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/
Dear partners, (former) crew members and friends.
You receive this newsletter while brigantine Tres Hombres has just crossed the Atlantic ocean again. Almost every other day you can read a new weblog on our website, with the adventures of our sailing crewmembers. That is why now, in this newsletter, our amazing shore and office crew is writing down their stories.
Off course many things happened within the past period in our organization, we often say to each other “Never a dull moment”. To start off we had quite a big change this summer, because the three founders : Arjen v/d Veen, Andreas Lackner and Jorne Langelaan moved on, to put down their daily functions as operational directors. They are still shareholders and they will continue to promote the organization through their own unique ways. Arjen is occupied with organizing sustainable cargo in Rotterdam. Andreas is very closely involved in the technical matters of both ships, and is planning some new ventures in Amsterdam. Jorne is busy with a new sailing cargo project and moved to Ireland. All three of them are still involved in giving talks around the country and in foreign lands, telling their story of sustainable business upon the seven seas.
As the operational succesor of this trio I should introduce myself. My name is Hans van der Pluijm. Before I started as a volunteer with Fairtransport I used to work in a scala of managing roles in large healthcare institutions. Also, for five years, I was general boardmember at a similar institute in Palestina. After my first year coordinating the trading department within Fairtransport, mostly involved in distributing and selling rum, I went for a long walk from the Netherlands to Santiago the Compostella in Spain. At my return I was asked to become a pro-deo general manager to run the organization. It was agreed to evaluate my position after a twelve month term, and since that moment (August this year) I have been general director.
As you can read in this newsletter, before setting sail in May, the fine trading ketch Nordlys has had a thorough refit of the forward part of the ship. The grand old lady is not only still beautifull, but strong as ever. This has been also the first season, with her experienced skipper Lammert Osinga again, that the amount of cargo she carried was on the rise. With the current brokers contacts and promising cargo deals for the coming season we believe this trend will continue. So, if you where thinking to invest your capital in a sustainable cause, forget about bitcoins, and sign on with Fairtransport again! For more information feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or you can download the Nordlys Shipping Company business plan through this link: Invest Contact Form
The past year, apart from many crewmembers, some experienced new captains joined us again. One of them even started sailing with Tres Hombres as a trainee and worked himself up through the ranks of Deckhand, 2nd mate and Chief mate. Next to the real sailing, there where also quite some improvements ashore in the office. Many procedures where put in writing or streamlined. The administration was further automated and connections between the different entities where put in place.
Personally I can only say, that I am very proud: to be part of the group of enthousiatic people which make up Fairtransport. A shipping organization, where care for our natural environment comes first. And because of this, has been proven able to transport its goods in a fair and sustainable matter, while keeping the traditions and craftmanship of traditional sailing alive. This is the reason that I can see a flourishing coming year and further future for Fairtransport, her crew and ships: Tres Hombres and Nordlys. Finally, dear reader, it is because of you, that all of this is possible. So, thank you very much and fair winds in the coming year!
Hans v.d. Pluijm
Last season was absolutely the season of the Nordlys. Gradually she has sailed herself out of the shadow of our flagship Tres Hombres. Which port the Nordlys visited the past months, everywhere the press, film crews and snapping photographers were waiting for her. Whether it was Porto, Noirmoutier, Brixham or Bremerhaven.
Of course, the oldest sailing cargo ship (1873) in the world deserves this attention. Sailing from port to port with olive oil, olives and natural wine in her hold is really special. She is one of the best with her red fluttering sails. Fortunately, the photographers who get the sailing cargo ship and beautiful crew on film were so free to share their images in high resolution. In this way I’m building up an archive for future press reports and other media requests. But the Tres Hombres also has no complaints when it comes to media attention. Recently I received a request from the Lonely Planet to come and film for a report about the best travel experiences in the world. Unfortunately, it did not fit in the schedule. Because in addition to trainees stepping up for a special experience, we also have a cargo schedule that we must adhere to. Hopefully there will be a next time. In any case, we feel flattered. At this moment the Tres Hombres has the trade winds in her sails and will soon arrive at Saint Martin with relief supplies for animals.
With Spotfinder we can closely follow the ships. The crew leaves a track via the satellite. In that way, we can see when the ship is about to arrive. The press is ready to go at that moment.
Our captains can tell extensive stories about these cargo adventures, exciting sailing trips and of course about our Tres Hombres rum. Fairtransport offers custom-made talks for companies or other organisation, even in different languages. If you would like to know more about this, please contact us at email@example.com.
Marketing and Communications
Dear all, We are coming to the end of the year, so it is a nice occasion for a moment of reflection, to pass the events of last year again in review. It is an opportunity to stop and think about the course for next year. One thing is guaranteed… At Fairtransport, nothing is predictable! Ships that sail only on the power of the wind, the changeable weather, and people who come from all over the world and meet each other through Fairtransport, as well as personal developments ensure that is always remains exciting.
