Once this reaches social media, I will probably have arrived in Cape Town, or perhaps be on my way, but at the time of writing I am in my bedroom packing some final items. Tempting as it is to see friends in the days before leaving, catching Covid at this stage would scupper my voyage. I will see them all on my return!
Currently, I am familiarising myself with some of the language that I might encounter on board - not Dutch (that would be ambitious), but sailing terminology! Europa can employ some 1250 square metres of sail and lots of running rigging, and the crew will help us understand how to combine this into an effective area of sail. Learning a few names beforehand should help me get involved. Jib? Topgallant? Gaffpreventer? It might as well be Dutch.
Packing is an enjoyable task. I think of all the different weather we may encounter: sunglasses and shorts for sunny days in the doldrums, raincoats and boots for tropical storms. I am really hoping to encounter the full mix, not least because rough weather is some of the best for sailing. There will also be marine life to see: whales, dolphins, even migrating birds taking refuge on the wide yarns of Europa as they perform their own, distant ocean crossings - I have packed some decent binoculars. Bark Europa gives us a useful packing list to make sure we have just the things we need.
A few books telling tales of the Atlantic are the final items to bring. While I hope to be kept busy on board (and Europa has her own library), there will be lots of time to pass during my quarantine period in Cape Town. Reading these will keep me in the sailing spirit. Tomorrow I catch my flight. In a week, land will be little more than a memory!