Huron and then on
Posted by Tall Ships America on July 27, 2013
Lake Huron, Bay City, Michigan, July 16th, 2013
By Brian Holmen
Race Three of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2013 started 80 miles north of Bay City, Michigan, off Thunder Bay in Lake Huron. Due to the success of our last race I decided to stay on Lynx. We made our way through the fog to the starting line. It was a strange feeling to be at the starting line an hour before the race and not be able to see any other vessel. About thirty minutes prior to the start we caught glimpses of the Peacemaker and Sorlandet, as well as both of the Toronto Brigantines, Pathfinder and Playfair, coming out of the fog.
Unlike the last two races, we were going to make sure we were across the starting line as soon as the race started. The fog lifted, the race started and Lynx made its way north for the beginning of the race. We were among the first ships across the start. In the first group across were Pride of Baltimore II, Niagara, and Denis Sullivan. Sorlandet, Peacemaker, Pathfinder, and Playfair followed us.
For this race, Lynx and Sorlandet sailed more towards the middle of the lake while the rest of the fleet caught the winds coming from the west. This really paid off for Pride of Baltimore II and Niagara as they sped in front of the rest of the fleet. The wind we were getting in the middle of the lake was consistent but it wasn’t the wind that was coming off the shoreline.
The consistent breeze did, however, provide us with the opportune time to set a sail called the ‘fisherman’. The fisherman is hoisted above the foresail between the foremast and the mainmast. I can now say that I have hoisted every sail on Lynx and after setting them and striking them many times over, I understand their individual uses.
Our breeze dwindled as we sailed into the night and at some points we were just drifting in the middle of the lake. There was a brief moment when we were gaining on Pride of Baltimore II and Niagara but that was because they were doing one knot and we were doing 1.3 knots. The crew joked how we might be able to catch them if we had several days to finish the race. The light wind would be the theme for this race and it would test captains, crews, and ships by how well they could sail in light winds.
When I woke up for my watch the next morning I could see the Denis Sullivan off our portside along with the Sorlandet. Since Pride of Baltimore II and Niagara were far ahead of us, a grudge match began between the Denis Sullivan and Lynx. This grudge match became intense as we were tacking in every which way to stay with the wind. It soon became obvious that we weren’t going to make the finish line before the time limit expired. Our only chance to beat Denis Sullivan was to be closest to the finish line when the time limit expired. We turned north and made the last charge for the finish line. As the time limit approached we were able to open the gap between the Denis Sullivan and us. When the time expired we were 8/10th of a mile closer to the finish line than the Denis Sullivan, which would put us in third (hopefully). Though we had beaten Denis Sullivan, the crew was less than enthusiastic since not only had we not won this race but we also weren’t able to finish within the time limit.
We made our way through torrential downpour to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a port in the Tour of 1812. Growing up in the desert climate of Utah, the lush green forests of the northern Great Lakes always amaze me. As we snaked our way through the small islands on Lake Huron I picked out the little cabins that I thought would be cool to live in. Soon it was time for some good old Canadian hospitality in Sault Ste. Marie.