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Biosecurity procedures and South Georgia briefings

Foggy and grey full last day at sea before reaching South Georgia.

Eventhough the rain and drizzle, together with bad visibility, we had a great sailing day again. We kept the same sail configuration until midday, when we set the Royals and Top Gallants, on decreasing winds, now blowing around 20 kn from the NW. Other slight sail changes were made in the afternoon, when braced squarer and set Desmond and the Outer jib on a steady wind of 20-25 kn, while the Europa surfs huge swells at 7 to 9 kn, on a 060º course straight to the Northern shores of South Georgia.

Then, after our meeting and recap/briefing after dinner, we were speeding up again to 10 kn, but the darkness, the foggy conditions and low visibility, together with trying to achieve a good arrival timing to the island, makes the captain to take the decision to slow down a bit, taking canvas away. Like this Royals and Top Gallants are furled. The fair winds have pushed us all the way from Elephant Island to South Georgia, at the point of having an estimated time of arrival for tomorrow around midday, ahead of our schedule. Travelling on a sailing ship makes the timings and programs more interesting, and we have to be open and flexible, as great part of a trip like this is the sailing itself, dealing with the wind fields that we may encounter along our long way, crossing the South Atlantic and stopping in several paces on our way. Like Antarctica that now feels far behind, and our next adventure, South Georgia where we are about to arrive.

The proximity of the island means that its time to conduct all the procedures prior to start our activities ashore. To protect the fragile ecology of South Georgia it is essential that us, visitors on the island, implement the necessary biosecurity protocols and get the proper information about what we are about to see, places that are about to visit and the code of conduct that we must follow. We know already from our visit to Antarctica that we must clean and vacuum clean our outer gear and bags, with special attention on checking that no seeds, plant material, mud or guano is on our gear and boots. South Georgia is changing quickly, glaciers are retreating and the climate is getting milder, and alien species can take advantage of those changes to successfully establish themselves here if they are introduced by any means. Between the several repetitions of the South Georgia Visitors briefing that we did today, Sarah did her talk on the race for the South Pole, when both teams leaded by the Englishmen Scot and the Norwegian Amundsen respectively, achieved to set foot at the South Pole itself. The Norwegian team being more successful on their adventure, reaching the Pole first and not having any casualties on their way, while the British team perished on their way back from the Pole.

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