The forecasted Southerly wind started blowing gently last evening, but during the night it didn’t do anything else than increase, and by the early morning, steady 30 to 35kn blow, gusting stronger during the few passing squalls. Seas kept growing overnight and by dawn Europa rolls and heels to Portside, dipping her main deck underwater now and then. Under these conditions, first, the Outer Jib is pulled down and stowed away, a bit later the Top Gallants follow.
Amongst the steep high swells, a pod of Common dolphins seems to enjoy the blustery conditions. Active and fast as they are, for a short while joining us on our way.
Europa keeps heeling and rolling over the growing ocean between waves and big swell under the same sail configuration until the afternoon when the wind picks up and squalls come more often. Just in time some of us later around the Mizzen Mast to pull on the Spanker brails and stow away the sail, the Fore Upper Topsail is next to be lowered, clewed up, and furled.
In that conditions, every move from the bunks to make our way on deck has to be deliberate and thought beforehand. By now we have a pretty good idea of where gaskets, safety lines, handrails, and corners where to hold on are, or the walls to lean on. Harnesses are becoming too an integral part of our wardrobe whether to perform any duty on deck or simply to stick our heads out to enjoy the wild spectacle of rough sailing in the South Atlantic.
Powerful gusts up to 56kn related with the strong numerous showers make for bearing away as they pass by one after the other, associated with a frontal system of the Low-Pressure system where we sail. Maneuvers that require to be alert and an attentive eye must be kept all the time to assess the squalls and their force, while the waves come over the leeward board and crash against the windward side. Conditions that the Europa doesn't seem to dislike, an Old Lady ready to withstand the rigors of the high seas and tempestuous winds, where she wonderfully sails.
One final word-and this is the most critical of all. This ship lives off the wind- wind is to us what money is to life on shore. Always scan the windward horizon. Always keep in tune with the feel and heft of the wind… and don’t forget that a sudden squall could lay this wagon down so she’d never get up, no matter how hard you prayed
- Sterling Hayden. Wanderer
When 6 meters swell or even higher, and 35 to 40kn of wind became the usual, that tells something about the sort of sailing we are experiencing during this voyage.