Bark Europa lays moored next to the entrance of the large Montevideo commercial harbor, amongst cargo vessels, cruise ships, and all sorts of boats. Looking smart and elegant between them, she waits ready for her new compliment to board.
Cabins dressed, decks washed, provisions stowed away, ship’s common spaces organized and tidy, rig prepared. The Europa is ready to take us on her new adventurous trip down South.
It is from here that we will start our 50-day journey tomorrow morning. The legendary lands of Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica are on a life-changing journey that will take us to those extraordinary and wildlife-luxuriant places on Earth.
Sure some of us were already around the capital city of Uruguay for a few days, others just arrived today before embarkation. And by 16:00h the first of us were making their way along the pier and stepping on her decks. Boarding took a good hour to be completed, ending right before the port authorities made us reposition the ship in the harbor, as a large cruise ship was scheduled to do her moorings at the spot where we were.
From then on we got a while to gather on the Ship’s Main Deck and introduce ourselves while enjoying a cup of coffee, tea, and cake.
A gathering on the main deck with the Captain and her crew followed the formalities of the check-in procedure.
Soon we all realized that sailing on a special-purpose ship like the Europa is, involves more responsibilities than a regular passenger vessel. Like that, talks and familiarisations started already after our first dinner board. This evening we were introduced to the ways of living on the ship, some of the safety procedures on board, and a brief overview of the trip and itinerary we are about to undertake.
Afterward, a walk around the ship and her different areas prepared the terrain for tomorrow’s activities and our different tasks aboard.
Departure time is set for the morning. Ahead of us about 1100nm of changing weather and increasingly rougher seas to the colder and solitary shores of Falkland Islands.
Before reaching its shores, sure several days of seasickness in a rolling and heeling ship, innumerable hours of staring at the emptiness of the ocean doing the lookouts, while others steer the ship from the open air wheel out on deck.
We all hope too for some exhilarating sailing and a steep learning curve for getting into the sailing off the ship, all while sharing countless experiences and the life on board a Tall Ship like the Europa, driven now by the winds and currents dictating our progress.
Collaboration and teamwork are necessary to sail her along our way, and that is another of the points where the ship excels while sharing the adventure spirit that she offers. It has been like that since she was refurbished and took off for this sort of trip in 1994, a complete change in her life from her launching as a lightship in the Elbe River over 100 years ago in 1911.