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GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES

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Monday 15th  of June

Right on!
Punctually at ten the tugboat pushes the Tres Hombres out of /Den /Helder.
First four volunteers were already on the topmast yard to set royal and gallant sails. Up the shrouds and down again. Into the North Sea. Wind 4 from aft to half.
Setting sails, pulling the ropes makes everybody sweat.
Waves one to two meters from windward, the Tres Hombres takes off with eight knots.
All hands of the eight trainees are needed. After half an hour eleven sails are set except for the outer jib and the ship is rolling and rocking and swaying from side to side. Only one seasick man.
First watch 8pm to midnight, four hours of sleep not really slept.

Tuesday 16th
Second watch for our port group from4 to 8am. Wearing all my warm underwear, sweaters, jumpers to keep warm plus a watertight overall.
Wind calming down. Then at 9am suddenly windstill.
The dutch coastline is crammed full of windmill parks. A good sign for sustainable energy production. Lots of tankers and cargo ships to keep an eye on.

Wednesday 17th
Wind 4 to 5 turning southward stomping through the waves. Got to tack two times.
At 2 pm north of Margate with white cliffs around at anchor for a couple of hours. Twelve sails hauled down. Not quite clear which ropes belong to which sail.We were running out of loorolls.
Speedboat hoisted into the water to buy them, then hauled back on deck.
Lessons by the navigator Camille repeating and showing us all the ropes.
During maneuvers everybody sweats, like hoisting anchor. Manually of course. Then two to three hours to unwind and change wet underwear.
Two hours later theTres Hombres under full sails cutting its way through the waves. Wind 7 to 8.
The royal, outer and inner jib sails gafff and course have to be pulled down. Camille on the upper yard to fasten royal while the mast sways wildly from side to side at full speed. Ten knots!
Good lord! The ship heeling with the water to the deck!

Thursday 18th
Sailing across the channel between Dover and Calais is  like a ship motorway. Ferries real close and freighters all around. A few hours of rain to keep us awake. Everybody in best mood. Conversations, and fruit salad scrambled eggs with garlic served by Guiseppe, our italiian cook who has. always got a joke up his sleeve.
Pointe Blanche on port. Five hours no wind. French Coastguard is giving us a visit. Tonight deep and sound sleep. Washing and shaving maybe tomorrow. Spirits still high. Language on board is english, naturally. We got six dutch, one danish, three french one italian, two german  persons here on board

Friday 19th
Good wind along the Normandy coast, 35 mi. west of Dieppe wind simmers down again. Time to rehearse all the sheets, braces, up and downhaul ropes, trimm and reeflines, halyards, cargo hoists,
While tacking I realise, which ones I got mixed up with. But its getting  better.
Navigation tasks are included. Lots of brainwork today
Appetite is increasing although sleeping hours vary and everybody loooks bright and very content.
Waking up hearing laughter and talking brightens up every day!
We have a mechanic, ex divers, a cocktail and rum specialist, a science journalist,  a truck driver, a doctors aide, an ophtalmologist all under the command of captain Andreas turning into a reliable team. Its a joy to have the privilege to sail with a thoughtful, calm, collected captain who never loses his temper and keeps smiling regarding all my mistakes and clumsyness.

Saturday20th
The night was windy and cold and we had to turn north again since we were getting too close to the french coastline. Tack around midnight. All men and women on deck for the maneouver. We are getting better with the lines even during stronger wind .
Close to the Cape de la Hague another calm wind period, Piet repairs the pumps and lets the outboard engine look like new. Victoria, Rick, Lita and Stefan sandscraping old paint, captain Andreas occupied with the maintenance of valves and other equipment.
Meanwhile the current pushes us back 15 mi. From 2pm on wind is coming up again, freshening up 3 to4 from northwest. We have to  tack to sail in north direction, then tack again southward. Getting ahead now at good speed high up against the wind. Freightships crossing, two sailboats passing nearby. The wind keeps whisteling through the tackle all night. Everything is all right, the mind is clear and the body is getting used to the irregular sleeping hours.
Current and wind against us but, conditions are fair

Sunday 21st
Solstice! Wind 6. Finally heading south again. Trainee Florian up the windward shroud to untie the royal. In the upmost yard while the ship is stompingand heeling. All sails up! Racing at 7 to 8 knots, 15 mi. From the Isle of Wight we tack in direction to Alderney. Got to take the western route. Tack again, wich always means pulling sheets and braces as fast and hard as you can! Moving north northwest again into Lyme Bay. The captain has a cup of fabulous french red wine for everybody to celebrate this special day. Now after another tack demanding our entire body power we are sailing southward with westerly wind blowing at 6 to 7.
The captain may sometimes look serious but never angry and soon a smile appears on his face. Many years of maritime experience in any weather conditions gives us all a feeling of confidence.
What a wild ride we are having on this shiny day with a strong wind from west northwest!

Monday 22nd
Cloudy skies, rain dripping off the sails with a nice wind blowing still. The good mood cannot be altered. Dry cleaning gets a new different meaning. It keeps on raining all day until 5pm. We have to work our way through two more tackings and then the Tres Hombres really flies under full sail 9.2 knots through two meter waves, sea gulls gliding along with us. Taking over the helm gives me the feeling that this vessel is really sturdy built in steel framework with wooden body and deck, a 130 ton beauty. She ploughs her way through these irregular peaks of foam and spray, Sensational!
Good night and thanks for this unique and soul warming adventure..

Tuesday 23rd
Midnight watch until 4 am. Last multicolored stripes and a silver moon sickle disappearing. This experience to be able to see this marvelous blue planet with the ocean all around  can only  be had on a sailship with no engine hammering. Plancton lights up as the bow kicks up a foamy front wave and the milky way shows us all its splendour while the night air hushes along our thirteen sails. The flyer is up giving us another knot of speed, now 7.1 knots, while the light towers of western Brittany pass by, the highest and most famous one being the Phare du Four.
This journey is almost coming to an end, so before it does, here is a special thanks to captain Andreas who has got this sparkle in his eyes because he loves his job and the ideals it stands for, and his great unforgettable crew.  Wiebe, the first mate with his curly long blonde hair and the sonore voice when he sings his ballads from the netherlands playing the guitar, the contagious smile Francois the bosun shows when he is in full action, Camille the navigator, always debonair teaching us the secrets of navigation and going through all the lines and ropes with us again and again. Thirtyfive on each side, Guiseppe, the maestro of the galley realm keeping us going with hisitalian inspired meals. Not to forget the two deck hands Victoria and Soizic never hesitating to accomplish any task. Wether climbing up to the highest yard or onto  the jib when the 315 square meters of sails have to be set and all the other tough work this lady demands from her crew.
This is certainly not a luxury voyage with waiters all around you plus entertainment.
All trainees are asked to be ready and willing to learn and help on deck. All different people with different nationalities then form a team, and I see that each and everyone is glad to have participated in this exceptional adventure. Hope to see you all again!!Dios os proteja y bendiga!
Yours truly,
Karl

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