Nordlys blog: As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship

Nordlys blog: As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship

Sailing cargo with the Nordlys.
A happy crew on a happy ship.
We sail from the Netherlands to Portugal and England,
from France to Germany and Denmark.
Sometimes storm, sometimes calm, sometimes sun, sometimes rain.

“Une grande ballet” on the oceans waves.
The flow of air which makes us move.
As we are dancing away from and towards the land.
The sun and stars are shining above us in the sky.

As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship,
The natural wines, olive oil and flowers, are dancing with us overseas.
Products from the earth, natural grown and cared with love.

“Une grande ballet” of quality and taste.
As we farm the land, as we sail the ship.
Producers, transporters and consumers meet.
We are dancing the melodies of life,
during this precious time here on earth.

Thriving like a grapevine, an olive tree or a flower of life.
The planet earth is meant to thrive.
Let us follow her tunes and dance her melody,
and she will be prosperous for every soul.

Captain Lammert

Nordlys blog: Sailing between the stars

Nordlys blog: Sailing between the stars

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

Nordlys blog: Scores of rolling water made hills

Nordlys blog: Scores of rolling water made hills

Alive, living, liquid skin of earth
Scores of rolling water made hills
Tubes of side by side charging, swollen ripples
Racing towards the rising sun
Spilling into the golden light.

The boom is being a sea-saw
Hypnotically cutting into the choppy blue view
Up and down I see the Spirits of air and wind
clutching the ropes at the booms tip
Their ethereal bodies
Flapping and flying in glee
Angels in the breeze
Movement celebration.

We tip and rise
Green froth, blue skies
alternate in view
I’m being rocked by Nordlys Soul
Within this realm of blue.

The waves are all singing in chorus
harmonies of churn
The orchestra of ship through sea
Silencing concerns.

And as my body tilts and rocks
New sun upon my face
I realize the Nordlys ship’s
A pure vessel of grace –
Gracefully slicing through the sea
Like a spear shot through the air
The Nordlys swans through ups and downs
Like a comb through silken hair

Alexa Allen

photo ©Barry Macdonald

Nordlys blog:  A huge ship is sounding its fog horn at 2 minute intervals

Nordlys blog: A huge ship is sounding its fog horn at 2 minute intervals

My name is Barry Macdonald and I am a documentary photographer from London. I joined the Nordlys in Blankenberge, Belgium where she was unloading wine and olive oil from Portugal to make a photo essay about her work.

The crew of 8 consisted of their Dutch Captain Lammert, First Mate (Belgium), Cook (Belgium), 3 Deckhands (2 French, 1 Belgium) 1 passenger (A lovely lady from Belgium who wanted an adventurous holiday, so had paid to sail for 12 days) and myself. Everyone is bi or tri lingual and English is the common language of the ship. 9 is the maximum and 7 is the minimum crew to sail.

We had to wait an extra day for a storm to pass and then were pulled out at 14:00 by the local rescue boat, tug boats are hard to find when every sailing ship has an engine to come in and out with. Leaving the harbour is the time of most action, with all hands on deck, the sails need to go up in the right order, at the right time, so we sail straight past the dangerous shallow sand banks. When a rope or a sail is stuck there is a quick sharp dialogue between Captain and crew, always factual and to the point, and never once with any temper and then fast action to form a resolution.

The Captain and First Mate are in charge of the two watches. We work 6 hour shifts in the day and 4 hours at night. So it’s 08:00-14:00; 14:00-20:00; 20:00-24:00; 24:00-04:00; 04:00-08:00. Each watch is therefore woken up 5 times in 48 hours, (7:15, 13:15, 19:15, 23:45, 03:45). The cook is the only person excluded from the watch system, he has to cook the 3 meals a day to fuel the crew.

My first watch is at 20:00 so the captain sends us to bed at 18:00. The captain has his own cabin in the aft (back), the rest of us sleep in the fox hole in the bow (front) of the boat. A narrow ladder drops you into this small wonky triangle of 8 bunks. The space is dark and musty, a mixture of old socks and salty rain gear soaked into the wood. Your bunk provides you just enough space to sleep flat, and you have a small wooden chest for your clothes. Spare rope, the ships anchor chain and dry food all are stored here under the floor as well. When the ship is sailing your bunk is constantly moving with the bow cutting through the waves, sleeping below the waterline means there is a constant noise of the sea swirling around, it’s a bit like sleeping in a washing machine at first.

