- Day Sails
- Follow the ship
Rederij Bark EUROPA
P.O. Box 23183
NL-3001 KD Rotterdam
Tel.: +31 10-281 0990
Fax: +31 10-281 0991
Endings and Beginnings
1510 - 44.50.0'N x 87.44.0'W - By Matthew Maples
"First Place" - That's what the burnished gold plaque in our library reads. The announcement of our Class A win was drowned out by roars of jubilation from our crew; who were outright psyched to see their hard work with the studding sails pay off. Captain Robert Vos grinned like a fox.
That was the last race; Duluth to Whitefish Point. As I write this we are on the eve of the fourth and final Tall Ships Challenge 2010 Great Lakes race; spanning the waters near Green Bay to the outskirts of Chicago, a 118 mile race.
That is for tomorrow - today we sail from Green Bay to Lake Michigan to get in position for tomorrow's 1000 start of the race. We will use the time in-between to acquaint our 22 trainees with the ship; their help will be needed to quickly get canvas aloft at the race's start.
With the conclusion of our hard-hauling race to Whitefish Point, we took it easy with a leisurely sail to Mackinac Island and through the shoals of northern Lake Michigan, before ending in Green Bay. We took a shortcut to Green Bay through the Sturgeon Bay Canal - a narrow canal lined with woodland so close that it created the illusion that we were sailing through a forest.
It is the nature of a world-venturing sailing ship that people are always coming and going. Today, on the quay in Green Bay we left three of our good shipmates; Frank the engineer, Rensje the cook and Captain Robert. We bid them a thunderous farewell with Europa's famously mighty foghorn. They are all going on holiday or to other ventures, but will return to us soon. We, of course, won't forget them, and in the case of Frank, can't forget him because he has, undoubtedly, left us a few surprises. Frank's pranks are well-known, and we will keep a sharp eye out for nasty things in strange places.
In their place we have Marius back as engineer, along with Captain Klaas, Marianne and the ship's dog Sirius. They left us in Panama for holiday and have returned to Europa. Apparently Sirius enjoyed his carefree holiday among green fields and trees while Klaas caught up on maintenance of his home in Holland. Sirius' return has finally put a timely death to a too-oft repeated joke; for whenever anyone has used the phrase for incredulity "Are you serious?" someone, (usually Diven) replies "Sirius! He left in Panama!"
Marius's return somehow coincided perfectly with a famous Europa braai BBQ - of which Marius is de-facto King of the Braai. That Saturday night (the 14th) saw an overly large Europa crew enjoy a huge spread of beef, breads, kabobs and sausages - far more than could be eaten! Perfect! A fine party for ourselves.
We are, of course saddened to part with our shipmates and friends, but it is lessened by the knowledge that we will see them again soon. Europa is a good ship, and you can know it by the fact that her crew, trainees and friends keep finding their way back on board to return from all corners of the world.
Today has been a noteworthy sail - a steady breeze of up to 20 knots from a favourable direction propels us toward the Sturgeon Bay Canal, where Lake Michigan awaits us. For Tim Valbracht however, it has been much more than that. Ten years ago Tim dreamed of sailing on Europa when he visited his cousin, the then engineer Rob Leering. After years of receiving ship's itineraries, insatiably reading the logbook and visiting her when she was in Canada, Tim finally found time to peel himself away from his aircraft maintenance/engineering job to sail away.
His final incentive to come on board came in a strange form; a random opening of a book. The silhouette of a tall ship on the binder of Pete Brown's "Hops and Glory" caught his attention. Tim opened it up immediately and saw, to his amazement: "Part 4 - Europa" - an account of one trainee's time on the ship. "No way!" he thought."If this isn't a sign."
Finally, Tim knew he had to make it happen - today was that day. He says it feels awesome to finally be the one on board, watching the shore fall away, instead of always watching the ship fade away to the horizon. His dream that he had ten years ago is "unfolding with every sail set."
Tim has already been aloft to unfurl the fore topgallant - a fine start. He is using his time on board to make a movie that he began when he filmed the Europa leaving Toronto in this year's parade of sail (from an airplane!) Perhaps it is a project to inspire other to sail.
"It is always going to be a part of my life, this ship," he told me. I think most of us here on Europa understand what he means.