12 maart 2024
- Logboek
Tres Hombres

Against the wind (Jordan Hanssen)

At worst this ship is a compelling object. With her sails up, galloping over the sea, she is a thing of beauty. This voyage feels one part ‘Neverland, one part business, a dash of hippie and sprinkle of ‘Papillon.

In the last few months I’ve bled, been beaten and bashed for this boat. I’ve only cried in front of the captain once, and seen a few other tears besides. Outside of our bunks there is nothing soft to sit on. The head is shared by fifteen people. It’s ten degrees hotter in there than the outside temperature and the design seems inspired by the comfort of a prison camp and the whimsy of a day care. The sheets on the bunks look like hand me downs from a tuberculosis orphanage. Clothing is hand washed. The drinking water is hand pumped and the coffee is hand ground. This is some old world charm, and from time to time it’s got its limits.  There is no refrigerator.  In the warm latitudes the only cold drinks are the ones we find on shore.

Half the time we can’t take a straightforward course to our destination. We spend half our time tilted one way and half our time tilted the other. If its not braced or tied down it rolls about the deck like a grimy pinball. This includes sailors.

The ship is covered in tar and tallow. It stains everything and includes the things we climb. My uniform is two torn up shirts and my good one just has less rips—I wear this one as little as I can. A few days ago I pulled out the one shirt I brought to go out in port. It has mould on it.

When not working we sit idle for long stints. When the wind shifts everything should have happened two minutes ago.  Sleep is a series of naps.  I wake up a zombie, or perhaps more relatable that feeling of one drink too many but without any of the pleasure of the night before.  ‘Jesus Christ’ seems to be my first refrain that comes out of my mouth when I wake up. Either I’m taking the good man’s name in vain or is simply a prayer for his help to make it out to the cup of coffee on deck.

Some days I feel like this ship is taking it out of me piece by piece. I hope there is enough left of me by Amsterdam. I’ve signed up to sail with Tres Hombres for five months. Yet not only was I not shanghaied, I am paying for the pleasure of being here—perhaps like one of Tom Sawyers friends that got dumped to white wash Aunt Sally’s fence and loving almost every minute of it.

For thirteen years this ship has made it around the Atlantic building a network of contacts and delivering cargo. Its ongoing mission has no doubt consumed people, but I get the impression that many, if not most, are happier for the experience. I judge this by the details carved into her. This is an effort that speaks of love.

I was looking for an adventure and had the privilege of choosing this one. In this case that privilege comes with a trade off. Taking a spot on this ship, be it trainee (like myself), the crew and especially the captain, (most especially the captain) means being owned by the ship. Our lives depend on this vessel. The ship, without a heartbeat, (but perhaps with a soul?) knows this, and demands our service. Our reward is safe passage across one of the most remote parts of earth where the meditation of coiling a thousands ropes brings me to the moments where we see wild things in their wild places.

I believe that the proportion of adventure is correlated to the level of discomfort. I feel that the proportion of beauty is correlated by the level of effort. I think that sometimes I’m just too quick to forget that easy pleasures are also good. What I know is that sailing is slow and unpredictable and that without the drone of the engine I can hear the ocean better. Because I can hear it, I think that I can see a little deeper.


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