For the first time since La Palma there is music from a speaker on deck. He’s spreading in the atmospher a taste of romantic country music where we can see O brothers running in the wheat fields under a burning sun and Jack Kerouac jumping on board this ship as a slow merchant train crossing the blue country full of ideas to built or rebuilt this world weared of a bag pack & unapropriate Espadrille. Clamour of poetry in the radio to throw a new look on details.
Well, despite a few worried members aboard about being somewhere ( on land) for Christmas, everything is going sweet here. “Not so much things to complain” said captain. And then cuban music blows her cosy voices flow on deck, gold sunset sky becomes darker and stars are taking over the space. It’s not blues but your feeling is on the border. Yes four weeks already at sea far away without news from your lovers, parents, children. Is that feeling of missing brings you more in reality, more alive, more true ? blablabla but yes ours bodies are talking to us and that is a lovely great creation.
Since a week, instead of the swedish, the captain decided to set a new watches readim system: 4 hours each watches, 3 watches of 4 or 5 peoples. That brings more peoples on deck during daylight, the maintenance goes forward faster because those 8 hours of rest at night and we are meeting eachothers.( So , sorry for the tres hombres tradition but it works well for the crossing. If the loyals of the company has any request about this, feel free to explain your opinion, I wouldn’t bring the bad luck here like to move the giraff outdoor with a full cargo !!). Can you beleave, we were sailing full and by for a day , trade winds are not strong but the lady keeps on going half of the wind speed.
Shower on deck, 1 hour of rain today (11/12/2017). Soap & shampoo !
ps: we got rid of 2 hammocks of bananas.
Anne-Flore, first mate
“Good morning foc’sle, it’s time to wake up!”
But is it? Is it really? I groan internally. Firstly, I dispute this assertion that it is morning. It is actually 11.45pm. Secondly, I only went to sleep less than three and a half hours ago and my body is telling me it is surely anything but time to wake up.
But, I suppose, it is time for my watch. So I better had pull some clothes on and clamber out the foc’sle. But for the love of Neptune, please don’t turn that light on right above my head. That’s just too far.
The watch system we stand on the Tres Hombres runs as follows; two watches, port and starboard, each comprised of either the first or second mate, one deckhand, and four trainees. Watch on, watch off from midnight-4am, 4am-8am, 8am-2pm, 2pm-8pm and 8pm-midnight, ie. three 4 hour watches during the night, and two 6 hour watches during the day. Captain, cook and bosun are on day watch.
The debate frequently rolls around the galley table as to the faults and merits of this old Swedish watch system. Merits include that in any given 48 hour period, we get to see all hours of the day and night; sunrise, sunset, moon and stars and whatever the day may bring. I can tell you about dolphins leaving bio-luminescent trails in the bowsprit waves, jellyfish glowing brightly beneath the swell, even plankton lighting up the toilet bowl as it flushes. I can now find Taurus, the Pliades and Cassiopia in the stars and I know lots about the many different shades of darkness (and not so darkness) one might experience on deck at night. And when it comes to those sunrises and sunsets, where do I start? Oh yes, purple rain. The other morning the sunrise turned falling rain on the horizon purple.
But there is a downside. Namely, never getting longer than six hours off watch. Given that at night, it’s only four hours, when you factor in meals, fifteen minutes for wake-up’s and time to fall asleep in the first place, plus maybe some waking time to oneself during the day, you are looking at sleep in generally three to four hour bursts at a time. (With the glorious exception of holiday watch, which rotates through each member of the watch during night watch’s, sailing conditions permitting. Eight whole glorious hours off in row. Viva la holiday watch!). Developing a rhythm for your body clock is basically a non-possibility and it cannot be sugar coated, the crew often looks a tad fatigued.
The other element of the watch system debate falls to practicalities – size of the crew, number of hands needed on watch, the merits of having the Captain and Bosun on day watch…
Given that it is the only system I have yet experienced, I shall refrain from forming any sweeping judgments. As we settle into the second week of our Atlantic crossing, I am feeling more adjusted and my energy levels are generally higher. I am even now finding time off watch for daily ukulele and Spanish practise, and relatively frequent, refreshing salt water bucket showers.
