For the last couple of days the Europa has been alongside the busy port of Ushuaia, the self acclaimed southernmost city of the world.
Her three masts stand up amongst the several large motor vessels that surround her streamlined hull. A sort of a unique ship amongst the modern trendy vessels that nowadays run the rapidly growing Antarctic tourism.
One of the few old Tall Ships that still sails the world’s oceans, coming from the old traditions of square rigged ships of the golden age of sail. Times when their main reason for existence was the use of the wind for transporting cargo and countless of them filled the harbours and seas around the world. Then, some were also used as lightships to guide difficult inshore waters passages, the history of the nowadays Europa, former Elbe4 when she was launched in 1911. In the present some still sail as navy sail-training vessels or ships with more touristic aspirations. The last category including luxurious operation or simpler training ships for voyage crews which help with sail handling, steering, lookouts and maintenance, traveling in the warm tropical waters, mediterranean cruising, participating on Tall Ship races and events, doing long ocean passages or in the rough high latitudes like ourselves.
The voyage that we are about to start lines 52 days ahead of us all the way along the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean from South America to South Africa. An unmatched combination of an Ocean Crossing along the Roaring 40’s, Furious 50’s and Shrieking 60’s with visiting the icy Antarctica shores, South Georgia with its beaches teeming with wildlife and hikes over its mountainous landscapes. Tristan da Cunha, known to be the remotest inhabited island in the world lies close to our path.
A kind of a trip that requires a good preparation and a good number of preliminaries. Those include a full clean and tidy up of cabins and bunks, deck wash, some repairs had to be done aloft, sails to stitch on deck. A large amount of provisions have to be loaded and stowed away. All under the variable weather of southern Patagonia, to have the ship ready tomorrow to welcome her new voyage crew.