With the crew daily duties of cleaning the ship’s common spaces while standing-by for passing squalls is how we started the new day. Royals went up and now just the Upper staysails and the sails at the mizzen mast undergoing repairs remain furled. Europa makes the most of the fair Southerly winds to keep a good course and speed towards South Georgia.
Forecasted is for the wind to ease down later on during the evening and night, shifting all the way to Northeasterly afterwards, blowing then on our nose. But for the moment as the day goes on, we roll over the abating seas and end up sailing practically downwind. Adjusting the yards bracing squarer, packing a couple of staysails that start to flap over the deck and jib boom, and with the current on our favour, even though the wind gradually died down Europa still keeps a good course and speed for most of the journey. After the last couple of days of a nice ride, at noon we find ourselves 340nm closer to South Georgia.
Like on this Scotia Sea crossing, when far from land and sailing the ship to a next destination, a combination of talks on polar biology, ecology, history, are mixed with the sail training experiences. When possible, explanations go first, then hands-on, aloft or on deck. There are always ropes to pull, pinrail disposition to learn, knots to tie, sails to furl or unpack. All part of the Tall Ship experience and spirit… now and then including potato peeling sessions too, giving a hand to the always busy galley team.
The commitment with the ship and such a sort of trip we are undertaking, include some of the ship’s responsibilities mixed with an attitude open to adventure, of collaboration to achieve a goal, to steer and look after the Tall Ship, old lady Europa beautifully rigged for those kind of expeditions. With that comes the eagerness for knowledge, the enthusiasm for acquiring the skills to know what and how things are done on board, the curiosity and appreciation for discovering the high latitude remote areas of the world and their inhabitants. New experiences are to come still immersed on those polar systems, behind lays Antarctica, ahead South Georgia.
High latitude regions of the planet that battle us with their cold, with their stormy winds, with their large swells. But as reward they offer chances for unique landscapes and wildlife, for exhilarating sailing, for the appreciation of the forces of nature, gales, starry skies, beautiful sunsets and sunrises. They tell us about human struggle and sacrifice along the history, they invite to link pieces together of the puzzle that represents the workings of the planet.