A quick word about myself:
Stemming from the Bavarian Alps where I completed a carpenter's apprenticeship I stumbled across the world of tall ships in 2016 and, as our Australian second mate Penny puts it, I have not been able to rinse the salt out of my veins since.
Out to sea. Finally
Like most shipyard periods, getting Europa ready this April was a big effort. Tallships need constant love and attention and once to twice a year this culminates into a large undertaking where the ship is taken out of the water and we focus on structural repairs that can only be done in a shipyard.
The vessel is then attacked from all angles. Rust busting crews roam the deck on the hunt for 'zero thickness' closely followed by welding teams that frantically mold and fix new gleaming sheets of metal. The chippies dismantle cabins exposing century old rivets, traces of a time long gone but not forgotten. In a matter of days, the cozy corridors and homely cabins of the Europa are turned into a bustling construction site. Air vents entangled with extension cables crowd the busy spaces while crew armed to the teeth with PPE (safety gear) mingle with contractors from every corner of the craftsman world. Engineers trip over electricians while officers chase down surveyors.
It is a great big chaos that is planned and coordinated to perfection. Years of experience have turned shipyard periods into an art form. Pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible on such a small space with such limited time. It takes months to plan an undertaking like this and an extremely well oiled machine of devotees from all over the world to execute it. While it wasn't without its bumps and was made significantly more strenuous by strict COVID-prevention measures, we were able to get her floating and ready to sail in time for her voyage north.
As I write this blog I sit in the tiny office of the Europa while my eight to two watch is coming to an end. From the main deck one can observe the Milky Way among the many other constellations of a clear night sky. We seem to have made it into the trade winds approximately 700 miles into our trip across the equator and we make a steady 6 knots on a broad reach as the ship gently rolls her way towards St. Helena.