Tres Hombres Blog: Wild waters, crowded of sea life

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Biscay was awesomely rough, the hurricane in the north Atlantic made his presence definitely felt by our nutshell. How deep those oceanic valleys and how small we are! Wild waters, crowded of sea life… Dolphins and whales, one even appearing at few meters from our stern. What a bless to see such creatures free in their own environment. 
This crossing was Unforgettable and exciting, powerful and challenging, true sailing and olympic extreme cooking on the rolling stove of mygalley. Best learning school for a ship cook! 
Now, after three days of tacking back and forward in front of Porto, our destination and port of cargo operations,dreaming of hot shower and sunny terraces with port wine, the harbour master finally denied the possibility to get into the Douro river and rest by its shore. We are so obliged to change plans and in order to escape from a SW gale, we hoist full sails and fly over the waves at 8knots to go back to Galicia and anchor in Baiona under a beautiful full moon… 
We’ll stay there few days,show up if you’re in Northern Spain!
#doyouwannamakeGodslaugh? Tell them about your plans or sail engineless!

Giulia Cosi, Cook

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From trainee to captain of the Tres Hombres

I have been sailing since before I can remember. When I was a little boy I grew up with my brother and my parents on a small wooden sloop sailing off the coasts of Africa, South America and the Caribbean sea. I did many other things in my life since then but I continued sailing on small leisure sailboats, mostly in the French Brittany and the English Channel.

Six years ago, the 10th of November 2012, I stepped on board Tres Hombres for the first time. It was in Cascais, near Lisbon in Portugal. I was signing on as a Trainee for a three month voyage that would bring me to the Island of Barbados, from where I was going to hitchhike boats to South America and start backpacking towards the pacific. I was looking for something to do with my life that would be more exciting and useful than sitting behind that keyboard for the rest of my career.

By the time we arrived in Barbados, I was feeling more useful on the ship than I had ever felt anywhere on land and my plan to go backpacking suddenly turned into sailing Tres Hombres back across the Ocean and bring her home with her belly full of rum and cacao.

Six years later, after more than 45 000 nautical miles at sea, 10 Ocean crossings and so many encounters, It is time for us to set sails one more time for another long voyage over the Ocean to the Caribbean and back. This time I will be the  Captain of the proud ship and a wonderful crew of salty and hungry sailors.

Remi Lavergne,
Captain of the Tres Hombres.

Sail aboard our ships Nordlys or Tres Hombres as a trainee. Aboard you will learn all aspects of sailing cargo while you gain the necessary sea miles to start the journey towards becoming a professional master mariner. Learn more: http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ or email booking@fairtransport.nl for questions.

Early history of Tres Hombres Part II

While we are sailing close hauled in the English Channel, making a nice course in East North Easterly direction, my thoughts wander off again to the early history of our fine vessel, « Tres Hombres ». In an earlier weblog, I wrote already something about her former life as a navy ship (of the KFK type), for the German Kriegs Marine. And afterwards her transition to a fishing vessel operating from Kiel. Now a bit more about how the story continues:

She used to fish for years, under the name of « Seeadler » in the Baltic, until somewhere in the seventies, she must have became to small or run down, to be profitable. Or maybe there was some European program in place to transfer her fishing quota, and she was, together with many other ships, laid up, in Kiel. This was when an Irish shipowner or businessman, was looking for a new vessel to continue and establish a passenger and cargo line off the West coast of Ireland, between the mainland and the Aran islands. For a few years she brought farmers, townfolk, and tourists, livestock, peat, building materials and drystores to and from the Aran Islands. Then she followed the same fate as she had met previously, and was replaced by a larger vessel to be laid up somewhere in the corner of a rural fishing port. This is where she was found, in 1984, by two Dutch students. They fell in love with her lines, and first dreamed about restoring her to a sailing vessel.