We are woken at 19:15 for dinner before the shift, a mist descends on the boat and we sail through the darkness of the Channel only being able to see about 150 feet away from the boat. We keep our eyes and ears open for any ships or buoys, your eyes play lots of tricks on you at first, I even thought I saw an iceberg at one point! A huge ship is sounding its fog horn at 2 minute intervals, but we can’t see it, the computer tells us our courses will not meet.

We wake the next watch at 23:45 and make tea and coffee for them, we swap watches by the wheel at the aft and Captain Lammert gives a status update, it’s always positive, no matter how much we have moved. My watch sleeps at 24:00 and is woken at 03:45. I still haven’t slept at this point because of the noisy fox hole, the wind is incredibly cold if you are not wearing enough of the appropriate layers. I cannot understand why the crew endures such hardship. It’s hard manual work for every rope, a total lack of privacy or free time while at sea, sleeping is hard in the fox hole, the toilet is in a small cupboard on the back of the boat, and hard shift patterns mean you are lucky to get 5 hours of sleep. Working the watches makes 2 days feel like 4 or 5.

The longer we sail I start to understand why these sailors endure these difficult conditions, for pay that is below what they could earn on engine powered cargo ships, for much less work. The power of the ship when all 5 of her sails are raised is a phenomenal experience, the sailors are tuned into the wind direction, the current and tides. As the wind changes they let the sails in or out to always harness as much power as possible, they all glance up occasionally checking the sails are full and taught. All of the people on board come from different backgrounds and have a wide spectrum of personalities, but they are all linked by a love of “real” sailing and a concern for the environment. The crew has to spend a lot of time together, and all rely on each other for their safety when they are alone in the middle of the ocean. It takes a flexible, unselfish and pleasant person to be a successful crew member.


We wake the cook at 06:30 to start breakfast and we wake the watch at 07:15, they eat and we swap watches on deck, then we eat breakfast and go to sleep. I sleep a few hours, but am ripped out of a dream at 13:15 for lunch. We eat, swap watches, they eat and sleep, I am finally getting used to the rhythm of the boat. The voyage was smooth with a good wind behind us so for the most part, they had little work to do apart from minor adjustments to the sails. At one point the Captain emerges from the navigation room with a big smile, and shouts across to the massive cargo ship half a mile off our port side, that we are doing 11 knots and nearly matching their 12. When we are going so fast the ship is heeling (leaning) with the power of the wind at what at first feels like an extreme angle, the waves slosh onto the deck every now and then. Sometimes when the wind drops and the current is against us we might drop to 4 knots, but everyone is always happy as long as we are moving forwards.

We are crossing the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and there are huge cargo ships and car ferries dotted all around. We see lots of floating plastic, even some birthday balloons that floated away and now bob between England and France forgotten about.

I do my first dog watch at 24:00, this is everyone’s least favourite, as there is no sunset or sunrise, just darkness, but tonight is fairly clear and we have an amazing starscape to wonder at. The captain stops referring to the compass and starts aiming for stars instead. Eventually we spot a lighthouse we need to pass, so the last hours of the watch are spent slowly edging towards this growing light. I knead the dough and put it in the oven to rise, the next watch will turn the oven on and there will be bread for breakfast, everyone has to help out with preparing tea & coffee and cleaning the galley. I gain a greater appreciation for the cook who hand pumps the freshwater and cooks amazing meals, while his kitchen lurches from side to side.

We sleep from 04:00 to 07:15 and when we wake up there is a beautiful sunrise and we are near the coast of England. We eat a quick breakfast and swap watches. The Captain informs the previous watch that they won’t be going to bed, but they will take the sails down once they have eaten. We drop the sails in reverse order, and slow down as the work boat comes out to meet us and tow us into Torquay harbour.


