Tres Hombres refit 2018 come and join!

We would like to invite all of you for our next refit of the Tres Hombres in Den Helder, Netherlands.
She has now been sailing bravely for 10 years and she has carried tons of cargo with very small rest periods in between. She survived really rough weather and really rough people. She has seen the most beautiful anchorages and the shittiest muddy foggy trenches. She has seen love, hate, respect and disrespect in any way shape or form imaginable. She has been build by great knowledge, enthusiasm and goodwill and she has been maintained like this as well. Effing awesome job people!!
But now is the time to clean up some bits which need more than only just further maintenance; now is the time to clean up the rust (of her steel structure and her human lovers) of many years; now is the time to clean up tunnel-views and resignation.
So this year will be rather special; we are planning a very extensive, (mid-July to end-October) and compared to the other years, different refit. Several major projects are planned which will reduce the overall maintenance workload, reduce the stress (on people and materials) and resolve some of the complaints aboard. This important refit will both strengthen and prepare the vessel for the next several years of cargo sailing.

Projects for this refit:
*Re-caulking the vessel
For the technical interested: Only a small job of the caulking is to keep the water out of the boat – its primary job is to bring tension in the hull and to bring up her strength to the designed level through added pressure in between the planks (several tons).
Reasons for a re-caulk: The hull is leaking a bit too much, it is moving to much when working in heavy weather or when powerful tension is applied to the rigging. Also many non-compatible systems of caulking have been applied over the years. There are additionally some wet seams which means possible rot between planks and future damage might follow. As per Lloyds (a major ship classification society) a composite build vessel has to be re-caulked at least once every 8-10 years; for Tres Hombres this is the time now. A composite vessel has a stronger backbone than a wood-wood one, yes, but if the tension between the planks decreases the movement goes into the plank-frame fastenings as there is a new tension-line between rigid and soft -> they (the fasteners) wobble their way into the surrounding wood -> humidity can enter -> potential rot, rust, loose fastenings
*We want to develop a recognized system of procedures and materials used in the maintenance and repair of the vessel – this will be orientated by the guidelines of classification societies and well-recognised handbooks.
As a result there should be a standard knowledge of how every part of the vessel has been built and how it has to be repaired, which will not only add to the overall strength of the vessel, but also simplify and accelerate work onboard during refit periods and maintenance underway.
*There will be new water-tanks fitted
*There will be an electrical refit
*There will be a rebuild of the generator (external company)
*There will be a lot of maintenance and nice-ifying work

If you want to learn something new, if you want to improve your skills, if you have been a caulking mallet yourself for years, if you are any type of crafts(wo)man, if you are eager to help and knock a heavy mallet on your already sore knuckles, posh things up or play the flute to keep the spirits up or if you “just” want to help – please join!!

We need specifically:
*Electricians/an electric engineer; our system needs some redesigning and cleaning out; has a few unknown faults and dead wires
*Woodworkers; changing planks on hull and deck, possibly batten-up planks, interior removal and refitting (tanks, frames), poshing things up
*Metal workers; change frames, install tanks, repairs (we have someone taking charge of this, but he will need preferably skilled co-workers)
*Caulkers; we need a few people who are skilled at caulking and we need people who are keen to learn it. This was the most rewarded and highest level job when building a wooden hull! Please do not underestimate this job; we will be tuning the Tres Hombres like an instrument. Concerning this hull the caulking is no rocket science and can be learned relatively quickly – but you need dedication and huge attention to details; you caulk too soft for one centimetre and you have a leak there; you caulk to hard you have a leak next to it as you are forcing the softwood planks apart in this spot… On this re-caulk we will practice and teach a technique which has been used in (mainly Scandinavian) fishing vessels for hundreds of years
*People who can sand, remove rust and apply oil and paint
*Riggers – this year we will only do small repairs though
*And of course the most important job – the cook; there will be around 20 hungry persons to be fed

This is a vast job for the time planned but the boat has to get sailing, no matter what; that’s what she does best. But we will manage, I promised the next captain and we always delivered on time.
But please understand the importance of this refit, for the company and for the ship itself; it will not be easy but very interesting, challenging and rewarding. This time will demand the strongest work ethic and a very high level of cooperation between all members of the refit team. There is no space for people who are not willing to give a good days work or spend hours discussing different methods and techniques during the working time.

Please contact Hilde, our crew manager, on crew@fairtransport.nl to tell her about your abilities and availability – we want to plan as good as possible ahead (which project to start at which point of the refit and what material to buy) and avoid to have more than 20 persons working on the ship at the same time. On the refit we offer decent accommodation, good feeding and a professional environment.

