STRANDED IN PATAGONIA
Classic Boat|December 2020
When the barque Europa found herself stranded in Ushuaia by the pandemic, there was nothing for it but to sail the 10,000 miles home to Holland in one leg
NIGEL SHARP

On 15 March 2020, the 1911-built steel barque Europa arrived in the Beagle Channel at the end of a three-week voyage to Antarctica. The circumstances were almost routine. Every southern hemisphere summer since 2000, Europa has undertaken several such voyages – typically five each season and with up to 45 people on board, most of whom are charter guests. To keep on schedule towards the end of this voyage, Europa had to motor quite a bit of the way upwind across Drake Passage. “We always plan a little sail-by off Cape Horn at the end of those voyages,” Eric Kesteloo, Europa’s captain since 2006, told me, “and then we have the westerlies for the last day’s sailing. That all went well.” But as she entered the Beagle Channel, the crew heard some news on the VHF radio which was to fundamentally change Europa’s plans immediately and for the foreseeable future.

At the beginning of that voyage Covid-19 had been causing concerns, although it was not yet clear how serious it would become. Certain precautions had been taken – guests filling in a form to confirm they hadn’t recently been to China, for instance – but otherwise the voyage had gone ahead as normal. Three weeks later, however, the virus was officially a pandemic and the situation was very different. The news that the crew heard as Europa made her way up the Beagle Channel was that Puerto Williams had been closed, and when they arrived at their home port of Ushuaia about four hours later they found that they were only just in time: another six hours and the 48 guests would not have been able to disembark.

Until then, the next plans for Europa had included taking her to the Pacific where she would undertake 15 separate voyages – all of which had been sold out for some time – to several remote Pacific islands, then to various Australian ports before sailing around Cape Horn to the Falklands and beginning another Antarctic season. Having already made arrangements to refuel and to replenish food supplies in Ushuaia in readiness for the first leg, they were still able to do so straight away. The crew, however, were all quarantined and had to stay on board, initially alongside and then at anchor. “I spent a lot of time browsing the internet trying to find out more about the virus,” said Eric, “and I couldn’t see anything positive about how long it was going to last.” After consultations with his colleagues at the Europa office in Rotterdam and with his crew, it wasn’t long before it was decided that the best thing would be to take Europa home to Holland.

This would be a voyage like no other, at least in this day and age. Europa has a fuel capacity of 20,500 litres, an engine that uses 500 litres per day (giving a speed of five knots in calm conditions) and she needs to run a generator – which uses another 130 litres a day – at all times. They knew that they would be unable to stop anywhere to refuel, so the 10,000-mile voyage would have to be non-stop and the majority of it under sail. The longest voyage Europa normally does is about 3,500 miles between the Canaries and Salvador). The food they had just brought aboard was for 55 people for ten days, and they now needed supplies which would last much longer. So it was arranged for some of the crew (wearing protective clothing) to make two trips ashore in Europa’s RIB to stock up further. All of this food was then stored in one of the empty guest cabins where it was left for a week before it was touched.

CASTING OFF FOR HOME

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM CLASSIC BOATView All

The joys of coarse racing

A record year for Loch Broom SC and its Flying Fifteens

3 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

MOSQUITO FIRST RULE 6 (ANKER, 1913): FROM TRIUMPH TO DISASTER AND BACK

She was designed to race hard in 1913, but 101 years later, almost sank after a calamitous collision. Today, Mosquito is back and racing again

9 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

SYDNEY HARBOUR 18 FOOTERS

The Sydney 18s were among the most radical racing dinghies in the world in their heyday. These days, they still are

9 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

SWEDISH ROSE

At her launch in 1894, Bel’Rose changed Swedish sailing forever. Now, her owner of 44 years has had her rebuilt, in strictly traditional style

10 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Cox’s Boatyard on the Broads was revitalised a quarter of a century ago and it hasn’t looked back

3 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

PETER NICHOLSON Got the T-shirt

From navy pilot to yacht designer to Squadron commodore to company boss... it’s all in a life’s work to Peter Nicholson

5 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

It's Howard's Way... not Martin's way

Martin Black recalls a rare win, uncelebrated; and a chance at fame, unrequited

4 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

F0R WHOM THE BOAT CALLS

A replica of Hemingway’s fishing boat Pilar has put to sea and will soon enter line production, bringing a legend back to life

8 mins read
Classic Boat
January 2021

Winston Megoran THE MAN BEHIND THE BOOK COVER

For more than 30 years, illustrator Winston Megoran produced countless paintings and etchings of the sea and boats. This brilliant and diverse self-taught artist also created a wealth of book jackets that have made his work, if not his name, famous

10+ mins read
Classic Boat
December 2020

YARD VISIT: SPIRIT YACHTS GREEN SPIRIT

James Bond, the electric age, and a new dayboat model

5 mins read
Classic Boat
December 2020
RELATED STORIES

Blue Öyster Cult

FOUNDING GUITARIST BUCK DHARMA UNWRAPS THE SYMBOL REMAINS, THE HARD ROCK PROGENITORS’ FIRST ALBUM OF NEW MATERIAL IN 20 YEARS

2 mins read
Guitar World
February 2021

bold and beautiful

bold and beautiful

1 min read
Soap Opera Digest
December 21, 2020

B&B'S QUINN TO ERIC: TAKE ME BACK

Eric finds a sympathetic ear in Shauna, despite the fact that Quinn doesn’t want her estranged pal living chez Forrester.

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
December 21, 2020

AMM Cover Model: Dan Decker

So you worked really hard to build a nice body and you wanted to show off your muscles. At the same time it wasn’t too much to ask to be dressed in fine clothes. Raise your hands if you wanted to see more muscular guys on the runway for fashion show. the interview:

5 mins read
Apollo Male Models
Winter 2020 Dan Decker

Fresh Served

An American Classic Built With a Modern Twist for a Retired Vet

5 mins read
Drive!
January 2021

Strategies to Tackle Debt

Millions of Americans facing furloughs and layoffs turned to credit cards to stay afloat. Here’s how to get out from under burgeoning balances.

9 mins read
Kiplinger's Personal Finance
January 2021

Zooming into the Future

This year, ZOOM transformed from a business tool into a lifeline. How did the company keep up? Simple, says founder and CEO Eric Yuan: It focused on fundamentals.

6 mins read
Entrepreneur
December 2020

TIGER'S MATCH PLAY LANDS IN THE ROUGH

Might not stay the course with marriage-minded galpal

2 mins read
National Enquirer
November 16, 2020

Scene & Heard

BEHIND the SCENES!

4 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
November 16, 2020

GLAM FAIRY

There are few Choppers in the Industry that are immediately recognizable and have achieved almost a cult following.

1 min read
Born To Ride Southeast Magazine
November 2020