We dock easily with all hands on deck pulling the ship to the quay. I was questioning my decision to sail along 40 hours ago and now I am sad to be back on land and miss the feeling of the sails being filled with wind, and the boat moving. We are early so the unloading will happen on Monday, giving the crew some time off, but first the ropes and sails need to be packed carefully, the deck washed, bilges pumped and rescue suits aired and dried. We are finally finished sometime after 11:30, the previous watch has been working since 04:00, no one goes to bed and we share lunch and a bottle of wine to celebrate a safe voyage. Lots of people come by to the visit the Nordlys intrigued by the ship who is at least 100 years older than the other ships in the harbour, and amazed when they are told she is a working cargo ship.

After a weekend of odd jobs on the boat, exploring the coastal paths and catching up on sleep the unloading starts early on Monday morning, taking advantage of the high tide that leaves the boat closer to the quay. 20 tons of cargo are unloaded by hand or using the 2 masts to winch heavy barrels just like the sails are moved. We are met by 3 sets of traders who take wine, olive oil, olives and sea salt to be sold in the UK. The Captain is the face of the company working with the traders in person and visiting local organic farms to meet the owners and view the production methods.

The next day the Nordlys is made ready for sea and sets sail for Douarnenez in France to deliver and collect her next cargo.

Barry Macdonald
https://www.barrymacdonald.co.uk/
All photos are made with a Fairphone

Encounter on the the high seas of Tres Hombres and Nordlys

Encounter on the the high seas of Tres Hombres and Nordlys

Last night the second mate, Alan, and I where studying the charts, weather and shipping. When he brought up, where Nordlys, the other sailing cargo ship of Fairtransport would be? We knew they had been discharging a cargo of wine and olive oil in Brixham, England, and where bound for Douarnenez, France, after that. This, to pick up wine for Copenhagen and Bornholm in the Baltic. So theoretically she would be somewhere in between Brixham and Douarnenez, and we where too. For the heck of it, I put the cursor on one of the ships on our AIS (Automatic Identification System), and really a chance of one in a million, but it was Nordlys!

Next moment I was on the radio: “Nordlys, Nordlys, Tres Hombres”… A few seconds later the familiar voice of the Master of Nordlys, Captain Lammert Osinga, could be heard: “Tres Hombres, Nordlys”. We changed to a working channel, and had a nice chat about our voyages and the available cargoes. We where pretty much on opposite courses, so we both only had to alter a bit to starboard to meet each other. So we agreed to arrange a meeting on the high seas, in a few hours.
Around an hour after midnight we saw the bright navigation lights, red above green, and the silhouette of Nordlys became apparent. Captain Lammert and I, discussed matters over the radio, and decided that the safest maneuver would be, that Tres Hombres would go hove too by bracing the foretop aback, and Nordlys would approach under reduced sail. Then we would lower our boat, as part of a man-overboard exercise, and sent over a delegation of our crew, with a drink and a cigar. As described happened. It was really the most impressive sight to see the Nordlys, gliding effortlessly through the mirror like see, only partly visible due to the moonlight. When our boarding team returned, with an exchange of gifts, everybody was over excited. Like a wild bunch of privateer’s we echoed our greetings and wishes, our Austrian deckhands shared their flasks of rum to celebrate the occasion. Then, accompanied by the timeless sound of Nordlys their Japanese foghorn, and Tres Hombres her Norwegian foghorn, Nordlys disappeared into the darkness again…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

LAST MINUTE OFFER: The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a unexpected voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Royan, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with co-founder and captain Andreas Lackner, then come and join in!
Landlubbers will get sea legs, and old salts wil get a glimpse of how it was in the good days and how it will be!
For more info sail along or email booking@fairtransport.nl

WANTED: Trainees, cook and (refit) crew!

WANTED: Trainees, cook and (refit) crew!

The core crew to work a sailing vessel are her deckhands. Traditionally they sleep in the focsle, they are the hands “before the mast”. They form the working class to: hand, reef and steer, climb, paint, tar or man the pumps. With that, all generalization has been made, because really they come in as many different ways, as there are people. Young and old, pollywog or shellback, shy or outspoken, green or experienced, wise or intelligent, female or male. On Tres Hombres and Nordlys we distinguish three different groups of deckhands. They are all equally important for the running of the ship, and they all, are part of our crew.

