There are some places that simply bewitch you. Faial is one of those indeed.
This little volcanic island in the middle of the Azorean Archipel is a classic stop for many sailors and seafarers for a long time. To split the long Northern Atlantic crossing into two legs, to restock on fresh provisions, to stretch the legs and fill up the lungs with pure ocean breeze loaded with a delightful scent of green grass, sailors stop in Horta and leave on the walls of the marina artistic signs of their passage, creating one of the most interesting open-air travel art galleries in the world! If you ever stop there, we challenge you to find all the drawings Tres Hombres has left over the years.
We have made many friends on the island, and it is always a bit like coming back home for those who have sailed there before.
The hospitality of the locals, who have learnt how to welcome and shelter sailors over many centuries, is legendary (just think of the most well-known example of it, the Peter’s Sport Bar). The island, with its green lush pastures and happy cows, is a hotspot for cheese lovers too. Blessed by the Gulf Stream which mitigates the climate, you can find both sub-tropical and continental varieties of fruits and vegetables too. Oranges and bananas grow next to each other, and a few years ago Tres Hombres’ crew, upon request of one of our farmer friends, brought even a seedling of cocoa. The little plant is now growing into a tree and seems to be pretty satisfied with its new home, soil and conditions.
From Horta, you can enjoy a stunning view of the next island, Pico, and its mighty volcano, which they are very proud of. The funny fact is that the locals in Horta say that the most beautiful thing about Pico is the view you have of it from Faial!
Due to weather and schedule, I knew before arrival that it was set to be a shortstop in the Azores. I got in touch with Paula straight away,
who has been a friend and the contact of the ship for many years. She was so kind and so helpful. The day after we arrived she took me
and some others on a drive around the island to visit some local producers.
First, we went to her family’s bakery where I was able to buy some extra 25kg sacks of flour at wholesale price (thank you!). She also gave us some of the delicious biscuits that they make.
Then we went to Emmanuel, her partner’s project. He has started a small company growing organically oyster mushrooms and has four grow rooms some of which look like some sort of SciFi world with pink lights and ducting. We also bought dried mushrooms for the galley, and be also ready to welcome them to the Fairtransport webshop of sail-shipped products soon!
We then walked to some of his land next door where he grew oranges and lemons which we picked straight from the trees. The ground had almost a carpet of wild mint and it was the most beautiful and overwhelming smell of mint and orange blossom as we walked. Those citrus jewels have been keeping our crew full of vitamin C for the final leg, the most important!
We also went to meet and visit Zuga, who showed us around her new land project and picked 40kg of bananas straight from her trees. Unfortunately, they haven’t ripened yet, but hopefully, it will be a nice treat for the summer trip!
Finally, we went to a beautiful home garden where we bought fresh salad and herbs. After 24 days at sea, all these leafy greens were much appreciated by the crew.
The next day Paula organized a tour around the island with the whole crew. What a lush day. Thank you, Paula, Emmanuel, Zuga, and all the locals who welcomed and helped us. Thank you Faial island, for a brief but beautiful last stop.
24 Tage auf See, dann heißt es endlich wieder “Land in Sicht”.
Zuerst nur ein Streifen verwaschener Lichter, die sich am Horizont abzeichnen. Mit dem ersten Grauen des Morgens streckt sich die “mittlere” Inselgruppe der Azoren dann immer deutlicher vor uns aus.
Bis sich schließlich die markanten Umrisse des steil aus dem Meer emporsteigenden, Pico’s aus den Wolken schälen und wir geradewegs Kurs auf unseren Zielhafen Horta nehmen.
Begleitet von einigen Delfinen segeln wir mit nur noch drei gesetzten Segeln, wie in Zeitlupe, zwischen der imposanten Kulisse der Vulkaninseln hindurch und werden im Hafen schließlich von einigen Schleppbooten in Empfang genommen und an unseren Liegeplatz gebracht. Leinen fest und sofort die ersten Schritte an Land. Dann aber doch lieber wieder zurück an Deck, das Schaukeln des Schiffs fühlt sich vertrauter an.
