11 december 2019
- Logboek

Paradise and hell

Yo. Finally, I am going to write an actual Blogpost! Surely the first under my Real Name. Probably shorter than I want. I might write a second one… This is not a post about specific events of this trip but more about the general feeling of being on the Tres Hombres. I have never read the Fair Transport Blog *hrmhumpf* so I might repeat things. And I will steal some inside jokes of the current crew without mentioning the details. To anybody whose English is not fluent enough (like my parents and grandma) I refer to online translation services.

After deciding to take this trip — traveling across the Open Ocean for more than half a year without an engine — I got asked a lot to tell the stories, tell what it is like. What a great adventure! Bateau de Pirates! Save the planet! Palmtrees and Avocados! As everyone who was stupid enough to do this in the last years knows: It is hard, if not impossible to explain this in more words to the People of the Land. It is Paradise and Hell. Both at the same time. And its Sum is even greater than its Parts.

Seasickness, the word not to be mentioned, is a real bane. It eats your brain from the inside, consumes all your energy, hopes and motivations. In the beginning, it makes you wish to not die, in the end, it makes you wish to die. After not eating and drinking properly for one, three or seven days your body loses the strength to keep warm or even put on clothes. It is spiraling down from the bottom. I admit: I get it, every leg so far. Some times worse than others, but reliably for a few days after leaving the harbor. My best way to cope with it: Keep moving! Talking, sweating, joking, steering or just puking. Whatever it takes to not fall into the depression of suffering: Get out of bunk every watch, face your inner shoulder devil. Because: It will pass, it will get better! The sun is always shining above the clouds. For me, it is an essential part of being out there. The price to pay to the ferryman. And it’s worth it!

There probably is no way to get closer to Mother Nature. With all her force, might and mercy. Witnessing a simple sunrise after a gale, on deck together with all crew during watch change, will make the hardiest sailor feel tears of happiness and relief — no words are spoken in such a moment. Wildlife at sea is so unpredictable and rare, thereby so valuable to observe. Pointing out a whale blow to the blind guy… priceless! There are not enough wishes to account for all the shooting stars in a cloudless, moonless sky. And seeing the Bay of Destination from ashore during final sunrise at sea is like admiring a bracelet of diamonds on the horizon. The moonbow I missed — I would actually die for that one! Seeing the mighty ship crashing through waves from the tip of the bowsprit (the pointy end of the boat) gives you Leonardo-di-Caprio moments. And while observing the pattern of swell in a moonlit night from up in the Royal (cannot go higher) you are practicably invincible. Listening to the soft gurgling of waves in your bunk (slightly under the waterline) during a smooth 10-knot cruise is like being back in the womb of your mother. Sushi from a fish caught 10 minutes ago (thank you little fishy), there is no way to get it fresher. These moments feel like pure paradise and I missed to mention a lot of them…

Living on the ship with all those people — strangers at the beginning and siblings at the end — feels at moments similar to beeing in “war”. At least what my generation luckily only knows from the movies: A band of brothers and sisters preparing for and celebrating after the battle. The salt on our boots unites us in the face of the boat-shoes at the local McDonalds. Going through shit together and covering our backs in face of the mate. You catching my lunch from sliding off the table in the galley. Sharing stories of the unimaginable, writing songs about our feats and enjoying basic bodily functions. After being reduced to the minimum everybody is equal: No matter the rank, status or inheritance. It only takes days on board to see through the facades that our modern civilization burdens on us individuals. You cannot wear a mask for long on a boat that small, you can only be you. It is fitting that the most private place (the head) is directly behind the only place that is always occupied at sea (the helm).

The Captain and the Cook are naturally the most important persons on board. The first to offer the general structure and demand the necessary discipline in a place where such need to exist, the latter to offer luxury and homeliness in a place where none such would exist. As a deckhand (that is Me, technically just muscle), the craftmanship and bodily strength needed to work and function on a vessel like this is nothing but trivial: Working up in the rigging, pulling the right ropes at the right time, maintaining the ship, teaching and caring for trainees, keeping an eye on the weather, the social dynamics of forming/norming/performing… There are a lot of skills to be learned. Not only for sailing but also to cope with the life that You live out there, in the normal world.

All this is strongly addictive. I will not be able to return to a life in an office cubicle. Never Ever.

Martin Zenzes. Santa Cruz de La Palma. 2019.

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