The trainees, these are the sailors who came on board by choosing a voyage, or several voyages, and paying a trainee fee. Some of them never stepped on board a boat before, and like to learn the trade, others are highly experienced mariners, who wanted a taste of a different life at sea. This are people, who join the ship instead of going backpacking, or have a sabbatical year from work, maybe they want to change their career, or are just longing for a great adventure, or ocean crossing on working sail. There might be even a few, who have chosen to travel by sail, as an alternative for having to use the polluting travel mode of flying. The youngest record of a trainee on board must have been around 12 years of age, the oldest 83, but really it is not about age, but about health and willpower.

The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a unexpected voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Rayon, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with captain Andreas Lackner, then come and sign in as a trainee!
http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/

The Ordinary sailors (O/S), these are the sailors, often joining voluntarily, because of being on the right place on the right moment. Usually these deckhands bring a variety of knowledge, gained on other ships or previous voyages, to the ship. They are still learning themselves, but are already this able that they can transfer some of their (maritime) knowledge to other deckhands on board. Ordinary sailors may join the ship after having gained experience as a trainee on one of the longer voyages, or volunteer during a refit, or just because of sheer luck when a place became available.

Urgently required volunteering woodworkers, riggers and a jack-of-all trades to refit sailing cargo vessel Tres Hombres this summer. Board and lodging will be provided. Please contact info@fairtransport.nl

The Able bodied sailors (A/B), this are the career sailors. They started as Ordinary sailors, at least for half a year, but often a lot longer, to fulfill their seatime and gain experience. They frequently are masters in the art of marlinspike seamanship, are excellent small boat sailors, and can climb the rigging, work the jibboom and steer the ship in all kinds of weather. They went to school, at least to do their “Basic safety training”, sometimes they even gained the theoretical knowledge to sail as a Mate or Master. They hold at least a license, or certificate of competence, for being a “Deck rating”. This paper can only been acquired after serving enough time at sea, holding the “Basic Safety Training” diploma, and having passed a medical test. Which explains the name: “Able bodied sailor”.

We always like meeting more inspiring and experienced Sailing Captains & Officers who would like to sail with us. Please contact info@fairtransport.nl with CV and experience.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Nordlys blog: As a team in the rhythm of the sea

Nordlys blog: As a team in the rhythm of the sea

We are navigating our way from Den Helder to the southern peninsula of Europe.
When you are sailing the North Atlantic waters in the early months of the year, the weather conditions might be sometimes a bit rough.
Fortunately there are nowadays good weather forecasts for the first days to come. The depressions developing on the Atlantic Ocean are moving northeast over the continent and bring us the southwesterly gales. Keeping a good eye on the forecast can be life saving. With this in mind we had to make a stop in Brixham and another one in Douarnenez.
While we were there and waiting for fair weather, we were able to do maintenance on the ship, we tested our new anchor winch and worked on sail training. Provisions for the ship came from local farmers.
Fellow sailors, shipwrights, local merchants and friends came by on the Nordlys. Creating a stable market and expanding ideas for the Fairtransport enterprise.

We departed from Douarnenez on a shiny sunday morning and tacked our way towards the Atlantic Ocean. The Bay of Biscay is well known for its rough seas and has to be avoided in the certain weather conditions.
With a ship like Nordlys you will need about four or five days of fair winds to cross this bay. This brings us to were we are right now. We are sailing southwards on the Atlantic swell about 150 nautical miles from Porto.
On board we are nine crew, so eighteen hands to handle the sails, ropes and rudder, preparing food and so forth..
As a team in the rhythm of the sea.

Porto will be our first harbor where we charge cargo of all kind. The hold will be filled with organic products from the Douro region. We will bring these products by wind and sail to the northern countries of the continent.
Transport makes it possible to eat delicious olives, taste an excellent olive oil,use Atlantic sea salt for your meals and enjoy a natural wine, in for example England, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and so forth. Products which are not only produced in a nature friendly way, but also transported so. Sometimes the work on the land is slightly harder, sometimes the transport takes a bit longer… The taste of it all is definitely better! Respect the laws of nature. And nature gives it back.

captain Lammert Osinga

Cargo Under Sail: Love (y)our nature, the story of Passeite

Cargo Under Sail: Love (y)our nature, the story of Passeite

Photo Sergio Ferreira

People always ask how a girl from the Hague ended up on a Portuguese olive grove…
It all started with my first love, my husband, Guilherme, and a little land where his (Passos) family originates from. Not knowing what to do with the land the family was advised to plant olive trees, since these are low maintenance. Boy, were they wrong!