So it comes, somewhere halfway the eighties, the « Tres hombres », back then still under her Irish name « Baidin », which means: small blue boat, was towed by a Dutch fisherman to the Netherlands. Towed, because her original engine had been damaged past repair, due to the vessel being partly sunk in harbor, because the pumps must not have been looked after properly. Years later when, we where busy refitting, this fisherman even came by, to tell us the stories about this towing trip. And even then, he explained how beautifully and effortlessly the « Baidin », while being towed, was going through waves and water. After the ship had arrived in the Netherlands, first a period of rigorous breaking began. The wheelhouse, the accommodation, the spray hood and foredeck, where demolished. From there on refitting started: several steel bulkheads and steel hatches where placed, deck planks and some hull planks, where renewed and a new modern system of caulking was introduced. The old broken engine had to go, and was replaced by an even older, but perfectly sound « Hundested » two cylinder air started engine. The two new owners, invested a huge amount of work, money and love in the ship. First they docked her for years in the museum harbor in Rotterdam, then they moved her to a small harbor in Delft. Here I first saw her, when growing up, and would secretly, together with my father, peak under her tent and dream about sailing a ship like that…

Truly yours,

Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Early history of Tres Hombres Part I

In her 75 years of life, Tres Hombres, has had many different occupations. Starting as a navy vessel for the German Kriegsmarine, being used a a fishing vessel, a package and passenger ferry in Ireland, being laid up at several occasions, and finally becoming an ambassador for the revival of the sailing cargo industry.

Seeadler, was her name when still under German registry. I can not recall if she was built under this name, but what I do know is that her keel was laid in 1943, somewhere in a Northern German shipyard. She was part of a program of the creation of a fleet of KFK »s, about 800 or 900 ships of this type where built. In two or three different diversities of design. The original KFK prototype was designed by an Austrian firm in the thirties. They took a series of hull types of Baltic fishing vessels, assumable sailing vessel hulls, and did one of the first tank tests with them. Through combining these tests, they where able to design a hull with a very small resistance through the water. Great seakeeping capabilities. And the advantage of being able to be effectively maneuvered and propelled, with the smallest amount of propulsion power.

The abbreviation of KFK stands for Kriegs Fischerei Kutter, meaning a vessel designed to be used as a patrol or small army vessel. With the added advantage of the possibility of being utilized as a fishing vessel, after her war duties would be fulfilled. For what exact missions our Tres Hombres served, will probably never be revealed. The story does go, that, after the second world war, she helped to clear the Baltic of mines. And, that during this operation, she even sunk in the Oslo fjord. What we know for sure, is that she picked up her peaceful intentions a few years after the war, and started a fishing career from the port of Kiel.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Nordlys blog: As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship

Sailing cargo with the Nordlys.
A happy crew on a happy ship.
We sail from the Netherlands to Portugal and England,
from France to Germany and Denmark.
Sometimes storm, sometimes calm, sometimes sun, sometimes rain.

« Une grande ballet » on the oceans waves.
The flow of air which makes us move.
As we are dancing away from and towards the land.
The sun and stars are shining above us in the sky.

As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship,
The natural wines, olive oil and flowers, are dancing with us overseas.
Products from the earth, natural grown and cared with love.

« Une grande ballet » of quality and taste.
As we farm the land, as we sail the ship.
Producers, transporters and consumers meet.
We are dancing the melodies of life,
during this precious time here on earth.

Thriving like a grapevine, an olive tree or a flower of life.
The planet earth is meant to thrive.
Let us follow her tunes and dance her melody,
and she will be prosperous for every soul.

Captain Lammert

Nordlys blog: Sailing between the stars

Everything is moving in circles, everything is rhythm.
The waves of this rhythm are the universal heartbeat.
Life on Nordlys – living the rhythmic pulse of the sea.
This rhythm of life is moving forward in spirals.
The sun, the moon, the stars and the planets are all circling above us in the sky,
Sometimes clear to observe, sometimes obscured by clouds, mists and sheets of grey.
The clouds of water also travel with the spiralling moving flow of air.
These movements of air bring raindrops on our heads, wind in our hair and sunshine on our faces.

We are sailing this wooden ship over the surface of this beautiful planet we call earth.
Planet earth, full of water, spiraling through the universe.
This ocean planet is floating through the universe; sailing between the stars.
The magical life of circles, cycles and rhythms is forever spiraling upwards.

We are sailing this wooden ship through the breathing liquid of life.
We ARE the water, we ARE the rhythm, we ARE the spiral of life.
Like the ocean tides, we will be born and we will die,
Over and over again.
The ever changing rhythm of the universe –
No change to escape.
We are nature; and the rhythm of nature is our life.

Movement and flow ….. We travel with our wooden ship.
We bring cargo infused with rhythm and flow.
We sail with this flow, making peace with each moment
Trusting in natures rhythm.

Allowing life to deliver through us, not by us.
We are nature; technique is an entity within the universe which is living next to us.
We are no robots, we need natural food, we are the natural cycle not the technical one.
We can only thrive by rhythm of the nature.

