The voyages to Antarctica at the turn of the 19th century were the last great age of human exploration on Earth. Many people romanticize the expeditions of Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen as they set out to an inhospitable land and journeyed to the South Pole. A key part of their adventures was being able to sail out of port. Recently, a 112-year-old tall voyage ship fell over while in drydock in South Africa.
The Bark Europa toppled over while it was being placed back into the water during scheduled maintenance. The ship was scheduled to leave Cape Town, South Africa in three weeks to head out on a 53-day cruise. According to the ship operator, one sailor was injured in the incident, but they are in stable condition.
It isn’t yet clear when the ship will return to the water. The operator noted on its website:
“The extent of the damage to the ship is still being assessed, and at this moment, we cannot determine the exact timeline for resuming our sailing operations. We want to assure you that our crew are working diligently to addressing and resolving the situation, to determine the necessary steps to move forward.”
The Europa was built in 1911 and served in Germany’s federal coast guard on the river Elbe until the late 1970s. The steel-hull ship was bought by Dutchman in the late 1980s and retrofitted into a three-masted training ship. Today, the ship regularly goes on Antarctic voyages with a crew of 16 sailors and up to 48 paying trainees.
Ships like the Europa offer up a unique experience for those looking for adventure on the seas and the opportunity to learn about sailing large ships hands-on. I’m sure there are many who can’t wait for the Europa to return to the ocean.