Ushuaia. Preparations behind the scenes for the new journey.
Moored at the busy port of Ushuaia, Europa quietly lays having a rest after her first Antarctic adventure of the season. Over 50 days of a good combination of sailing and visits ashore. At sea along the Roaring 40’s, Furious 50’s, and Shrieking 60’s, and stepping to at the low and undulating lands of the Falklands, their rocky hills, bare ridges, and long white sandy beaches home for seals and teeming with many bird species, while dolphins swim in their waters.
South Georgia came after. The island shouts out loud its powerful and wild character. Crazy weather, demanding sailing, fascinating wildlife, and history.
The remoteness of Antarctica became evident after the days of sailing the Scotia Sea and arriving at its icy and forbidding coasts.
A voyage that in the end brought us to Ushuaia, where the ship spent about three days to get ready again. Provisions, water and fuel bunkers, some maintenance is always to be done, a full clean and scrub of her cabins, public spaces, and decks, a few changes on the Permanent crew, and a warm welcome to the new full complement of Antarctic travelers.
The Europa, a distinctive ship amongst the many large expedition motor vessels that crowd the harbor, opens her gangway for embarkation in the afternoon.
She is now ready to undo her moorings and face the often rough seas of the Drake Passage and Antarctica. A moment that still will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Tonight she will spend the night alongside with time enough for the first talks, introductions, and familiarisations and a quiet sleep before the rolling, heeling, and pitching in the open sea.
Her hull, over 100 years old has seen many sailing adventures but it's just half the amount of time since the first people who ventured far south found the last continent to be discovered, Antarctica. Hardships and adventures that don’t have much to do with today’s extent of our knowledge of the area, the technology we use, and the levels of safety on which the fleet operates. Nevertheless, the sole mention of Antarctica still evokes fascination, adversity, the difficulties of navigating its icy waters, and its bountiful wildlife. Nowadays attracts heaps of visitors. Many of them prefer the comfort and speed of their trip, others choosing the way of an old sailing ship. A harder, wetter, and colder way, but sure a remarkable and different experience on a memorable expedition setting.
Plans for the voyage are laid out, but the ship lives more of the winds, swells, currents, sea and ice conditions than on the plans and schedules. How to handle Weather and Ocean is the real thrust of the voyage, a door open for adventure during the next three weeks.