As we remember our ancient ways to be re-anchored back into life again,
We are the new ancients, traveling back into fullness and flow
The way nature guides and gives in her own time,
we become a deeper, richer, more abundant and generous spiral.

Here we are on Nordlys; sailing this wooden ship.

Captain Lammert Osinga

Tres Hombres blog: let go and haul!

How do we get back home? Tacking!
Down the flying jib and the gaff tops’l, ease the topping lift, cast off tricing lines, staysailboom midships, coils of braces and headsail sheets on deck. Ready on the foredeck? READY! Ready about! About ship, helms a-lee! Mainsheet tight, ease the headsail sheets….there she comes, helm back midships, ease mainsheet, tack the jibs and… Let Go and Haul! Cast off tack and sheet of course, haul away lee course brace as you might, change boom lift, ease mainstays’l boom, tack the bob’s, all hands (or the windlass) on the tack and pull it down together with the lee-topping lift. Tack down! Course sheet home! Trim the yards, set the gaff tops’l, set the flying jib and then coil up and clear the deck!
15 minutes of the mariners full concentration is vital for the ship to make her way up against wind and current, not to loose ground against the ever blowing Northeasterlies in the Channel.
3 weeks ago all those lines were mere mystery to the most hands aboard Tres Hombres, now, at the command of prepare for tacking, everyone is whizzling over the deck, finding the right line to cast off, haul tight or stand by! No more discussions, commands are understood and taken out with pleasure and power. At force 5, instead of life lines the flying jib is put up and the helmsman is smiling pleasantly, feeling the acceleration of the ship and her leaning over in comfort!
Good food and good company as a power ressource, one common mission: living live in a natural way!One tool: the most beautiful sailing vessel on the seas, currently hunting after De Gallant, where early sailing memories with Captain Hendrik make me think of the old days as a deckhand without any concerns, without any limits.
Now we are passing on those good times, the tools and the experience to find a way in your life, it’s your choice.
Andreas
P.S. : with some unexpected SW wind we are right now passing Dover, gybing the stunsails with boom and all to use the last heap of this rare wind, pushing us into the North Sea, where the next blow of NE will await us…see you soon in Amsterdam

Captain Andreas Lackner

Is your mind filled with the glorious majesty of the white winged masts of the Age of Sail? Or are you longing to master the arts of the traditional seaman? Then sign on, sailing on a cargo vessel is a unique way to discover the world and learn the art of real square rig seamansship. Price varies by voyage. The longer you sign on for, the less you pay per day. Visit http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ for the latest schedule and pricing or email booking@fairtransport.nl
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Tres Hombres refit 2018 come and join!

We would like to invite all of you for our next refit of the Tres Hombres in Den Helder, Netherlands.
She has now been sailing bravely for 10 years and she has carried tons of cargo with very small rest periods in between. She survived really rough weather and really rough people. She has seen the most beautiful anchorages and the shittiest muddy foggy trenches. She has seen love, hate, respect and disrespect in any way shape or form imaginable. She has been build by great knowledge, enthusiasm and goodwill and she has been maintained like this as well. Effing awesome job people!!
But now is the time to clean up some bits which need more than only just further maintenance; now is the time to clean up the rust (of her steel structure and her human lovers) of many years; now is the time to clean up tunnel-views and resignation.
So this year will be rather special; we are planning a very extensive, (mid-July to end-October) and compared to the other years, different refit. Several major projects are planned which will reduce the overall maintenance workload, reduce the stress (on people and materials) and resolve some of the complaints aboard. This important refit will both strengthen and prepare the vessel for the next several years of cargo sailing.

Projects for this refit:
*Re-caulking the vessel
For the technical interested: Only a small job of the caulking is to keep the water out of the boat – its primary job is to bring tension in the hull and to bring up her strength to the designed level through added pressure in between the planks (several tons).
Reasons for a re-caulk: The hull is leaking a bit too much, it is moving to much when working in heavy weather or when powerful tension is applied to the rigging. Also many non-compatible systems of caulking have been applied over the years. There are additionally some wet seams which means possible rot between planks and future damage might follow. As per Lloyds (a major ship classification society) a composite build vessel has to be re-caulked at least once every 8-10 years; for Tres Hombres this is the time now. A composite vessel has a stronger backbone than a wood-wood one, yes, but if the tension between the planks decreases the movement goes into the plank-frame fastenings as there is a new tension-line between rigid and soft -> they (the fasteners) wobble their way into the surrounding wood -> humidity can enter -> potential rot, rust, loose fastenings
*We want to develop a recognized system of procedures and materials used in the maintenance and repair of the vessel – this will be orientated by the guidelines of classification societies and well-recognised handbooks.
As a result there should be a standard knowledge of how every part of the vessel has been built and how it has to be repaired, which will not only add to the overall strength of the vessel, but also simplify and accelerate work onboard during refit periods and maintenance underway.
*There will be new water-tanks fitted
*There will be an electrical refit
*There will be a rebuild of the generator (external company)
*There will be a lot of maintenance and nice-ifying work