We are very happy that the Nordlys is finally in such a good condition. That after the long refit, Lammert and his crew were able to sail a great season and that they could delight the cargo customers with their cargo. The next season of the Nordlys will start in March. We can proudly state that our cargo customers are expanding their cargo volume and that there is already a lot of cargo waiting for the Nordlys’ next season. She will have a pretty fixed cargo route in the future; to Portugal, France, the UK, Denmark and Germany. If you would like to meet her and the crew at a festival next year, that is possible in in Blankenberge in May or Rostock in August.
The moment I write this, the Tres Hombres is on her way to Saint Martin to bring relief supplies. She is now halfway on her ocean crossing. Rémi, who has sailed for us as first mate for several years, has had his first time as captain from Den Helder to Santa Cruz. We hope that he will continue to sail for us as a captain for many years to come. He has passed on the helm in Santa Cruz to Fabian, who has come to us recently and is for the first time the captain of the Tres Hombres. All three men sailed as captain on the Tres Hombres in 2017. Something that has not been the case within one year in the past.
Probably you have noticed that we had to make one of two Atlantic voyages. Which therefore has become longer. We expect the Tres Hombres to return to Amsterdam in May 2018 with rum and cacao. Of course, the yearly unloading party takes place in Amsterdam at that moment.
Everyone who wants to sail with us (again) will find our schedules under the following link: Sail Along. The sailing schedule for the winter 2018/2019 for the Tres Hombres will be developed within the next fourteen days. Thereafter, it will be available on our website under sail along and downloads. If you have any questions, you can send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kind regards and until next time,
A day out of the Shipping journal
This morning I had to make clear to a cargo owner that we do not have any ships sailing on the route from Argentina to Iran at this time. As much as we would like to meet the wishes of enthusiastic cargo owners… In this case we had to disappoint the man. Nothing to be worried about according to the same man: “I see possibilities to transport some things from the Caribbean to Sweden.”
Soon after, the same story with someone who would love to transport a cargo consisting of chocolate bars from Ivory Coast to France. So, requests from all over the world pass the desk of Shipping each week. All of which are answered. Even requests that must be answered in negative are answered with a clear explanation. Thereafter, they are put in the digital archive…
“Because you’ll never know…!” All requests from cargo owners are checked with the sailing schedules of the Tres Hombres and the Nordlys. Concerning the Tres Hombres, we can of course see some acquaintances, who have been using the ship for years to transport cargo from the Caribbean to Europe. For example, cacao for the Chocolatemakers in Amsterdam and rum for our own Trading department. Although, the complete hold is not contracted at the departure from Den Helder, our experience has shown that the full capacity of the ship (about 40 tons) will be used during the return journey. Exciting is that this time (the winter voyage from 2017-2018) probably will be our first North American adventure.
In Nordlys’ case things are different. On the routes along the Western European coast it is still a bit of a search to get regular customers, just like the Tres Hombres. In 2017, the Nordlys came into permanent service and visited Portugal, France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Denmark. The indications are favourable for the summer voyage of 2018. We will re-establish the relationship gained in 2017 and we expect to be able to sail a good year along the coastline of Europe. The thrown-out bait in 2017 must lead to the catch of large(r) fish in 2018!
After 8 tacks in the Antigua Channel to go to the East , it s seams finally possible to reach windward side of Guadeloupe to go down south to Martinique.
Not easy for everybody to sleep well on this choppy wavy sea, anyhow we keep on going. Further more sail handling moments are perfect times to work together and built a team. Few days ago we had an accidental tack because the wind direction is changing under shower. Time to realize on which apprentice step are sitting the crew. The fact is that after a month of running downwind, our movements on deck were slower, manoeuvers communication was gone, rigging tricks were forgotten. Now, happy and proud of my watch, we are tacking within 10 min (Preparation, passing 8 sails and trimming) with fun.
We are enjoying the sun, the morning pineapples, Lis the technical full&by steering, watching birds diving for fish, britany butter, Frederieke likes when the flying fish hit me at steering! Thibaut likes swinging by the waves on the yard, Ilja observating the evolution of his out of control moustache and likes the sails handling action, Jan the sea and sailing…
Judith wants to make a special dish for Christmas, we will be at sea that is why we gonna wait til the 26 for having a nice meal together at anchor to avoid any sliding pans or wounds! She’s exciting and prepared already almonds paste made by hands and the crew will participating as well.
All the crew wish Happy Christmas to all theirs families and friends around the world and all others. Special warm word for Icee who left us in St Martin, sea you back in Barbados !
