December 9, 2019
- Log

Think of those who sail!

Think of those who sail! My father always says when he hears the wind and rain rushing around his second-hand bookstore in Zierikzee. Yes, think of those who sail, we have sailed hard over the past ten days with the Tres Hombres. It seems like a long time ago that I decided to leave Baiona Bay Spain. In romantic moods I answer the question what I do for a living: I live from the wind, but actually it should be: I live by the wind. Because the wind determines our planning on board the Tres Hombres. Last week a westerly wind was announced for two days and then a persistent gale force wind from the North along the entire coast of Spain and Portugal. Wait or go? Check whether the ship is ready, cargo is sea-fast, sailor's boxes are sea-fast, enough provisions and water, rigging in order and then the choice: go.

On Friday evening we sailed out of the bay with a light southerly wind, to the west. During the night the wind would shift to the west and then I wanted to be as far from the coast as possible, away from the low bank, away from the land! And indeed around four o'clock at night the wind cleared: second mate Paul was now sailing to the north close to the wind and this woke me up: time to tack. With both watches we made our first tack and then headed south fifty miles from the coast. The wind cleared even more when we were near Lisbon so that we could sail towards the Canary Islands with a nice backstay wind.

Apart from the seasickness of most of the crew, it was a beautiful race, how beautifully the Tres Hombres sailed through that ocean swell! She takes waves of four/five meters with ease: a joy to experience. After four days the ocean calmed down a bit, the swell subsided and we were even able to enjoy the sun for the first time. Wet socks were hung on the safety nets so that we must have seemed like a happily passing clothesline to those around us. But there was no one there to see it. There we were our own environment. Our own little village at sea. We started to get used to the waiting rhythm, the rhythm of the ocean, there was more and more laughter during the waiting.

A few days later the next task came: finding good wind and wave height to enter La Palma. The harbor pier is located south-north and you do not want a completely northerly wind so that you cannot sail into it. You also don't want the waves to be too high because before you arrive you want to put the dinghy overboard to bring two people aside to catch the lines. We could actually have sailed in on Thursday afternoon, but a renewed northerly wind prevented us from arriving. I decided to wait a hundred miles north of the Canary Islands.

Crossing, tacking/gybing downwind: this is what you call fun sailing in charter sailing. And there the wind increased again and with it the wave height. This time not a steady wind but very showery. This meant that when we were under a cloud with rain we made speeds of 12 knots and then four knots again. Kudos to Soraia who managed to make good meals with these different movements.

I had contact with Andreas about when would be a good time to walk into Santa Cruz de La Palma and we saw an opportunity on Saturday morning. Saturday morning before the sun rose we finally sailed towards the island of La Palma. No matter how often you do it: it is always a special experience to suddenly see an island looming from the clouds on the horizon after days of seeing nothing but the sea. At night all those lights like a huge anthill in the middle of the ocean.

Make a plan, discuss it with the helmsmen and boatswain and then prepare it. Anchor chains on deck (how many shackles? How deep is the harbour?) Mooringlines on deck, dinghy engine tested and the first communication with the harbor master. It is a must to discuss everything with the entire crew and then choose the right moment and sail in.

Around eight o'clock we received the signal from the port authority that we could enter. The swell was still high (up to three meters) but we decided to go for it. Jeroen the boatswain sailed with the dinghy through the high waves to the side to see what the waves and wind were like inside the wall. The radio said it looked good inside. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't exciting to sail into a harbor without an engine. But the Tres Hombres has perfect steering characteristics and the crew did exactly what they had to do. After an exciting half hour we were stuck on shore. Land beneath your feet!

After having prepared the ship for port, all sails were properly furled, the mooring lines were correctly distributed, a deck wash and a mooring watch had been distributed for the first twenty-four hours, one of the 'empty' barrels of Port could be lifted onto deck to collect the remainder. ' to extract. We were able to toast a tough but beautiful stretch of ocean sailing.

Next week we will prepare the ship for the next part of sailing: crossing the ocean. We will load the first rum from Aldea and many new trainees will come. We also have to say hello to a number of trainees who we can now sincerely call friends. We hope to see them at the unloading party in Amsterdam, the Fairtransport family is always growing. And then it's time to study the weather forecast again. Always watch the wind. It's like my colleague Harry (van de Morgenster) once said to me: The weather: you can look at it or talk about it forever, but you won't change anything.

And with that I would like to end this weblog from Santa Cruz de La Palma: Ahoy from a sunny La Palma, but overrun by cruise tourists!

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