If you want to learn something new, if you want to improve your skills, if you have been a caulking mallet yourself for years, if you are any type of crafts(wo)man, if you are eager to help and knock a heavy mallet on your already sore knuckles, posh things up or play the flute to keep the spirits up or if you “just” want to help – please join!!

We need specifically:
*Electricians/an electric engineer; our system needs some redesigning and cleaning out; has a few unknown faults and dead wires
*Woodworkers; changing planks on hull and deck, possibly batten-up planks, interior removal and refitting (tanks, frames), poshing things up
*Metal workers; change frames, install tanks, repairs (we have someone taking charge of this, but he will need preferably skilled co-workers)
*Caulkers; we need a few people who are skilled at caulking and we need people who are keen to learn it. This was the most rewarded and highest level job when building a wooden hull! Please do not underestimate this job; we will be tuning the Tres Hombres like an instrument. Concerning this hull the caulking is no rocket science and can be learned relatively quickly – but you need dedication and huge attention to details; you caulk too soft for one centimetre and you have a leak there; you caulk to hard you have a leak next to it as you are forcing the softwood planks apart in this spot… On this re-caulk we will practice and teach a technique which has been used in (mainly Scandinavian) fishing vessels for hundreds of years
*People who can sand, remove rust and apply oil and paint
*Riggers – this year we will only do small repairs though
*And of course the most important job – the cook; there will be around 20 hungry persons to be fed

This is a vast job for the time planned but the boat has to get sailing, no matter what; that’s what she does best. But we will manage, I promised the next captain and we always delivered on time.
But please understand the importance of this refit, for the company and for the ship itself; it will not be easy but very interesting, challenging and rewarding. This time will demand the strongest work ethic and a very high level of cooperation between all members of the refit team. There is no space for people who are not willing to give a good days work or spend hours discussing different methods and techniques during the working time.

Please contact Hilde, our crew manager, on crew@fairtransport.nl to tell her about your abilities and availability – we want to plan as good as possible ahead (which project to start at which point of the refit and what material to buy) and avoid to have more than 20 persons working on the ship at the same time. On the refit we offer decent accommodation, good feeding and a professional environment.

I will most likely be involved in the planning and running the show – my name is Fabian, I am a merchant master mariner, a shipwright and a mechanic. I have skippered the Tres Hombres for a small part of the last Atlantic trip and have restored boats for some time. I will be the person on the front and Andreas (the famous co-founder of Fairtransport and most experienced refit guy) will do the logistics.

captain Fabian Klenner

Tres Hombres blog: May the stars save the fools and let them live forever!

Hi there folks on land,

Here we are, it’s the fifth day in the open sea and it already feels like we have been here for ages, guess it is due to the Swedish watch system that rules on 48h cycles and requires some time before bodies and minds get used to this unnatural rhythm.
We have more bedtime than what we get on land in our terrestrial lives but still it doesn’t feel enough most of the times. Living and working on a sailing vessel is definitely a challenging experience for thousands reasons and our feelings change as well as the crispy surface of the water around us. We already experienced quite a few different weather conditions from Amsterdam to here and our moods have been challenged a lot getting up and down with the waves, but I must say everything is pretty smooth on board and we feel more and more at home as time goes on.
Each of us has something to learn and something to teach, we share knowledge and skills as well as stories and dreams, we do take care a lot of each other as the most natural thing to do, and this makes everything way much easier. It is awesome to see how fast you can develop deep brotherhood and sisterhood bounds on board with perfect strangers.

