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Having seen what the female members of the crew do, day-in, day-out, up the masts of Europa, in the wheel house, in the organizing and looking after the voyage and in the galley, I can say without reserve that every female member of the crew is carrying her weight and more as an important part of this amazing team. Janke, one of the mates, controls the sailing of the ship on one of the two crew watches; Emma, the Bosun, looks after all the rigging and sails (in fact, everything from the deck up) Marianne runs the galley and edible provisions, with help of Bear and Laura, Sarah, one of our 3 guides, tells the best stories of polar exploration but also runs up and down the mast like a monkey and then we have Elsa, Selene, Natalie and Merle, in the sailing crew.

Their jobs involve hauling ropes and heavy sails, often balanced precariously out on the yards or up the very top of the masts in weather where the voyage crew are cowering in the deck house under thick layers of warm clothing as we head south to cold Antarctic waters. I take my hat off to them for their competence, fearlessness, knowledge and willingness to do just about anything. They are all so helpful and cheerful - at 3 am clearing up the remains of yet another smashed cup in a Force 8- 9 gale, or at the pin rails where somebody has dropped the rope/ asked the same question for the tenth time or is taking a picture when we should be heaving away. Go girls! You rock!

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