“The simple act of sailing had carried him beyond the world of reversals, frustrations, and inanities. And in the space of a few short hours, life had been reduced from a highly complex existence, with a thousand petty problems, to one of the barest simplicity in which only one real task remained—the achievement of the goal.”
Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
The first full day at sea, the first of many to come on our adventurous trip. We leave the land behind, a convoluted society that we change for a different system. The ocean with its winds and currents, the ship with her sails, and our watch schedules it is all part of our new small world. All working together in it to fulfill a dreamlike journey to the remote southernmost parts of the planet.
Today, a dance of a day, a close partnership between the shifting and changeable rhythms and moods of the wind and the movements of the sails and their yards to follow them. A chorus of hands on deck and aloft accompanying the concert, now pulling a rope, letting go, from poop to fore decks, from up the masts to down below. Making progress under sail when possible to keep a good course and speed, switching the engines on when the breeze dies down or blows straight on our nose.
A day and night for sail handling while at the same time beginning to practice the hauling of the maze of lines that fill Europa’s masts and decks. All of them have a purpose, and all of them are in use. Certainly a bit overwhelming at the start of a journey aboard this sort of ship, but sure the functions and workings will sink in as the days pass, the always ongoing work on deck continues and we all get used to it. Squall lines are left behind for the moment, the clouds and lightning that flashed the skies last night have also dissipated.
Sailing and motor sailing our way, first off Rio de la Plata system and then southwards, the seas gradually have changed their color from the town and green sediment and organic matter loaded waters to the more blue oceanic ones. The ship, on her way south, is just starting to feel the effects of the Falkland Current, running northwards as a branch of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current., and the mixing area with another current flowing south from Brazil. Keeping ourselves sailing at about 25nm from the Argentinean coast we try to escape the strongest flow that goes over slightly more offshore waters.
Common in this area, White-chinned petrels shared today’s calm waters and shifting winds with Black-browed albatrosses. Their main nesting areas lay further South, but on occasional long foraging trips, plus youngsters and nonbreeders can disperse over large distances along the South American coats.
Resting on the bowsprit, now and then a few Arctic terns can be seen. They are on their way south to Antarctic waters, they have been flying from their breeding areas in the Arctic, and now, after one of the longest migrations amongst all birds, they are about to reach the main feeding ground around the Weddell Sea.
To make good progress towards the Falklands / Las Malvinas, now a push from the engines is needed, a good breeze drives us with a proper speed and course. As usual, we try to sail taking advantage of the winds as much as possible, all in all keeping an average speed that will allow us to touch the islands around the scheduled date for our first visits ashore.
In today’s variable winds that requires hands on deck for sailhandling often enough not to leave much free time for the watches, both of the voyage and the permanent crew. And when we find ourselves not hauling or easing a rope on our hands, we might give a hand on other tasks and why not, for instance, join a potato peeling session to prepare dinner.