At last embarkation day arrived. I had waited months for the moment. I flew down to Punta Arenas on 5 March for the embarkation on 6 March, and had pleasant day wandering around Punta Arenas meeting the knitters and stray dogs. Of course the main event was finally getting to see the ship up close, get all the stuff on board and say goodbye to any settlement more than a few hundred people.
Europa had been anchored off but by 1500 she was tied up on the quay. I snuck down about 1615, hoping to put my luggage in my cabin even if I was chased away again till the official arrival time of 1700. In fact, I was lucky and was the first proper arrival. I gained at least two big advantages: my designated bunk was 8C, not only an upper bunk but running athwartships. The designated 'spare' bunk was 8A, oriented the preferable fore-and-aft, so I hastily agreed to swap, making 8C the junk bunk (for storing luggage) and 8A home for the next two months. Secondly, the paperwork and formalities were done with fast as there was no line of people needing to be processed. I handed my passport over, not to be in my hands again until Cape Town. In case I haven't mentioned it before, it now has stamps for Cape Horn, Esperanza, South Georgia and Tristan de Cunha, which is very satisfying.
This was also my chance to begin taking pictures of rope. The lines as where people most touch the vessel, whether they are giant mooring hawsers or whipping twine seizing two bits of rope together. One of my themes for the trip was to capture the complexity of the lines used on Europa.