Steaming our way in the variable light breeze, on a general 170º course, now and then winding through showers and squalls.
Staysails, head rig, Spanker stowed, bare poles and using both our engines to get some height before bearing away on the sought Southeasterly Trade Winds, still ahead of us.
Cumulus vertical development is giving way to higher more spread Stratus, veiling the sky. Dryer atmosphere turning into drizzle. Spectacular, colourful sunrises and sunsets becoming duller and greyer.
Still in the doldrums, but the weather beginning to change and the light winds somehow tending to become already more Southeasterly, indications that not so far ahead the reliable southern trades blow.
Europa motors over a crossed 3m swell, practically in the middle of the Ocean: East and West 800nm between her and the closest lands in Guinea Bissau and Brazil.
With the sailhandling reduced to a minimum and the engines pushing us southwards, the day invited to spend more time busy on maintenance projects. Overall up keeping, overhauling, mending and repairing or new-shaping rig implements is a constant in a ship like the Europa. Always things in need of replacement or modifications are found from down below to the top of the masts and yards, passing by the decks and the hull. Process that never stopped either at sea or on dry dock since her complete refit from a 1911 lighthouse ship, to start a new life as a bark in 1994.
Older than 100 years, her riveted hull was made to withstand the wintery icy waters of the Elbe river, and during her big project of refurbishing finished about 30 years ago, she was gifted with the potential to spread much more additional canvas to the winds. But to keep her safely wandering, from the Trades and Doldrums to the Roaring 40’s and Screaming 60’s, riding gales and drifting in the calms, a good and non-stop maintenance program must be held to keep her fit for it.
Tools, knives, spikes, needles and threats, ropes, old and new parts, scrapers, canvas, leather, rig bags, sandpaper… all scattered over the fore-deck and workbench. Ready for stropping blocks, seizing, rope replacements, splicing, chafing gear sawing to be placed up aloft. Dry conditions help too for scraping, sanding and protecting blocks from the elements through several layers of varnish. Everything part of the daily duties when the weather is good and the sailhandling leaves time for it.