Signing off (By Bosun Hanjo van Weerden)

Three captains
Three First mates
Four second mates
Four cooks
Nineteen nationalities
Six different bunks
Two hammocks
16 harbours
60 knots in the gusts
Ten tons of cacao
130 barrels
40.000 bottles of wine (roughly)
20.000 nautical miles (very roughly)

Just some numbers of these last two years. Some of those numbers don’t mean much written down like that, not even to me. But one is most striking: 20 months. I have now worked on the Tres Hombres for effectively 20 months. During the refits a few weekends at home and this last summer two months off to get my Basic Safety training and vaccination and some much-needed rest after the Atlantic Round, but still, twenty months. I signed on as a fresh-faced trainee who knew nothing of sailing, and now I am signing off as Bosun. I went from being uncomfortable with the rolling and a little seasick to the grizzled veteran who has seen it all and is not impressed. That is not to say that I did not love to be on the ship out at sea till the end, I did. It remains a great feeling to be out at sea with no land in sight and the ship rolling under your feet.

So I lived on a wooden ship with all sorts of people from all over the world, with limited space, with daunting working conditions like storms and hours and hours of rain. It really was a great time. Must have been, otherwise, I would not have stayed so long, right? But joking aside, it has been a great time, and all the people I sailed with helped make it great.

The last thing here on La Palma that I do before signing off is unload a barrel of La Palma wine that we loaded last year and has been ageing at sea in Tres Hombres’ cargo hold for that whole time. It has crossed the ocean tucked underneath the cacao and the rum,  and then Skagerrak tucked under bottles of wine. Right now, I am the only one still on board who was present last year when we loaded it, making this barrel from the Tendal winery also my most long term shipmate. The wine will now be auctioned off to benefit the people displaced by the Cumbre Vieja’s lava stream.

But for now, my Tres Hombres adventure is over. Now I’ll go to Denmark to help refit another sailing cargo ship, the Hawila, but Captain Francois, Mates Arthur and Guven, my replacement bosun Camille, cook Ed, deckhands Ali and Thore and all the trainees will bring her safely to the Caribbean and back to Europe.
I will miss them tremendously and wish them all fair winds and hope to see them well and good in Amsterdam.

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