Tres Hombres in Martinique (by Charles Barker/Deckhand)

It’s around lunch time, the Tres Hombres is moored in the marina at Le Marin, Martinique.

We have just crossed the Atlantic ocean, and here we are unloading wine we have brought from France, and some empty barrels to be filled with rum. My job for the morning was the ship’s laundry, and I have just returned with a mountain of fresh sheets. As I hang them up to dry in the carribean sun, my crew mates are milling around, carrying out maintenance on the ship to the sound of some roots reggae. Behind me I hear some French welcomes and a visitor being helped onboard. I turn around to offer a smile and am taken a little aback. She is standing on the wooden deck, gazing at the scene, wiping tears away from her eyes.

When living on this ship it is easy to become a little blind. At sea for the crossing, for almost three weeks the ship, sea and the sky was the whole world. It seemed natural that the hull is made of wood, that the foremast hosts four squaresails, that the bow is adorned with carved oak flames, that there’s no engine. It became normal to spend a moment whilst at the helm to notice a new detail in the intricate, dreamlike wood carving behind my head. The fact we were often travelling at 10 knots in the shade of 16 filled sails made sense.

In port however, thanks to our visitors, I was given the gift of seeing the ship again as if for the first time. It reminded me that this boat, its form, its rig, its occupation, its logic are not so commonplace. That the beauty I have been surrounded with since starting to work on the Tres Hombres is not so easily found. The ship emanates the hours of work and love that go into it daily.

It turns out that our visitor had timed her visit very well. Just as she had finished looking around and chatting with some of the crew, others were emptying out the moscatel from one of the barrels, left in there to stop it drying out during the voyage. Together we enjoyed a hearty lunch and a glass of wine from Baiona, as more and more visitors were drawn to this magical ship.

Cela fait maintenant 10 jours (By Clement Deroin Thevenin)

au total que nous voguons au gré du vent et du courant, dans notre quête de grand large, quittant le luxueux abri que nous offrait La Palma.

Et un peu moins de 10 jours que le compas n’indique maintenant que l’ouest devant nous.

Ça y est nous y sommes, cet océan dont on nous conte la majestuosité depuis que nous quittâmes Den Helder et qui nous tendit enfin les bras une fois passé au travers du Cap-Vert et de ses accents d’Afrique. Seul le passage de poissons volants, de nappes de plancton phosphorescent, de dauphins, de baleines et d’oiseaux de grand large ponctuent d’une brève visite de courtoisie ses flots coulants paisiblement vers les Caraïbes, où notre prochaine cargaison et le repos de chacun nous attendent patiemment, scrutant l’horizon dans l’attente de reconnaître le volume et la couleur de nos voiles, tels les proches de marins des temps jadis attendant le retour des leurs, saints et saufs au port.

Nous au contraire sommes jusqu’à l’os convaincus d’y arriver sans encombre et avons le temps de profiter de ce spectacle de vie qui se déroule comme un parchemin vide de toute encre, que notre plume légère et effilée ne fait que survoler au fur et à mesure de notre avancée dans ce no man’s land fait d’eau, ne laissant derrière elle qu’un sillage éphémère. Chacun entretient sa petite routine et échange avec les autres ses pensées, ses rêves, ses espoirs, peut-être même ses peurs ou ses craintes; à propos  de ce qui s’est passé, de ce qui se passe, de ce qu’il se passera : ici, partout, et ailleurs. Ceci, intérieurement, nous rappelle toujours où nous sommes au moment présent, comme si l’horizon que nous percevons et le ciel le surplombant n’était qu’une capsule, ou une bulle figée dans ce que l’on appellerait normalement le temps, qui n’en finirait  de rouler encore et toujours jusqu’à ce que la première terre, la première pointe de roche que nous appercevrons ne finisse par la faire éclater pour nous libérer.

Les mélodies des guitares amenées à bord se mêlent au son des vagues, des cliquetis, tintements, et craquements du navire; nous permettent évasion la journée et apaisement la nuit tombée, toujours fidèle à notre veille installée.

