Tres Hombres blog from trainee Liz: A ship runs on goodwill

DATE: 01-12-2016  GMT:1807  POS: 45 10 N, 8 00 W   COG: 210  SOG: 8.7

A ship runs on goodwill. Without the sails and the ropes and the hull, of course, we would all be swimming in the chilly Bay of Biscay at the moment, but what really makes this ship go is goodwill.
Imagine, if you will, doing the dishes. This is one of the basics of what we consider “civilized” life, a fundamental comfort. Eating off of clean dishes. And it’s a quite easy, however so annoying, chore to do at home. For most of us, we turn on a hot water tap, pour in liberal amounts of soap, and wipe our dishes clean, placing them in the dishrack to drip dry, knowing that when we come back in a few hours to put them away, they will all be where we left them.
But on the Tres Hombres, washing dishes goes like this: Pull up several buckets of seawater from over the side, being sure not to lose the bucket to the pull of our wake. Fill a basin with this. Then fill two more basins with water pumped from our holding tanks, approximately the same temperature as the air, a few degrees above freezing. Stand outside on the pitching deck and get your hands in the water, attempting to clean the dirty dishes, pots, and pans of seventeen hungry people.
In the dark, for it’s after dinner. With no light, for it blinds the helmsperson. And then make sure they’re dried and put away as soon as possible, lest they get swept off by an errant wave.
And yet, the dishes get clean. Every day we eat out of clean bowls, with clean spoons and forks, clean mugs, clean table.

It would be easy for us, used to the comforts of home, to thrown in the proverbial and literal towel, declaring that it’s too difficult, too annoying, too much work. But what sort of life would it be on board, then, if no one washed the dishes? If no one cleaned the toilet, or went down in the cramped dry store to refill the sugar, or made coffee for the weary night watches? It seems to me that one of the greatest things coming out of the short trip we’ve made together so far is our collective goodwill towards each other, our desire to make things more comfortable for everyone.

The rigging gets fixed because it has to be. No matter how difficult or dangerous the task, the option does not exist to leave it be until the water gets calmer or the sky gets lighter.
The sails are set and furled because it’s required for this to be an actual sailing ship. But the dishes get washed and the tea gets brewed and the surprise midnight cake gets baked because of goodwill, because, despite only being a crew together for under a month, we care about making life nice for each other.
And it seems like this is similar to the underlying philosophy of Fair Transport as well. Why risk this difficult, dangerous, and damned uncomfortable trip across the Atlantic, when we could just as well be sitting warm and dry in our houses? The obvious first answer is a love of sailing, but the purpose for our trip is to bring back coffee and chocolate and rum, to name a few comforts, in order to make life happier, tastier, and pleasanter for our friends, in a way which also does the planet no harm.

It’s easy to say that a solution to our planetary environmental crisis is completely local eating, that those of us in northern latitudes should learn to do without tropical produce. And to a certain extent that’s true. But with a little goodwill, a little motivation to make life pleasanter for each other, we can have our chocolate in Amsterdam, our rum in France, just like we can have clean dishes on board.
And, of course, we get to go sailing.

–-Elisabeth Wenger, trainee








AIR PRES: 1023

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