Außerdem spendiert der Captain zur Feier des Tages gerade einige Tafeln Schokolade und eine Flasche Rum.
Neun Tage werden wir auf den Azoren verbringen, bis wir uns alle erholt haben und die Winde günstig stehen, um uns weiter Richtung Europa zu tragen. Neun Tage hier am Rande der Zivilisation, auf diesem kleinen Vorposten Europas mitten im großen weiten Blau. Die Mischung aus gemütlichem portugiesischen Lebensgefühl, gepaart mit der offenen, gastfreundlichen Atmosphäre einer Hafenstadt, machen unseren Aufenthalt in Horta, der circa 7500 Einwohner kleinen Hauptstadt Faials zu einem ganz besonderen Erlebnis. Seit Jahrhunderten machen hier große und kleine Segelschiffe auf ihren Atlantiküberquerungen Halt.
Die den ganzen Hafen bedeckenden Graffitis (Graffito), die traditionell von den Seglern zurückgelassen werden, zeugen davon. Die Fotos, Flaggen und Souvenirs, welche die Wände der Hafenkneipen schmücken, konservieren die Seefahrtsgeschichte der Insel und tragen zu ihrem besonderen Flair bei.
Neben einigen Reperaturen und Instandhaltungsarbeiten, die am Schiff zu tun sind, haben wir genug Zeit, die Insel zu erkunden. Die guten Kontakte der Schiffscrew zu den Einheimischen ermöglichen uns einen tollen Sonntagsausflug mit geführten Abstechern zu einigen der Inselhighlights. Besonders beeindruckend, die vielen Krater, welche von den lebendigen vulkanischen Aktivitäten zeugen. Eine mondähnliche, karge Landschaft rund um das jüngste Ausbruchsgebiet. Und ein Blick wie in eine vergessene Welt lang vergangener Zeiten, der sich Rand des 500m tiefen und 2km weiten Hauptkrater erstreckt. Ganz still und mysthisch liegt der grüne, zu einem großen Teil von endemischen (nur hier vorkommenden) Pflanzen- und Tierarten besiedelte Krater vor uns. Zeit für ein Gruppenfoto, dann geht es weiter Richtung Picknickplatz. Hier an der nordwest Küste scheint sich die ganze Insel zu Picknick und Barbecue eingefunden zu haben. Am Abend lassen wir den Tag mit einem Gin Tonic in der berühmten Segler-Bar “Peter’s Cafe” ausklingen.
Eine entspannte Woche und viele schöne Erlebnisse später setzen wir mit zwei neuen Crewmitgliedern an Board wieder unsere Segel und verlassen unter dem Winken vieler Schaulustiger diese besondere Insel mitten im Nirgendwo. Nächstes Ziel: Amsterdam. Ankunftszeit: ungewiss. Von nun an sind wir wieder Wind und Wetter ausgesetzt und werden das Beste aus beiden machen.
We are now 21 days at sea. First, we tacked our way out of the Caribbean sea through the Mona Passage.
Squalls and sailing full-on by through the first ocean waves. After we sailed close-hauled all the way to the hight of Bermuda. We did see the lights of the lighthouses in the distance and heard Bermuda Radio inform the ships around that if you wanted to visit the islands you had to go into quarantine. We have our own small happy healthy quarantine on board here, in the middle of the ocean.
We are surfing over the ocean and keeping our heads clear: instead of watching tv and internet, we are watching the waves and ocean skies.
Instead of buying toilet papers, we are trimming the sails to go as fast as possible forward: destination Horta.
Till a few days ago: Pedro from Peter Sports café informed that the harbour of Horta was open but crew is not allowed to go on land. We can get provisioning and water to the ship and berth on a special quarantine pier: that’s it. So no playing rock n roll and dancing on the tables in Peter Sport, no Tres Hombres painting 2020 or writing my name on the Captains painting by Jorne, no way of getting my mail from the special seaman post office.