And when all is said and done, I am sure I can look forward to telling my tales of the mad, exhausting life at sea and the many sights of the night and day which stretch out upon these vast horizons.
“There are still a few old sailing vessels laid up in various odd corners of the world, but most of them have been idle for a long time with their gear rapidly deteriorating. It is not likely that they will ever be recommissioned to stave off the inevitable day when the beautiful sailing ship, for trading purposes, is a thing of the past and only a memory to those who suffered many hardships and discomforts but loved her just the same.”
This I found in a book entrusted to us in Brixham. Toni, skipper and artist (and Brixham legend), told us that it would provide hours of reading, on the long night watches of the crossing, and he was right. “Shipping Wonders of the World, Volume 2,” now sits among our pilot books in the charthouse, and I think every one of us has at one point or another picked it up to flip through. Or, really, set it down to flip through–the book is huge. The article I found that quote in was all about the last great sailing cargo ships, and the decline of sail cargo as engines took over. Of course, the author’s glumly romantic prediction has not, in fact, come to pass, and reading it aboard the Tres Hombres is particularly ironic. “It is not likely,” he says, that cargo sail will ever be resurrected, and that it is inevitable that the beautiful sailing ships will become “a thing of the past.” I look up from this sentence to go trim the foresail sheets, passing by our cargo hatch on the way.
But what thrills we get from that phrase, “a thing of the past!” The dying out of greatness, the passing away of some beautiful thing, they fill us with a sense of melancholy longing for a past most of us never knew, and may not have ever existed. We raven the romance of the lost hope, the dying star. Our books and movies are full of this sweet remembrance, like the flowers we send to a funeral instead of attending ourselves.
What is it about watching or hearing about the end of something that satisfies us so? It is romantic–utterly romantic to feel the ebb tug at our heartstrings of something ending. It sweeps our minds away into pleasant fantasies of what the past was like–how much better it was, how much simpler, or grander, or more beautiful. “A time when men were men!” for example. Bittersweet, we call it, as though the sweet would not be so sweet without the bitter.
But I can’t help but feel that there is something insidious in our love of this kind of romance. A kind of laziness, perhaps, that creeps in around the corners and says “Ah, at last. That was hard work that now we can safely say is over. We can lay those burdens down and go back to sleep, to dream maybe of past glories, but never to do the hard work again.” Perhaps this is part of what is so satisfying to us about stories of the Last Great this or Final Stand of that. We have all the pleasure of contemplating those great acts or noble things, and none of the daily grind of maintaining them.
Because sail cargo, while utterly romantic and still a dead notion to most people (if they think of it at all), is in actual practice a lot of work. It’s a grind, tacking from the Canaries to the Cape Verdes, searching for the trade winds we hope will appear, “sometime before the food runs out,” we joke. It’s wearing to the senses and the spirit to drift, windless, north over ground we fought so hard for every degree south on. And even when the wind is good, and the rigging is humming and the wind turbines are whirring away happily, there is little romance in leaving your soft bed at four in the morning to stand your turn at the wheel, fighting a nasty cross swell and watching the squall you know will drench you creep up from behind. There’s nothing pleasant or noble about spilling dirty dishwater down your pants, or getting tar in your hair for the third consecutive day. The railing must be scrubbed again, though your back aches still from the time before, and the fresh paint of yesterday was ruined by the waves under the railing in the night. But you get up and scrub and sand and paint again, because the boat has got to be held together, however you do it. You put chafe gear on the foreshrouds for the third time this trip, hoping that this time it will hold longer. You do what must be done, because giving up, giving in, is to surrender to the insidious romance of “things of the past.”
