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Sailing again, under blue skies

Beautiful sunrise announcing a new sunny day welcomed us, as we were still motoring our way South through light headwinds. From early in the morning several Giant, Cape and a solitary Atlantic petrel fly following the ship on those mild conditions, stopping on the water from time to time due to the lack of fare winds for them to enjoy. The ever-present Black-browed albatrosses travel with us, together with a few majestic Wandering and Royal albatrosses. Also a lonely Grey headed albatross pay a visit to the Europa, but these species don’t use to hang around ships and we have to be lucky to be out on deck to see them flying by. As we will get closer to South Georgia most probably we will have more sightings of them, together with the Wandering and Black browed, as the island is a major breeding site for those species.

Taking advantage of the great weather and good sea conditions the permanent crew was busy during the morning with some maintenance small projects. During the morning the wind started to veer, from S-ly to SW-ly, all the way to NW-ly, increasing from 4 to 12kn. With this fare breeze we all start setting sail around coffee time. Permanent crew assist the Voyage Crew to brace, un-furl and set canvas. First the Staysails then the Squares come up and the engines are turned off, as we steer a 190º course at around 4kn.

Before those activities on deck and aloft, the permanent crew members Emma and Laurits, gave a talk on how the Square and the Stay sails work and in which way and what lines we use to set them. They also practice with all of us how to properly coil the gaskets that hold the sails furl to the yards and how to tie the clove-hitch knot to properly secure them. Some of us also attended Lex workshop on photography in the Lounge. Using pictures taking during one of the voyages from last season, he discussed various aspects of photography, while the participants added their comments and opinions. There are some settings on your camera that can improve the result of your pictures in certain situations. But knowing your subject can also help: many animals show predictable behaviour (to a certain extend) which gives the photographer time to anticipate a perfect shot. After the workshop a few people were seen trying out new camera settings and studying their manual!

Same workshop was repeated in the afternoon, with a larger attendance, as it was not busy on deck by that time. Under sunny blue skies we took the chance to have lunch on deck, followed by some more action setting all the remaining canvas. Like this the Main Course, Skysails, Dekzwabber, Fore Top mast staysail and Flying jib come up, and by 15:00h we Europa rides the gentle swell towards South Georgia under full sail.

The warmer temperature that we experienced today is also related with the increasing surface sea water temperature, now rising from 13ºC to 17ºC, meaning that we were getting off the influence of the cold Falkland Current flowing Northwards, as we sail in deep waters as well. Since departure the depths have been pretty shallow all the way until reaching off the huge Rio de la Plata estuary, but now we sail over more than 4000m of water. Being still pretty close to the slope leading from those abyssal depths to the shallow Continental Shelf, a couple of Fin whales were spotted. These species use to hang around those areas where the deep waters loaded with nutrients come up to surface following the rising sea bottom.

The great weather and good sailing conditions were with us still in the afternoon, so first Merle and then Emma, took the chance to give the talk on Square sails after coffee time. The wind veered a bit more Northwards while the lesson was finishing and we were called on deck to brace a bit squarer. Afterwards the talk kept going on with a hands-on practice session, with many of us taking away and setting again the Main Skysail. Slowly we are building up knowledge about sailing a Bark and the procedures involved on it, progressing from just pulling ropes to actually know what the ropes and our actions mean and how they affect the sailing and the configuration of the rigging.

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