And since we have favourable winds, for now, I decided we are going to do this crossing without stopping in the Acores. We have enough food/water and gas on board for another four weeks. We are now homebound: for crew and ship, it’s better to stay in the rhythm of the ocean and have Amsterdam as a destination. Boca Chica to Amsterdam around 5000 sea miles, it will be a crossing to remember.
From today on we will steer North to sail around high pressure in the Biscay and Acores and as soon we have the good hight, we will try to get west first to first reach Land’s End and Lizard Point, after we hope to have good winds to get through the channel and the North Sea. For now, we are enjoining the ocean, this time even without airplane pollution.
All the best from the Tres Hombres
Captain Wiebe Radstake
Yesterday it was all hands making the ship ready for sea again. Filling up the tanks with drinking water, lashing all gear, studying the weather, doing the last safety drills. Taking in stores and food, for 15 persons, for the entire month, and a bit more to be sure. Taking our last shower, writing the last postcard and saying goodbye to our old and new made friends. Finally we got the entire crew together for a muster, and I explained the expected weather and the expected maneuver to leave the harbor.
This morning, as it turned out, the entire situation, with the wind, was different. Meaning the whole maneuver turned out different, really for the better. I had expected we would have needed to be towed free of a leequay for a bit, make sail, and tack out of the harbor. Kind of in a similar way as I remembered having left the last time (in 2012). This meant something like 8 times of tacking in close quarters. But really, when coming on deck, there was no wind at all. But after breakfast, when all our sailors went aloft to unfurl the sails, and I was gonna go ashore to enquire about the tugboat. A very slight favorable breeze appeared.
We only needed a short time to think things through, and I decided to forget about the tugboat. The rigging of the towrope was canceled. And we set all squaresails, while still alongside. Now we just needed a little bracing, casting off of the lines, and we started moving, very slowly, in the direction of the breakwater. A crowd had been gathered ashore and with shouts, waving of goodbyes, ships horns and even a canonshot, graciously Tres Hombres made her way out. Before leaving the harbor all sails where set, and while jibing around the pierhead, we blasted our “Norwegian fog horn” as a final greet…
The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Rayon, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with captain Andreas Lackner, then come and join in!
Landlubbers will get sea legs, and old salts wil get a glimpse of how it was in the good days and how it will be!
For more info http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ or email email@example.com
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
After a three weeks ocean crossing it is always nice to sail into port. Especially when this port is Horta, on the island of Fayal, of the Azores archipel. This port is one of the few ports in the world, which is still totally orientated towards sailing vessels. And even nicer, more and more, sailing cargo vessels are visiting this port again. The week before we where here, it was the famous cargo schooner Avontuur, for a short visit. Then we came in, and a few days later it is the schooner Gallant, who recently changed owners and was converted for sail cargo purposes. I still have to meet her Captain and owners, but am very excited to have more fellow cargo sailors in port.
Radio interview with captain Jorne Langelaan (start halfway): Radio Azores
To return to the port of Horta itself, this place breaths the old traditions of the squarerigged era, and traditional sealore of whaling and fishing. It is the only port I know of, still with a small tugboat, offered free of charge, to assist sailing vessels with their manouvring in. There is the famous Peter Sport bar, where all sailors who crossed the ocean and ended up on Fayal, have raised the glass to celebrate their arrival. Above this bar, there is the room with the most amazing Scrimshaw artwork. The ancient art of carving and enscribing, with a sail needle, the bones and teeth of Whales. Then there is the people, an amazing friendly community awaits the ships coming in. Farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers, officials, agents and bystanders are all as welcoming and friendly as you dream off, when spotting the first sight of land. Especially Paula, and her friends, our longstanding and nicely (un)”official” agent, is helping the ship and crew, with sourcing cargo, stores, excursions, transport etcetera, in an amazing way.
And not to forget the practical reasons of stopping here. We land a fine cargo of rum here. Re-provision the ship with the best canned fish, wines and locally grown tea, fruit and vegetables. And we have a minor crew change, and have the staying crew stretch their legs, to make ready for the final run, back to Europe.