Give me instead the romance of the plain quotidian! The daily washing of cups and pumping of the bilge, the constant upkeep of the rigging as we wear through miles of marlin and gallons of tar, inch by inch, and drop by drop. Give me the coffee break daily, that someone must remember and prepare, though it is not a grand deed, and far from exciting. Give me the small words and smiles that build frienships, the late-night conversations and learning to work together with all different personalities. When considered from up close, there is little romance in these things, in the actual maintenance of a true sailing cargo ship. But it is, in the end, far better I think to keep going than to give up, no matter how nice and restful the giving up would be. Just because something is hard or ignoble doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And the beauty of sail cargo is not lessened by the fact that it has not fulfilled the prediction of Clarence Winchester, writing just after World War II. It has not passed away with other glorious things we remember with a sweet ache–our childhoods, the old-growth forests of the world, life before advertising. Instead we cling doggedly to life, and others now come alongside Fairtransport to help shoulder the burden. Perhaps even some of those ships Clarence talked about, mouldering away in shipyards in various corners of the world, will soon be refit and put once more to use, carrying goods across the oceans on wings of canvas, not clouds of pollution. That is romance enough for me.
Deckhand, Elisabeth, Nov 27, 2017
After weeks and weeks of refit and preparation and thanks to our wonderful tugboat captains, the good ship Tres Hombres is back at sea again. This time it is for her 10th voyage around the Atlantic Ocean !
For now we are bound to France and the north sea is being good to us. After a very quiet departure the westerlies are slowly picking up and we are making good progress towards Dover.
The time for sea sickness is almost over and our new crew is getting its sea legs. Soon we will be tacking our way down to Brittany.
Greetings captain Remi Lavergne
Nordlys had finished the Baltic voyage earlier this year. The ship was loaded with natural wine from France for Copenhagen, Bornholm and Rostock. From there we made a stop in Den Helder and prepared for a southern cargo trip. On our way to Porto we made a stop in Devon, a region on the southern coast of England.
Brixham is a little historic harbor in the Torbay. This is a good bay to shelter for the westerly storms.
Over here we waited till the first autumn storms passed by. Sorlandet,(a Norwegian Tallship) also bounded south,
was at anchor outside in the bay. She was taking shelter, just like us.
While being here, we could do little maintenance on the ship. Caulking, pitching, rigging work and so forth.
Brixham is the home port for several Sailing Trawlers like Nordlys. They do charter-sailing their goal is to bring the people out of the cities and take them into nature.
It was a beautiful view to see Nordlys moored together with these similar traditional sailing ships. With their crews we were able to exchange knowledge about Sailing Trawlers and spending a good time together. Our good friend Tony Knights, skipper of the Leader, was also around and of great help. We had a useful stop and a good time with the sailors from Brixham.
Last Thursday morning we set sail again, since the forecasts showed a good weather window to cross the Bay of Biskay.
Jeroen is the cook on board and providing us every day with delicious food. He supplied our stock with beautiful seasonal products from local farmers and producers. It takes a bit more time, but it is so much better than the supermarketfood. Good food which stays longer fresh, are stored in the galley now. The taste of this vegetables and fruits are just fantastic.
At the moment we are sailing southwards in the Biskay and making a good progress. Next port of call is Porto. This old town is situated on the mouth of the river Douro. Porto and the Douro were of great value in the era of sail concerning in- and export of goods for the country. We will be moored in the Douro estuary and going to charge a well amount of precious goods from Portugal.
We have Olive-oil, Almond-oil, Salt, Natural Wine and Port Wine, to fill our cargo-hold with. These wares are bound for the more northern parts of the European continent, like France, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
We will be able to tell everybody the story of the producers and their way of working.
Fairtransport completes the tale, by the way these products are being transported. The cargo-hold of Nordlys will be completely filled; Almost thirty tons of beautiful products from Portugal we have to move by wind and sail. More and more cargo-owners like to see their goods being transported overseas by sail. They are also willing to pay a little more, for a better cause
Captain Lammert Osinga
After a winter of hard work on the ship, we departed from Den Helder on the twenty-first of July. The cargo hold stacked with the finest organic wines from France.
Nordlys was eager to go back to sea. She has been sailing already for a long time in the Northern European waters. An old lady she is but still loaded with energy. This time we set a northerly course. The most beautiful natural wines from France have to be transported to Copenhagen, Bornholm and Rostock.