I will most likely be involved in the planning and running the show – my name is Fabian, I am a merchant master mariner, a shipwright and a mechanic. I have skippered the Tres Hombres for a small part of the last Atlantic trip and have restored boats for some time. I will be the person on the front and Andreas (the famous co-founder of Fairtransport and most experienced refit guy) will do the logistics.

captain Fabian Klenner

Tres Hombres blog: A beautiful maneuver after a great visit of this magic place, Getaria!

Eskerrik Asko Getaria!

What a moment, when we had to call out: let go stern line, let go bowline! All our friends, from whom we have known not one a week ago, were standing on the pier. Ruurd, Jon, Jesus, their families, the mayor of the village, the harbor master, the fishermen who just gave us 4 bonito’s for the voyage and even an official from the Basque government.
But the crew had no time to wave goodbye, as we had to pull the ship off the lee shore with a long rope and giving her some initial speed before setting the squares and making way to the harbor entrance and head out to sea again… a beautiful maneuver after a great visit of this magic place, Getaria!
Special thanks to Ruurd, who had us ordered to this place, in order to load organic Txacoli, a young, fresh wine grown just around here, some cider and a lot of biodynamic bottles from La Rioja and the Douro valleys. He also arranged a fantastic meeting with the wine makers, the crew and the great women of the village, who prepared a meal we will not forget! And that’s how it went on…
In between the loading of the cargo and some maintenance we enjoyed the great weather which came with us, after 6 months of rain here. If there was no party or interview planned, we went to the farmer Jon to plant the Dahlias we brought from Holland, took a swim at the local beach, where the Atlantic rollers would come in smoothly or climb around on a vertical mountain . A seaman’s life can be very hard sometimes.
This port was one of the most welcoming ones we experienced and as a refuge harbor also a suitable one for a ship like ours, coming in and out without help. At arrival, we did not have all lines fast yet, a beautiful lady jumped onboard, asking for an interview with the captain, which he could not refuse at all, while another man made a little film about Tres Hombres throughout the process of harbor furling. A dentist was ready to receive a patient, showers were made available as well as power and water, cider and Txakoli…
We also had the chance of visiting the impressive Albaola shipyard near Donostia, where a replica of a whaling galleon is being build. They might need some crew in future who know how to sail a ship without motor…
Now, back at sea, we await the 5th fish meal in a row, as the precious tuna is being prepared in yet another way by the cook, not wasting a spine of it.
All in all it was a great stay in Getaria and hereabout seaman’s life is worth a break in it, before the wind will blow away all thoughts and dusts of the land again.

Saludos

Captain Andreas Lackner

Nordlys blog: Scores of rolling water made hills

Alive, living, liquid skin of earth
Scores of rolling water made hills
Tubes of side by side charging, swollen ripples
Racing towards the rising sun
Spilling into the golden light.

The boom is being a sea-saw
Hypnotically cutting into the choppy blue view
Up and down I see the Spirits of air and wind
clutching the ropes at the booms tip
Their ethereal bodies
Flapping and flying in glee
Angels in the breeze
Movement celebration.

We tip and rise
Green froth, blue skies
alternate in view
I’m being rocked by Nordlys Soul
Within this realm of blue.

The waves are all singing in chorus
harmonies of churn
The orchestra of ship through sea
Silencing concerns.

And as my body tilts and rocks
New sun upon my face
I realize the Nordlys ship’s
A pure vessel of grace –
Gracefully slicing through the sea
Like a spear shot through the air
The Nordlys swans through ups and downs
Like a comb through silken hair

