Tres Hombres blog: The fine art of waking people up.

Sleep. Refreshing, delightful sleep from which you wake up naturally, fully rested. Heaven. However,this is not how it works on board a working ship. On Tres Hombres, 2 watches take turns on deck in a 48-hour cycle where the days are organized as follows: 08:00-14:00; 14h00-20:00; 20:00-00:00; 00:00-04:00; 04:00-08:00. Each watch is therefore woken up 5 times in 48 hours, at unnatural hours(7:15, 13:15, 19:15, 23:45, 03:44).
It is the responsibility of the outgoing watch to wake up the incoming watch.
You would think it’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not that simple. The way you wake people up can have a great positive or negative impact on people’s mood, and therefore on life on board.
It is important, when waking people up,to remember that the people you wake up are the same people who will wake you up in a couple of hours.
The most popular wake-up is gentle but audible, and includes information about the weather conditions on deck, so that the „wakee“ knows if he should go out in full rain gear or shorts and sun scream. If the wake up is before a meal,mentioning food can also help. This is the standard sort of wake up. But again, it’s not that simple. You have to adapt to the different types of sleepers:
– the light sleepers
– the standard sleepers
– the heavy-weight, back-from-the-dead sleepers

– For the light sleepers, „Good morning“ or sometimes just “ Good mo…“ is enough. They can get on deck at supernatural speed.

-For the standard sleepers, see standard wake-up speech above.

-Now, the „back from the dead“ sleepers“. There’s a challenge. They need, and sometimes prefer, a rougher wake-up. So you start by calling their name, crescendo, 4 or 5 times. Or 12. Or 20. Should this fail, they need to be shaken awake. Should this fail (but fortunately we have never had to resort to such extremities yet), you might want to consider trying a bucket of water or the foghorn.
Be aware that if you interrupt a dream involving pizza you might get bitten.

The best wake-up screw-ups so far:
-accidentally waking up people 1 hour early
– turning up on deck 40 minutes early because you dreamt someone had woken you up
-(almost) going back to sleep because you were woken up but thought it was a dream.

Good night, sweet dreams,

Caro, Trainee

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 Royan, 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 booking@fairtransport.nl

Tres Hombres blog: Feeding the hungry beast

Secrets of the night and feeding the hungry beast.

In Holland there are holiday days happening I didn’t even think of in this time of year. Of course it’s May and we’re sailing towards European summer and all that, but we’re putting on our winter clothes and for a while my tanned knee peeking through the hole in my jeans was the only sign to remember we came from the warm Caribbean. I’m writing this blog in the chart house next to a box with electrical supplies which is marked ’not really necessary‘. We race the ‚Gallant‘ all the way from Horta to Douarnenez. They turn on the engine (or not?), we set the stun sails. No news from the office for a week, the industrial civilization might finally have collapsed, I’m not really keeping track anymore.

I’m the cook on board this fine vessel as you might know by now or not and this results in quite a different experience from this trip then being on a watch. I’m feeding the always hungry beast, it is an endless process. Even if there is plenty of food, people come in an hour after a meal to eat again. Sailing makes hungry. Preparing a meal might take hours, in half an hour it’s all gone again and what’s left turns into leftovers like news turns into old news after reading the newspaper.

If a huge wave is coming, you see it approaching when you’re standing on deck. You brace yourself and if you’re unprepared and unlucky you get water in your shoe, the ship adjusts itself to the wave. In the galley I feel the impact of the water hitting the hull. I have to brace myself and all the stuff that I’m working with. This one unfitting lid falls on the ground again and if I’m unlucky or unprepared, there is a lot more that can spill on the stove or fly around and end up in various places.

It’s a nice sport to have every meal ready on the minute and in rough weather cooking in the galley demands a lot of focus and energy. It’s a different life with different struggles. The watches stand in rain and cold wind for hours. I’m boiling away, holding five things, getting occasionally seasick from the smells. We don’t know the fun, the secrets and the sorrows of each others function.

