Drizzle and rain. It’s wet on deck and aloft taking sails down and furling them as the ship approaches the entrance of the Beagle Channel.
Europa's old hull still braves the winds, seas, ice, and swells, under sail whenever possible, using her engines on the occasions when she needs to face the wind on her nose or reposition for relatively short distances between landing sites when visiting remote lands.
She requires many hands, hard work, and long days. Steering, lookouts, rope-and-sail-handling, both easy and exposed climb aloft. All to achieve the goals of reaching the sought destinations.
Yesterday, with land at sight, Cape Horn at our stern, many thought that we were already “there”. Wherever this “there” might be. The Beagle Channel and the anchorage where to wait for the mandatory pilot to drive us to Ushuaia didn’t seem too far. But not all was set and done yet…
At dawn, the light winds start to pick up once more. In the morning again she struggles and fights her way against Southwesterly forceful winds funneling along the channel.
We soon realize that there will not be an easy last bit of the crossing braving the foul weather conditions.
At the mouth of the Beagle, she Hove-to, tried to stop, and drifted northwards, while the remaining sails were doused and furled. From then on, her two engines full ahead she pitches and faces straight the 30, 35, 45kn of blows and steep waves. Trying to push ahead in those conditions she barely moves. It will take the whole of the day to eat away the 20-odd miles left. But eventually, as she slowly makes her way to the northern coasts of the channel, the weather quickly eases down on one of those typical Patagonian twists and just about at dinner time, she drops her anchor on windless conditions and flat seas for a well-deserved rest.
At her starboard side, Argentina. Looking at port side the Chilean islands and Patagonian forests.