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Preparations behind the scenes for the new journey.   

After finishing her Antarctic adventures for this season, Bark Europa is now ready to set sail along the southern Chilean Patagonia, Chilean Channels, the Chilean coast to Talcahuano, Easter Island, and then venture into the Pacific Ocean. 

In the past a small city, Ushuaia nowadays has grown and become the main hub for Antarctic expeditions. An increasing number of ships use this port and its facilities. Vessels are becoming more numerous and larger, all of them offering different sorts of Antarctic experiences. 

Moored alongside in the busy port, the Europa spends about three days preparing her new voyage, now heading north once her Antarctic trips for this season are over. Supplies, water, and fuel are bunkered. Below decks, her cabins and common spaces are cleaned and readied. Aloft there’s always work to do and ongoing maintenance. A changeover of some crew members is also due. 

Her riveted hull is over 100 years old and has seen many sailing adventures around the world, including the southern high latitudes and Patagonia. 

The last time she sailed the expanse of the Pacific Ocean in the tropical and subtropical latitudes, was in 2002. On that occasion, the voyage brought her mostly north of the Equator. This year, we all start in Ushuaia, a trip that eventually will bring her to the start of the crossing of the South Pacific. 

But first things first. Her expedition starts down south in Patagonia. An area first inhabited by the native population from about 10.000 years ago. The area was not discovered by the Europeans until the 16th Century, when Fernando de Magallanes sailed through the straits that nowadays bear his name, and the 19th Century afterward when Captain Fitz Roy found a more southern connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along the Beagle Channel. 

Both in trips that went around the world, enduring hardships and adventures, uncharted and new territories that don’t have much to do with today’s extent of our knowledge of the area, the technology we use, and the levels of safety on which the ship operates.  

Even so, the sole mention of these places still stimulates our imagination and attraction. They bring to our mind ideas of adversity and difficulties in the navigation of narrow channels and fjords. Harsh scenery of battered coastlines, the southernmost forests of the world covering the slopes, high mountains, and glaciers.  

During the few days in port, the plans for the trip are laid out as well. But the conditions to be found out there along channels and open waters too, the winds, currents, and swells, will decide the progress and itinerary. A route roughly programmed to bring us to Navarino island first, then along the Beagle Channel to Caleta Olla, and the several glaciers that fall from the heights of Cordillera Darwin. From there it is on our mind to visit the largest fjord system in Magellan Straits, Seno Almirantazgo. The capital city of Chile Patagonia, Punta Arenas will come afterward before sailing along the Southern Chilean fjords to Chiloe Island, and from there to Talcahuano on the open waters along the Chilean Coast. 

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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