7 maart 2023
- Logbook
Tres Hombres

The Mona Passage (captain Anne-Flore Gannat)

Quietly and with patience we managed to sail into Mona Passage.

Four days to get used to the rhythm of our ship and for some insiders to understand the gentle rocking motion of the heavy black mama.
450 miles from Boca Chica instead of 100 to take this first step north of Hispaniola for the long way to the Azores. The road linea recta is not the one chosen by the combination of the wind and the ship.

A trade wind turning a few times a day to optimize our tacking strategy. No force but 10 to 15 kts.
Puerto Rico Coast Guard reported a capsized vessel in our path, southwest of Mona Island, of course we passed next to the position at night but the radar is on.
Nothing but the dark shape of the island in the middle of the passage with a glowing background of Puerto Rico. The moon is high, the southern cross is low on the horizon.

Jupiter and Venus flirted closer and closer before diving into the sea together. The next night we also saw a trail of light like aurora borealis heading east, leaving a shiny long tail and a twinkling star like a small explosion, perhaps an asteroid. But the next night it was a train of 20 satellites from apparently a man who likes to throw more junk into space.

Well, yesterday a wide swarm of gannets was hunting for fish, tuna were jumping out of the water and spotted Atlantic dolphins were passing by. For his pleasure, one of us sat under the bowsprit. The new trainee was amazed; he usually sees natural habitat shows only on TV. I still wonder why he keeps calling our group crazy since the first day he met us on the other side of the fence in the harbor. He was waiting for permission to go in. The workers at the port make all situations hilarious and dramatic at the same time.
The trick is, to seriously walk around with a clipboard and some copies of supposedly official papers under your arm calling for the captain. Of course that is not the woman standing in front of them.
Anyway, I signed and stamped it.

But when I asked to set the bowline as the bowline, intending to hold the nose of the boat, the pilot and the linesman ignored me much to my annoyance and the Spanish rider hit the pier. Damn. Can you tell me, why didn't you jump first? Because the line of the bow was thrown first. And the dinghy pushed the stern to turn the butt to the quay.

I trust the crew more than anyone else. After so many ports and anchorages, we get used to each other and understand each other. It doesn't matter if there is hard work to be done or if everything can be slow and gentle.

I don't know why I assumed the port staff also looks at the wind and its influences. Until the last day, the pilot did not believe that we have no engine on board, but from the tone of my voice he understood that his crew was not allowed to touch our lines when we left. That's true 80% of the time.
It is always the men on the tug or the fleetmen who feel entitled to tell me or the crew what to do.
They think they have the right to have a plan and not have to share it, to be condescending and tell me to take care of the children at home, which I don't have. They think they are being tougher. I like to stay polite, but men should shut up sometimes too. I like to organize the deck as calmly as possible and they only bring confusion and chaos. I like to give the crew time to carry things out step by step. My job is to anticipate and stay calm. And it's good not to rush, yell and wreck our boat!

The departure was delightful after a few more last-minute stamps of course (Dom Rep style). Topsail, Top Gallant, Royal and Mainstay sails were prepared while we were still moored.
We cast off fore and aft. More jibs set, dropped off toward the channel and away we were. On course and a little push from the dinghy to be manoeuvrable and that was it. What a team!
There are few tug crews that work so well together in ports and then we just go and not many words are needed, they don't make any noise and that's wonderful.

The reasons why life can be fun and "crazy": loading cargo, as hard-working people with sweaty hands the day after arrival, listening to the crew speaking poor Spanish with the locals, making all administration a nightmare, 3 days of puzzling while exhausted drinking a beer after work, in the midst of your tools, the entire crew, making animal noises and caricatures to make other participants laugh, from the dinghy dropping people in the middle of the lagoon while going to pick up laundry or rowing the dinghy back to the ship at night with a crew member giving a lecture on stars and pizza. A crew member, hanging outboard in a bosun's chair bangs on a chisel, her feet dangling in the water. Right now, all that feels normal here. Much has happened, when a group of 15 or more individuals is creative and happy, life goes on, naturally and richly.

Thanks to our office crew who made the dusty and noisy Boca Chica stop as short as possible despite the 5h time difference. Thank you to Lawrence and the team who received us fantastically, both for technical repairs and a pleasant terrace visit at the beach.

Nearly 30 more tons on board from here to Amsterdam. This weight makes for greater inertia, sailing under sail than before. It is better to react quickly at the helm when the sails require it. The ship makes less heel.

New North Atlantic sea charts in the nav'room, the sun is shining hard, care for the ship goes on forever, for example spreading tasty tar smells on the deck or replacing lines in danger of breaking. The bet for the estimated time of arrival in Horta has been made. Let's see who gets the biggest ice cream. Few souls want to return to their homeland, while others are going crazy because it might be their last voyage on the Tres Hombres.
Some are resigning or thinking about it. Others, even tired and wounded, don't want to change their sailing life just yet. Still others hold personal spiritual ceremonies for each leg of this journey to create awareness of what a departure entails and how to deal with it, living the magic from day to day.
Wherever we come from and whoever we are, we are determined to salivate at every sunrise or green flash of sunset.
The mountain range fades behind us. All sails are up, we are surrounded by a transparent intense dark blue, full and through, hoping for whales at any moment.


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