Tristan da Cunha 130nm Eastwards. Squares up to Top Gallants, Inner and Outer Jibs, Braced close to square, and winds from the aft filling the sails while Europa keeps rolling in the South Atlantic swell.
Running downwind is not the fastest or most comfortable sailing, but allowing to plot a course straight towards the remote island.
Passing squalls during the night, with rain and gusts climbing up to 35kn made for dousing the Royals and having them stowed away. Westerly winds ask for pulling down the staysails downhauls and furl them.
From then on, the day goes on under the good weather, with now and then passing showers and menacing squall clouds spread a handful of miles here and there. All in all allowing to keep going with some maintenance projects aloft, sail training talks, and lectures.
In the afternoon starts to be clear that will be necessary to slow down soon if we want to have a good look at Tristan da Cunha in daylight. Still under restrictions concerning the Covid pandemic, the remotest inhabited island in the world won’t allow visitors ashore still for a while. But it is always worth sailing close to the spectacular volcano that forms the island and having a look at Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, the only town in the archipelago, home to a quite isolated community counting about 250 people.
But before that, the first land comes into sight. With a name that catches our attention, Inaccessible Island contours start to be visible amongst the low clouds. 30km Southwest of Tristan and Surrounded by formidable 500m cliffs, it remains in almost pristine condition, free of introduced animals. The fact that tells about its abundance of breeding birds. Amongst them, the Spectacled Petrel nest nowhere else on earth, and about two million shearwaters pairs breed here. It is also home to two endemic land birds, the Inaccessible rails and buntings. 230 species of plants cover the terrain, eight of them nowhere else to be found, plus other 60 exclusives to the Tristan archipelago.
Gradually we start leaving Inaccessible behind when the sun starts getting low on the horizon. Planning a sunrise arrival to the vicinity of Tristan da Cunha, late in the afternoon Europa starts reducing sail under yet another stunning sunset.
By nightfall, she makes her way just under Topsails and both of her Jibs, still at a speed of 3 to 4kn on an ENE course. More sail handling sure will be needed during the next hours to pinpoint her arrival to close proximity of Tristan by the early morning.