Anne-Flore, first mate
A weblog every other day is the assignment they give us. That seems to be a lot for a place with so little external factors that can influence what happens on board. And yet there is enough to write about. Because the ship is a little village where we have to live together.
I like to see all those people, coming from so many different places and lives, bringing their own story. The one might be on board, only for the crossing. Being astonished by the ships life, not used to the lack of comfort and privacy. But still they come here with a personal challenge to get to know themselves better. The other might be a born sailor, not even noticing we’re already at sea for so long. But in a way I think everyone can smell the land coming closer now (and the land can smell us coming closer I suppose…). And in all the different states of mind we pass, punchyness (meligheid) is one of them.
By running out of trainees to teach the ropes to, Alan is doing a pinrail tour with a wirebrush. Thibaut and Conor keep shaking up flexseeds in water to look at them spinning around. The desperate smokers start roling pipe tabacco in sigarette papers. Well, you see it’s a small world wherein little things can become a big problem or a great pleasure.
Almost four weeks now we are out here at sea. Steady in a routine, but also busy in our minds. Because as wide as the ocean around us is, the ship is only a couple of steps long and we can not leave it. I came to the discovery that this can drive me a bit crazy. As far ‘of the ship’ and away from the people I can get for now is sitting on the little chair on the bowsprit. Which comes with a nice bath if we’re dipping far enough into the waves.
This morning only 250 NM to go! So I think it’s finally time to say we’re almost there. Bets are being made about our estimated time of arrival. We dream about all the things we want to consume we don’t have on board. Although I’m also curious about Sint Maarten: How destroid will it still be? What has happened in the month that we didn’t receive any news from the world? It must be a strange realisation to expend our world again to the scale of the world that has been around us all the time.
So are we actually ready to go on land? I think so, but it will be as much as an adaptation as it was to be at sea.
In small things on board I find my joy. Taking a shower in the dark evening when it’s finally cool enough to stay cool. And to curl up in my camping spot underneath the stairs like Harry Potter, instead of in my stuffy bunk. Most of the time I also enjoy the people and I’m glad I can still make them happy with food.
Showers visit us also by the way. After a day of steaming hot, we could dance in the rain and wash our hair in saltless water from the sky.
Even though they won’t admit it, the boys-watch is getting better and better in making the bread. And even though an unvoluntarily sourdough slaughter took place this morning, a real catastrophy could be prevented. And for everyone who thinks we’re not dealing with any serious problems in this little world of ours, I can confirm that from the 24 olives on the focaccia, 23 could have been saved, and only one went missing.
For the first time since La Palma there is music from a speaker on deck. He’s spreading in the atmospher a taste of romantic country music where we can see O brothers running in the wheat fields under a burning sun and Jack Kerouac jumping on board this ship as a slow merchant train crossing the blue country full of ideas to built or rebuilt this world weared of a bag pack & unapropriate Espadrille. Clamour of poetry in the radio to throw a new look on details.
Well, despite a few worried members aboard about being somewhere ( on land) for Christmas, everything is going sweet here. “Not so much things to complain” said captain. And then cuban music blows her cosy voices flow on deck, gold sunset sky becomes darker and stars are taking over the space. It’s not blues but your feeling is on the border. Yes four weeks already at sea far away without news from your lovers, parents, children. Is that feeling of missing brings you more in reality, more alive, more true ? blablabla but yes ours bodies are talking to us and that is a lovely great creation.
Since a week, instead of the swedish, the captain decided to set a new watches readim system: 4 hours each watches, 3 watches of 4 or 5 peoples. That brings more peoples on deck during daylight, the maintenance goes forward faster because those 8 hours of rest at night and we are meeting eachothers.( So , sorry for the tres hombres tradition but it works well for the crossing. If the loyals of the company has any request about this, feel free to explain your opinion, I wouldn’t bring the bad luck here like to move the giraff outdoor with a full cargo !!). Can you beleave, we were sailing full and by for a day , trade winds are not strong but the lady keeps on going half of the wind speed.
Shower on deck, 1 hour of rain today (11/12/2017). Soap & shampoo !
ps: we got rid of 2 hammocks of bananas.
Anne-Flore, first mate
I am trying to dance with the wind. At the helm, it is the middle of the night, and though I have the light of a moon just past the full, it is getting dark. Clouds are rolling in. They might mean a shift in the wind, backing or veering, and an increase in speed, and I am standing with my neck craned all the way back, peering up at the barely-visible flag, trying to judge if the wind is changing, and where I should steer to keep the sails full.
There’s one way of looking at sailing, the way I too often fall into, which is that the ship is a series of clever mechanisms for turning wind into propulsion–purchase blocks, ropes, sails trimmed with exactitude to airplane-wing shape. And that there is one right heading and trimming of sails which will produce the best results, given any defined set of wind and swell conditions. This is treating sailing like a math problem.
