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Variable conditions sailing the Scotia Sea

 Destination South Georgia, yes… but in the Europa what counts is the whole experience of the voyage; the ship on its own is a destination on herself. Yesterday’s rolls, today’s heeling. She races Close Hauled on strong winds or wallowed like the old broad and heavy matron she is, with her yards squared and a light breeze from behind. 

Fast sailing or just doing a couple of knots. Wind shifts, and we adjust yards and sail configuration to it. The wind drops, we are in need of more canvas. The squall hits quick dousing of the higher sails and running up the masts to furl. 

The journey itself between different remote lands and once there the visits ashore, both make the uniqueness of sailing a ship like the beautiful old lady Europa in a trip like the one we all share now. 

A quick look at her speed is just an instant picture of a certain moment, it doesn’t say anything about real progress, course, or how to plan a route. All that requires further work, looking ahead at forecasts to see what winds are to come, from where, when, and how strong. What lies behind and what is ahead? Then plan accordingly counting on her average speed and scheduled destination. 

Counting with all that plus the actual weather she finds at any moment in her progress, there it comes the sail handling, setting or dousing sails, a change of course… and then probably another one.  

All in all a day of quite continuous activities on deck, at the wheel, and aloft on the variable conditions we are experiencing. Changeable weather that today translated first on a wind drop to 16-18kn becoming more northerly during the dark first hours of the day. Time to brace sharp on Port tack and have all squares set plus the spanker. Forecasted was an increase in the wind along the day, and in the afternoon it backed to WNW coming from the North by East, now blowing on the 20 knots. By dinner, braces were pulled a point to square and the rig arranged accordingly to sail almost downwind once more. The ship rolls again on the following winds and seas. But the predicted wind drop followed, and Europa's speed now is just about 5kn, a lessening tendency that lasted during all night. With all of that, we are today 176nm closer to South Georgia. 

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Leader

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