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Steady South-easterlies

A day under steady South-easterly winds, blowing at a good 18 to 20kn, allowing us to continue with the good sailing under full canvas. Beam reach sailing the Europa keeps today speeds around the 8 to 9kn on her westerly course towards Easter Island.  

In the evening we find ourselves almost 190nm closer to our destination, lying now 1315nm away. Behind us 990nm since setting sail from Talcahuano. 

Good sailing conditions though forecasted are soon to come backing lighter winds that will blow more from the east, as we move towards the northern edge of a large high-pressure system centered Southwest of us, 

Like that we gradually get deeper into the Pacific Ocean, gaining distance from the South American coast. The water temperature is about 21º C, several degrees warmer than the characteristic colder areas more related to the coastal upwelling of the Humboldt Current. With these temperatures, the increase in evaporation from the water surface grows scattered towering clouds from the sea, which along the day leave partially cloudy skies that make for the beautiful sunrises and sunsets we keep having. 

The prediction of light winds blowing more from our aft and the perspective to keep sailing between Beam reach and downwind has made for the decision to start getting ready the Studding sail gear. Already since yesterday, their booms have been taken care of, and now they lay on the Sloop deck newly varnished. Today some repairs had to be done in their canvas, transforming the ship’s library into a sort of sail-making loft. All the blocks and almost all necessary lines to set them are already up the rig. 

These are sails that can provide a bit of extra speed on fine weather and good seas, just to be used with the wind abeam or further aft.  

Both to set them on calm conditions and strike them quickly on squalls or sudden wind bursts requiring a fair bit of work and coordination between the people handling their lines. That might be a reason why from the first times they were in use, probably in the early 16-hundreds when the ships carried large crews, they started to be seen less and less from the last quarter of the 19th century. By then, the complement of the ships started to be more reduced, having fewer experienced hands available on deck. Hands needed for properly handle those sails and avoid damage to the ship’s gear. Keeping them up in winds rising from calm to forceful blows sure can result in damage to their booms or canvas. On the other hand, with the evolution of the sailing ships, some started to carry rigs that were more squared-off, where the upper yards grew in length carrying longer square sails, more similar to the lower ones. As the Upper and Top Gallant Studding sails were helping to increase the area of the smaller higher sails in comparison with the lower ones, once these sails became longer per se, the use of these studding sails became redundant. 

Because of their use in quite specific conditions, they were mostly developed and used on the square riggers in oceanic crossings using the steady Trade Winds. 

Wind and weather conditions that we are starting to experience on our Pacific Ocean crossing. And the Europa, used as she is to have them rigged on occasions like that, soon will have them ready to be set to give her an extra little push on becalming breeze and seas smoothing down. 

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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