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When the winds don’t collaborate

Scotia Sea. When the winds don’t collaborate. Pitching instead of heeling. Engines instead of sails

A cold and stormy night. Just a few dark hours, but the times when the sharpest lookouts are most needed together with a good focusing on the steering.

South Westerly winds blow on our nose for our route to Antarctica. Under sail, Europa doesn’t get much progress towards the right direction, where she plans to be in a few days. She got enough of going further on a Northwest course, it is time to push and fight against the weather, seas and currents to make way south. Luckily winds and swells are gradually abating from the early morning 30kn to 20 during the day, forecasted to ease even more.

Soon the ship is prepared to turn into the wind and claw her way in the desired southerly direction. The engines wake up and growl, the command of Clewing up the Top Sails is heard, soon numb hands pull on Clews, downhauls and buntlines. Then the staysails must be sheeted tight and Headrig furled.

For the next hours, maybe a day, or who knows if longer, the heeling of Close hauled sailing on forceful winds and furious seas is becoming more of a pitching, as the Europa’s bow dips and rises in the southerly swell.

No matter what, under sail or engine, heeling, rolling or pitching, calm or roaring seas some things never change in a ship like ours. Watches keep running. Meals are served daily on time, even the good soups are cooked while many have difficulties to stand or walk around the ship. Night cleaning while always keeping an eye on deck, ice watches, sailhandling. Maintenance always an ongoing process. Sails to repair, blocks to change or overhaul, seizings, servings, splices on rope or wire, and whatever is necessary to keep the Old Lady Europa happy and wandering to the remote domains of the ocean.

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Expedition Guide

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