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Departure from Talcahuano

It's eight in the morning. We are called on deck for the mandatory pre-departure safety instructions and drills. An hour later, the pilot for maneuvering in the harbor walks aboard. Engines are on. Next, the mooring lines come off. Just a few minutes later the pilot is picked up by a boat. And there we go, Europa starts her trip to Easter Island.  

About 2000 nautical miles are ahead between us and this remote island. A couple of thousand miles of the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. Along them, we will steer the ship, conduct lookouts, and help the permanent crew with the sail handling while learning from their explanations about sails, ropes, yards, masts, and winds.  

On Europa, the final destination is not just the only goal of a trip. Even though she is used to visiting distant, exotic lands off of the beaten track, we put the focus too on how to get there and on the voyage itself. Every one of her trips is different. She lives of an ever-transforming environment with changing seas, currents, winds, weather patterns, climate areas, wildlife arrays, and ports where she calls.  

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, and uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. 

John Steinbeck “Travels with Charley” 

The 40’s roar, the 50’s rage, and the 60’s scream far south of us now. These are well-known latitudes for the Europa on her Antarctic voyages. Now she has to deal with the Southern horse latitudes where the winds are definitely lighter and variable and the skies are normally clear and the weather dry, the 30° S to 35° S. The latitudes well known by the sailing ships of the South American conquest, exploration and trading era, where they could become stalled for long periods in these regions of high pressure and light breezes. Often horses were part of their cargo, but unable to sail due to lack of wind, the ships frequently spent longer than planned at sea, running out of provisions and most importantly, drinking water. To try to preserve it as much as possible, sailors on these ships would sometimes throw the horses they were transporting overboard. Legend or not, that is considered one of the possible explanations for the 'horse latitudes’ denomination of this band of latitudes around the World’s Oceans.

And today, indeed light and variable winds we had. From the North at the start of the day, then North-NW-ly, backing to South-westerly, veering then to Westerly, just to become a light West by South breeze late at night, blowing for most of the time at between 3 and 6kn. But not really the driest, as several squalls passed by during the night carrying rain and wind shifts that made us think to set more canvas to come again to barely a handful of knots of wind when they passed.  

Europa finds herself in the wavering and unreliable climatological area between the Westerlies that blow south of us and deflect to the north along the Chilean coast and the Trade winds that blow in a Southeasterly direction starting further north. The Subtropical High Pressure is to the West of us, but we are still affected by the passing fronts of a deep Low centered in southern Patagonia. 

A day to use our engines and help them setting the Lower and Middle Staysails. Quite good for a first day at sea to get used to the ship’s motion and to familiarise ourselves with the tasks we are supposed to perform during the trip. Lessons were given on how to steer the ship, how to do a proper lookout, and how to handle ropes and pull the lines. For the ones that were up to it, it was the time too for the instructions on climbing aloft. 

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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