I like to feed the always hungry beast. Nothing so satisfying as a warm meal after a cold watch. To provide this is nice, and meanwhile I get to know the people with their habits and preferences. Sometimes though, I don’t have to cook and someone from the watch takes over. Besides that It’s nice not to make three meals in a row for a time, it makes me appreciate my own job more because now I can experience how nice it is that there is someone who prepares you food. And it gives other people the opportunity to feel what it’s like to cook on a rolling ship which without an exception always results in the command that their respect for the job increased. I on the other hand recently joined some night watches and with that I was introduced in the secrets of the night. All these months I was on day watch but the sailing never stops and there is this whole nightlife going on in which I’m not included. Night in night out the watches watch and for them it’s the most normal thing. For me it felt special to enter this world with its impressive sky full of stars, the moonrise, hot tea and stories. There is a more intimate sphere then during the day and although I know all the lines, handling them without really seeing them is something else.

During the crossing we had a birthday of our first mate and we organized a party for her. There was music and a fender dressed up as disco ball so that our sparkling dress also came in handy again. We went crazy with half a cup of wine and we danced under the blanket of thousand stars, holding on to the safety lines in order not to fall over while the ship was clipping along through the waves. By far the most special party I ever went to.

We often get a visit from dolphins. They’re curious and they like to play at the bow of our boat. They also show up at night and they slide incredibly fast through the fluorescent water, leaving a trail of shining bubbles. I was woken up to witness this miracle so there I stood with bare legs and a sleepy face to shiver on the foredeck until it was too cold to look at them anymore. I went back to bed and the next day I was not sure if this actually really happened or that I just dreamed about fairy dolphins.

Eight months in the trip, the end is almost in sight and there are still things to discover. Who knows, do I need another eight months to get to know the night as well as the day?
I’m a happy cook.

Judith, Ships cook,

Tres Hombres blog: Sailing is our only option!

Or the inconvenient truth, about the consequences of not switching back to world transport, by Sail power alone?
(Written from the sea without reference material about statistics, so details might differ slightly from the actual situation, however the general facts stay intact).

90% of the day to day products we use in the Western world (USA, Europe etcetera) have been imported, mostly over sea. We are not only talking about exotic goods, like coffee, tea and spices, but we are talking about basic products like: grain, beans, wood, fuel and off course our consumer goods: the endless mountain of electrical apparatus, plastic, clothes and everything you can think of.

The reason it is this way, is that shipping has become so efficient, with economics of scale, containerization and online logistic systems, that shipping costs are virtually eliminated. This makes it possible for every entrepreneur, to source the countries of the earth for the cheapest and least regulated production facilities. By doing this the costs of products drop, below any local producer, and make it more economically feasible to prefer paying a cheaper price for the same product, which has been produced abroad. The local product will soon be priced out of the market and its industry will cease to exist. This whole system, is a perfect storm of the combined forces of capitalistic and global economy. With as a result, the lowest possible price, and the highest possible consumption.

I have not talked about the emissions of these 100.000 motor ships of the world yet. And although 16 of the biggest motor ships emit as much sulfur as all cars of the world together. And the shipping emissions are deemed responsible for, annually, 50.000 deaths of cancer and other illnesses. The real problem of this system of logistics is not that, but the unbelievable rise of consumerism and the demise of sustainable self sufficient local economies, and all damage to our ecosystems, climate and social relationships it brings along.

The re-introduction of sail power, and the abolition of transport by mechanical means, would mean the costs of shipping would become fair again, not only fair for the current generation of consumers, but fair for the unborn, hopefully, many generations to come. It would mean an unbelievable revolution in transport, and actually the only morally responsible course of development in this field. It would give human (and non-human) societies a change to be not wiped out by ecological disaster, caused by our own poisonous economical system. And yes, it would mean a re-awakening, most people would not be ready for…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

P.S. Entrepreneurs are welcomed to take their responsibility, and ship their cargoes with Fairtransport. For more information sent an email to shipping@fairtransport.nl

Tres Hombres blog: Hard tack, limejuice and old horse

The cook on board a sailing vessel, has the most important job. She is the one keeping the crew in great shape, be it physically or emotionally. By storing, keeping, cooking, timing and serving the right quality and quantities of food. Providing a warm and welcoming place of refuge in the galley. And having a listening ear, to every crew members: stories, doubts, fears and dreams.

