For two days now, the Europa rides the wild seas.
25, 30, 35, wind meter climbs often over 40kn pointing at winds and gusts squeezed between the back of a High-pressure System and a menacing Depression that follows.
Southern Ocean, South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, highway of weather systems that uninterrupted by any landmass sweep over the open waters. Growing big swells too as they travel away Eastwards. It is for a reason that those latitudes get the epithet of the Roaring Forties.
Strong winds that for ages had helped sailing ships on their voyages Eastwards around the world in the Southern Hemisphere. A belt of wind that encircles the planet, which besides being effective for travel planning, has a history linked with worldwide commerce and the growth of the Dutch and English Empires. Use of the Roaring Forties, "To run the easting down”, a way of speeding up passages along traditional trading routes between Europe and the East Indies or Australasia, was discovered in 1611 by the Dutch explorer Hendrik Brouwer.
No matter how hard it blows or how calm the winds are, the ship always needs a hand to steer her and eyes on lookout. Wake-ups for the watch about to be on duty are followed by suiting up properly with foul weather gear, harness, maybe a cup of coffee, and a snack. Rotations at the designated posts during the watch start. Two handling her wheel, two watching the seas ahead, the rest having a break or giving a hand on deck to set sail or afterward tidy up the ropes back to their pins. In the meantime, the permanent crew is busy at the galley, bar, keeping an eye in the wheelhouse for a good course and wind changes, busy on maintenance or doing the daily cleaning of the ship.
From waking up to dressing, from plotting a route to steering, from the galley to up aloft the rig, none an easy task when the ship rolls and heels and when the swell breaks upon her hull and decks. Yet the biting cold from past days has become a more pleasant temperature and the waters we sail on reached 9ºC, making for a more bearable time on deck.
But not all the time enraged winds blow here, and by the late night, meteorological conditions ease down and seas gradually abate. Main Upper Topsail is set again together with the Outer Jib and over the Main Deck, the smaller Aap is replaced by the large Desmond. More canvas to keep a good speed on a good North-easterly course.