Alexa Allen

photo ©Barry Macdonald

Tres Hombres blog: Living life on Tres Hombres time

“Goodmorning.. and good luck!” is what the outgoing Watch will whisper to you as you crawl out of the foxhole (or the makeshift bed I made in the cargo hold) and enter the deck covered in a drizzly night sky at 4am. They will go to bed now, and at least for four hours, it’s your turn to take over the helm and blink your eyes, re-assess the weather and wonder whether four layers of clothes will suffice this night or day or what day is it again? Or should I try to contain my body heat a bit more and done another layer of plastic raincover and go “Full Condom Mode” as Portside Watcher Boris likes to call it? Aboard the Tres Hombres we all transform into well-packed, Gore-Texed, rustling and damp plastic penguins, some of us dealing better with the disturbed sleeping patterns than others. Welcome to the place where they take your precious sleep routine and cut it merciless in six pieces, where you will be awoken by a cheerful “Goodmorning!” at least three times each 24 hours, be it at 8 am, 8 pm or 4 am..
Today my day starts at 03:45 am, but until 00:00 I served in yesterday’s evening watch, and before that we started the day with a morning watch at 07:30 am. It’s breaking me up. Physically, as I notice that I cannot access enough energy to take the slack out of a rope and fasten it, while this task seemed to be not a burden at all to my fastly growing muscular arms a couple of days ago. But also mentally, as the short stretches of sleep don’t go well with my ingrained insomnia. If I only have 3 hours of sleep ahead of me, I don’t sleep. At home, I already need 3 hours alone for my personal bedtime ritual, consisting of steamy cups of tea, a hot bath, an evening read and Netflix. Aboard, there’s no Netflix, and certainly no bath.
It’s also the sounds that keep me alert and awake. The continuous sound of rocking waves, just a few inches from my head. The sudden shouting of orders and rambling of boots overhead when a sailing maneuver is being executed by the other Watch. The distressing shrill of an iron saw piercing those precious hours of bright morning sleep.
And of course, the movement. For days on end, it was impossible to walk, sit, chill, cook, pour a cup of something in a normal steady way. Imagine sleeping. I constructed a makeshift cabin of plywood in the cargo hold to keep my matrass in its place. It helps against the sudden danger of catapulting your body through this massive room when the weather gets rough. But my body is still in a constant state of tension as I lie swaying in bed. After a few days, you get used to the continuous presence of muscle ache.
But where there’s drizzly darkness, numbing and aching bodies, small underslept eyes and signs of snappy grumpiness, there’s also bright moments of joy.
There’s the mouthwatering tiny taste of freshly caught mackerel, garlic and seasalt seasoned and grilled, shared with the anticipating crew of 17.
The quick and easy comfort of slipping a hot water bottle under your damp clothes while you stare into the bright starry sky.
The sudden and unexpected gift of good conversation with the people you’ve only just barely met but sharing the same misfortune with of peering hours into the misty night at the bow to spot any oncoming fishermen’s boats.
A sudden windless day of sunshine and the captain’s decision to let everyone take a swim.
The complete and utterly shameless singing out loud of any song that springs to mind, be it 4pm or 4am.
Sober and solar powered dancing parties which erupt during the daytime maintenance hours when the sun breaks through on deck.
The adrenaline rush of climbing the bow spritz to unfurl the flying jib sail while the sea is rough and the bow keeps banging onto the towering waves and splashing water into your boots.
Stupid word jokes.
The realization that suddenly every mundane, ordinary task turns Extreme in hard wind and rainy weather conditions that turn your world upside down and make you fear for falling over board executing them – Extreme Woodworking, Extreme Dishwashing, Extreme Toothbrushing!
The unexpected sharing of your Watch mates’ private snack supply in dire times of need.
The joy of First Mate Shimra when her Starboard Watch has finally mastered another sailing maneuvre.
The sudden gasp of surprise when you flush the tiny onboard toilet in the middle of the night and the fast vortexing water turns into a mesmerizing cosmic swirl, displaying glow-in-the-dark aquatic bioluminescence flushed back into the ocean.
The feeling of your head touching your pillow three times a day.
The living of life on Tres Hombres time.

Simone Tenda, Tres Hombres “Summer” Trip 2018

Tres Hombres blog: Expectation unknown, fulfillment guaranteed

Falmouth for orders!
Coming back on a 4-mast bark from a voyage of 6 months out or more, having past Cape Horn the wrong way around, fully loaded with guano or saltpeter from the Chilean Pacific coast and in the end entering the English Channel again, what a feeling this must be for the ordinary European seaman!

Still this was not the end of the voyage and many times the final destination of the cargo was not clear at the time the ship left the south American loading port, so where to go? Lizard Point it is, the southernmost tip of England, where the flag officer in charge would have the answer.
It was then a challenge for the captain to steer his ship as close as possible along the coast, able to sign the name of the ship he is commanding, to shore. Then the man on shore will find the wire messages he got from a shipping office in Northern Europe, regarding this vessel, and signal the essence of the order over to the ship: the final destination for unloading the cargo! Old-day internet you would call it, using different colored flags going up and down a flagpole, always still adding a salute and some information about how many days the voyage took and how many were lost at sea.

