Here we are; straight from the diploma awarding ceremony in the Enkhuizer Wester Church deep dipping into the life at sea. Or rather ocean. It's for real!
eager to play
A group of 12 Enkhuizer novices jumped on the beauty Bark Europa in Capetown, South Africa, exactly one month ago. Setting sail a few days after we lost the Table Mountain out of sight we embarked on this long ocean passage that would, eventually, turn all us little Pollywogs into adolescent Shellbacks. Straight from the start of the voyage it showed that the six months of school had been just about right to feed us, greenhands, with little enough understanding of all there is to learn about the art of sailing and hence the crew of Bark Europa found themselves girdled by a herd of hungry hasty cats & dogs, eager to play.
Eager Zappy Scholars
It didn't last long before the stylish and rich library on board Europa was vibrating from EZS (Eager Zappy Scholars)' energy, eating books and excreting voyage plans. Especially, but not exclusively, those first voyage days seemed to be as overwhelming to us (at least to author) as the Wonderland must have been wrapping Alice in; a big playground with loads to learn, try-out, absorb, practice, test, read and work on in every single corner of this sailing belle. All of this made possible by her outstanding crew, each member of whom has wealths of knowledge and skills on offer (not to mention patience with us).
To name a few of the limitless list of skills we have been introduced to: sail handling on square-rigged ships, knots, rope & woodwork (splicing, seizing, whipping, worming/parcelling/serving wires, making blocks), chart correcting, sail sewing, leatherwork, scraping/sanding/varnishing (ok, that's nothing much new), determining compass errors by azimuths, weather observations, astronavigation, all trigonometry of grand circle sailing, firefighting drills, checking of safety equipment and facilities on board the ship, the meditative work of baggy-wrinkling, getting acquainted with the radar, AIS and all available instruments the wheelhouse has to offer, keeping track of our deadreckoning and of course taking helm and perform lookout duties, although one mostly finds lookouts gazing at the stars all night (lonely ocean provided), especially since one of the Eager Zappy Scholars gave us some nightly lectures on the identification of stars, constellations and signs.
Whilst hammocks are not valued on this trip, only rarely one finds a human on the bowsprit in the jib net, contemplating being out here at all. This lively organism, worldfamous under the name Europa, steals everybody's hearts, winds us around her masts, turning each and everyone on board into a devoted craftsman; anything to keep her proudly going. Zeus can leave his most beloved conquest to herself; Europa is better not tamed; she tames us. What a joy!
Another three weeks before Land Ho! Azores. Another three weeks of being served exquisite Food with Love (Rensje! Sofie! Gjalt! and all multi-armed crew), three weeks of being presented sunset sceneries, three weeks of receiving gentle breezes, of sleeping under the stars and of being all happy people living happy dayz... Thank you all,
Additional Live Report from the nightwatch 0:00 - 04:00, in which we set another 12 more sails, starboard tack, for our brandnew closehauled course and for our friends in the morning watch to enjoy; we are ready for sailing this northern hemisphere, let's move it, wigglejiggle straight up to Azores.