My watch mates are resting quietly around me in the darkness of the focastle. The thousands and one sounds of
the ship, the Bosun tools noises, the salty sailors boots heavy steps running on the foredeck, the yelling of the maneuvers (an hard-core symphony which might have sounded creepy or disturbing in the beginning of the trip but now incredibly familiar), together with the glassy waters knocking at the hull close to my ears compose a lullaby, the melody of an old hand-and-heart-made boat that has its own soul and spirit, that breaths as a living creature, that speaks, whispers, cry and shout, at its own way, in its own language.
The red light of my headlamp, which is restricted on deck by the Captain in order to get our eyes sharper and able to see even in the darkest moonless night, brights my bunk and these pages, making me feel alone somehow, if “alone” is a word with a meaning on board of a sailing cargo ship of walkable 25mt shared with 15 sailors. Being alone is a luxury of the land, and personally my biggest saudade on board. So I grab this precious moment and surf this intimate wave of sharing with you some impressions of this whole voyage, now that it is almost over. Yes, almost. Because on an engineless sailing vessel it is hard, pointless, counterproductive and even dangerous to tell such things.
Even if the betting already started nobody can predict with certitude when we will fold the sails, step on the quay, open a fresh beer and looking back at Her saying to ouselves “it is over”. Everything can be, everything can change. You never know. You cannot know. You can do your best, but still it is not you to decide.
The old chinese proverb “if you want to make Gods laughs, tell them about your plans” is truer than ever here and finds its perfect demonstration on the Tres Hombres. The ship and the elements are fully owner of our destinies. Isnt that epic great? So we are almost there and it is time for my watch to begin, lets see what it will be.
The summer trip seems to be a different experience to the way longer transatlantic crossing, but still it is something, especially for some brand new fresh sailors as most of us.
We crossed (without particularly fair winds and currents) the English Channel twice in less than a month, the damned tricky unreliable English Channel with its unpredictable winds and its scaring intense cargo monsters traffic. This has its sailing, nautical but also emotional consequences, repercussion on moods and dynamics, on deck or down in the bunks, as well as inside and outside yourself. This can mean for example that when there is no wind and you feel stuck and bored, kind of useless with no ropes to pull, you can easily get also stuck into a quarrel between peanut butter maniacs and chocolate paste lovers, which it is not such an important either interesting issue, if you know what I mean. The presence or absence of the wind, being anchored in the middle of the Channel unable to move, drifted away or backwards by the currents, the stillness of the wait, all very very tricky elements, and you have to learn how to take care of them. It is therefore very important to keep yourself busy, at least for me it is a strategy that helped a lot. Go to Bosun asking for tasks, take care of the ship to show your love and respect to her, hoping that he will send you up in the riggings, maybe to oil the leather around the shrouds, and there hidden by the sail in the silence of the sky you can listen to your heart beat so loud, making all the other voices quiet, finally.
Sitting on the galley roof staring at the tanks which seem to have released all their petrol cargo on the surface of the sea, so quiet and oily as it looks, witnessing one of the dirtiest fact of our society, a secret hidden in the oceans were every day thousands of thousands of thousands of metal monsters,spitting stinky gases and smokes, whose bellies are filled with a pure foie-gras style with all kinds of evil goods and cheap shit for all kinds of pockets, coming and going from and to all kinds of places, all kinds of materials, colors, shapes, flavours… it seems like we need it, it looks like we desperately need it considering the speed they travel in order to deliver their cargo on the other side of a planet. But do we? Really? What for? And Why? (ps. WHY NOT IS NOT AN ALLOWED FUNNY ANSWER). Are we able to reconsider completely, till the roots, our consumption? Am I?
How many questions, new and old ones, melting together in the messy pot of your mind…and from the outside they sneak into the inside and all the little things and details and events of just a single watch can be strong heartquakes, especially if you are an hopeless empathic sensitive human as I am or used to be? A huge refit of myself started, the one that was waiting for some time now but on land you know… there are lots of ways to postpone it, not to say avoid it. On board of the Tres Hombres, there is no escape from yourself. Your ego will try to trick and tease you but if you accept the challenge and the pain that eventually comes with, you can live a very blow-minding experience. Tolerance, acceptance, adaptation, self confidence and self questioning, the discover of the potentiality of your body, the power of the trust or distrust, in yourself and in the others, the strenght that turns into weakness and reverse, your certitudes upside down… and then the wind starts to blow again and somehow you get through it and you survive your own self while pulling ropes or adding extras crazy sails. or sliding the stunsail boom under the yard inside after having gybed it for the first time believing you cannot do that without making some bullshit… but your beloved one right next to you believes in you, so why wouldnt you?…And you just do it.
I wont go deeper into details, the salty sailors who are reading these lines will probably remember, recognize,understand or at least know what the hell I am talking about and some words could eventually recall some old memories of their very first waves, and the curious followers of the adventures of this ship and her crew are warmly invited to step closer and taste the salt of our personal challenges and mission while we are also sailing cargo pushed only by the winds. The harder the environment, the greater the lesson!