Tres Hombres, as you know always keen on following up the precious traditions from the era of Sail, had to go close enough to shore as to have phone reception, for these orders. After a great unloading in the heart of Amsterdam the crew was anxious to put to sea and after seeing the weather forecasts we decided that there was no time to loose for making sail on a southbound voyage.
But where to go exactly? Supercargo Ruurd was still involved in wine tastings and presentations and would need some more days to finalize the orders of wine for Amsterdam. What was left to us was pulling the sheets and tack out our way through Northsea and Channel, until Falmouth… Or lets say, Ile de Quessant, where we passed at a four mile distance, to receive the orders we needed: Getaria it was, in the deepest of the Bay of Biskay! Rioja wine has to be taken on board and this harbour is one of the closest to the well-known wine area in the North of Spain.

In between, the crew is getting hold of the right ropes, commanded by our old shipmate Shimra and our through-salted, iron-man Lenno, while our new second mate Noe is getting the trick of the trade, guided by me and Gerrit, who knows the ship as he would have the same one at home in his lake in Friesland.
Getting accustomed to a rocking kitchen and feeding 17 mouths which eat twice the amount as they would do on land, is Meria, new ships cook and a great personality. Mikael, who left his farm to go to sea and did not leave his ship since then, as bosun in a function which is put aside for him. The ploerten from Den Dolder are constantly asking for food in many ways: give me ropes to pull, let me learn about the weather, the waves, the ship and the old ways…and giving all their love and knowledge (comments;-) to this ship where they worked on in the dry-dock since years already. Jeroen is chipping away in his pace, just bothered sometimes by sleeping people and once in a while by a big wave, covering tools and him in saltwater. Boris is the singing spirit, assisting his sister in the rollercoaster-galley. Jonas, calm as ever, is silently working his way up to an able bodied seaman, surprising with ever new outfits. Giulia and Collin, just arriving from their mountain-cave onto our little floating universe, giving all their charm and patience and delicious goodies brought from La Palma. And last but not least, Wout, our old, trustful trainee from earlier voyages, who is cheering us up with stories about life in marriage and the cargo-world out there on the road as a professional trucker.
Today the anchor winch has been taken apart, put in function and together again, now we all just wait for the wind which we expect from the Northeast, to give us a ride through the Bay of Biskay. Preparing for a new port, new cargo-partners and new crew, an ever changing life, like the wind, expectation unknown, fulfillment guaranteed.

Captain Andreas Lackner

Tres Hombres blog: A welcome message from captain Fabian

Well done, you tree huggers!!

Exploring the zeroth dimension

In the beginning it all looked ridiculously simple; we all one way or the other found out about this barge and clicked our way towards this voyage.

The mathematician may classify your first click as a hypercube of zero dimensions within the Euclidian space. It resembles an infinitely small spatial point without width, length, height, edges, faces, volume, area or cells.

Exploring the first dimension

Then things started to become a wee bit more serious; you remembered past trips or you were gathering all information you could get about sailing and you were making way towards the ship from all corners of the world.

If you stretch the zero-dimensional object into one direction, you create a one-dimensional shape.
The mathematician may classify this reach as a hypercube of the dimension 1 within the Euclidian space. A reach consists of an endless number of zerodimensional points which connect two end-points. It has infinitesimal width, height and no volume.

Exploring the second dimension

Sailing over the sea is closest to moving in a two dimensional space. There are no mountains to be possibly crossed or too much infrastructure to follow; you are just leaving the keelwater behind

If you stretch an onedimensional reach in another direction than the one it is leading at, you get a twodimensional rectangle, a hypercube of the dimension 2 in the Euclidian space. Rectangles have a length, a width, four corner-points, four edges and a space but no volume. If you widen the square to the infinite it covers the complete two-dimensional space.

Exploring the third dimension

Not only the ship moves over the sea but also the emotional ups and downs become more intense as you keep travelling and learning.

By moving a twodimensional square perpendicularly a threedimensinal cube is formed; a hypercube of the dimension 3 in the Euclidian space. As threedimensional object it has width, length, height, 8 cornerpoints, 12 sides, 6 areas and a cell. If you widen a cube infinitely, it will cover the whole threedimensional space
Exploring the fourth dimension

Travelling starts to change you, physically and emotionally; your old friends seem to become less open-minded than they were before because they do not have the same world-view you have gained within the last few months. You become brighter and shinier within yourself – some show it, some hide it

If you stretch a three-dimensional cube in a vertical direction you create a tesseract or a hypercube of the dimension 4. Tesseracts have 16 knots, 32 edges, 24 areas, 8 cubes and a four-dimensional cell; they have length, width and height plus an extra space-coordinate in the Euclidian space or as well a time-coordinate in the Minkowski-space (this space is necessary to measure changes in our universe which acts according to Einstein’s laws and is essential for example for GPS technology and air navigation)
If the tesseract expands infinitely it fills the complete four-dimensional space – a simplified explanation is all the space you reach when you travel perpendicularly away from the three-dimensional space

Exploring the n-th dimension

The more you travelled, the more you try to find answers to things and the more you see that this is impossible as everything is a matter of perspective. You start to accept yourself and others. You give up searching to a point and sigh and start your trip home.

