Three First mates
Four second mates
Six different bunks
60 knots in the gusts
Ten tons of cacao
40.000 bottles of wine (roughly)
20.000 nautical miles (very roughly)
Just some numbers of these last two years. Some of those numbers don’t mean much written down like that, not even to me. But one is most striking: 20 months. I have now worked on the Tres Hombres for effectively 20 months. During the refits a few weekends at home and this last summer two months off to get my Basic Safety training and vaccination and some much-needed rest after the Atlantic Round, but still, twenty months. I signed on as a fresh-faced trainee who knew nothing of sailing, and now I am signing off as Bosun. I went from being uncomfortable with the rolling and a little seasick to the grizzled veteran who has seen it all and is not impressed. That is not to say that I did not love to be on the ship out at sea till the end, I did. It remains a great feeling to be out at sea with no land in sight and the ship rolling under your feet.
So I lived on a wooden ship with all sorts of people from all over the world, with limited space, with daunting working conditions like storms and hours and hours of rain. It really was a great time. Must have been, otherwise, I would not have stayed so long, right? But joking aside, it has been a great time, and all the people I sailed with helped make it great.
The last thing here on La Palma that I do before signing off is unload a barrel of La Palma wine that we loaded last year and has been ageing at sea in Tres Hombres’ cargo hold for that whole time. It has crossed the ocean tucked underneath the cacao and the rum, and then Skagerrak tucked under bottles of wine. Right now, I am the only one still on board who was present last year when we loaded it, making this barrel from the Tendal winery also my most long term shipmate. The wine will now be auctioned off to benefit the people displaced by the Cumbre Vieja’s lava stream.
But for now, my Tres Hombres adventure is over. Now I’ll go to Denmark to help refit another sailing cargo ship, the Hawila, but Captain Francois, Mates Arthur and Guven, my replacement bosun Camille, cook Ed, deckhands Ali and Thore and all the trainees will bring her safely to the Caribbean and back to Europe.
I will miss them tremendously and wish them all fair winds and hope to see them well and good in Amsterdam.
Exact time, day and date are not the most important parameters on board. Therefore, watch changes, meals and sea miles gained towards the desired destination make you notice time passing by.
After patiently awaiting the right wind and slowly moving along the southern Swedish coast, in the course of the night we finally made our way through the Copenhagen sound towards the Kattegat.
The gentle wake up of the other watch promises us a sunny windy day and a tasty breakfast. So we begin the day with fruit porridge, coffee and warm bread fresh from the oven to get ready for our morning watch.
After watch change daily chores call and we wash the deck and clean the galley. The major part of the watch is to take care of the sail handling, adjusting the sail trim to wind and course. So we gybe to change course, trim the sails and set the lower and upper bob to gain further speed. After some days on the same watch and a team experienced with the Tres, manoeuvres run quite smoothly.
Luckily, the wind gives us a break to enjoy the morning sun. So what to do? From my position on the helm helping our second mate to navigate through a lane of huge container cargo ships, I observe another type of action on deck. Guided by our oldest but most sporty watch member, my watch starts a Tabata class. Imagine three people engaging in 8 x 8 high intensity exercises on a moving deck. Utilizing the cargo hold and the aft and random planks as their sports gear. 20 seconds of action are always initiated by a sharp whistle and finished with a bell ring from the phone. This noise and the ever stronger swearing about the duration of the class are the only things that add to the sound of wind in the sails and waves against the hull.
What’s the tune? Sunshine … sunshine reggae … ”