It’s around lunch time, the Tres Hombres is moored in the marina at Le Marin, Martinique.
We have just crossed the Atlantic ocean, and here we are unloading wine we have brought from France, and some empty barrels to be filled with rum. My job for the morning was the ship’s laundry, and I have just returned with a mountain of fresh sheets. As I hang them up to dry in the carribean sun, my crew mates are milling around, carrying out maintenance on the ship to the sound of some roots reggae. Behind me I hear some French welcomes and a visitor being helped onboard. I turn around to offer a smile and am taken a little aback. She is standing on the wooden deck, gazing at the scene, wiping tears away from her eyes.
When living on this ship it is easy to become a little blind. At sea for the crossing, for almost three weeks the ship, sea and the sky was the whole world. It seemed natural that the hull is made of wood, that the foremast hosts four squaresails, that the bow is adorned with carved oak flames, that there’s no engine. It became normal to spend a moment whilst at the helm to notice a new detail in the intricate, dreamlike wood carving behind my head. The fact we were often travelling at 10 knots in the shade of 16 filled sails made sense.
In port however, thanks to our visitors, I was given the gift of seeing the ship again as if for the first time. It reminded me that this boat, its form, its rig, its occupation, its logic are not so commonplace. That the beauty I have been surrounded with since starting to work on the Tres Hombres is not so easily found. The ship emanates the hours of work and love that go into it daily.
It turns out that our visitor had timed her visit very well. Just as she had finished looking around and chatting with some of the crew, others were emptying out the moscatel from one of the barrels, left in there to stop it drying out during the voyage. Together we enjoyed a hearty lunch and a glass of wine from Baiona, as more and more visitors were drawn to this magical ship.