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
After a voyage of 3 weeks across the North Atlantic ocean, the entire crew is excited to make landfall again. In the galley we fantasize about: fresh fruit, butter, raw milk and yoghurt. Certain deckhands already arranged, to not have dinner on board tomorrow, because of their desire for a big steak in cafe Sport. On deck we dream about a hot shower, with a clean, soft and dry towel, or a full night of rest, without being waken up halfway, to steer the ship trough a dark night. And of course their is talk of the smell of trees and flowers, or an uninterrupted walk, over firm soil, for more than 25 meters.
The officers are busy calculating the estimated time of arrival, the local tides and currents. Or are walking the decks trimming sails, to get that extra half a knot out of the ship. I made contact with our agent in Horta, Paula, to enquire about the possible quay space and towing assistance. During our two o clock muster, I told something about the history of the Azores, about the coming week in port, and what to expect, with port watches, maintenance, loading, discharging, new crew arriving and possible excursions. Most importantly, we talked about the harbor maneuver, to enter Horta, and what is expected from everybody on which stations.
In the afternoon the Starboard side watch is employed with getting the anchor chains on deck, flaking the desired amount in front of our windlass, and connecting them to the anchors. Horta here we come, land ahoy, for tomorrow morning!
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
After making use of the Westerlies, for a few days, with nice daily and hourly speeds. A falling glass of the barometer. And swells building to five meter heights. It was bound to happen, that the faster moving depression would overtake us. With this, the tail of the depression: a cold front, with its furious squalls, occasional rain, and thunder, would present itself.
I woke up just after midnight, and felt the movements of the ship in my bunk. Not the flexible movement of the ship working herself speedily up and down the swells. No, this was a different movement, a movement of the ship on one ear not going over the swells but working violently through them, hanging on a steady angle without the flexibility of righting herself. I decided to stretch my legs, and take into account how my crew on deck was faring. Passing the chartroom a quick look in the logbook revealed that: the main topmast staysails had been doused, and the fore course, which had been only set again, a few hours before, was clewed and bunted up in her gear. On deck, the second mate was on the wheel working laboriously to keep the ship on course. Topsail, topgallant, foretopmast staysail, innerjib, mainstaysail and reefed main where still set. It was clear that we where in the middle of a coldfront. We had a chat, about the weather, how the ship was doing, and how the steering was. He had seen lightning flashes before, and squalls later and following each other. I relieved him at the wheel for a bit, and decided to hold off in the squalls. Also I invited the two deckhands, each for a while on the wheel, while I was carefully watching their steering technique, here and there giving a small comment or order.
The second mate took the wheel again, after having had a bite in the galley. I took a stroll over the decks. Shining with my flashlight, checking all the different sails. Their sheets, tight as a violin string. Their bellies filled with gusts of up to 8 Beaufort. In the meantime trying to escape from the violent bashing of the spray coming over the bows, or the knee deep of green water collecting under or over the lee pinrails. I decided it was time to reduce some sail, instead of dousing the mainsail I choose the mainstaysail, for ease of handling and to keep a bit more balance in the ship, if we wanted to head up more. Back on the poopdeck, I took the wheel, and ordered the mainstaysail down. When steering too close to the wind, we where clipping more through than over the large swells, and at times I was reading 11.5 knots on the log. In the squalls the crests of the waves where breaking, and entire valleys of water in between them, turned into streaks of white foam. There was nothing else to do here, then, bearing off and keeping the ship before the wind reducing stress, by subtracting our speed from the windspeed as we went. This dance, of wind, waves and ship continued for a few hours, until the new and fresh watch came on deck, and a slight rising of the barometer became obvious. I retreated to lay down for a bit in the chartroom. After a while, when I realized the worst was over, I wished the watch on deck a good night and went down below.
Now, a few hours later, the sun is climbing, we shook out the reef, and all sails are set again. Bound for Horta, we are making use of any wind, which is given to us…
Capt. Jorne Langelaan