A Young Man and the Sea

A Summer of High Seas Adventure Aboard the tall ship EUROPA

The “Friendship” Sail

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 23, 2011

August 22, 2011

0605 – 52.44.9’N x 4.32.4’E

By Matthew Maples

                It was a good night, all sail aloft, dark, calm waters and a clear-starred sky. Our sail down the coast of Holland has already been one of the most pleasant of our summer so far. As they usually go, nice nights follow fine days, and so it was blue skies, sunlight, warmth! To report such good sailing weather would become tedious on our long ocean crossings, but here, in the north of Europe, our sailing, while excellent, has often been marred above by clouded skies. It says something when I can only remember one earlier clear night sky in nearly two months.

                It is fitting that we have such good weather, for this sail we are having is a special one. The “friendship” sail as I call it is a short, one day sail for just friends, family and crew (past and present) of the Europa. It seems that in recognition of our event that the weather gods are going to go easy on us, at least for a day.

                We left Harlingen at noon, in company with the Oosterschelde, a three-masted topsail schooner (also Dutch). Both the Europa and the Oosterschelde occupy the same home-office in Rotterdam, and several crewmembers of the Europa will also sometimes work on the Oosterschelde. So, we really are the “closest of friends” as our Rederij director, Reinoud told me yesterday.

                I don’t know if it was because the weather and wind was so perfect for sailing, or whether it was just a typical day offshore in Friesland because the coastal waters were full of traditionally-rigged Dutch boats. Several dozen at least, sailing to and from Harlingen.

                As soon as we left the harbor we hoisted sail aloft, quick as we could, then spent much of our afternoon bracing for winds as we cruised past the coastal islands of Friesland.

                We were sailing nicely until midnight, but then to make our date with Amsterdam today we had to turn on the engine. There is wind, but not enough.

                Just a handful of days ago we ended our European Project program with our youth group who began sailing with us in Halmstad. They disembarked in Harlingen, but not before cleaning out their cabins and scrubbing their toilets. Their time aboard was starting to show by the time we had made it to Harlingen. Many were getting much more used to the sail-handling. In Harlingen we needed to hoist aloft a photographic banner for decoration, and setting it requires running out booms needed for studding sails. I sent aloft a gang of our trainees to do the task, and many of them already knew how to shift out the booms and where to lead the lines down to deck from aloft for our banner.  I did not have to tell them how to do much of the project. Quite good!

                I think most of them got a lot out of the program, chief among them friends. It is a bit unfortunate, but it always seems to be the last several days of a voyage that everyone begins to really know one-another and gel together as a crew. It makes the departure of everyone and the break-up of that rapport seem premature when it happens. On their final night, they were allowed to decorate the ship and have a final farewell party, before waking up to clean it up.

                The tall ship races are finished and our European Youth project has ended. Now we get the ship to Amsterdam with our friends to finish her birthday festivities. Then, on the presumption that we have too good of a party, we will spend nearly half a month in Zaandam doing maintenance before she heads south again, to Spain, South America and finally, Antarctica.


2 Responses to “The “Friendship” Sail”

  1. Yvette Mey said

    Hi Matt

    I came across your site on TallShips on FB. I’ve been friends for a short while now. I have such a passion for the ocean and sea going vessels. When I discovered Tall Ships I was delighted!

    Now you have presented a live account of what its like to sail as in the old days. Thank you. Lovely writting. I’ll most definitely be following your adventures.

    I love your photography! Being an artist I see the artisic side in your work. The images are filled with passion and adventure. Beautiful!

    I don’t have the funds to buy your photos but would love to paint them. I have one photographer here in South Africa I paint from. If I sell a painting that I’ve used as refrence in my painting I give him 10% of the selling price. An idea for you. But Matt, I am an honorable person and if you’d rather not I’ll understand.
    Keep safe.
    I’ll keep in touch
    Kind regards

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