Making between seven and eleven knots over the ground, Europa is charging up the Scotia Sea, that bit of water ringed by the Cape, the Falklands, South Georgia and the archipelagos of the Peninsula and South Shetlands. We have covered some 200 miles, almost all under sail, in the 26 hours since we left Elephant Island. Shackleton could only have dreamt of such comfort.
Last night, white watch was on the 0400 to 0800 stretch. In theory we saw sunrise but in fact it was a slow lightening of the fog until it was pale enough to be called daylight. In my hour on the bow watch I saw a few birds and many wave crests but (happily) no ice. We are still in the ice limit and the captain has warned us to be very alert on watch, especially when the fog closes in.
Getting out of my upper bunk on the windward side is always slightly challenging. This morning, going to the head, I caught my pyjama trousers on the big hook below me and went flying across the cabin. As the crew say, things fly well in a heeled ship at sea, but don’t land so good. Me neither: nothing’s broken but I will have spectacular bruises shortly.
There’s probably more damage to my pride: falling out of bed is never a good line. All in all, though, it is better than falling from the rigging.
In a straight line we have about another 530 nautical miles to go, but Europa is making a course northerly of the straight line, keeping a windward edge. This means that if the wind changes we can still run towards our destination and in the meantime we have gained valuable northerly distance. So, if this wind keeps up, another two and a bit days. But this is Antarctica: no bets should be placed on the weather.