To Copenhagen we transport the wine for Sune. Together with Pontus and Sete, Sune is running a wine import business, called Rosforth & Rosforth. Since 2012 we are transporting wine for Sune. The very warm welcome was a feast for life. Delicious food prepared by Mamen, together with the best wines you can imagine.
Wednesday we were unloading the wine and labeling every bottle with a Fair Transport logo. This label is telling the story the bottle. Biological goods, transported by the sails and by the wind.
From Copenhagen we sailed further into the Baltic. Gudhjem is a little old fishing harbor on the north side of the island Bornholm. Over here Maria and Thomas own the beautiful wine-restaurant Provianten. It is located in the truly marvellous harbor of Gudjem. Again, we were having a feast for life. We enjoyed an incredible meal, combined with incredible revolutionary ideas.
The next day we were unloading the cargo, Jens was playing the violin, spectators came by to see this curious happening in this little harbor. Mystical moments we experience when we are underway; at sea and in the harbors we come.
I would like to thank you all for these truly, incredible moments of joy and love. Sune, Pontus, Sete, Mamen and everybody else from Copenhagen. Maria, Thomas,George, Jens and all the others from Gudhjem. Together we start to set the new norm. Away with fast-food chains and stinking ships !
Right now we are in Rostock, delivering the wines for Frank Schollenberger. Television was filming and lots of people came by while we were unloading the freight out of the Nordlys’ cargo hold.
At the moment a yearly sailing festival is happening; Hanse Sail Rostock. Here we can promote our project and inspire people to live another way of living. A way of living which is better for our home. Our home being planet earth.
Fair Transport is getting more and more known in Europe. Inspiring the world, for creating a better life; A life of natural beauty, instead of …… A life of being honest to our selves.
Come and transport your freight with us, right now. Let’s take one step back so we can go forward. http://fairtransport.eu/shipping/
Hold and enjoy.
This is not a story of adventures only. This is more a story of necessity.
TUESDAY WE HAD A MUSTER ON BOARD AT 9AM IN DEN HELDER AFTER THE VERY GOOD MARITIME EVENT. THE IDEA WAS CLEAR: TO PREPARE THE SHIP FOR THE BIG REFIT, IT MEANS TAKING DOWN GAFF, BOOM, MAIN SAIL OF THE MAIN MAST AND MAKE LOOSE THE RIGGING. WELL, NEXT MORNING ANDREAS COMES ON DECK TO SAY: DON’T CUT THE SEIZING WE GONE SAIL, AND THEN HE WAS GONE. HE LEFT US , WE WERE EXCITED. AT 3PM WE HAD CAPTAIN JORNE READY TO GO, IN 1 DAY A FRESH NEW CREW SAID YES…
WE ARE 13 MOTIVATED HUMANS ON THIS SEAWORTHY SHIP AND MORE BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE A PART OF MOTT GREEN ON THE HEAD OF THE FOREMAST, THE FOUNDER OF THE GRENADA CHOCOLATE FACTORY. NICE TO REMEMBER HIM WHEN WE WERE SAILING TOGETHER WITH JORNE TOO AND CREW IN 2012 FROM CARAIBE TO AZORES. I GIVING TO YOU A SECRET, EVERYDAY A CHOCOLATE BAR WAS HIDDEN IN THE COMPASS BOX, CREW WAS FULL OF MAGNESIUM AND HAPPYNESS.
NOW THE SKY IS GREY AND WET AND THE CREW TRYING TO GET USED OF THIS SHOPPY WAVES. WE EXPECTING A DECREASING WIND AND BLUE CLOUDS.
FOR THIS TRIP WE BOROUGH SOME PEOPLE FROM THE NORDLYS CREW. GREATINGS AND THANKS A LOT AGAIN FOR ALL BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS WE SPENT TOGETHER FOR EATING, PLAYING MUSIC, SHARING SMILES AND POETRY, AND OF COURSE THE WORKING SWEAT, ADVICES AND KNOWLEDGES OF EACHOTHER. WE ARE MAKING ALL TOGETHER THIS UNITY SPIRIT TO GO FORWARD. SEE YOU SOON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN TO CAST OFF YOUR MOORING LINES…
1ST MATE ANNE-FLORE GANNAT
After all, the south wind arrives. Gently it sets its wings over us and makes an end to more than 30 days of tacking. A month in which we made many miles nobody pays for, just the hands of the crew which haul and hoist and ease and dowse in any condition and to the rythm of the slight changes in the eastwinds, or due to land under the bowsprit.
