15th March 2020 Sailing under fair winds on a northerly course
With the wind backing rapidly to become more westerly at a good 20kn, Europa happily changes course and starts heading in a north direction. Still braced Close Hauled she follows the wind changes for half of the day.
91nm in the right direction have been sailed in the last 24 hours, but all in all, 130nm lie behind counted over the ground. A difference of about 40nm sailed mostly Eastwards as she waited for the forecasted shift in the wind direction.
Following the prevision, the wind keeps backing becoming westerly first, then all the way blowing from the south. Beam Reach first then almost square, she keeps a good speed and course towards Tristan da Cunha, still way over 1000 miles away.
Bracing a couple of times involves other changes on the sail setting as well. Yards must be stacked properly, Staysail sheets must be eased, Course tacks must be repositioned, some sails come down and have to be furled, others are sheeted down and hoisted. We all start understanding that pulling this or that rope is just the beginning of the job. Knowing what we haul, how, and why comes next. Trimming the result and steering the wheel to keep the ship on a steady course represent the end of the work and the beginning of a new one, think ahead about what’s to come. For that, we count on the invaluable help of the wind forecasts, barometer, sea state. But finally, all come up to keep the sturdy Old Lady Europa in a happy willing sailing mood.
"Setting the sails by no means ends the work at them. Trimming is quite important. Every time there is the slightest shift in the course or wind there ought to be a corresponding shift of trim so as to catch every breath the sail can hold. To effect this with the triangular sails a sheet must be slacked away or hauled more in; while, in the case of the square rails on the yards, a brace must be attended to."
- William Wood, The little blue book of sailing wisdom. Stephen Brennan
Now that we are back at sea, if time is enough between the sail handling, the sail training talks and practices are scheduled again, usually daily combined with other lectures on biology, geology, or history. As the ship continues sailing on and on, no matter heeling, pitching, or rolling, calm or rough seas, the rig maintenance doesn’t stop either. Always there is a worn-out line to swap, blocks to overhaul and change, chafing gear to be put in place, a mousing to tie in a shackle or a check of the rigging, thinking on repairs to do on the go and other up-keeping and fixing coming up soon when in the shipyard.