Back in the days, when sailing ships ruled the waves, the food on ships was very distinctive. Instead of bread there was „hard tack“, a biscuit made of white flower a pinch of salt and water, double or triple baked and kept in tins, to be edible indefinitely. But still… one could recognize a sailorman by his manners, of constantly knocking with his biscuit on the table, this would be to knock out the weevils. When it became clear that scurvy could be prevented by vitamin C, British shipowner’s would start supplying a lime a day to all their crews. From this the nickname, limejuicer or limey, for the British got established. Porridge, peas, sauerkraut, salted fish, salted meat and canned meat or „old horse“ where common foods on the deepsea vessels.

Even nowadays, we choose to safe energy, and not have a refrigerator on board. Yet, every night, our deckhands, bake fresh bread. And our cook has brought it to an art, to supply us with the nicest food three times, or more often, a day. As an example this morning she made us bacon, eggs and toast, during coffee time home baked cookies, and with lunch a nice soup with bread and cheese. Every day meals are different. For breakfast: porridge with fruit, pancakes, or fish with rice. For lunch: a salad, soup, or pasta. At night a wide variety of dinners like: vegetable pie, curry, chick peas or another delicacy. Tonight, because of the Sunday, we will even have a glass of wine. Being the cook on board is not only the most important job, it is also the hardest. Ever tried to prepare a perfect meal, for 15 people, during a continuous earthquake, and without having a tap with running water, and that 3 times a day, for over half a year in a row? Judith thank you very much!

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

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 Royan, 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 booking@fairtransport.nl

WANTED: Trainees, cook and (refit) crew!

The core crew to work a sailing vessel are her deckhands. Traditionally they sleep in the focsle, they are the hands „before the mast“. They form the working class to: hand, reef and steer, climb, paint, tar or man the pumps. With that, all generalization has been made, because really they come in as many different ways, as there are people. Young and old, pollywog or shellback, shy or outspoken, green or experienced, wise or intelligent, female or male. On Tres Hombres and Nordlys we distinguish three different groups of deckhands. They are all equally important for the running of the ship, and they all, are part of our crew.

The trainees, these are the sailors who came on board by choosing a voyage, or several voyages, and paying a trainee fee. Some of them never stepped on board a boat before, and like to learn the trade, others are highly experienced mariners, who wanted a taste of a different life at sea. This are people, who join the ship instead of going backpacking, or have a sabbatical year from work, maybe they want to change their career, or are just longing for a great adventure, or ocean crossing on working sail. There might be even a few, who have chosen to travel by sail, as an alternative for having to use the polluting travel mode of flying. The youngest record of a trainee on board must have been around 12 years of age, the oldest 83, but really it is not about age, but about health and willpower.

The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a unexpected 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 sign in as a trainee!
http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/

The Ordinary sailors (O/S), these are the sailors, often joining voluntarily, because of being on the right place on the right moment. Usually these deckhands bring a variety of knowledge, gained on other ships or previous voyages, to the ship. They are still learning themselves, but are already this able that they can transfer some of their (maritime) knowledge to other deckhands on board. Ordinary sailors may join the ship after having gained experience as a trainee on one of the longer voyages, or volunteer during a refit, or just because of sheer luck when a place became available.

