The embarkation day welcomed us with better weather than last couple of days. Even the sun broke through the clouds for part of the journey. Fact that allowed some of us (who have been on board from Montevideo, where our adventure started on the 1st of November) to get some time off, enjoy the mild temperature and the few hours of sunshine. Other fellow travellers embarking today had been around Port Stanley (the chief port and town of the Falkland Islands) or other Patagonia regions, for a few days. Yet for others that was the end of long journeys from our hometowns, and from many hours of dreams about embarking on our Old Lady Europa. There she was, laying at anchor right in front of the Tall Ship Friendly town Port Stanley, ready to receive us on board in the afternoon.
As the weather starts to deteriorate, and the rain starts to fall, a zodiac is sent to pick us up on one of the town’s small floating jetties. There are actually two of them, but the other one next to us, today is home for a Sea lion having a nap. As we arrived on board, we were welcomed with fresh tea and coffee, while Belén (one of our guides for this trip) took pictures of the few new Voyage Crew, to put together the “ship’s facebook” to get to know each other’s faces and names more easily. Check-in and a few more formalities with local British customs were next, all before three bells rang, indicating a gathering of all of us. Captain Klaas and his crew welcomed us officially on board and gave a few hints on weather forecast and activities to come.
Instead of departing straight away, the wisest thing to do having in mind the stormy winds forecasted, is to move to safer anchorage and wait a bit longer. The starting of our crossing to South Georgia through the renown “Roaring Fifties” degrees of latitude will probably have to wait till tomorrow afternoon or evening, depending on the weather development. Anyway, the evening was not over yet, and after dinner we all met on deck to pull some ropes and set some sails. Europa will heave anchor and sail a couple of miles to Williams Bay, a bit deeper and roomier anchorage that offers a safer overnight stay under the upcoming forecasted strong winds.
Magic evening light environ the occasion as light rain falls. Lucky event giving life to double rainbow framing the ship while setting canvas. And like this, off go, using the light fair breeze to sail through the properly named “The Narrows” to our planned overnight port.
Lower Staysails, Spanker and Top Sails are set, Upper Top Sails are hauled and Braces pulled to manoeuvre the ship, as the Horn blasts in a farewell to Port Stanley. Back-pipe music played by our 13 years old friend Hamish adds the soundtrack to the fantastic seemingly staged departure. He, together with his family, was part of the former Voyage Crew while Europa travelled last few days around Falklands. Soon we drop anchor hoping for a quiet night.
As last activity for the day, Jordi, Belén and Bob the Doc (our three guides and the Doctor on board) had a talk for all new people that embarked here to introduce the way of life on board the ship, ending with a brief introduction to the trip itself and our itinerary. Anchor watches were set and some of us took turns to spend the night watching out the development of the weather, keeping an eye on the increasing winds and checking that Europa does not drag on her anchor while the afternoon breeze develops on wind gusts close to 40kn.