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An exceptionally complicated machine

Initially, Europa appears an exceptionally complicated machine with miles of rigging stretching up masts, between yards, along sails and everywhere in between.
In our first two weeks, we have quickly understood how much of this spaghetti combines to create a system of sail management: halyards hoisting; sheets and tacks stretching and trimming; clewlines and buntlines furling; there are many more, but all of us have understood some basics.
The handling of the lines has swiftly become more advanced also, with voyage crew making decisions, fixing problems and going aloft to perform other tasks on the yards and rigging.
While somewhat confusing, it is also rather beautiful to see how every line serves a specific purpose, and has been rigged in such a way to keep the correct amount of tension at the right time in the right place.
This is a contraption perfected over centuries of inventing, adjusting and perfecting.

When we are not on watch, there are lectures to attend.
We have studied sailing theory, sailing history, navigation and knots, with more topics forecast for the coming weeks.
Most satisfyingly, we can immediately put this information to practical use, getting out on deck to set, brace and trim sails, or going into the charthouse or library to plot our position and make calculations of our course.
While we take the odd moment to relax, we are all here to learn how to operate and live aboard this unique ship, and are taking all the chances we can to build our knowledge, even if it entails hours of chiselling away old varnish to keep the old lady looking pretty!

In perhaps the voyage's most remarkable sight, fin whales breached the surface of the ocean some 100 metres off the port stern.
The mammoth creatures are bettered only by the blue whale as the largest mammals on earth, and we are told that they are seldom seen breaching (jumping out of the water).
Regardless of the rarity of the event, watching a 100 ton whale propel itself above the waves was so mesmerising that no one stopped to reach for a camera, but I have no doubt that the image will remain etched into our minds for many years.
Two days later, pilot whales briefly joined us, rolling merrily alongside for a few minutes before accelerating away with as little effort as they had arrived.
The skipper refers to them as the 'buffalos of the ocean' for their stubby faces and tendency to travel together in rows, though I feel the name demeans their evident gracefulness. 

As I write, we are within 80nm of St Helena, and are making our bets on whose watch will have the privilege of sighting the island first.
Captain Klaas has been providing us with books on the island's history and wildlife, and the information has generated all the more excitement to see the remote island.

Next week I shall write about our experiences there, and how the island compared to our expectations. 

Best wishes from the South Atlantic! 

16°34S 004°58W
1900 15th May


stoere foto en mooi geschreven Matti.

margriet  |  18-05-2022 11:37 uur

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