Urgently required volunteering woodworkers, riggers and a jack-of-all trades to refit sailing cargo vessel Tres Hombres this summer. Board and lodging will be provided. Please contact info@fairtransport.nl

The Able bodied sailors (A/B), this are the career sailors. They started as Ordinary sailors, at least for half a year, but often a lot longer, to fulfill their seatime and gain experience. They frequently are masters in the art of marlinspike seamanship, are excellent small boat sailors, and can climb the rigging, work the jibboom and steer the ship in all kinds of weather. They went to school, at least to do their „Basic safety training“, sometimes they even gained the theoretical knowledge to sail as a Mate or Master. They hold at least a license, or certificate of competence, for being a „Deck rating“. This paper can only been acquired after serving enough time at sea, holding the „Basic Safety Training“ diploma, and having passed a medical test. Which explains the name: „Able bodied sailor“.

We always like meeting more inspiring and experienced Sailing Captains & Officers who would like to sail with us. Please contact info@fairtransport.nl with CV and experience.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: A sailing ship port

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.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: Als Trainee an Bord der Tres Hombres

Es ist 1.30 Uhr in der Nacht – local time, das heißt Schiffszeit. Wir befinden uns 29°29′ N 54°14′ W und damit fast genau in der Mitte des Atlantik, zumindest auf halber Strecke zu unserem bereits zu Europa zählenden Ziel Horta auf den Azoren. Wir rauschen mit 7 Knoten bei ca. 3-4 Bft. auf Halbwindkurs durch die Nacht, über uns, wie fast jede Nacht, der gewaltige Sternenhimmel, um uns herum nichts als Wasser, das in der kraftvollen Bewegung lang auslaufender Wellen unser Schiff hebt und senkt – und uns mit ihm.
Ich sitze in der kleinen galley (Kombüse) auf dem Vordeck, mir gegenüber Susann (eine andere Trainee), die mit Segelgarn Ummantelungen für die Feuerlöscher an Bord näht. Michael (Trainee seit sechs Monaten) knetet den Teig für das allnächtlich frisch zuzubereitende Brot des nächsten Tages. Am großen Steuerrad achtern steht Lis (Deckhand), begleitet und unterhalten von Daniel (Deckhand). Anne-Flore, Erste Mat, studiert im Kartenraum Kurs und Windvorhersage und köpft anschließend eine Kokosnuss als Mitternachtssnack für uns.
Wir sechs sind die Backbordwache und haben heute von 0.00 bis 4.00 Nachtwache. Von 4.00 bis 8.00 sind dann die anderen sechs von der Steuerbordwache dran. Der Wachrhythmus folgt hier dem so genannten schwedischen System und besteht in einem Wechsel von 6-stündigen Tages- und 4-stündigen Nachtwachen. Es hat den Effekt, dass im regelmäßigen 48-Stunden Takt jede*r einmal mit jeder Wache dran ist. Allerdings führt das auch dazu, dass im schnellen Wechsel der Wach- und Schlafphasen die Tage irgendwie ineinander zu fließen scheinen.
Wenn mich eine der freundlichen Stimmen von Myriel oder Tibor von der Steuerbordwache liebevoll, aber nachhaltig aus dem Tiefschlaf holt, bin ich nie ganz sicher, ob es Tag oder Nacht ist bzw. welche Wache nun gerade für mich beginnt, geschweige denn, welchen Wochentag wir gerade haben. Jorne, unser Captain, nannte das zu Beginn „a kind of long meditation“. Und tatsächlich fühlt sich das schon nach wenigen Tagen so an.

