First contact with the Europa, alongside Ushuaia. Beginning to familiarise ourselves with the ship, crew and our duties during the trip.
The seek for new escapades and experiences, like the one that brought all of us on board the Bark Europa is about to begin.
Eventhough many tourists are attracted to the Antarctic areas every year, just a few experience the different approach that sailing ships can offer.
Exciting times for all of us and hectic last hours of preparations for the crew to make all ready for the upcoming voyage.
Greetings, transfer of luggage to our cabins, meeting new people, start unpacking, check-in, all preceding the official welcome on board meeting on deck with the captain and his crew. We didn’t have to wait much until the first briefings of the trip, trainings and familiarisations begun. An evening to introduce the ways on board, the watch system which we all will follow along the trip, household rules, location of the different ship’s areas, safety equipment, sails, ropes and pinrails.
To start getting used to the ship herself, it is not just learning from a different way of living but also her lexicon. Walls are referred as bulkheads, toilettes become heads, the floors where we step are decks, instead of closets for our wardrobe now we talk about lockers, the meals are cooked in the galley.
Perspective of our surrounded world start shifting: mountains, hills, prairies, meadows, city buildings, roads soon to disappear in the distance to be replaced by the vastness of the oceans and its capricious and ever changing conditions. In the meantime our lives revolve around cabins down below along the companionway, the length between the 8 meters spike of Europa’s bowsprit and the raised poop deck on the aft. Between them the forecastle, fore, sloop and the main deck, with her cozy bar and deckhouse.
Three masts are anchored deep into her structure, supported by the spider net of stay wires holding the rig and base for climbing aloft. Countless lines of different diameters run up high from deck. An apparent chaos and madness that hopefully soon will start to make sense to all of us. All ropes useful, all in use. Which hoist, stretch, furl, pick up, trim or move every sail and yard, all to be learned and experienced on our hands and muscles under the supervision of the ship’s Permanent Crew. When to man them depends on the close contact with the oceanic elements. They sure soon will bring the cold, wetness, seasickness, and all the high latitude treats to negotiate and endure, until setting foot at the last human discovered continent first, then at the bountiful oasis of South Georgia. Further sailing Eastwards will bring the ship to the vicinity of the remotest inhabited island in the world. From there just a couple of weeks across the last stretch of water of the South Atlantic, awaits Cape Town, her next port.