9,5 years ago I joined Tres Hombres as a trainee. From Portugal to Brazil emissionfree, a
means to an end, a two month adventure. But Tres Hombres, she swept me off my feet. She showed me my love for the seas in a new light. I found a form of activism that I can practice with my mind at ease and my heart full of joy. I joined a community where strong bonds are formed through the way we live and work together.
Many years have passed, many miles have been sailed, but I never finished my transatlantic circle with Tres Hombres, and it has felt like something left undone: To pick up the cargo in the islands until the hold is full and to sail it back across the ocean, mission complete. A journey that already meant a lot to me before it began.
But there is more. Women are notoriously underrepresented in the maritime industry, making up a mere 1% of seafarers internationnaly. And while we do much better than this in our sail cargo bubble, we usually are still outnumbered. Besides, a well known pattern prevails: The further up in the hierarchy you look, the less women you find. But this winter on Tres Hombres is different. We have a female majority on board, with a share of 70% in the professional crew. We are a captain, a first mate, a bosun, two deckhands and three to four trainees.
For us on board, running the ship with this crew day in day out feels nothing but normal. It is the interactions with the outside world that remind us regularly of our curiosity. We see it in the puzzled faces of the linesmen when we enter a commercial port. We see it in the confusion of the customs officer who by default adresses the older man with the biggest beard in his search for the captain, only to find out it is the young woman next to that guy he will be dealing with.
But also our inside dynamics feel different from what I have experienced in any other crew. All together, we maintain an environment where we can show our skill and share our knowledge without competing. Where learning opportuities are distributed equally. Where we succeed because we are not worried to fail. Where we can be ourselves without fear of being judged and are given space to grow beyond ourselves. We spread our wings wide, no need to shrink, no need to hide. Where mutual respect is the rule and chauvinistic bullshit is absent, we find peace and freedom. Our spirits rise, our creativity sparks, our laughter sounds and our flames burn brightly.
Now we are homeward bound, and at home, new chapters and challenges await. A sailor at the end of a North Atlantic crossing is an exhausted creature, but underneath the tiredness I am taking with me an immense strength from this experience, a source of energy and optimism for the future.