Seit 11 Tagen sind wir unterwegs. Wenn der Wind in Stärke und Richtung so günstig bleibt wie im Moment, sind es mindestens noch 10 weitere Tage bis Horta; wenn nicht, können es aber auch noch 15 oder gar 18 werden… Dieses Nichtwissen, die Unplanbarkeit, gehören zu dieser Reise wie der Geschmack von Erdnussbutter auf frischem Sauerteigbrot, der Geruch von nassem Holz und Kakao (wir haben an die 200 Säcke a 70 kg Kakao-Bohnen geladen) oder das Gefühl von Sonne, Wind und salziger Kleidung auf der Haut. Es ist eine ganz eigene kleine Welt, in der wir hier leben, ständig herausgefordert von den Bewegungen des Schiffes, machtvoll umgeben von diesem ganz besonderen Blau des Atlantik und der atemberaubenden Weite des Himmels. Kein Fleckchen Land verstellt den Blick zum Horizont, tagelang war nicht einmal ein anderes Schiff zu sehen. Jede kleine Veränderung wird so zur großen Attraktion: ein fliegender Fisch, der an Deck springt, Sonnenauf- und Sonnenuntergang, der Geburtstag eines Crewmitglieds, eine Sternschnuppe, die langsam in majestätischem Bogen über den Himmel zieht, der nächtliche Wechsel des Mondes oder ein Wal, der in großer Entfernung spielend mit seiner Flunke auf’s Wasser schlägt… Und natürlich auch jedes Segelmanöver!

Für uns Trainees sind letztere besonders aufregend, weil wir auch nach 10 Tagen noch absolute „greenhorns“ sind und kaum übersehen können, was zum Beispiel bei einer Wende alles geschieht und zu tun ist. Das Schiff hat immerhin 13 Segel unterschiedlicher Größe, Form und Funktion. Und jedes davon hat drei bis sechs Leinen, mit denen es geführt, gesetzt, geborgen oder getrimmt wird. Das bedeutet, dass es zunächst einmal 60 bis 70 verschiedene Begriffe, allein für die Segel und die Leinen zu lernen gibt sowie ihre Platzierung an Deck, die du möglichst auch in stockfinsterer Nacht ohne Beleuchtung finden solltest. Dazu kommt, dass beispielsweise die Rahsegel ganz anders bedient werden als die Vorsegel und diese wieder anders als das gaffelgetakelte Großsegel usw. Kurz, es gibt enorm viel zu lernen. Und zu staunen! Über die Eleganz und Perfektion, mit der die Stammcrew diese Manöver fährt.
Mitten in der Nacht bei strömendem Regen, 5 Windstärken und entsprechender See mal eben das Royal (das höchste Rahsegel) bergen und dafür in den 22 Meter hohen, wild schwankenden Mast steigen? Kein Problem für Lis, die in Windeseile oben ist und das genießt! Oder – um es mit einem der Lieblingssprüche hier zu sagen: „Unmögliches erledigen wir sofort. Wunder dauern etwas länger.“ – Sie sind so eingespielt, so „in tune“ mit dem Schiff und sich selbst, dass es ihnen dabei sogar noch gelingt, uns herumtapsende Neulinge in jeder Aktion zu integrieren und mit Engelsgeduld anzulernen.