En fin de compte, nous ne semblons pas si différents de nos aînés qui peut-être, au moment où j’écris ces mots, nous observent et veillent sur nous depuis le firmament, nous accompagnant tout au long de notre périple. C’est souvent que je pense à eux aussi. Le jour comme la nuit, a travers les étoiles et la lune, nous rafraichissant doucement du soleil mordant des tropiques et de sa lumière dorée qui tanne et teinte nos peaux, emplissant nos yeux de couleurs que seul là où nous sommes nous aurions pu observer, de son levé à son coucher.

Maintenant un peu plus de la moitié de notre périple est derrière nous, un peu plus d’un millier de milles nous séparent de notre but et sommes ainsi toujours tous émerveillés et en même temps impatient d’arriver à bon port, afin de pouvoir finalement rayer cette étape de notre liste et pouvoir intérieurement se dire: ça y est, je l’ai fait. J’ai traversé un océan…

Ce qui venant d’un vol Paris/New-York paraît presque anodin, et qui prend tout son sens à nos yeux à bord du Tres qui lui aussi veille sur nous et nous accompagne diligemment vers le clou de notre voyage, où encore autre chose de différent, d’inconnu qu’il nous tarde de découvrir, attend sagement notre arrivée.

Directions from a fairy tale quest (By first mate Lenno Visser)

It sounds like directions from a fairy tale quest:

Head south until the fish start flying then turn your bow due west. And if you follow these simple directions you’ll end up where the rum tastes best.

Of course some trimming and maybe a gybe or two along the way but it’s a good start to end up in the Caribbean :0)

Ever since we bitter sweet slowly sailed away from our berth in La Palma, encouraged by the whoops and waves from Captain Anne-Flore and two of our Refit volunteers come crew members, that sadly had to stay behind in La Palma, this proud ship spread her wings even further than she had done already.

Captain Andreas started his voyage by finding every scrap of canvas and boom that was stored on board and rigged up 4 stun sails next to our square sails and even our banner is lashed under the course sail to be able to harvest every ounce of speed from the wind that is given.
South we went in full canter, racing with the white horses that topped the waves as they rolled past us.

Shoes were discarded and trousers are being cut into shorts, shirts are now more often on deck than covering backs and with that also the first signs of sunburns and the smell of suncream is now evidently mingled with the fresh air.

When the fish started flying to get away from our prancing prow we used the archipelago islands of the Cabo Verde like a speed corner in an attempt to redirect our wild ride and were able to slingshot gybe ourselves due west.

The wings, that were tugged in for the maneuver, are being folded back out over the other tack and we’re giving her free reign again because now we’re bound for the big wide blue expanse of the open Atlantic ocean.

Leaving one continent behind and seeking the next one ahead of us like so many sailors and explorers have done before us.

« We’re in pursuit of the sunset while racing the moon and by the time we’ll do the reverse we will be bringing home the rum ».

What a ride, what a life…

Blote-voeten-zeilen (By Vera Olgers)

Als 2020 ons een ding geleerd heeft, is dat niet alles te plannen valt.

Zo verdwenen al mijn plannen die zich buiten het huis afspelen een voor een in een la. Eentje, gepland voor het eind van 2020 bleef echter al die tijd overeind: de oceaan oversteken met de Tres Hombres. De vraag naar vracht bleef gelukkig staan en het zou allemaal doorgaan. Toch bleef ik tot het laatste moment bang dat het zou worden afgelast. Eerst omdat ze twee weken langer in de haven van Den Helder bleven (mogen ze de haven niet uit?), later toen ze voor de kust van Rotterdam in plaats van verder naar het zuiden, opeens terug naar het noorden aan het zeilen waren (worden ze soms teruggefloten?).

Maar hier zit ik, op dag weet-ik-veel, op het dek in de zon in onze lounge, gemaakt van opgerolde dikke touwen. In de nachten vergezellen de maan, planeten en sterren ons aan de hemel en onder de boeg maakt het plankton zijn eigen sterrenhemel in het water. Af en toe hebben we geluk en komen de fairy dolphins ons
‘s nachts bezoeken, die door het oplichtende plankton als lichtflitsen onder het wateroppervlak voorbij komen.

