During all day we have been sailing on heavy conditions, strong winds, gusts up to maximum 60 kn, hale and snow, just with a couple of moments where the sun shows shyly between the clouds.
The Europa has been riding high-confused swells, up to 6 mts, making us to heavily roll, while doing good speeds between 7 to over 10 knots on our way to Tristan da Cunha, crossing the South Atlantic. Like we have been doing during our week in South Georgia, after spending the night at anchor we heave at around 06.00h to start heading to our next planned destination. Despite the strong winds forecasted, we wake up to a relatively calm day and decide to try our luck heading towards the scheduled landing at Cooper Bay, close to the Southernmost tip of the Island. But after a couple of hours, when we are closer to Cape Vashel, the wind hits us, gusting up to 50 knots from the SW. Here sure we can feel the strong winds with W-ly component that blow straight on the exposed Western coast of the island, and rounding Cape Disappointment, create an area on strong winds, gusts and instability as we approach Cooper Bay.
Under these conditions, a landfall on this area of the island it will not be possible. Then the decision is taken of changing plan and set course towards Tristan da Cunha. Like this we continue the crossing of the South Atlantic, which will bring us to Cape Town at the end of this fabulous trip. Today we start the sailing leg of our journey, after shorter crossings to Antarctica and South Georgia, and enjoying the incredible landscapes, walks and wildlife of these areas. Once we are in more open waters the wind field is of SW 30 to 35 kn, and soon we start setting canvas. First the Fore Lower topsail to get some pull and stop the engine, then we set the rest of Top sails, the Aap, Dekzwabber, Inner jib and at the end the Main course (eventually we had to stow it away later as we found a gash on one of its seems). We sail broad reach between 6 to 8 kn on a NNE course. After having a meeting all together where our guides informed us about the situation, asked us to start our watch system and warned us about the upcoming strong winds and heavy rolling of the ship, we gybe changing our course to 060º Just before lunch we take away the Main Upper Topsail on increasing winds up to 45 kn from 210º.
In the afternoon the wind started to slowly veer to SW, blowing 35 kn but we experienced more gusts up to 55 kn, even mixed with several squalls passing by, bringing hale and snow. At that point the steering became really difficult and we decide to start steering from inside the deckhouse, as the Europa rolls heavily and rides increasing seas. After dinner with both permanent crew watches on deck we gybe again to Broad reach Starboard tack, from now on sailing a 035º course for the rest of the day. During the last 12 hours, since starting to set sail at 08:00h until our daily 8 o’clockie meeting, we have sailed 90 nm, expecting to spend around 11 days at sea to reach the remote Tristan da Cunha. The heavy weather conditions that we are experiencing are related with the pass of a Low Pressure system below us, while a High Pressure system is reaching us afterwards. `
As we still sail on the cold Antarctic waters South of the Antarctic Converge, and still quite close to South Georgia and to the Weddell Sea further South, there is still possibility to find icebergs on our way, so we have to keep sharp lookouts in the middle of the hale, wind and bad weather together with the low visibility. We leave South Georgia behind on a real day of its infamous weather, with this we round up a complete South Georgia experience.