Und damit bin ich beim vielleicht wichtigsten oder erstaunlichsten Aspekt dieser Reise: die Crew. Damit meine ich jetzt erstmal uns alle, die wir hier in der Mitte des Atlantik auf diesem kleinen Schiff zusammengekommen sind. Wir sind 14 Leute, sieben Frauen, sieben Männer, aus acht verschiedenen Ländern mit sehr unterschiedlichen Hintergründen, Lebensgeschichten und Persönlichkeiten. Und man könnte denken, dass das Konfliktpotential recht groß ist – auf so engem Raum ohne Ausweichmöglichkeiten in einer außergewöhnlichen Lebenssituation mit Menschen, die sich kaum kennen und noch dazu manche Sprachbarrieren zu überwinden haben. Eigentlich ist das der klassische Nährboden für Missverständnisse, Konkurrenz, Koalitionen und sozialen Stress aller Art. Aber nichts davon geschieht hier. Im Gegenteil. Es herrscht durchgehend eine Atmosphäre von Offenheit, Freundlichkeit, Hilfsbereitschaft und Interesse am jeweils anderen.
Natürlich: Wir wissen, dass wir mit Leib und Leben aufeinander angewiesen sind, und wir kommen uns ähnlichen Gründen auf das Schiff. Uns verbindet die Faszination des Segelns, die Liebe zum Meer und die Vision eines natürlichen und um Nachhaltigkeit bemühten Lebens. Aber ich glaube, neben diesen Gemeinsamkeiten gibt es noch etwas anderes, und das ist vielleicht so etwas wie eine bestimmte Gruppenkultur, der wir Trainees hier schon begegneten, als wir auf das Schiff kamen. Dazu gehört zum Beispiel der Umgang mit Fehlern. Hier muss sich keiner schämen, etwas falsch zu machen oder fünfmal nach der gleichen Leine zu fragen. Jede Frage wird geduldig beantwortet, jede Aktion oder Aufgabe ausführlich erklärt, und wenn etwas schief geht, wird das mit einem beiläufigen „nicht so schlimm“ kommentiert, rasch in Ordnung gebracht und anschließend ausführlich besprochen und neu trainiert.
Es gibt auch keinen Tratsch hinter vorgehaltener Hand. Wenn jemand genervt ist oder sich gestört fühlt, wird das entweder direkt und sachlich angesprochen oder – wenn es alle betrifft – bei den täglichen Runden. Und es gibt viel Anerkennung. Jeder kleine Fortschritt, zum Beispiel beim Klettern, wird gefeiert, jeder richtige Handgriff mit einem „nice“ quittiert, jede eigene oder neue Idee erst einmal dankbar aufgenommen.
Die Atmosphäre, die so entsteht, ist schwer zu beschreiben. Lenno fand in einer der Runden ein neues Wort dafür. Wir seien nun, sagte er, seine „crewmily“ (crew + family).
Also, liebe crewmily! Ich danke euch allen, vor allem aber euch von der Stammcrew, schon jetzt – in der Mitte des Atlantik – für diese ganz besondere Reise, für die Endlosigkeit des Meeres und des Himmels, für das Rauschen an der Bordwand, das Gefühl rauen Tauwerks in den Händen… und für das Erlebnis Menschlichkeit!

Beate , trainee

Tres Hombres blog: A stormy night

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…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: The wind, waves, stars, sun and the moon

There is something funny about the question: „when do we leave port, when do we set sail?“ which most new crewmembers ask. We, the deckhands, tell them: „Wednesday or Thursday“. Then Thursday awakens and we are not ready, or the cargo did not arrive. Which in the Caribbean countries is quite normal. Tranquilo, you know. So then the new crewmember asks:“when do we leave port, when do we set sail?“. „Tomorrow the cargo will arrive, tomorrow we will go“. Tomorrow awakens, cargo planned at 10 in the morning, 10 in the morning, no cargo. They ask: „Where is the cargo“ we answer „tranquilo you know“. Now the evening, no cargo, but beer and rum. The new crewmember asks: „When will we leave?“ The drunken sailor smiles and tells him how it is: „We leave when the last mooring rope is cast off from the quay“. Confused they look at me, nothing more to say.

Now we are at sea, the mighty Atlantic ocean, with the waves, stars, sun and the moon. The greenhorn, is amazed by it all. Not in their wildest dreams could they imagine, its power and beauty. We jokingly make a bet, which day we will arrive, it is just a gamble for the crew. Nobody can tell what the wind, waves, stars, sun and the moon have in store for us. A week goes by, two weeks go by, then the new crewmember asks the deckhand the question: „When will we be there?“. „Next Thursday or Friday“ I answer. One or two days go by, a few hours of no wind and a flat ocean, time is ticking away. „When will we be there?“. „Friday I am sure, beers and portwine in the bar, I will pay“ I tell them with a smile.