We all have our own hells and heavens, our skeletons and untied knots, dreams and nightmares, and there is nothing more interesting and that will make you feel so connected with yourself, with all the dark and shiny shades of this self, than sailing here. So personally I feel blessed and I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to face this me and eventually, hopefully, grow stronger and be a better being. I promise to myself not to give up on this quest as well as on understanding how this sailing masterpiece and the elements work together and bring us from A to B emission free. Who knows, maybe my path will keep me here for a little more if life will decide I deserve some more of this magic, or somewhere else seeking the same beautiful thrills that made me feel so alive, the learning crashed, the painful downs and unforgettable ups.
I want to thank all the crew, for the good and for the bad, I learned something very important from each of you. And a special one to our Captain, a humble guy who is a pure wild sailing living legend, ready to everything, unpredictable as the winds he loves, who opened up the arms of his knowledge and experience with patience and respect, smartness and balance, it is a true honor to pull the same rope, execute his orders, listening to the explanations of maneuvers, the afternoon lectures or the sunset readings, the generosity to welcome us on board and share his floating home with us, unknown strangers. I have a long list of memories and moments to be grateful for but I will keep it for me.
You are all free to write your own joining this outstanding project to improve yourself and the world living a true life changing adventure.
“We have been longing to see it even if it was missing, but the treasure is there, for sure. Hidden by trickster demons and lost in the labyrinths of our questions and answers” Corto Maltese
Everything is moving in circles, everything is rhythm.
The waves of this rhythm are the universal heartbeat.
Life on Nordlys – living the rhythmic pulse of the sea.
This rhythm of life is moving forward in spirals.
The sun, the moon, the stars and the planets are all circling above us in the sky,
Sometimes clear to observe, sometimes obscured by clouds, mists and sheets of grey.
The clouds of water also travel with the spiralling moving flow of air.
These movements of air bring raindrops on our heads, wind in our hair and sunshine on our faces.
We are sailing this wooden ship over the surface of this beautiful planet we call earth.
Planet earth, full of water, spiraling through the universe.
This ocean planet is floating through the universe; sailing between the stars.
The magical life of circles, cycles and rhythms is forever spiraling upwards.
We are sailing this wooden ship through the breathing liquid of life.
We ARE the water, we ARE the rhythm, we ARE the spiral of life.
Like the ocean tides, we will be born and we will die,
Over and over again.
The ever changing rhythm of the universe –
No change to escape.
We are nature; and the rhythm of nature is our life.
Movement and flow ….. We travel with our wooden ship.
We bring cargo infused with rhythm and flow.
We sail with this flow, making peace with each moment
Trusting in natures rhythm.
Allowing life to deliver through us, not by us.
We are nature; technique is an entity within the universe which is living next to us.
We are no robots, we need natural food, we are the natural cycle not the technical one.
We can only thrive by rhythm of the nature.
As we remember our ancient ways to be re-anchored back into life again,
We are the new ancients, traveling back into fullness and flow
The way nature guides and gives in her own time,
we become a deeper, richer, more abundant and generous spiral.
Here we are on Nordlys; sailing this wooden ship.
Captain Lammert Osinga
How do we get back home? Tacking!
Down the flying jib and the gaff tops’l, ease the topping lift, cast off tricing lines, staysailboom midships, coils of braces and headsail sheets on deck. Ready on the foredeck? READY! Ready about! About ship, helms a-lee! Mainsheet tight, ease the headsail sheets….there she comes, helm back midships, ease mainsheet, tack the jibs and… Let Go and Haul! Cast off tack and sheet of course, haul away lee course brace as you might, change boom lift, ease mainstays’l boom, tack the bob’s, all hands (or the windlass) on the tack and pull it down together with the lee-topping lift. Tack down! Course sheet home! Trim the yards, set the gaff tops’l, set the flying jib and then coil up and clear the deck!
15 minutes of the mariners full concentration is vital for the ship to make her way up against wind and current, not to loose ground against the ever blowing Northeasterlies in the Channel.
3 weeks ago all those lines were mere mystery to the most hands aboard Tres Hombres, now, at the command of prepare for tacking, everyone is whizzling over the deck, finding the right line to cast off, haul tight or stand by! No more discussions, commands are understood and taken out with pleasure and power. At force 5, instead of life lines the flying jib is put up and the helmsman is smiling pleasantly, feeling the acceleration of the ship and her leaning over in comfort!
Good food and good company as a power ressource, one common mission: living live in a natural way!One tool: the most beautiful sailing vessel on the seas, currently hunting after De Gallant, where early sailing memories with Captain Hendrik make me think of the old days as a deckhand without any concerns, without any limits.
Now we are passing on those good times, the tools and the experience to find a way in your life, it’s your choice.
P.S. : with some unexpected SW wind we are right now passing Dover, gybing the stunsails with boom and all to use the last heap of this rare wind, pushing us into the North Sea, where the next blow of NE will await us…see you soon in Amsterdam
Captain Andreas Lackner
Is your mind filled with the glorious majesty of the white winged masts of the Age of Sail? Or are you longing to master the arts of the traditional seaman? Then sign on, sailing on a cargo vessel is a unique way to discover the world and learn the art of real square rig seamansship. Price varies by voyage. The longer you sign on for, the less you pay per day. Visit http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ for the latest schedule and pricing or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tres Hombres Winter 2018-2019 new.odt
We would like to invite all of you for our next refit of the Tres Hombres in Den Helder, Netherlands.
