Photo by Woody Coudijser
Already a week in the Caribbean Sea after Colombia. We are not so gossipy about this leg and yet it’s plenty. Plenty of splashes on deck, sail-handling, swearing in a gale, salt on clothes, water in bilges. Thirty kts full & by you know. Bodies and ship are in tune: fighting against the waves, blaming the trade winds (which is so helpful downwind), fighting against the tiredness, uncontrolled movement of the ship, abandoning wet banks (people invaded the cargo hold modelling their bodies on coffee bags), battled with seasickness.
Everybody is eating well now, Judith is a treasure. Everyday new mixture in bolls, new colors, new texture. She’s helping on the ropes, on steering. We are tacking four times a day in coastal “cruise”. Twenty-five miles away of the coast maximum to avoid the hell. Yesterday night, the wind increased rapidly, top gallant was already doused and course clewed up, came down lower bob and inner jib as well, obviously one downhaul got stock. Two persons on the bow sprit, one furled top gallant, two others furled lower bob.
The royal never seen the sun in the past two weeks, the fore mast looks like a pine tree without leaves on top, only nicked branches. We always get soaked on the foredeck. We always wearing harnesses clips on safety lines or on the compass box when you are steering. During the day the sun is shining this circus troupe: sheets and halyards trainers, jugglers, tightropes walkers. We could work close to Royal Deluxe Company (met in Le Havre last summer for wine operation), we having also a giant toy. And the night, relieve by the moon and stars, the adventure keeps on going, the same show as close as possible of the wind, enjoying all little five more degrees on the winds rose.
Yeah, we are taking the unique feels of that voyage but also looking forward the paradise beach of Dominican Republic in few days.
Anne-Flore, first mate
This blog is written by Elisabeth (deckhand) some days ago, when the Tres Hombres was sailing from Barbados towards Colombia.
“Ships and sailors rot in port.” After nearly three weeks on anchor in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, I know the truth of that old saw completely. The endless whine of the jetskis by day is replaced by the thumping bass and screaming DJs of the party boats that circle the bay all night, and with our dinghy engine in for repairs, we are all stuck on the boat all day and all night, and are thoroughly sick of each other. Tensions rise. We become careless of one another, and more injuries seem to happen than at sea. We do the maintenance tasks necessary for the boat, not out of a sense of delight at keeping her in good shape, but in a desperate attempt to stave off boredom. The Round-the-Island race was a perfect excuse to shake out our sails again, get the rough ropes under our fingers once more, but having to tack back into the same anchorage only a few hours later almost broke my heart. This, again? I check email compulsively, though I neither want to nor care.
But now, now we are sailing once more, the wind at our backs. Flying to Colombia downwind at 8 knots, I can feel the cares and troubles of land slipping away behind me. The ship is alive again, and we are full of purpose. As soon as we weighed anchor, I could feel too the weight in my mind lifting free. The things I worried about on land seem far away and inconsequential in the bleaching light of the full moon. I forget the internet, and instead reacquaint myself with the stars, murmuring their beautiful names to myself as I find each one in the sky; Sirius, Rigel, Capella, Aldebaran. All the water of the sea washes away whatever it was I worried about on land–what was it anyway? I can no longer remember. I watch the light change the color of the water instead, and the clouds rolling across the endless sky, the scintillations of flights of flying fish, and I swallow each sunrise whole. The moon turns the tops of the clouds silver, and the waves break in hissing foam.
I am back to feeling the way the boat responds to my steering, slithering her way between the swells, back to watching the flag for any wind shift, back to work feeling like it means something again. We have somewhere to go, some things to carry there. In port we are merely a theme-park attraction for tourists to take selfies with, a floating quaint hotel. But at sea we are sailing cargo, doing the work of it, the dailiness of this grand goal, not just talking about it.
Of course, I don’t mean to discount the immense amount of work that goes into even allowing us to sail, the work that our captain, mates, and the Fairtransport office do without us hands and trainees ever seeing. Without that work, I could never have the feeling of freedom I have now, the wind scouring clean my mind as my hands grow dirtier with tar and sweat. For that work, they deserve much thanks, for giving us a purpose and a goal. Without that purpose, without something to keep our hearts beating and our muscles pulling, to keep our brains sparking and our creativity alive, we are left to do nothing but rot.
Always wanted to know the wonderful people sailing our cargo? From now on we will regularly post short interviews with our crew on the site. Today we will start with Elisabeth.
Name: Elisabeth Wenger
When did you hear the first time of Fairtransport?
I heard about Fairtransport on a farming blog, Greenhorns, in connection with their Maine Sail Freight project.
Why did you want to join Tres Hombres?
Learning how to sail a working ship has been a dream of me since I was a kid reading adventure novels. I thought there were no more ships doing what Tres Hombres (and others) do.
When I found out that sail cargo still existed, it was as though someone told me dinosaurs weren’t extinct anymore. I had to go experience it for myself!
I sailed last year on the full round trip as a trainee, and this year I got the opportunity to sail again as deckhand, which I am so grateful and happy for!!
What do you expect from this journey?
I’m so excited to be sailing this time as Deckhand. I anticipate I will learn so much more, from practical sailing knowledge to helping to teach the trainees and creating a sense of community on board the ship. Fairtransport so far has been a wonderful company to work with, and I anticipate more of the same for the journey ahead!
Sign up as a trainee! We can guarantee one thing… this is an experience you will never forget http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/