We started helping the family with harvest & pruning season to escape office life and enjoy the countryside of Portugal. It turned into a passion, selling our handpicked green gold at dutch markets and at some point we decided we wanted to live on the farm. Passeite, Azeite da familia Passos (olive oil from the Passos family) was born.

Producing olive oil however is for wealthy producers (in money or property) To get 1 liter of olive oil you need approx 5-15 kg of olives. It’s hard to explain in a short blog, but basically we knew we couldn’t live of the farm and needed an alternative plan. We opened up a restaurant May 2016 called Taberna do Azeite (the olive oil tavern) in Coimbra.

During our first year living in Portugal we were kneehigh in water, something that didn’t happen in 30 years. The year after was the hottest in decades and enormous parts of central Portugal burnt to the grounds, including parts of our ancient groves. Both these extreme weather conditions, being more close to nature & raising 2 kids made our view on live different. Climate change is real…
We wanted to change our habits and that started with introducing mostly local and organic producers to our restaurant, reusing plastic bottles as olive fly traps and being much more creative with recycling old things.Thanks to Alexandra of New Dawn Traders we were introduced with sailing cargo and we knew this was the right path for our brand, Passeite.

The first olive oil run from Porto to France and UK we couldn’t participate fully since we had sold our olive oil harvest already but we knew then our next harvest should be sailed to Scheveningen,The Hague. The town Marije was raised and has such a special place in our heart. So we asked Fairtransport to be part of this adventure with our mission, sending about 1000 liters. Although their schedule for 2018 was already fixed they made the effort to help. We started our Farm- Schip- Scheveningen adventure.

We started the slogan “Love (y)our nature because it fits exactly our product and purpose. Sending a incredible healthy products in a way that is good for (y)our nature…

There is definitely a lot more to tell about olive oil, our brand and our adventures so we challenge you to come and welcome us when the Nordlys arrives in Scheveningen. We will be there to let you taste and explore the olive flavours of Portugal..

Marije & Guilherme
the Passos Family

Move your cargo in a sustainable way on one of our ships: http://fairtransport.eu/shipping/
Marije Passos at the Nordlys in Porto, Photo by Sergio Ferreira

Cargo Under Sail: Xisto Wines

Cargo Under Sail: Xisto Wines

Xisto Wines, run by Anton Mann and Lela McTernan are proud to be the only UK wine importers dedicated solely to importing Portuguese artisan wines.
They work with the new wave of young winemakers , who work sustainably, producing small quantities of the finest quality wines with character and a sense of place.

Wines that take you on a journey from the banks of the Douro river to the high mountain tops. Lisbon wines that hint of salty seashells, wines from Dao, Alentejo and Vinho Verde that reflect the terroir perfectly.
These wines are made by producers who are experts in knowing their vineyards, nurturing them in organic and bio dynamic ways.
Indigenous grapes are hand picked, foot trodden and allowed lovingly with minimal intervention and maximum skill for the amazing delicious wines to emerge.

Xisto Wines have become great friends with all their producers and visit them regularly so they can assure their customers of the provenance of their wines.
The producers are 100% behind them in their chosen method of transport, even making unique wines that are shipped in barrel on Tres Hombres or Nordlys to be bottled in Bristol under the PORT O ‘BRISTOL flag.

Bristol and Portugal have historic trade links (Bristol and Porto are twinned cities) which feels right to reestablish with their wines and organic olive oil ( Portugal’s finest , single Quinta do Romeu ) cargo in the belly of a Fairtransport vessel.

From the beginning of 2010 Anton was in discussion with Fairtransport to try and realise their dream of transporting their wines by sail using zero carbon. Over the intervening years this is a reality. It is extremely important to them and the winemakers to leave as little a footprint as possible.
To that end they are really excited to sail the wines made with grapes, genius and passion in a vessel powered by the wind and skilful sailor’s..

Their Motto:

MADE BY REBELS
SHIPPED BY PIRATES
DRUNK BY HEROES

For more information about Xisto’s sail shipped wines : https://xistowines.com/

Move your cargo emission free on one of our ships: http://fairtransport.eu/shipping/

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