Praktisch alle zeilen staan op (ik tel er nu zo’n zestien) om ons met een knoop of negen richting de Kaapverdische eilanden te brengen. Vanaf daar zeilen we westwaarts, richting Barbados. Zojuist in de mast geklommen om te oefenen en van het uitzicht te genieten. Zo meteen staat er een emmer zeewater klaar om een douche te nemen. Het is zoals ik hoopte: de zon aan de hemel en windje in de rug. Of blote-voeten-zeilen volgens de kapitein. Deze overtocht mag nog wel even duren.

Gestern und Morgen (By Deniz Baser)

Gestern und Morgen spielen endlich kein Rolle mehr.

Der Wind und die Wellen, die das Schiff schaukeln, welches uns über die Wüste des Ozeans trägt, lassen den Moment so klar werden, wie die Sonne den Himmel. Trotz des Korsetts der Routine spüre ich die Freiheit auf eine Art, wie sie mir bis jetzt unbekannt war.
Die Gesichter werden langsam vertraut und aus Bekanntschaften entstehen Beziehungen und am schönsten ist es oben auf dem Mast. Dort spürt man sich selbst und die Umwelt am allerbesten.

One month at sea (By Wiebe Radstake)

You’re not the only one with mixed emotions, you’re not the only ship adrift in the ocean.

I remember this was the Rolling Stones song we listened to on the first crossing I did with Tres Hombres seven years ago. And I’m listening to it again now. Fighting our way to the Channel entrance. The last days were cold days, winds from the North East and sailing full-on by. It seems we may not be allowed to sail back home, but do we really want to sail back home? How are we gonna find Europe? Mixed Emotions.

Six years of sailing around the Atlantic and nearly home again. This time for the first time being captain. All the different captains I was sailing with coming up in my head when I stare over the ocean. What did I learn from who and what do I do with this now?
Some things come up: first sailing together on a Tjalk with Jaap in the Zeeland delta: Always try to keep the ship as close to the wind as possible, falling off you can always do later. After hoisting the leeboards hundreds of times it was time for countless hours behind the helm. Learning how to sail on strong currents in the Oosterschelde.

Later when I first stepped on board on the Tres Hombres in Portugal my first skipper was Lammert: The ocean has many ways to show her size (sometimes it’s hell, sometimes it’s paradise). The love for the ocean was born in the very first week of this Atlantic round trip.

After that year I was sailing with Andreas: how to keep the ship in perfect shape, a good combination of hard work and having parties in the harbours.

Next thing I remember: sitting with Francois a few years later in Boca Chica looking at the weather forecast above the North Atlantic: Depression after depression made our computer screen red. The only thing he said: That will go fast.

From Harry on the Morgenster: you can talk forever about the weather but in the end, you can not change anything about it.

Later I learned from Fosse on the Wylde Swan how to sail proudly backwards in a parade, and remember: a life full of adventure gets also boring after a while (altijd avontuur wordt ook maar een sleur).

Just some things from years and years sailing around. And now I have to do it on my own. Now Bob Dylan’s singing: Jeah How does it feel, like a Rolling Stone?
But not without a home: we are sailing home and even the eastern winds will not prevent us to come back.

Wiebe

A life-changing experience (by Luuk van Binsbergen)

On the 16th of February in Santa Marta, Colombia I stepped into a whole new world called sailing. Everything was new to me. Living with people you don’t know on a boat, ropes, sails, climbing, sailing terms.

After preparing the boat we went to Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. In these 9 days, I was getting a little used to all this stuff. But new stuff came up.
Getting dressed and undressed on a constantly moving floor, seeing your bowl of food sliding on the table, walking like a drunk man on deck. Going to the top of the mast is also a whole different ballgame in the waves.

