Saint John Harbor can bewilder even the most seasoned sailors.
A small boat is pushed by the tides in an unusual way. The Bay of Fundy fog makes it easy to turn around. Huge container ships pass frequently on their way to the western side quays, generating large waves in their wake. And then there are the reversing falls.
In most places, “usually you can feel how fast your boat is going,” said Erica Lush, a Maiden racing yacht sailor who grew up in Jamestown, RI.
Lush and his teammates spoke to CBC New Brunswick during a two-hour media cruise around Saint John’s Outer Harbor on Thursday before the fog lifted.
“Here you could move forward and actually back up,” Lush said as a passing freighter loomed ominously through the thick fog, chased by flocks of cormorants and seagulls. “So you really have to follow the charts and your speed.”
Visibility on Thursday was “probably two boat lengths of Maiden ahead of us,” said skipper Liz Wardley, who grew up on fishing boats in Papua New Guinea and completed her first round-the-world race aged 20. .
“In addition to low visibility, tides have a fierce reputation in the area,” Lush said. “We had a little learning curve in figuring out when is the best time to get on and off the dock, even.
“Obviously we have maps and speed cameras. But we’re not locals, so we don’t know by heart: ‘Oh, the markings are there and these ships are coming in now at this time of day. ‘ So all of those things are sort of floating factors that we have to juggle.”
Navigating all of these factors is a testament to the skill of Maiden’s crew, who are currently on an educational 90,000 nautical mile voyage around the world that began in Dubai in January and will end in December 2024.
The 58ft vessel’s mission is to promote girls’ education and inspire women to pursue careers in STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Money raised by the Maiden Factor goes to girls’ education programs.
She is making her only Canadian stopover in Saint John until August 13th. The public can take open boat trips on Saturday August 6th and Sunday August 7th.
“Where’s the captain?”
The all-female crew come from all over the world – Australia, Antigua, USA, Canada and UK
“We have a lady from India joining us soon, [and a] South African],” Wardley said. “So it’s very diverse. They all come from completely different backgrounds and sailing experiences.”
Wardley recalled the surprise on a pilot’s face when he boarded the Maiden at 3 a.m. to ferry it through the Panama Canal.
“He just looks around. He says, ‘Where’s the captain?’ Mine! And I said, “It’s me. Sorry to disappoint you.’ He couldn’t believe it. All these women kept coming out of all the hatches of the boat, and he was looking around and saying, ‘Oh. pass ?'”
Seasickness: not just for earthlings
The appeal of living and working on the ocean is that it’s “very adventurous,” said Junella King, 22, a competitive sailor and Maiden crew member, who grew up in Antigua and sailed in competition with the Antigua Star Sailors League team.
“It’s nice. Keeps my adrenaline going.”
The adrenaline pumping is one of the most pleasurable sensations caused by the open sea and speeds of up to 18 knots.
“For me personally, I get seasick,” King said. “So it’s a big challenge for me. Unfortunately, patches, tapes, pills, nothing works for me.
“I just have to deal with it. I’m mobile while I’m sick. I’m going to get up, vomit, come back down and finish doing what I have to do.”
But with bouts of nausea come moments that could not be experienced anywhere else.
Like the night when, drifting silently through the Red Sea, the crew “could see the beautiful moon and the bioluminescent plankton,” King said. “It was wonderful.”
It’s the job of onboard reporter Jenn Edney to capture those moments.
“I’ve been doing reportage and adventure photography for 13 years and mostly ocean sailing,” said Edney, who grew up in Nebraska and was “scared of the ocean” until she did. a 60-day semester abroad right after college.
“I chose this course to overcome certain fears and get out of my comfort zone.
“I think that’s been a key part of my career. You know, I sometimes wonder, what possessed me to say yes to some of these really scary things? But every time I’ve say yes, it turned into something amazing.
This is where growth happens – and evolution happens.”