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Wind shifts, passing front with associated line of Squalls

Southern Ocean. Wind shifts, passing front with associated line of Squalls.
Weather clearing up during the day. Rolling in the South Atlantic.

Early hours on the new day. A little jump in the atmospheric pressure. Rain followed by a spell of dry weather. A definite squall line in the radar. Rearrange the rig for the passing front. Top Gallants, Royals and Middle Staysails are doused and furled. Then, for a while heavy downpour as the showers sweep over the ship.
The wind picks up to over 35kn and shifts quickly from a North-northwesterly to a West by South, while at the wheel we adjust to the wind change. A task that demands attention, but with the wind backing going through the ship towards the aft instead of coming through her bow, keeping a course is easier.

The air flow above the middle latitudes usually consists of a series of waves in the form of troughs and ridges. The wind contour lines are not straight, however, they bend and turn, indicating ridges (elongated highs) where the air is warmer and indicating depressions, or troughs (elongated lows) where the air is colder.
The last bit of the Low Pressure System that we have been riding now for days pass over us to the West, and a frontal area separates it from the effects of the new weather coming from the Cape Horn area. Like that, for a while during the night, we deal with a typical pre-frontal squall-line, noted by sudden wind gusts followed by rain. Once passed, the new Southwesterly winds increase together with the large swell running from tempestuous conditions further west.

After a morning of heavy rolling under intervals of sunshine and grey skies, with waves climbing atop the ship’s rails and water running over the decks, along the day the weather gradually gets more stable and clears up. Sun shines and slowly the swell eases down, nevertheless a passing squall now and then is granted, bringing short showers. The improvement of the conditions though still having to take care of the ship’s rolls and pitches, make for many to spend some time on deck, keen on taking some of the sun that has been hiding for days. Out there the entertainment is provided by the increasing amount of birds that fly around.
Today some endemic birds shared the skies with the ones with a more widespread Subantarctic range, and the occasional visitor, non breeder in the neighbourhood.

Of the first group, numerous Spectacled petrels put a good show today following the Europa for hours. However common to find on those waters, their whole population (an estimated number of just 45.000 individuals) nests in the Bog fern and wet heath on the higher parts of Inaccessible Island plateau.
A few Great shearwaters fly with us, boundless travellers along the Northern and Southern Atlantic from their homes at Tristan archipelago. Impressive Wandering albatrosses come and go, perhaps Tristan albatross subspecies, endemic for the archipelago, but both not easily separable at sea.

With more extensive breeding grounds along the Subantarctic world, Soft plumaged petrels keep delighting us with their fast gliding flight, while the speedy and nimble Broad billed prions keep challenging us behind the camera. Closely related to this species, some Antarctic prions join them. Though they don’t nest at Tristan, when they leave their breeding grounds located further south, they spread throughout the southern oceans.
An improvement on the conditions that also invites before dinner for a good gathering in the deckhouse to play and sing sea-shanties.

Skilled crew members and some of the voyage crew alike, play and sing some of those old sailor folk song. Wild melodies traditionally sung as a work song to accompany rhythmical labor aboard sailing vessels, when the muscles were the only power source available aboard the ship. Steam fist and then motor vessels almost put an end to this old tradition, but luckily interest has been taken to bring them back during leisure time.
While the ones off-watch enjoy of them indoors, the wind steadies and lessen to below the 20kn of Westerly. Time to start setting more canvas. First Top Gallants are sheeted down and hoisted, then the Middle Staysails and Outer Jib are hauled. Not much later the Royals join and by the end of the day, the Europa sails on a Northeasterly course with nearly all her sails set.

Geschreven door:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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