We are somewhere in the English Channel, struggling against currents and winds, tacking when it is requiered, checking the ship lanes, we are constantly surrounded by giant massive cargo ships, petrol tanks, oil rigs and other unknown metal floating creatures appearing on the horizon and approaching us with unbelievable speed, and then disappear as nightmares at dawn leaving behind a smoggy disgusting fog.
The other night while one of those crossed our way we let our imagination play for a little dreaming to board them like the good old pirates with machetes and hooks. These visions reminds me clearly why I am here and why I appreciate so much this project and what it is fighting for. It could be scaring to look at the computer screen and see all the marine traffic in this area and knowing we are the only ones with no engine, but at the same time it makes you feel you are part of something epic and it is just the right thing to do. Moreover, we deeply trust our captain and the older members of the crew and I also like to believe there is some good white spell which protects this Beauty and us against those monsters. May the stars save the fools and let them live forever!

This sailing masterpiece had no wind to play with for a while and it was a pity to see it anchored in the middle of the Channel to avoid to be drifted away by the currents, but this gave us an afternoon of holidays and we enjoyed it swimming and chilling under a shining warm sun framed in the bluest sky. It felt like a baptism to jump in those cold waters, shouting and laughing as kids to release all the stress of the departure. We are all here for voluntary choice, but this Beauty is the best school I have ever been into and I feel blessed and honored to be part of this crew.

Giulia

Tres Hombres blog: Expectation unknown, fulfillment guaranteed

Falmouth for orders!
Coming back on a 4-mast bark from a voyage of 6 months out or more, having past Cape Horn the wrong way around, fully loaded with guano or saltpeter from the Chilean Pacific coast and in the end entering the English Channel again, what a feeling this must be for the ordinary European seaman!

Still this was not the end of the voyage and many times the final destination of the cargo was not clear at the time the ship left the south American loading port, so where to go? Lizard Point it is, the southernmost tip of England, where the flag officer in charge would have the answer.
It was then a challenge for the captain to steer his ship as close as possible along the coast, able to sign the name of the ship he is commanding, to shore. Then the man on shore will find the wire messages he got from a shipping office in Northern Europe, regarding this vessel, and signal the essence of the order over to the ship: the final destination for unloading the cargo! Old-day internet you would call it, using different colored flags going up and down a flagpole, always still adding a salute and some information about how many days the voyage took and how many were lost at sea.

Tres Hombres, as you know always keen on following up the precious traditions from the era of Sail, had to go close enough to shore as to have phone reception, for these orders. After a great unloading in the heart of Amsterdam the crew was anxious to put to sea and after seeing the weather forecasts we decided that there was no time to loose for making sail on a southbound voyage.
But where to go exactly? Supercargo Ruurd was still involved in wine tastings and presentations and would need some more days to finalize the orders of wine for Amsterdam. What was left to us was pulling the sheets and tack out our way through Northsea and Channel, until Falmouth… Or lets say, Ile de Quessant, where we passed at a four mile distance, to receive the orders we needed: Getaria it was, in the deepest of the Bay of Biskay! Rioja wine has to be taken on board and this harbour is one of the closest to the well-known wine area in the North of Spain.

In between, the crew is getting hold of the right ropes, commanded by our old shipmate Shimra and our through-salted, iron-man Lenno, while our new second mate Noe is getting the trick of the trade, guided by me and Gerrit, who knows the ship as he would have the same one at home in his lake in Friesland.
Getting accustomed to a rocking kitchen and feeding 17 mouths which eat twice the amount as they would do on land, is Meria, new ships cook and a great personality. Mikael, who left his farm to go to sea and did not leave his ship since then, as bosun in a function which is put aside for him. The ploerten from Den Dolder are constantly asking for food in many ways: give me ropes to pull, let me learn about the weather, the waves, the ship and the old ways…and giving all their love and knowledge (comments;-) to this ship where they worked on in the dry-dock since years already. Jeroen is chipping away in his pace, just bothered sometimes by sleeping people and once in a while by a big wave, covering tools and him in saltwater. Boris is the singing spirit, assisting his sister in the rollercoaster-galley. Jonas, calm as ever, is silently working his way up to an able bodied seaman, surprising with ever new outfits. Giulia and Collin, just arriving from their mountain-cave onto our little floating universe, giving all their charm and patience and delicious goodies brought from La Palma. And last but not least, Wout, our old, trustful trainee from earlier voyages, who is cheering us up with stories about life in marriage and the cargo-world out there on the road as a professional trucker.
Today the anchor winch has been taken apart, put in function and together again, now we all just wait for the wind which we expect from the Northeast, to give us a ride through the Bay of Biskay. Preparing for a new port, new cargo-partners and new crew, an ever changing life, like the wind, expectation unknown, fulfillment guaranteed.

Captain Andreas Lackner