May 9, 2023
- Log
Tres Hombres

The circle is complete (Rosa Haberland First mate)

9.5 years ago I ended up at Tres Hombres as a trainee. Emission-free from Portugal to Brazil, from a means to an end, a two-month adventure. But Tres Hombres, she had me completely under her spell. She showed me my love for the seas in a new way. I found a form of activism that I can practice with peace of mind and joy. I have 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 have never completed my transatlantic circle with Tres Hombres and it feels like something I still have to do: Pick up the cargo on the islands until the hold is full and take it back across the to sail across the ocean, mission accomplished. A journey that meant a lot to me even before it started.

But there's more. It is well known that women are under-represented in the maritime sector and they make up only 1% of seafarers worldwide. And although we do much better in our “sailing cargo bubble”, we are still in the minority most of the time. Moreover, there is a well-known pattern: the higher you look in the hierarchy, the fewer women you find. But this winter on the Tres Hombres it is different. We have a majority of women on board, with a 70% share of the professional crew. We have a female captain, first mate, boatswain, two sailors and three to four trainees.

For us on board, it feels normal to run the ship day in, day out with this crew. It is the interactions with the outside world that regularly remind us of this unusual situation. We see it in the surprised faces of the line workers when we enter a commercial port. We see it in the confusion of the customs officer who defaults to the older man with the biggest beard in his search for the captain, only to discover that he is dealing with the young woman standing next to him.

But our internal dynamics also feel different than what I've experienced in any other crew. Together we maintain an environment where we can demonstrate our skills and share our knowledge without competing. Where learning opportunities are equally distributed. Where we succeed because we are not afraid to fail. Where we can be ourselves without fear of being judged and 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 nonsense is absent, we find peace and freedom. Our spirits are lifted, our creativity sparks, our laughter rings and our flames burn brightly.

Now we are on our way home and new chapters and challenges await us at home. A sailor (or a sailor) is an exhausted being at the end of a North Atlantic crossing, but beneath the fatigue I take with me immense strength from this experience, a source of energy and optimism for the future.

Thank you.

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