Sailing under full canvas on the way to Cape Town until late evening, when the engines are in use again. Start rigging Studdingsail gear
Seas and winds eased down last night. Rolling less than what we are all already used to. Northwesterly wind of 10 to 15kn soon asked for setting more canvas, and by the beginning of the day, Europa makes her way on an ENE course at about 5kn under full sail.
On that fair weather, waking up with a morning coffee at hand, a look outside unveils still a number of albatrosses and petrels flying around, mastering the last bit of wind left. Easing their numbers along the day together with the calming conditions.
On the flattening seas and light airs the movements of the ship become less harsh and more predictable. All canvas set in a fair breeze makes for easy sailing.
Weather, sea state, wind forecasts, distance to cover to Cape Town. All seems to indicate that today it’s a good moment for starting with the Studding Sails gear preparation and the hoisting of their booms.
So far, on days like today when all of Europa’s canvas is spread to the wind, she sails under 21 sails. In calm winds further aft than abeam and smooth seas, an additional set of light weather sails can be added to the configuration. When booms, halyard blocks, sheets, and the rest of the necessary lines ropes are in place, three on each side of the Main Mast can be set.
But just when a fair breeze blows from the aft or Broad reach. A rough idea of their workings reminds us a square sail, set just outboard of them using two sheets to pull their corners down, a clew-line to haul the corner up, a halyard to hoist the whole business, and a downhaul or tack to bring them down again. But the sail has to be rigged on deck and pulled up, traveling a long way until reaching its spot next to the yards, flying like a kite.
While many are up the rig or down at the Foredeck busy with hoisting those booms, the good weather and calm seas gave also a good window of opportunity to our engineers to start showing some of the areas downstairs that until this moment have been off-limits. Small groups of curious fellow travelers that are interested in knowing what happens down at the ship’s dungeons, are shown the engine room, dry stores, fore-peak switch room, and the like.
Many questions followed the explanations about what the compartments are used for, how the engine, generator, water system work, how the cooks manage to prepare the daily tasty meals, where do they get their provisions, how come the bar is always well stoked. Now we all starting to have a more complete idea of the engineer's job, and how they cope on daily basis to keep the ship’s systems up and running so we can all enjoy a safe and comfortable trip.
A journey that started on the 16th of February is about to finish soon, and for that prompt arrival to South Africa, in the windless conditions we find ourselves by nighttime, a push from those engines that we visited today is needed.