Winds and swells, clouds and rain, had been waiting so far until hitting us again as a welcome to the latitudes of the Roaring 40’s. Actually the strongest blows didn’t climb much over the 30kn and the seas just occasionally washed Europa’s decks. But used as we were to the calms and flat seas, these new -and by the way pretty common conditions at those latitudes-, made for many to find back the yellow buckets or the ship’s lee side to "feed the fish”.
Often strong Westerly winds and Low Pressure Systems sweep the oceans here, originated by the combination of air being displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, the Earth's rotation, and the lack of any large landmass to break its flow. Further South the Antarctic waters drive the climate and the deep oceanic circulation with the annual freezing and melting of the sea surface. Northwards, the warm areas, the stable Trade winds, the calms of the doldrums. Different climatic areas on our planet all well known by the Europa as she wanders the oceans practically all year round. But today, here, in the Southern Ocean, braced on Close-hauled on Starboard tack, she heels and pitches in not always a predictable way, on the high seas.
Along the day, SE, SSE, S, S by W veering winds make for keep adjusting sails and braces on a course towards the Northeast, fair for her purposes of heading under sail towards Tristan da Cunha.
Sharp, Beam Reach, Squarer; wind from the side, then later on sailing almost downwind. Accommodating to the changing conditions her speed slightly increases and her jumps and jerks lessen. That made little bit more comfortable to join the lectures and workshops indoors. “Three strands, separate them, tuck one under, the other around, over and under…” words heard today in today’s pretty popular hands-on splicing ropes.
Drizzle or plain rain falls, and now and then the sea spray of the waves crash against the hull washing over the deck. Though not the most pleasant weather to stand on deck for birdwatching, some join for a look around.
Closing up to under 800nm from Tristan, once passed the calms that we found on the 50’s, and with the rising winds, swells and roars of the 40’s, many of the bird rarities that nest in this archipelago are spotted around the ship. The common Black-browed albatrosses are still with us, and they will be for almost all the way to Cape Tow. Sporadically one of the rare elegant and stylish all black Sooty albatross pass by. Now and then, Great shearwaters are seen as well. Endemic to Inaccessible Island (Tristan da Cunha archipelago), we had too the first sightings of Spectacled petrels.