

At Anchor in the South Anchorage, Annapolis Harbor 

Lynx rides on her port bower in perhaps the most historically & nautically significant harbor of the Chesapeake, if not the country. Less than half a mile off the starboard quarter is the United States Naval Academy – close enough you could hear the midshipmen and midshipwomen grunting out physical training before dawn this morning. 

Our arrival to Annapolis last night at dusk was classically nautical as well, sailing on to the hook in a crowded anchorage, just minutes after Pride of Baltimore II did the same. Coming up the Bay, we once again sailed in company with Pride II, after we broke up the “catamaran” of Baltimore schooners in Cambridge around 1300. Gusty Southerlies into the mid 30 knot range made leaving the Choptank River lively, but once out of the river and onto the Bay, we took advantage of Lynx’s split courses and sailed deep wind angles past the “leaning lighthouse” of Sharps Island, Bloody Point Bar Light and Thomas Point Shoal Light, some of the Bay’s most notable icons. 

As the outside boat in the raft-up in Cambridge, we got a head start on Pride II, but soon saw them gaining on us as we reached out of the river. But the split course is a great leveler for performance off the wind and allowed us to keep reasonable pace with Pride II once we bore off for Annapolis. By using the courses and taking in heads’ls, Lynx can effectively sail much further off the wind than most schooners, even with her extremely raked masts, which make it difficult to get, and keep, her booms sheeted out. 

In the Southerly breeze, the split courses allowed us to sail a much shorter distance toward Tolly Point (at the mouth of the Severn River) while Pride II was sailing higher wind angles, meaning further sailing distance. The end result must have made quite a sight from shore or on the river – two Baltimore privateers sailing together up the Severn to Spa Creek in the last glow of a gorgeous Chesapeake Autumn evening. 

Now the two sister Privateers are anchored within a quarter mile of each other. Not that such a distance seems close after this weekend. Not only were we rafted together throughout the Cambridge Schooner Rendezvous, but Saturday afternoon we had an thrilling daysail together. With both Lynx and Pride II under four lowers and their foretops’ls, Lynx got out ahead on a port tack, but was soon being overtaken by Pride II. As Pride II was looking to go to weather of us, I was reluctant to be shadowed by their rig without making them do a bit of work for it, so I offered only just enough room between the edge of the channel and Lynx. This “lee bow” position of Lynx meant that each time Pride II began to overlap us, the turbulence from our sails caused back winding and slowed her down. 

This was a great demonstration of the power such a position can give in a racing environment – as both boats were close hauled and near the weather edge of navigable water, Pride II had no where else to go except to try and pass through our lee, and could not get past us to weather because of the “dirty” air we were making. So for about 20 minutes, the two boats were close enough to have a casual conversation across the rails and in a nearly constant state of overlapping. At one stage the tip of Pride II’s jibboom was directly over my head as I stood at the helm. All this while making a constant speed of six to seven knots! 

Of course, none of this would have been comfortable or advisable without Captain Miles and I being extremely confident and trusting of each other’s boat handling. But it served as an excellent exercise for the crews of both boats to be on their toes trimming sail and ready to maneuver, as well as a way of gauging the trimming and steering aboard Lynx. And while this was not actually a race, it highlighted the value of racing as a way of maximizing the performance of our own ship by using the yardstick of another ship being sailed to maximum performance. 

Today there will be no performance tests for Lynx. We’ll sit tight doing maintenance, perhaps shift to shallower water over near the Academy in preparation for some gusty conditions – sailing in near dark we couldn’t be too choosy about our position – and get the crew ashore to see both Annapolis and the neighboring Maritime Republic of Eastport. 

All best,
Jamie Trost and the crew of Lynx, at anchor off Annapolis

To read Captain Trost’s past logs as the Lynx makes her way down the East Coast for their winter homeport of St. Augustine, FL, click here.

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