Getting used to the watches. Pulling ropes when it has to be done quickly. In Boca Chica, we prepared ourselves for a long journey, probably (we know for sure now) not stopping in Horta, Azores but directly going to Amsterdam, Holland. After loading the barrels of rum and putting bags of cacao in every corner of the boat and putting love into the boat that has to bring us safely to the other side of the ocean, we left. Again a whole new thing for me, the big relentless Atlantic Ocean. The first days were a good introduction to the ocean. Banging into the waves. Getting almost lifted up from the bed while sleeping. Seeing the 25-meter long mast and her sails moving like grass in the wind while the moon is shining on the sea, gave me such a happy feeling. The boat moving up and down in 5 meter big waves, made me feel like a child again. Climbing in top of the mast while getting swung around, makes me feel alive. Even doing dishes is an adventure. Taking care of all parts of the boat, makes you realize how much things are going on. Countless meters of ropes, blocks, sails and so much more. The good food, laughing, stories under the stars every night, living so close together with 13 other people, the whole idea of a cargo ship without an engine, the sunrises and sunsets, the fight against the elements all the time and the fact that you can’t go anywhere makes the Tres Hombres such a special place to be. After almost 3 weeks on the open sea, I think I understand why people saying this is a life-changing experience and I am more than happy to have this experience!

Sailing Backwards to go Forwards (by Anna R./Trainee)

Tug; tack, tack, (accidental tack and gybe), tack, tack, tack, tack, etc.
Like Tres Hombres’ mission, we sail backwards to go forwards
Learning from the past, bracing and making fast
14 days of full-on by, Starling satellites sail through the night sky
Engineless, just starlight in our small 32 m world alone in the ocean
No mirrors or wifi for egos and vanity
Self-reflection here on a grander scale

Surfing, gliding
Furling, gybing
Tailing, coiling
Tarring, oiling
Heave to-ing
Bunts and clew-ing
Sunrays, stargaze

Olden rum-run living
Care and nuture giving
Diversity
Sustainability
Communication
Appreciation
Hopeful change-makers
Endless opportunity

-anna r

You gonna find it! (By Karsten Babucke)

We are now a week on the eastward crossing. We are heading to Europe. Sailing across the Atlantic. From Boca Chica we were heading straight into the Mona passage with huge waves, which made us a wet welcome on the great ocean. The boat was healing deep into the water at the realign. Our socks were soaked and the boots felt like little lakes.

But we kept going. We were motivated to solve this difficult area and were looking forward to the wide ocean. For a few days, we are now surrounded by miles of water – the Atlantic ocean. The weather cleared up and we can finally dry our clothes. Life is nice but sometimes every little thing is a competition on board. If your environment is shrunk by some cargo.  I just came out of the foxhole. It is noon and time for lunch. Today our cook serves a quiche with vegetables and a nice salad. But suddenly everything changed.
I was on the way to the aft for the watch change, as the captain shouted “man over board”!
The mood on board suddenly switched from smiles in the faces of our crew to concentrated focused views in their mime. The MOB shout is the nightmare of every sails-man. Each officer is getting a shock of adrenalin with a little heart attack.

 

Who is it?

The scared trainees gathered on the aft. Our fearless cook climbed on the galley roof and pointed towards the one together with Anna, a courageous trainee.  The course got clewed up and we tacked the boat around. While the starboard deckhand made the dinghy ready. I ran to some live rings to throw them. Wiebe, the captain, stood on the helm and gave the commands to each one. We braced around.
Soon the dinghy was dowsed into the ocean. First Mate Paul jumped straight to the engine and started it. His strong arms pulled the starter so good, that it started straight away. With Martin on-board they paced over the waves towards where the spotters where pointing. The captain shouted commands through the VHF. Everyone can hear what is going on. On board everything got prepared for the arriving of the missing one. Blankets and towels have been brought on deck.

They found it!

Soon the dinghy drivers were replying “we have it”! The lost one was a fender and everyone’s fear was released. Nobody was missed today. It was a drill. The most important one. We are training the Man over board, the Flooding, the Fire and the Abandon Ship Case. But this drill reminds us all on rule number one: “stay on board”! Which means both feet stay on deck. No running and if the weather is rough like at the Mona Passage we keep on hooked in, on our safety lines and stays. It reminds us all how difficult it is in hard weather conditions to find a person in the water and bring her back.
For this day everything went well and we learned a lot from this situation. After we continued with our watch-system.

