The start of the new day, just passing midnight, came together with an increase on the N-ly and NE-ly winds, that made for striking a couple more staysails. Vlieger, Mizzen Top Staysail and Outer jib came down and were furled. Both our engines push us towards Tristan da Cunha as close to the wind as possible to keep Middle and Lower Staysail set and well sheeted, together with Fore Top Mast Staysail and Inner Jib.
Unfortunately when the wind came back after the last spell of windless, calm and sunny days, it happens to be blowing strong to 25kn practically on our nose, not allowing for sailing. That came together with a weather change as well. Getting closer to Tristan archipelago clouds covered the sky and light rain falls from time to time during the first hours of the day.
On that conditions, steering is taken from the wheelhouse, keeping our course straight and not letting the remaining staysails to flap.
At dawn, skies are clearing up and we are delighted with yet another fantastic sunrise while Nightingale can be see at our Starboard bow, opposite to Inaccessible Island. Swell is been also rising and splashes over our decks while we make our way under engine and the few remaining staysails towards Tristan, that still lays a few more miles further ahead.
With the sight of land and the strong winds came together the increasing amount of birdlife flying around the ship. Countless Spectacled petrels soar around with small flocks of Great shearwaters, while many prions welcome the new day with their fast undulating flight over the breaking waves.
Regardless of the swell and wind, the sight of land after about 10 days at sea brings a different feeling to all of us. The infinite horizon of oceanic waters is broken now with the view of the spectacular islands that compose the remote Tristan Archipelago.
As we make our way between Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands the wind keeps turning more N-ly and blowing quite hard between 25 to 30kn, while the seas become high and confused. Steering closer to Nightingale shores it reaches a point where we brace and pass staysails to Port tack, changing course more Northwards straight to Tristan Island. Soon we find ourselves at its lee, with easing seas. Moment to take all sails away and furl them as we head towards the SW corner of the island.
During lunch we reach the anchor spot, right in front of what is called Hackle Hill Road. Still sun shines amongst high clouds, but Tristan shows itself with all its splendour. High precipitous cliffs covered in vegetation surround the towering 2060m of Queen Mary’s peak, the spectacular top of the island, swell breaks against the steep shoreline and in the only small flat area below the escarpments some cattle can be seen.
All families living at the settlement Edinburgh of the Seven Seas have similar shares of land to grow potatoes and other vegetables and also grazing grounds for cows and sheep. When the number of heads go over a certain amount per family, they have to bring them to fields off the surroundings of the community, and the southern side ofd the island represent one of those areas.
The first shower hitting us didn’t wait too much, and soon after lunch NNE-ly wind blows at about 35kn, making for dropping our second anchor. From then on Europa lays under both of them, with long 5 shackles dropped on each at 42mts deep waters. The great views are momentarily masked behind a drizzle and haze curtain.
Staying at anchor for the afternoon, it was a good time for having a good look and giving the prices for the South Georgia Photo Competition, with some amazing captures of its wildlife, landscapes, the ship and ourselves while enjoying our time at the island. And after diner the most advertised Great South Georgia Auction took place, where we all a good time raising founds (about 1100 USD) for the South Georgia Heritage Trust and their Habitat Restoration Project, bidding on exclusive items from Grytviken Museum.
Outside the N-ly winds still gust to over 40kn, while Europa holds her ground, hoping for the best for tomorrow to try to land and spend some time ashore at the remotest inhabited island of the world.