But sailing is not math, not regular or predictable, no more than life is. Like astronavigation, there is math involved, but the basis, the foundation is all guesswork, pretending the earth is flat, and having a good feeling about the sextant reading you just took. The first mate, Anne-Flore, talks to me about trying to find the rhythm of each maneuver, the flow of how people move about the deck, meshing with the movement of the wind as we bring the ship through the wind on a tack, for example. It’s a dance, I can see. Each of us moves like the wind, unpredictably but with a certain grace, and the trick to being a good leader, as the trick to being a good sailor, is to work with that energy, and catch it at the most graceful moment. This is sailing–the ship is a thing of muscles and breath and wings. To pay attention to the maneuver in this way is to be where I am, to live where I find myself.
How wonderful, to feel that the world is real, and that I belong to it! I am a part of the place where I am, just as much as the wind and the waves, the stars and the clouds. I too often block the world around me, filter it through a screen which sits on a desk and, in the words of Wendell Berry, “obscures the place where it is.” I place barriers between myself and the real world, of computer screen or even book page, instead of living where I am, in my surroundings. I am trying to learn to dance with the wind instead, to feel it on my face and lean into it, to watch the swell and feel it move me as I sway with it. To listen to the ship, how she reacts to the wind, rudder, or waves. I will not truly learn sailing from a book or a screen, no matter how much they can teach me, for all they do is obscure the place they are in, this place, the place where I am, out here smack in the middle of the Atlantic with my sailwings and rainclouds and moonlight. Dancing.
While I’m not particularly attached to a certain religion where a god is involved, and while I
don’t particularly believe in something, I apparently do have a certain idea of the feeling of
Of course heaven can just refer to anyone’s ultimate dream so in that case it doesn’t
matter if you’re religious or not. But anyways, this morning I was wondering if heaven would
feel something like this. A complete serene surrounding, all this water kept itself so quiet and
almost dissolved in the sky. And then the sunrise came. A forest of clouds being on fire on the horizon.
Sea and skycovered in copper glaze.
While we humans are out there in society, running around, talking, working, worrying, this is
just here all the time. Everyday the sun rises to give us another day over and over again.
Even if we don’t look at it, it’s there. This is of course an idea philosophers have been
questioning, but at least it was the feeling it gave me: This is just here all the time, so
big and endless. It is no one’s property and we have the privilege to look at it.
Then the sun was completely visible and that was when the intensity and brightness of the
light that was all around us, made me wonder about heaven. It’s not that this is my ultimate
dream in the sense that I never want to leave again. Because if we stay drifting around here
like we do, we will run out of food at some point and we will end up eating banana peals with
marmite and we’ll never reach the other side of the ocean.
But if my heaven could have this
serenity, endlessness and peace, that would be a great basis to spend the rest of eternity.
50 miles in the northeast Cabo Verde, steady trade winds.
1st fish : small dorada coryphene. Since few days nights are quite. Sounds of little waves, sails flaps sometimes downwind, windmills turning, barometer tic tac, banging pan in the galley. The moon is very bright now, she shines the rigging, what a beautiful picture: black, white & grey, straits lines, curves & shadow, green red lights. Photographers an drawers could be charmed by the scenery. Close your eyes face toward the sky, let the 24 degrees cool breeze sweep gently your hair as a caress. Your legs are now following the movement of the ship naturally and you know already about a breakfast with banana bread. Yes it’s official, unlimited consumption of the gold’s treasure.
Inspired by an awful book in the open sea.
On the way of travel I met few vagabonds with luggage plenty of anecdotes. I am remembering those, ripples marks on the face as an alive stone which you can find, by chance, on the beach away of any civilisation. You look at the outlines of this part of the rock revealing details, stories in peace, doesn’t matter how deep or big are the scares. You listen to them attentively, you stave wide-eyed in front of humbles story-tellers on a sailing vessel deck. Theirs blows are like an infinity poem flow and we are becoming a tall ship wearing many open sails, gliding over the whisper of the foam.
They are somewhere far away at sea or hidden in an old stone house on a mountain, you are not running after them, never. Gipsies are not this kind of people you are planning to meet. Just a warm dreaming restless wave.
So, about this awful book. I advice you to throw it over board ( as I did yesterday) any books who’s talking about the worst sadness, scared, heavy weight of family tradition… If you want to use your holiday watch as a proper rest and quite sleep (for the focs’tle people), it’s useless to bring it in your stuff. I kept only the last page because she’s the only one ( in 436 pages) positive & full of hope. Well, the past is already done and we can inspire ours life from that, the present is now: the wheel is waiting the next watch team and tomorrow is a new dawn, is a new day, a new life and I’m feeling good ( dixit Nina Simone).
first mate Anne-Flore