Arriving at the continental shelf we received the order to unload some long travelled wine barrels in Douarnenez, which we had to dig out under a few tons of cacao beans, which was great fun with the help of the fine crew of our partners in crime, the Grayhound and Lun II.
Camaret Sur Mer gave us some shelter from an easterly gale where we landed at the pier with a well timed handbreak maneuvre and sailed off again a few days later, together with Grayhound. In ghostly silence we hoisted the sails at the pier and tacked out in direction to Chenal Du Four in a fine race against this incredibly fast pirate ship. After some good tacks we kept hope but at the entrance of the Chenal we saw the beautiful stern of our contrahent and wished them well for the summer season.
Funny drawings we described with our keel all over the channel, France in the morning, England at night, ships all the time, and just behind the line with Greenwich to the north, the wind changed. Slightly ease the sheets, brace back a few centimeters and let her go as she likes it.
Everybody is in great spirit and cannot wait to make fast at the Port of Amsterdam where hopefully some happy faces and cold beers will await us!
But still, when the energy of having completed a voyage of 6 months makes place for life on land, some of us will be thrown out of the comfort of having great food on vast times, work which is prepared and commands which are followed with a will, coming from yourself. Ships life is so out of nature but still so good to the human mind, specially in the speed epoca we live in now. Many will find out later, when they remember the howling winds up at the royal, the nights on remote anchorages, the whales and dolphins, the firts land sights, the foreign people, manners, food and landscapes….. how peaceful and worryless time passes on the ship and how much time one has to think about himself.
It is a life worth living, no matter how long, if its a start or a part of a career. This ship is made for this, to give this experience. Pure and rough, no compromise, not in good times not in hard ones. Alltogether it is more than an experience, but that anybody has to make out for himself. After some rum in the Port of Amsterdam.
Captain Andreas Lackner
P.S.: right now rigging stu’n sailbooms while a control of French customs between Dover and Calais
And so, the legend is true : from Den Helder to Douarnenez in 3 days. Just puke 3 times, wish, and you’re there.
After tacking like crazy to leave the Wadden Sea, to the sounds of horns and fire works from our loved ones on the dijk , NE winds carried us at 12 knots all the way down the English Channel, North Sea is serving her waves and Tres Hombres surfing them gracefully.
The new crew is quickly forming, getting comfy in the rigging and with each other, watching each others backs and Iam again amazed by how fast the sea shapes a group.
As for me, with one hand on the helm and puking over the stern railing, being weak but feeling strong, all shore doubts washed away, as we lay to sleep at anchor by Douarnenez after some not so gracefull parking manouvers, I feel another magical journy has already began.
2nd mate Shimra
position 48 05.895 N 4 18.967 W
DATE:221016 GMT:1804 POS:50 04.6 N, 0 08.3 W COG:338 SOG:4.2
Back at sea and in the English channel, Thank you for having us Le Havre.
We all said Le Havre fairwell on Friday afternoon leaving lovedonce and new made friends behind. Last Tuesday we took out the cargo for France. Some 12 barrels of rum, 5 barrels of mellasse, and coffee. The rest of the week we took time to prepare the ship for sea fix that needed repairs.
Good French food we had every day and not to forget French cheese and bread. Friday afternoon we passed the locks at 1430 and set sail in the harbor with a towboat in front of us and our dingy pushing the stern. Soon enough we were under full sail again heading into the English Channel. At the moment we are tacking against a weak East wind and playing with the currents.
We now coming close to our destination but against the wind this will take unfortunate time.
Best regards from Crew and Captain,
Arjen van der veen
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
WIND DIR & SPD:ENE 3