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Good sailing day racing the 40’s

With increasing winds, slowly picking up to 15-18kn from the SW and WSW, in the early morning was time to start setting more canvas. Gradually more sails are sheeted down and hoisted, and by dawn, while the sun comes up over the horizon in yet another amazing sunrise, the Europa happily sails again at 6 to 7kn, in the good weather and wind conditions with all her squares set, plus Lower and Middle Staysails, all head rig and the Spanker. As the morning hours pass by, several squalls clearly show up in the radar, crossing paths with us and carrying wind and rain in short blasts, but enough to make us take some precautions and clue up the Royals. The sunny afternoon allowed us to swing out the Sloopy, that has been resting on deck, making for difficult setting of the Main Course tacks. With her secured alongside there is more space available to fiddle around with sails allowing better sail setting. Afterwards, fair winds from the WSW blowing about 23 to 25kn, made for  setting the Royals once more, and having the ship sailing with all her canvas but Upper Staysails and Gaff Top Sail. Like this our speed increase to 8-9kn keeping a good steering course of 20º. As the evening comes, the sunny weather gets masked by some meteorological  instability, with more squalls sweeping over the ocean, that could be seen at the distance as dark clouds clinging from the sky. In prevision of the associated wind increase and also having in mind the stronger winds expected during the night, the Royals are furled again, reducing canvas with the last light of the day before dinner.
Day like today make for all to wake up, enjoy the good weather and sailing conditions, join the watches, bring cameras on deck, and at the same time also increase the affluence to the different talks offered by the crew and guides. Today, as we left already behind the cold Antarctic waters and now we sail in the Southern temperate areas of the South Atlantic, Sarah and Jordi wanted to wrap-up all the information about the Polar Regions.
Behind us lay the colder latitudes of the 60’s and the 50’s and we now find ourselves on what are called since the early times os sailing “the roaring forties” where strong W-ly winds prevail. So far today we had a mild journey on fair breeze and good seas, but is forecasted a change in the next hours. Looks like we will have back some of the hard sailing experiences we passed further South, though now under more benign temperatures. Thinking back on our time passed in Antarctica and South Georgia Jordi did a second talk about Polar Ecosystems, now getting into more detail on the wildlife inhabiting those extreme environments and their adaptations to endure life close to the Poles. Many pictures were shown as well taken from his travels on sailing ships up North and in the Antarctic region, as a comparison of the diversity on both areas. On the other hand, Sarah is been living for years now in Spitsbergen, and she offered an overview of how is to live there and see the
extraordinarily different seasons passing by, with their long and cold winters, relatively short summers and even shorter spring and autumn. Also today, Janke gathered all who wanted for a lecture as a
continuation of the sail training and navigation program. Our Captain explained the different Points of sail depending where we want to steer the ship in the different winds, and about the sail configuration in any case. Different wind directions and strength combined with the swell characteristics, make for setting different amount of canvas. While we were enjoying the sun on deck, taking pictures or on duty at the wheel and lookouts, a quick look at the sea offered a variety of new and exciting bird species to keep adding to our already long list. Numerous of the Inaccessible Island (from the Tristan archipelago) endemic Spectacled petrels could be seen following the ship. They are close relatives from the more common White chinned. The latter with breeding grounds all along the subantarctic islands and still spotted here and there almost every day we spend at sea. Spectacled are great travelers, when leaving the nesting colonies they disperse all over the southern hemisphere oceans, but mostly following the Brazilian and  Benguela currents along the South American and African coasts. Another of the Tristan da Cunha endemic birds seen today is the beautiful Atlantic petrel, with their dark brown upper parts including the head and upper breast. Also under the tail but showing a light belly. After raising their chicks in the islands, they also disperse over the south Atlantic including further north to subtropical areas. And including another bird that almost could be considered another endemism, Great shearwaters keep flying around all day. They are one of the great world’s ocean wanderers, that can be found all the way in the North Atlantic including latitudes around Southern Greenland, but their breeding grounds are restricted to Tristan da Cunha group with a small population nesting at Falklands. Sharing the seas with those larger species, also some of the small but brave storm petrels keep fluttering their wings over the ocean swells, hundreds of miles away from land. Two more different species were spotted today: White bellied and White faced storm petrels. The first one is similar to the Wilson and Black bellied but showing a completely white underpart, between the black head an neck and the under part of the tail. Less common than other similar storm petrels, their nesting areas reduced to a handful of the smallest Sub Antarctic Islands along the Polar Front, also Tristan and Gough group, and the remote Eastern and Juan Fernandez Islands along the chilean coast. The distinctive White faced storm petrel are slender and elegant, with
noticeably long legs and large rounded wings. Black long patches covering the eyes and white face and forehead A bit more cosmopolitan than other of their relatives storm petrels, white faced are not so commonly spotted in the south Atlantic despite having one of their nesting grounds at Tristan da Cunha group. But also breed in Salvages, Canaries, cape Verde, SW of Australia, New Zealand
and associated subantarctic islands.

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Guide

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