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A group of international volunteers carries the restoration works despite harsh winter conditions, making it possible for Nordlys to sail again. In the last days of November, when mornings already called in with a frost, Nordlys returned from her final voyage of 2018.

The refit – a repair or re-equipping – was scheduled to start in January 2019. In comparison with her sister ship Tres Hombres, the sailing season of Nordlys is the other way around. While Tres Hombres follows the trade winds across the Atlantic in November, Nordlys sails through Spring to Autumn, delivering cargo at the European coast. With winter being dedicated to the repairs and preparations for the next sailing season.

Through January to April, there is a group of approximately 10 international volunteers at a time, working at the required tasks. Some people remain throughout the whole period. Others would come to give hand for a weekend, several days or even weeks, whatever their situation permits. The timing leaves this group of volunteers exposed to rather harsh conditions. Well, Netherlands is not Siberia, but still, winter can be cold and you feel it when working outside in the shipyard all day.

But don’t get me wrong. Despite the fog covered, wintery melancholic setting & rather smaller introvert event, the fun is not missing! There is laughter and jokes and stories being shared with rather interesting people, who came here from all walks of life, various countries and some of whom sailed the Seven Seas and travel the world. There is music and dancing at (and sometimes directly on) the Pirate Bar. And sometimes, but not always, there is the excellent Tres Hombres rum.

But don’t get me wrong again. Even with all the fun included, this is a serious business. All these people gathered here to work with a clear mission: To make Nordlys ship-shaped for the upcoming sailing season.

To those amateurs among us (me included): What does this actually means? What does it take to make a historic wooden vessel prepared for North Sea conditions?

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