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Increase on the birdlife around the ship enjoying the strong winds

10th April 2023 Southern Ocean. Riding a Low Pressure System over the confused seas. 

Start of the day. A beginning of a journey characterised by wind shifts and changes on the sea state. To start with, the wind veers to more Southerly. Still in the dark, the braces are pulled squarer, the courses stretched with whisker poles. Not much later it was time for climbing aloft, unfurl royals, sheet them down and hoist.
Gradually steering to a more downwind course, at dawn it is time to pull down and pack some of the staysails that don’t do the job anymore with the wind coming from the aft.
Europa now rolls, but her movements are easing down to a calmer sea.
The next hours come with the Southerlies becoming Westerlies, all from Force 5 to 7 of good winds. Beam to Broad Reach sailing, then almost on a dead run to come back gradually to Beam Reach, we keep adjusting sails and rig for the different wind strength and direction, maintaining a good speed and a general course to the North first, then to the North-northeast.
As the hours pass, the ship now pitches and rolls on the confused seas, with the remaining swell from the Southeast at the same time that she starts feeling the new one from the West, generated by the a large Low Pressure that pushes in our direction from Cape Horn.
She still rides the Cyclonic system that has helped our progress during the last couple of days, but a weather change draws near, with the approaching of the ridge between both systems, a predicted short increase on the atmospheric pressure, a reshape of winds and swells. Situation to come during tomorrow’s first hours.
But for the moment, the Europa speeds up her way to Tristan. And while we all have to deal with her yanks, bounces, plunges into the waves and rolls, numerous albatrosses and petrels seem to rejoice in the new weather conditions with the increase on winds and seas.
As we sail now in much warmer waters, north of the Antarctic Convergence Zone, the variations on sea and air temperatures come associated too with a change in the biodiversity. Different species of birds are starting to be seen, others we just left behind, while some of them like the Black browed and Wandering albatrosses have a wider dispersal area and will accompany us for a bit longer, though the latest presents too a Subspecies endemic to Tristan.
Many of the birds that are most commonly spotted today have a distribution range that extends from their colonies in Tristan da Cunha archipelago to the Subantarctic islands along the Southern Ocean, South Atlantic, South Pacific and some also the Southern Indian Ocean.
A number of the smart looking and rare Sooty albatrosses decided to join our ride for a few hours, elegantly soaring around the ship during the afternoon until the sun sets, piercing through the low clouds in the horizon. Amongst them, several slightly smaller and graceful black birds, a closer look identifies them as Great-winged petrels. Small flocks of Broad billed prions make it difficult to have a good look at them, let alone get a good picture, with their fast undulating and swirling flight. Similarly face-masked but of larger size, darker colour pattern and more stylish gliding flight, the Soft-plumaged petrels. Little and Great shearwaters pay us a short visit as well. A lonely Cape petrel fly by; a bit off its regular range further south, brings back to our mind the past few weeks of adventures in Antarctica and South Georgia.

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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