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A report from an embedded intern on Europa

Posted by Tall Ships America on July 13, 2010

13 July 2010 – By Samara

We might have won the race. At least after twelve hours of sail handling – tacking, wearing, and setting and striking almost all of Europa’s sails – it feels like we should have.

Yesterday morning we bid farewell to Cleveland and headed out into the harbor for the first race of the Great Lakes United TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2010. Along with more than ten other tall ships we set sail and maneuvered around to starting line in preparation to begin the race. This was my first experience in a tall ship race, let alone a sailing race of any kind, and needless to say I was somewhat taken aback to see all of the ships spread out over the harbor in what looked to be anything but the beginning of an organized race! But my surprise quickly dispelled when I realized that, unlike the small boat racing I had seen on television, tall ships need more space and time to navigate – of course we couldn’t tack and wear right at the starting line. When it was time to begin the race we came around between the race boats and followed Roald Amundsen across the starting point towards Pelee Passage under full sail.

The first few hours flew by. There was not much wind, but enough to keep us going at nearly 6 knots. But, as I was taught earlier in the day, lake winds are subject to change speed and direction at any moment without warning. Sure enough, our swift breeze came around our bow and tapered off. We slowed down to a dragging 1-2 knots. In attempt to bring up our pace, Captain Rob ordered the crew to set the stunning sails (stuns’ls). This was no easy task because when they are not in use the stuns’ls are stored on deck. Stunning sails work like square sails, and are set in close proximity to them on retractable booms attached to the topgallant, upper top, and course yards. To set them we must take each sail out of storage, then organize and belay sheet and halyard lines up over the yard, through a block and back down to deck, and finally haul each one up into position like a kite to its place outside of the square sail.

I was working in the galley when the allotted race time officially expired, and Captain Rob called us up to deck to strike sail. Shortly after, at watch turnover, we debriefed within earshot of the radio and I could hear other captains reporting their final position. Because I had been working down below and I did not know our exact position for comparison, so when Sam asked, “Did we win?” I responded without hesitation (in the interest of morale), “For all I know…yes.”

We will find out in Bay City whether I was right or wrong, but for now that doesn’t really seem to matter – we are sailing and that is good enough!

Interested in becoming part of the adventure on Europa? Go to www.barkeuropa.com for more information about thier sailing schedule this summer!

One Response to “A report from an embedded intern on Europa”

  1. jeff said

    …wonderful sight in Cleveland…sails rigged in the harbor bay was breathtaking…the loose traverse away from the Port was a feast of melancholy and delight…guess Pelee was an anchored rest stop…for all I know…nice crewmen and a great interns…talented reportage by Samara…

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