If you stretch an n-dimensional hypercube in a new direction you get a (n+1)-dimensional hypercube. Which ‘space’ you want to use depends on your own intentions.
The three-dimensional space is great for carpenters, the Minkowski space for parts of astronomy but you can use any number of n to discuss about gravity or the age of the universe. String-theories need ten or eleven dimensions and quantum mechanics need an infinite space.
A 10-n-deceract hypercube has 1024 knots, 5120 edges, 11520 areas, 15360 cells, 13440 4-D-cells, 960 7-D-cells, 180 8-D-cells, 20 9-D-cells and one 10-D-cell.

I had to give you some last wise-arseing here, sorry the idea came from Christopher Many, Left beyond the horizon.

But, honest, keep all your edges, knots, areas and all your n-dimensional cells you discovered and found out on this trip!! Don’t let them take away from you ever, not from routine, not from accidents, not from partners. It is all yours and you deserve it.

I love you all and wish you all the best in the future; hope to stay in contact and to be sailing with you again!!

Hugs and kisses

F

“No matter how much I wanted all those things that I needed money to buy, there was some devilish current pushing me off in another direction — toward anarchy and poverty and craziness. That maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas Goat.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

Tres Hombres blog: To hell with these motor ships!

For days now, we have been tacking up and down the English Channel, floating around with just steerage way in the Dover Straits, and discussing our options of reaching the North sea. True this last leg of our Atlantic round trip the winds have not been in our favor. But really, if that would be our biggest problem, I would accept it with open arms, and be a happy man! What really does bother me here, in reaching Europe, is the obvious work of what is called “civilization”. We encounter more and more floating plastic, lately especially balloons, perhaps blown away from a fair in one of the channel ports. The shipping lanes look more like a highway, with ship after ship steaming along, one even bigger than the previous. On days without wind, a thick layer of yellow smog surrounds our engineless vessel.

I believe since 2015 a rule was passed that these motor ships need to switch from HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil) to MDO (Marine Diesel Oil), whenever they are approaching the shores, or entering the North sea or the Baltic. This HFO consists of a heavy tarry substance, mixed with chemical waste from any industry who likes to get rid of it. To pump it towards the monstrous engines of these ships, it first needs to be heated to make it fluid. The MDO is like the Diesel we use in our cars, but then with 500 times as much polluting particles. Every time we pass one of these motor ships, a sickening smell of burning oil emissions covers our humble vessel. The crews of these motor ships, might not even smell it anymore or are looking for shelter in their air conditioned wheelhouse’s, accommodation towers and floating factories. Annually 60.000 of their colleagues, dockworker’s and other people living close to the shipping routes die of cancer and lung illnesses caused by the emissions of this shipping industry. Amongst these seaman, who passed away of cancer, at least three where good acquaintances of me…

Yet, what do we do? We look the other way, and accept this hellish game. So, we can buy balloons and plastic crap for our kids, the latest smart phone, cheap T-shirts, solar panels, paint, orange juice, and what more for stuff we do not really need. We accept, so the tar of our roads can be brought over sea. We whine about the price of a product brought by sail. We call and talk with the sailors on these ships, to ask them for our right of way. We are happy and thankful when they change course again. We are afraid to cross the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) in the wrong way, to slow down the wheel of commerce and might be fined, by some national coast guard department or agency. To hell with all those motor ships, to hell with the machine which plunders our wonderful planet, and makes them sail!

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

DATE CHANGE: Despite the hard work of our captain and crew the wind decided different. Tres Hombres won’t be in time in Amsterdam for unloading on Saturday the 2nd. We are happy to welcome you on the 9th of June 1PM

Tres Hombres blog: Signing on, for working sail

At sea again, I am looking back at the last port stay In Douarnenez. Douarnenez is, like Horta, a great sailingship port. From this town there are currently three larger size (for the industry) sailing cargo ships operating: Grayhound, Lune II and Gallant. Also it is the town of origin of one of the French sailing cargo ship shipbrokers: Towt, with as her dedicated director Guillaume Le Grand. Of course, apart from visiting the different crews, I had to visit him, and his partner Diana. The real reason we stopped here, was for a crew change. Old sailors, who had just crossed the Atlantic ocean signed off. New sailors, signed on to join the ship, for a voyage through the English channel. This is the final leg of the: Tres hombres Atlantic roundtrip of this year, and brings our clipper brigantine to the discharge docks in Amsterdam.

