Tres Hombres blog: Hazy dust blown over the Atlantic from the western Sahara

DATE:27 12 16  GMT: 1550 POS: 25 01 N, 21 07 W   COG: 225  SOG:3.2

On the 18th of December land was sighted. The steep roots of the great volcanic mountain island, La Palma. Its peak shrouded by thick clouds.
It was yet another arrival into port under the cover of darkness in the early hours of the morning. Even without the convenience of the suns light everything went satisfyingly smooth. Once the last mooring line had been tightened it was time for tradition. Right on cue, Andreas appeared with bottle of rum in hand. Many toasts to the ship, the crew, the winds and water were made as the early morning hours rolled on.
For 6 days we were in port Santa Cruz, capital of La Palma.
We shared the days maintaining the boat, loading barrels of rum from the distillery in La Palma, exploring caves houses and catching up on some sleep… sometimes.
Some familiar faces departed while some new ones arrived for the crossing.

Finally the time came to head out once again. The prospect of leaving harbor was a welcome one. I had always thought the safest place for any ship was on mooring in port. How wrong I was.
As the massive floating city-like cruise ships fired up their engines, the water would come rushing out toward the Tres Hombres. White water and fast currents would set the ship rocking and pitching in awkward jerks. A few mooring lines snapped, chaff damage into the timber of one plank, and cracks opened up on our stanchion. I learned that some times a ship is not always safest in the harbor. I doubted that anyone on the cruise ships even noticed the trouble their gigantic engines caused us.

I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of experience these thousands of passengers aboard the cruise ships were looking for? The cruise ships offer casinos, heated swimming pools, bars, night clubs, cinemas and restaurants; all the same kinds of entertainment one could find on land. Even when the cruisers are docked in port, the black smoke from their giant stacks never stops pouring out from the generators.
I watched these giants of consumption for a week come and go every 10 hours. The passengers would file out by the hundreds on their mission for another bar, another post card and another cheap souvenir.

Where has the idea of travel, journeying and adventure regressed to? No longer it seems is a little effort, some sweat and challenge involved in the ways we hustle around our world. I doubt very much that one can grow mentally, spiritually or physically from these kinds of ‘journeys’. You learn nothing of yourself nor of the places you visit as is the nature of the brief stays and then return home with a hangover and stories of how bad the night clubs were on board.

Over the month and a bit I’ve been on board the Tres Hombres, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder the idea of travel. We live in the age of convenience and rapid transportation. People no longer seek out the quest or pilgrimage in the western world in place of the ‘7 day all included cruise’ or the cheap last minute airfare. 
Perhaps we need to slow down. Perhaps we are living so fast these days that we don’t have time to think, and to dream and to really ask ourselves the important questions such as what is the real cost of all this convenience?
I urge you… Get out of your armchair, turn off the news, put on a back pack and spend some time in the rain on a far-off trail in the woods. Hitch hike for a change and meet some one new. Go somewhere you haven’t been and get there slowly without being in a rush to leave.

The new year is almost upon us. The air is hazy with the dust blown over the Atlantic from the western Sahara. It makes a fine veil over the sun.
The first mate, Remi, has covered the GPS with some masking tape and paper. We will now rely on the readings we take from our sextant to plot our course as we head southwest. We are 2 days out of La Palma with everyone’s bets on the table as to how many more it’ll take until we reach Barbados.
Until then we have a long list of jobs to complete, making the most of the calm seas and fair trade winds. Tarring the rigging, sanding and oiling cleats, repairing damaged mooring lines, painting the rails… The list is never ending with a ship such as this. The work is done steadily just as the Tres steadily carries us closer to our destination on the other side of the Atlantic.

Hamish Webster








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