March 7, 2023
- Log
Tres Hombres

The Mona Passage (captain Anne-Flore Gannat)

Calmly and with patience we managed to enter the Mona Passage.

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

A trade wind that turns a few times a day to optimize our tacking strategy. No violence but 10 to 15 kts.
The Puerto Rico Coast Guard reported a capsized ship on our way, 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 center 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 flirt closer and closer together before diving into the sea together. The next night we also saw a trail of light like an aurora borealis heading east, leaving behind 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 flock of gannets were hunting for fish, tuna jumped out of the water and spotted Atlantic dolphins passed by. For his pleasure, one of us sat under the bowsprit. The new trainee is surprised, he usually only sees natural habitat shows 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 waited for permission to enter. The workers in the port make all situations hilarious and dramatic at the same time.
The trick is to walk seriously 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 put the bow line as a bow line, intending to hold the nose of the boat, much to my chagrin the pilot and linesman ignored me and the Spanish rider hit the pier. Damn. Can you tell me why you didn't jump first? Because the keesje from the bow was thrown first. And the dinghy pushed the stern to turn the butt towards the quay.

I trust the crew more than anyone. After so many ports and anchorages, we get used to each other and understand each other. It doesn't matter whether you have to work hard or whether everything can be done slowly and gently.

I don't know why I assumed that the port staff also looks at the wind and its influences. Until the last day the pilot did not believe that we had no engine on board, but from the tone of my voice he understood that his crew was no longer allowed to touch our lines when we left. That's how 80% used to be.
It is always the men on the tug or the boatmen who feel entitled to tell me or the crew what needs to be done.
They think they have the right to have a plan and not have to share it, to be condescending and say that I have to take care of the children at home that I don't have. They think they are tougher. I like to be polite, but men should keep their mouths shut 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 do things step by step. My job is to anticipate and stay calm. And it's good not to rush, shout and break our boat!

The departure was wonderful after a few last minute stamps of course (Dom Rep style). Topsail, Top Gallant, Royal and Mainstay sails were prepared while we were still moored.
We threw loose front and rear. Set up more jib, lose weight towards the canal and we were off. On course and a little push from the dinghy to be maneuverable and that was it. What a team!
There are few tugboat crews that work so well together in the ports and then we just go and there are not many words needed, they don't make any noise,. And that is beautiful.

The reasons why life can be fun and “crazy”: loading freight, like hardworking people with sweaty hands the day after arrival, listening to the crew speaking broken Spanish with the locals, making all the administration a nightmare, for 3 days doing puzzles while you drink an exhausted beer after work, surrounded by your tools, the entire crew, who makes animal sounds and caricatures to make other participants laugh, dropping people from the dinghy in the middle of the lagoon while you do the laundry pick up or row the dinghy back to the ship at night with a crew member giving a lecture about stars and pizzas. A crew member, hanging outboard in a boatswain's chair, strikes a chisel, her feet dangling in the water. Right now, it all feels normal here. A lot has happened, when a group of 15 or more individuals is creative and happy, life goes on, natural and rich.

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

Almost 30 tons more on board from here to Amsterdam. This weight ensures greater inertia while sailing than before. It is better to react quickly at the helm when the sails require it. The ship heels less.

New North Atlantic nautical charts in the nav'room, the sun is shining hard, the care for the ship continues forever, for example spreading a tasty tar smell on the deck or replacing lines that are in danger of breaking. The bet for the estimated arrival time in Horta has been made. Let's see who gets the biggest ice cream. Few souls want to return to their homeland, while others go crazy because it could be their last journey on the Tres Hombres.
Some are resigning or thinking about it. Others, even tired and injured, do not want to change their sailing life yet. Still others hold personal spiritual ceremonies for each stage of this journey to create awareness of what leaving entails and how to deal with it, and to experience the magic day by 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.

Cheers
AF

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