A quiet welcome to the Roaring 40’s. Veering breeze, changes on the atmospheric systems, a pledge for stronger winds, that in fact start blowing harder during the day.
The Westerly breeze that has been with us during the last journeys, veers in the first hours of the day to a Northeasterly, announcing changes in the wind and weather.
That also meant changes on the rig. Heading straighter into the light wind makes for striking and furling the Staysails, bracing the yards sharp on Port Tack. Now the Europa makes use just of the power of her engines to make way on a proper course to Tristan da Cunha.
Low Pressure System to the north squeezes and elongates the High that we have been following since departure from South Georgia. In-between, areas with undecided light conditions, to the north, the sought stronger winds.
The morning hours pass, now setting some Staysails, now dousing them on the inconsistent conditions. It is not until the afternoon when a stronger and more solid Easterly starts blowing.
Aeolus -keeper of the winds- and his father Poseidon -god of the seas- both woke up then. While they rested, his brother Zeus, with his beautiful lover the princess Europa, riding on his back had enjoyed a calm and uneventful passage through the Furious 50’s. When they enter the realm of the Roaring 40’s, first quietly, then with growing force, the winds veer and increase, the seas get rougher.
Braces are pulled all the way sharp on Starboard tack and off we go to set sail. The course change to a more northward and in not much time the Europa has spread all her canvas, engines turned off and she sails once more. Heading now North at about 6kn, for the next hours and hopefully days, she will follow the forecasted veering winds, as the cyclonic weather system that she now rides, moves to the East.
With the wind varying between SSE-ly and SE-ly up and down 20 to 30kn, by the late evening the highest sails aloft are doused, Top Gallants clewed up, Outer Jib hauled down and the crew has sprung aloft to furl them all.
Myths and legends ruled the past. Now, in those in those modern times, when the journeys are scheduled often by the hour or at least by the day, when the spirit of exploration has given way to holiday trips, the scientific research and its technological applications offer the tools for making them possible following these new standards.
Weather forecasts downloaded via satellite connection to the net, Global Positioning Systems that accurately indicate your location in the planet in the computer screen. They make possible that after short deliberations the courses to steer are set, the routing of the voyage established accordingly with the screen plotted evolution and circulation of High and Lows atmospheric Pressure Systems that sweep along the areas where the ship is.
When to sail, when to make use of the motor, what speed is needed here or there, all part of the strategy game to accomplish a pre-arranged arrival date to Cape Town, managing a successful voyage across the South Atlantic. On our way visiting Antarctica, South Georgia and why not, trying Tristan da Cunha too, as it lays just ahead.
Long go are the times when the only available aids to decide it all where just the Barometer, Thermometer, Ship’s log to determine speed, the close look at it and the course changes for a Dead Reckoning positioning combined with the expertise on the complex subject of celestial navigation. Expeditions to trade around the world, others often to the great unknown, some put together for exploration of remote areas. A set time for departure, an uncertainty about the return. Today, people visit the very same areas where they struggled even for years in as row, on what sometimes are hardy just day-trips, or if not, for time frames that last at maximum a couple of months.
The dangers were many sailing on routes that were recently described or completely new ones. The winds, seas, ice, where the factors that drove their ships and their spirit of adventure. Their reward, the scarce profits of their markets, the scientific and geographical discoveries, the new worlds not yet charted.