Another great day of sailing, crossing the South Atlantic. As we steer between 095º and 100º we reach again the 40ºs latitude, before coming up again and head towards Cape Town.
By the time the watch changed last night at 02:00h, Royals and Outer Jib were furled. But in the night, having quite steady winds slightly decreasing, Prt watch set them again, and we sail like this until before lunch, where the same sails are stowed away again, with a little increase in the wind and some gusts up to 28kn from NNE-ly direction. Europa heels to Starboard side as she rides the South Atlantic sailing close hauled at port tack, on a 095º course at over 8kn. Fair winds and good weather, with sunshine at times and thin high clouds covering the sky, allow us to keep going with maintenance projects, serving lines and preparing blocks and grommets, and also gives us the chance for new talks. This morning Jordi informed us about the scientific projects on Humpback whales, related with the Chilean Antarctic Institute and Quaternary Research Centre from Punta Arenas. The studies are mostly centred on the Southern Hemisphere “G” population, which follows a general migration route between their breeding grounds along the Pacific coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama and the feeding areas in the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
A small group of this subpopulation don’t do the whole migration towards Antarctica but instead they stop in the Chilean Patagonian waters for feeding. The research, based on photoidentification and population genetics is conducted in both areas. Photo identification is based on recognising the different individuals from the unique pattern shown at the ventral part of their flukes, and catalogue them to compare afterwards with catalogues from breeding areas in the tropics. That technique gives us the chance to know their migratory routes and destinations along the year. Taking tissue samples using darts shot with specially adapted rifles or crossbows, permits the genetic research on the population. This season a researcher from the team where Jordi has been collaborating for years as well, could join the Europa for one of her Antarctic trips, to continue with the project.
Europa, as an ocean wanderer offers a great platform for some scientific projects related with the oceans and their wildlife, and from time to time offers the chance to some researchers to join the trips. A great added value for all of us too, that allows the chance to get information, talks and lectures first hand from them. In the afternoon Aaron kept going with his course on Navigation, and we also started the “guest talks” where all of us have the chance to share our knowledge and experiences on different fields with the rest of the fellow travellers. In the meantime the wind was slowly backing to the N, decreasing in force and blowing at 14kn. Good chance to set the light weather canvas again. Gaff Topsail, Flying Jib and the Royals are set, and we sail with all our sails but the Skysails and Upper staysails on a 100º course at 7.3kn. Later on, during dinner the wind picks up again over 18kn becoming a bit gusty, time to take away the Flying jib, and afterwards the Gaff Top sail is also stowed away. During the night the wind eases a bit, still slowly backing more to the N, and eventually, the forecast says that will end up as Westerly at some point tomorrow, announcing still good sailing towards Cape Town.
In the late hours the wind eases a bit to 16kn, and the Europa with the same sail plan as the start of the evening, still sails at over 7kn, now straight Eastwards. After another day of good progress we had made 179nm in the last 24h, from noon to noon, and just 1070nm to arrive.