She has now been sailing bravely for 10 years and she has carried tons of cargo with very small rest periods in between. She survived really rough weather and really rough people. She has seen the most beautiful anchorages and the shittiest muddy foggy trenches. She has seen love, hate, respect and disrespect in any way shape or form imaginable. She has been build by great knowledge, enthusiasm and goodwill and she has been maintained like this as well. Effing awesome job people!!
But now is the time to clean up some bits which need more than only just further maintenance; now is the time to clean up the rust (of her steel structure and her human lovers) of many years; now is the time to clean up tunnel-views and resignation.
So this year will be rather special; we are planning a very extensive, (mid-July to end-October) and compared to the other years, different refit. Several major projects are planned which will reduce the overall maintenance workload, reduce the stress (on people and materials) and resolve some of the complaints aboard. This important refit will both strengthen and prepare the vessel for the next several years of cargo sailing.
Projects for this refit:
*Re-caulking the vessel
For the technical interested: Only a small job of the caulking is to keep the water out of the boat – its primary job is to bring tension in the hull and to bring up her strength to the designed level through added pressure in between the planks (several tons).
Reasons for a re-caulk: The hull is leaking a bit too much, it is moving to much when working in heavy weather or when powerful tension is applied to the rigging. Also many non-compatible systems of caulking have been applied over the years. There are additionally some wet seams which means possible rot between planks and future damage might follow. As per Lloyds (a major ship classification society) a composite build vessel has to be re-caulked at least once every 8-10 years; for Tres Hombres this is the time now. A composite vessel has a stronger backbone than a wood-wood one, yes, but if the tension between the planks decreases the movement goes into the plank-frame fastenings as there is a new tension-line between rigid and soft -> they (the fasteners) wobble their way into the surrounding wood -> humidity can enter -> potential rot, rust, loose fastenings
*We want to develop a recognized system of procedures and materials used in the maintenance and repair of the vessel – this will be orientated by the guidelines of classification societies and well-recognised handbooks.
As a result there should be a standard knowledge of how every part of the vessel has been built and how it has to be repaired, which will not only add to the overall strength of the vessel, but also simplify and accelerate work onboard during refit periods and maintenance underway.
*There will be new water-tanks fitted
*There will be an electrical refit
*There will be a rebuild of the generator (external company)
*There will be a lot of maintenance and nice-ifying work
If you want to learn something new, if you want to improve your skills, if you have been a caulking mallet yourself for years, if you are any type of crafts(wo)man, if you are eager to help and knock a heavy mallet on your already sore knuckles, posh things up or play the flute to keep the spirits up or if you “just” want to help – please join!!
We need specifically:
*Electricians/an electric engineer; our system needs some redesigning and cleaning out; has a few unknown faults and dead wires
*Woodworkers; changing planks on hull and deck, possibly batten-up planks, interior removal and refitting (tanks, frames), poshing things up
*Metal workers; change frames, install tanks, repairs (we have someone taking charge of this, but he will need preferably skilled co-workers)
*Caulkers; we need a few people who are skilled at caulking and we need people who are keen to learn it. This was the most rewarded and highest level job when building a wooden hull! Please do not underestimate this job; we will be tuning the Tres Hombres like an instrument. Concerning this hull the caulking is no rocket science and can be learned relatively quickly – but you need dedication and huge attention to details; you caulk too soft for one centimetre and you have a leak there; you caulk to hard you have a leak next to it as you are forcing the softwood planks apart in this spot… On this re-caulk we will practice and teach a technique which has been used in (mainly Scandinavian) fishing vessels for hundreds of years
*People who can sand, remove rust and apply oil and paint
*Riggers – this year we will only do small repairs though
*And of course the most important job – the cook; there will be around 20 hungry persons to be fed
This is a vast job for the time planned but the boat has to get sailing, no matter what; that’s what she does best. But we will manage, I promised the next captain and we always delivered on time.
But please understand the importance of this refit, for the company and for the ship itself; it will not be easy but very interesting, challenging and rewarding. This time will demand the strongest work ethic and a very high level of cooperation between all members of the refit team. There is no space for people who are not willing to give a good days work or spend hours discussing different methods and techniques during the working time.
Please contact Hilde, our crew manager, on email@example.com to tell her about your abilities and availability – we want to plan as good as possible ahead (which project to start at which point of the refit and what material to buy) and avoid to have more than 20 persons working on the ship at the same time. On the refit we offer decent accommodation, good feeding and a professional environment.
I will most likely be involved in the planning and running the show – my name is Fabian, I am a merchant master mariner, a shipwright and a mechanic. I have skippered the Tres Hombres for a small part of the last Atlantic trip and have restored boats for some time. I will be the person on the front and Andreas (the famous co-founder of Fairtransport and most experienced refit guy) will do the logistics.
captain Fabian Klenner