The calms we found in the Beagle Channel are behind. Today we face a very different day than yesterday. A journey when we begin the sailing in the open waters of the Drake Passage. Ahead of us hundreds of miles of one of the most infamous seas in the world.
“Now…bring me that horizon.” As Captain Jack Sparrow shouts in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. For us a horizon where Antarctica lays. There is where we set our course for, across the latitudes of the Furious 50’s it is to the Screeching 60’s where we head.
Adjectives that give an idea of the difficulties of this quest. The swells had risen, and the following winds blew stronger. Today the ship rolls and rolls. The waves, grow in the uninterrupted waters around the world at those southern high latitudes. They came in a seemingly endless succession of water hills that were breaking over the ship’s railing and now and then filled the main deck and breezeways, battering the starboard side and running across the deck to the leeward. It all made for difficult steering when combined with the strong winds from the aft. Below decks and in the cabins everything that had not been taken care of and well sea-stowed was tossed in a bit of a mess, as a sailor’s saying goes “everything on top and nothing at hand”. Walking around the ship, getting off our bunks, dressing in our foul weather gear, donning the harness, and joining the watches on deck require care and anticipation of our moves and the shakes and lurches of the ship. A rolling that makes for the feared seasickness to strike. And it does it hard today. Up to 20 people feel the motion sickness and up to half of them can’t show up for their watches.
This, then, was the Drake Passage, the most dreaded bit of ocean on the globe—and rightly so. Here nature has been given a proving ground on which to demonstrate what she can do if left alone. The results are impressive.
Alfred Lansing. “Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage”
But believe it or not, this was a great sailing day. Northwesterlies steady between the 20’s and with blows about the 30kn keep our old lady Europa happy up and running; just a handful of the menacing squalls passed by; sail handling reduced to a bit of bracing squarer and hoisting/dousing Top Gallants with the rises and dips of the wind. The ship keeps a proper south-easterly course, a nice speed of 7 to 8kn, and a good progress of 156nm in the last 24 hours.