Vogelvrij terug op de oceaan (By Wiebe Radstake)

We zijn weer terug op de oceaan, na meer dan drie maanden, vier eilanden, een continent tientallen tonnen Cacao en koffie, vaten vol rum laden, gedag zeggen tegen bemanning, vrienden, hallo zeggen tegen nieuwe vrienden, na niet kunnen slapen van de hitte, onstuimige winden in Colombia, windstilte achter St. Vincent, ontmoetingen met oude smokkelzeilkapiteinen, tientallen keren zeil zetten en weer weghalen, na wandelingen over verlaten stranden, een weg zoekende door overvolle toeristische plekken, na bellen met thuis, na veel heimwee maar ook een intens geluk gecombineerd, was het tijd de oceaan op weer over te steken. Het ruim, de bemanningsverblijven, alles aan boord van de Tres Hombres ligt vol met vracht voor Amsterdam.
Na hoog aan de wind onder de Dominicaanse Republiek weggekomen te zijn, kruisend door de Monapassage waren we vanochtend weer op de oceaan. Weer 5000 meter onder de kiel. De oceaan swell van drie meter op de kop, elke paar minuten een automatische dekwas!
We voelen ons vogelvrij, eindelijk weten we wat het is vogelvrij te zijn. We hebben aan alle kanten van het schip water zo ver je kijkt, we kunnen alle kanten op maar weten ook weer niet waar we kunnen aanleggen. De vrijheid van een vogelvrij verklaarde: met het virus rondspokende in Europa weten we niet waar we straks binnen kunnen varen. We zijn de oceaan op gegaan, gezond en vol goede moed al kan ik erbij zeggen dat het vreemd is niet precies te weten waar we aan zullen komen. Met een motorloos vrachtschip is de tijd al moeilijk in te schatten die je over een oceaanoversteek gaat doen. En nu komt daar nog bij dat de eerste haven ook moeilijk is in te schatten. We varen verder, eerste doel: Horta zoals alle voorgaande jaren. Kunnen we daar over drie a vier weken niet in dan varen we rechtstreeks door naar Europa. Extra water en proviand is gebunkerd, we kunnen desnoods zes weken op zee blijven. Niet dat we dat willen: het liefst zou ik nu bij mijn zwangere vrouw thuis zijn maar als dit het lot is, zullen we niet langer klagen want wat mot, ja dat mot.
Tot nog toe is de oceaan prachtig, gisteren in de Mona Passage hadden we elke wacht zo’n 3 squalls met windshifts en veel regen over. Nu een mooie Noordooster bries (5bft) en zonnig weer, de Tres steigert en rolt er prachtig tegenin. We willen naar het Noorden, ter hoogte van Bermuda hopen we de Westerlies tegen te komen en daarmee naar het Oost Noord Oosten te rollen. Ondertussen is zelfs de ergste zeezieke weer op de been en is iedereen aardig in het ritme. We genieten, de zon, de golven over dek, Galley en zelfs over de roerganger heen; ik lees boeken van Slauerhof en Nescio. Twee oerhollandse schrijvers die mooi over het water en Holland kunnen vertellen. Het water daar zitten we op, holland daar verlang ik naar, al zal ik ook blijven geloven in het leven in het nu: in een wereld die in crisis is zitten we misschien wel op de beste plek. Voor het eerst in jaren is deze manier van transport de snelste manier om van de eilanden naar Nederland te komen (sinds er bijna niet meer gevlogen wordt tussen Carib en Europa). In plaats van te piekeren over virussen kijk ik op het kompas, kan de roerganger nog wat hoger, nog wat meer snelheid uit het schip halen? We zijn op de terugweg en ik heb, hoe mooi dit ook is, haast om begrijpelijke redenen!
Ahoy!
Wiebe