Sails and more sails

Our brief flirtation with the Roaring Forties is almost over: we are finally able to trim the sails to a north-easterly course. Don’t let that fool you into thinking we have been having sub-tropical weather. This morning we had 30 to 35 knot winds  which were slowly backing so by midday our course was 070 degrees, but still close-hauled.

It has calmed down a bit (or even too much) since then, but at that point we had five square sails up on each of the fore and main masts and the spinnaker out on the mizzen. Three stay-sails were flying on the bowsprit and two each on the main and mizzen masts. That’s 18 sails in all, in case you’ve lost count.

Subject to wind conditions, Europa can set another six sails: the square sky sails on the fore and main masts, the top gaff on the mizzen and three more staysails.

Our ambition is also to set the studding sails. These are big squares which hang from additional spars which run out over the water from the ends of some of the yards.  She can set (I believe) three on each side of the fore and two each side on the main masts. They are a lot of work to set up and can only be used when the wind is aft of the beam.

We have about 1000 nautical miles still to go to Ca[e Town. It is entirely possible that we will do amost all of them on a close reach with spray flying on the bows and inclined at some 30 degrees. All of us, including the skipper, are hopeful that Neptune will smile on us at least some of the time: the sun will shine and we can set all our downwind sails for the run to Africa.


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