With the winds picking up and the ship heeling and rolling pretty wildly, already yesterday afternoon Europa started reducing canvas. First Top Gallants were stowed away, and under hard conditions in the morning, the crew dips on a water-filled deck to pull down the Upper Topsails while the raging wind gust up to 48kn and the seas rise to 6 to 7m.
Heeling and rolling, Europa tries to keep a more Northerly course to sail across the area of the strongest wind and rough seas, while the growing swell makes for dipping decks in the water.
Powerful raging conditions gradually ease down in the afternoon when the blows start coming from an ESE direction.
Time to set the Upper Topsails once more to get some more pressure in the rig, make some speed, and ease the steering.
All of a sudden weather changed dramatically with the wind shifting to Northeasterly just blowing at 12 to 14kn, as we start steering on a more NW course doing 3 to 4kn braced Close-Hauled.
Gradually the sailing is bringing us to fall into the center of a relative Low-Pressure system where the wind is much lighter, and starts blowing from a desirable North direction.
Hard to believe a day starting in the most blustery and wild conditions evolving in a quick change before dinner to the point of reading in the wind meter a light 6kn of breeze.
No matter how calm, how cold or hot the weather is, how high the swell strikes, how much rolling the ship suffers or she heels and pitches and cooking gadgets fly from their shelves, the galley wizards with their magic cauldron at the stove, manage to cook not the same soup for lunch, nor the same dish for dinner for the whole length of the voyage.
The tastiest and most flavourful meals are presented and served daily for all of the ship’s complement. Food is vital, good food is a delight. Nourishment but also the finest treat for morale and to keep good spirits. At sea, the meals shape the daily schedule, the watch systems, and they are always something to look forward to after a difficult time withstanding the rigors of the Southern Ocean or the raging sea in the South Atlantic.
Although we can consider the Europa as a classic Tall Ship, with her ways of sailing her 110 years old steel hull, long past are the classical sailing times when the crews had to live trying not to starve and keep on the hard work on old salty meat cuts, molded bread, basic brews.
"Meat packed into wooden casks with salt to preserve it for months (or even longer); the water turned green (from being kept in slimy barrels) used to dilute rum, wine, and beer; British seamen sucking on sour limes (hence the national nickname, ‘limeys’) to stave scurvy- the sailor’s diet used to deserve its terrible reputation. Things have come a long way since ship’s biscuits which contained extra protein in the form of live weevil larvae".
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Hard work, cold oceans, lack of sleep, getting drenched on deck, training our muscles and concentration at the wheel, climbing aloft or simply trying to walk around on a heavily heeling, rolling, and pitching ship is soon subject of chat and jokes around a good tasty warm meal. Our good cooks are sure aware that the lack of it can be responsible for more trouble at sea than all those other aspects of the sailing life together.