Now, Monday awakens, „when will we be there?“. I look at him and say with a smile on my face: „The wind does what the wind wants, nobody can predict the waves, stars, sun and the moon. We will be there when the first mooring line hits the bollard“…

Greetings,
Deckhand, Daniel Jim Eijnthoven,

P.S. of the Captain. I totally see where this story is based upon, and can agree with the message, within its context. On the other hand, I also would like to explain that we are constantly making estimations about what time the ship arrives. And really amongst our Fairtransport shipping department and my fellow Captains we became quite skilled in estimating our voyages. I reckon, the past 10 years in about 90% of the cases the sailing schedule has been not more then 10% off.

Tres Hombres crew, fourteen persons

If you followed this blog, you have been reading about many aspects of life on board of our small squarerigged cargo ship. But I have not really introduced you to one aspect, which is the most important one, to keep the ship together and keep her moving in the right direction. Of course it is her crew, fourteen persons, of all different corners of society. So here I will introduce you to all of them, one by one, and try to lift the veil on what connects them individually with this way of life. But, it is only in all of them working together as a team, that is making our great sailing ship crew.

Anne Flore is our Chief officer, even before she joined Tres Hombres, in 2012 for the first time, she had had a fair share of experience crossing the ocean, and sailing the seas, on traditional wooden boats. Next to an experienced mariner she is a first class sailmaker.

Alan, leads our Starboard watch in the rank of Second officer. He has had a wide experience sailing Tres Hombres, under almost all of her former Masters.

Judith, is our Cook, to keep our crew going, the most important person on board. She joined the ship last year, and had not been a seacook before that. However you would not notice, because she has a wide experience in restaurant and of farm life. Which apparently shows to be a great background for a seacook.

Thibaut, joined Fairtransport for the refit of our other ship: Nordlys. He worked hard to get Nordlys ready for sea, and then instead of joining Nordlys, somehow found himself on board Tres Hombres. Bound for foreign lands across the ocean. An able Deckhand, who knows the ship from bilge to royal.

Elisabeth, came on board two years ago as a trainee before the mast. And although still proudly living in the focsle, she went up the ranks to sail as a Deckhand. She is as able to hand, reef and steer, as any Cape horn sailor. Currently she is teaching the new trainees, about astronomical navigation with the age old device of the sextant.

Daniel, another Deckhand, has sailed for many years on Tres Hombres, his stories about this, became already mythical amongst our crew. Apart from sailing he joined the refits of Tres Hombres and Nordlys from the entire beginning, and mastered the art of caulking and making planks for hull and deck.

Muriel, joined this voyage last year, in Martinique, but before that she had logged many miles on different voyages on board Tres Hombres. Apart from sailing, she worked on refits of both ships. And next to acquiring her Masters ticket for commercial sailing vessels in the coastal trade, went to the Enkhuizen bosun school.

Mikael, has been a silent mountain of strength, from the time he first appeared on board, during the refit last year and onwards. Since that time he has reformed his cowboy and hunting skills, into the skills of a natural sailorman.

Lenno, for the first time on board in Boca chica, he brought his experience of sailing for years on the schooners, klippers and tjalken, of the Dutch inshore waters. Always ready to make a joke or tell a ghost story at night time.

Beate, started sailing on traditional ships about 35 years ago, and might well be the person on board with the oldest experience of sailing these wooden ships. She is great at the helm, and always ready to exchange a few nice words.

Guido, although not a professional sailor, his profession of doctor is definitely a well respected and welcome specialization on board. He signed on, to cross the ocean in working sail, and is absorbing all the experiences and information of practical and theoretical knowledge, to the maximum.

Susan, did sign on for a summer voyage on Tres Hombres before. Now she has put her focus onto crossing the ocean from West to East, via the Azores, and all the way to the European continent.

Caroline, was there on one of the voyages, when Nordlys was just operational again. Joining from La Corunha, to cross the bay of Biscay. After this, her love for wooden sailing ships was clear. And now she is working hard to learn the ropes of the other Fairtransport ship.

Jorne, as one of the co-founders of Fairtransport, I can not escape of, once in a while, going to sea in sail. Those times I am still perplexed of the beauty of these wild waters, the skill and happiness of our crew, and the mistery of it all…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan