Bang, bang, bang… bang!!!!💥
Freeing ports don’t stop banging scoping water off a main deck that fills up with every jerk when the big swells crash over the hull and climb over the railing, with the ship heeling heavily to the port side. It’s 4:00 AM and Europa, on her southerly course to Antarctica just got off South Georgia Lee.
The winds blow on the high 30s kn, gusts push up the wind meter over the 40kn. A night of good sailing close hauled where the lookouts reported an iceberg, then a bergy bit, afterward a growler, and so on, not easy in the choppy seas, dim light and waves splashing over the ship.
A quite sleepless night for many, while unsecured items fly over the cabins; annoying noises come from inside the drawers that are just half filled up; loose latches from cabinets open, spilling their contents on the heeling floor. Sometimes is not devoid of difficulties just to stay put on our bunks while lying down, or to dress and don a harness before stepping on deck.
And then, once we managed, a wet deck welcomed us straight away to pull down and bunting up the upper topsails. Not the easiest job to furl them afterwards in the strong winds. While doing it an open seam is found in the fore one. When the blows stabilize a bit about the 30kn, cold hands aloft stitch a repair.
The big seas break around the ship, standing on the yard footropes the wind sweeps over us, numbed hands try to work their way pushing the sharp needle through layers of hard canvas. The job must be done, the sail will be needed soon again.
Mysterious, impressive, spectacular, unpredictable. Home of storms, demonic tempest but also calms, easy seas. The countless poetry and literature of the seas wouldn’t be the same if the ocean was always flat as a lake, nor it would be such an evoking and interesting adventure and misadventures subject.
Not much later its gaskets are taken off, the sail is sheeted down and hauled once more. The westerly winds back during the day to the WSW and slowly but surely calm down, the seas abate too. Later on at night, a fair westerly blows again veering to an even better WNW that allows us to steer not just south but a bit on a SSW course.
More canvas is added to keep up the speed, thinking too on the forecast telling that the conditions will further ease at least for the following hours.
Close hauled on starboard tack we follow the wind shifts adjusting our course with them.