So, how does this, signing on, go? There are three different options to sign on: joining as a professional crewmember, this is, if you have enough experience on squareriggers, applied for a position, and where selected by one of our Captains. Second, being on the right spot at the right time, really meaning applying for a position directly on the ship, while taking part of a refit or visiting the ship, and having the luck, that there is a position available. Third, the most straight forward way, of checking the sailing schedule on the website, and applying for a trainee position in exchange for paying the trainee fee.

Back in the days, the real signing on, would be done on board or in a port office. Here the ships articles would be read to the crew, and everybody would put a signature under it. Nowadays, you get your contract by email, sign it, scan it and email it back. After that the nice task of preparing yourself for sea begins. You can regularly check the ship, to see if she comes already nearer to your port of signing on. You have to gather your gear, for everybody this will be different, but you do receive a list of suggested gear. Finally some people, read a selection of Maritime literature, to mentally prepare for the life at sea in working sail.

If you are interested to sign on, short term, you can still sign on for a cargo voyage for this summer. Joining the ship, in Amsterdam, the first week of June to sail across the North sea, the English Channel and into the bay of Biscay, for a French port nearby Bordeaux. Here a fine cargo of wine will be taken in, to bring back to Amsterdam again. A great voyage for the beginner, for a first introduction to sail. Or for the seasoned sailor, a voyage to finally experience maneuvering a squarerigger in coastal waters! Also there is the possibility to join for an crossing of the Atlantic ocean, but then you have to wait, with joining, until the 1st of November. Finally, for those, who would really like to encounter the tough life at sea, of “Iron man on wooden ships” one should sign on to the other ship of our fleet, the entirely wooden Nordlys. Nordlys, built in 1873, is most likely the oldest cargo vessel still operational. Joining her, is an experience with the guarantee that you will never forget it. So: sign on email booking@fairtransport.nl, welcome on board, and bon voyage!

Truly yours,

Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Cargo Under Sail: COMAM coffee “Climate Alliance”

What? The coffee from where? Sailing to where? Okay, let’s start from the beginning…

More than 20 years ago, the environmental organization Serraniagua was born in the Colombian high-mountain village of El Cairo. Since then, it has worked tirelessly for the local rural, indigenous, Afro-Colombian and other-than-human communities. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean Serraniagua has a committed ally in the Austrian NGO, ‘Climate Alliance Vorarlberg’ which is collaborating with social and environmental organizations in Colombia’s Chocó region for more than two decades. In 2016 this partnership started to support the environmental and coffee-production programs of the local ‘Young Campesino Network’. The aim is to strengthen shade-coffee farmers who adopt low-impact, biodiversity-friendly farming methods and practices to mitigate the impact of climate change on the production and quality of their crops.
This transatlantic alliance is now trying to establish better income for Serraniagua’s COMAM (COMunidad AMbientalista) coffee producers by forging a direct connection between producers and consumers. Disconnected from speculations of the international stock exchange, they will pay a fair price including significant premiums for forest protection and organic production.

But for what all this effort for environmental issues if then the exportation would be operated by the same extremely polluting carrying business as any other coffee? Couldn’t this long-distance transport be driven mainly by renewable energies?

The idea sounded a little crazy at first. But today we can proudly confirm that the COMAM coffee, produced in the farms of Don Carlos and Don Cesar in El Cairo is crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the hold of an old sailing ship. Far from crazy, given the tremendous impact of international cargo shipping and aviation in terms of climate change and other toxic emissions, the sailing ship “Tres Hombres” from the Dutch company Fairtransport represents one of numerous positive alternatives to change practices and make the world a better place to live. And, in early June, when the COMAM coffee arrives in Europe, five volunteers will carry it from Holland to Austria by another wonderful, low-impact transportation method – cargo bicycles!

It’s a beautiful transatlantic labor between tireless actors working for a better future. Thanks to Fairtransport and the whole Tres Hombres crew for making this story come true!

You can follow the tour of COMAM coffee on Facebook and Twitter @Klimabohne on Tour

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,