Sailing close-hauled on variable strong winds and growing seas
A first taste of the slightly rougher seas as we enter the roaring 40s. Gradually we are entering the high southern latitudes belt of strong winds and currents that characterise this part of the world. Now, we start sailing in the legendary seas of Patagonia. Sub Antarctic areas which along our journey will lead us to the mythical Scotia Sea, and Drake Passage, planning to stop and visit the famous lands of Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica on our way.
Today, sailing Close Hauled, in the morning Europa rolls and heels to Portside in the strong gusty winds blowing between 25 to 35kn from the WNW to WSW.
Seasickness strikes hard today, and a few of the most landsmen amongst us feel helpless and prefer not to join the watches, rest, or lay down in any corner while passing the worst of the rougher period, trying to get over the motion sickness. The strife of beginning a sailor’s life. Hopefully, everybody gradually will get used to the ship’s movements and to being at sea.
Harnesses are made mandatory to pop up on deck to help the crew setting and dousing canvas, to join the lookouts, or to get their hands on the wheel.
Dropping air and water temperatures are starting to happen. We sail over the surface of the ocean at 14ºC while the atmosphere shows a similar temperature. As we are about to enter the Argentinean northern Patagonian latitudes the waters are still slightly touched by the warm south-flowing Brazilian Current while the northwards flowing Falklands Current gradually gets heated as it gets into lower latitudes. A mixing area that, as we sail towards the Falklands/Las Malvinas, changes its characteristics becoming colder.
In the afternoon the Westerly wind eases down gradually. Time to set more canvas. Squares come up all the way to Royals, together with all the head rig, lower staysails, and spanker. Later on, just before midnight the winds and swells abate more, making for starting the engines, take all squares away and furl them, sheet tight the staysails and the steering comes to the South and Southwest on what will become a course against the backing light winds. But all and all the 122nm covered during the last 24 hours is not bad progress towards the Falklands.
During the periods of stronger gusts numerous seabirds fly and glide around the ship. They prefer those windier conditions as they allow them to effortlessly soar over the rough seas. When the calm periods come, they prefer to sit and wait for the next blasts instead of spending energy flapping their large wings.
When it's windy Europa sails under the attentive looks of Black-browed albatrosses, Giant, and White chinned petrels. The number and diversity of seabirds will increase during the next journeys as we gain distance towards the Falkland Islands/Las Malvinas and then the higher latitudes further South to the colder Southern Ocean and the coasts of South Georgia.