Tres Hombres crew, fourteen persons

If you followed this blog, you have been reading about many aspects of life on board of our small squarerigged cargo ship. But I have not really introduced you to one aspect, which is the most important one, to keep the ship together and keep her moving in the right direction. Of course it is her crew, fourteen persons, of all different corners of society. So here I will introduce you to all of them, one by one, and try to lift the veil on what connects them individually with this way of life. But, it is only in all of them working together as a team, that is making our great sailing ship crew.

Anne Flore is our Chief officer, even before she joined Tres Hombres, in 2012 for the first time, she had had a fair share of experience crossing the ocean, and sailing the seas, on traditional wooden boats. Next to an experienced mariner she is a first class sailmaker.

Alan, leads our Starboard watch in the rank of Second officer. He has had a wide experience sailing Tres Hombres, under almost all of her former Masters.

Judith, is our Cook, to keep our crew going, the most important person on board. She joined the ship last year, and had not been a seacook before that. However you would not notice, because she has a wide experience in restaurant and of farm life. Which apparently shows to be a great background for a seacook.

Thibaut, joined Fairtransport for the refit of our other ship: Nordlys. He worked hard to get Nordlys ready for sea, and then instead of joining Nordlys, somehow found himself on board Tres Hombres. Bound for foreign lands across the ocean. An able Deckhand, who knows the ship from bilge to royal.

Elisabeth, came on board two years ago as a trainee before the mast. And although still proudly living in the focsle, she went up the ranks to sail as a Deckhand. She is as able to hand, reef and steer, as any Cape horn sailor. Currently she is teaching the new trainees, about astronomical navigation with the age old device of the sextant.

Daniel, another Deckhand, has sailed for many years on Tres Hombres, his stories about this, became already mythical amongst our crew. Apart from sailing he joined the refits of Tres Hombres and Nordlys from the entire beginning, and mastered the art of caulking and making planks for hull and deck.

Muriel, joined this voyage last year, in Martinique, but before that she had logged many miles on different voyages on board Tres Hombres. Apart from sailing, she worked on refits of both ships. And next to acquiring her Masters ticket for commercial sailing vessels in the coastal trade, went to the Enkhuizen bosun school.

Mikael, has been a silent mountain of strength, from the time he first appeared on board, during the refit last year and onwards. Since that time he has reformed his cowboy and hunting skills, into the skills of a natural sailorman.

Lenno, for the first time on board in Boca chica, he brought his experience of sailing for years on the schooners, klippers and tjalken, of the Dutch inshore waters. Always ready to make a joke or tell a ghost story at night time.

Beate, started sailing on traditional ships about 35 years ago, and might well be the person on board with the oldest experience of sailing these wooden ships. She is great at the helm, and always ready to exchange a few nice words.

Guido, although not a professional sailor, his profession of doctor is definitely a well respected and welcome specialization on board. He signed on, to cross the ocean in working sail, and is absorbing all the experiences and information of practical and theoretical knowledge, to the maximum.

Susan, did sign on for a summer voyage on Tres Hombres before. Now she has put her focus onto crossing the ocean from West to East, via the Azores, and all the way to the European continent.

Caroline, was there on one of the voyages, when Nordlys was just operational again. Joining from La Corunha, to cross the bay of Biscay. After this, her love for wooden sailing ships was clear. And now she is working hard to learn the ropes of the other Fairtransport ship.

Jorne, as one of the co-founders of Fairtransport, I can not escape of, once in a while, going to sea in sail. Those times I am still perplexed of the beauty of these wild waters, the skill and happiness of our crew, and the mistery of it all…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: The Focsle

The Focsle, is the second most forward space below decks. In front of the focsle there is still the forepeak. These two areas are divided by the collision bulkhead, which has a steel watertight hatch to go from one to the other. Traditionally the focsle is the crew quarters where the hands before the mast live. On board Tres Hombres, this is the case as well. There are eight bunks. Seven of them are currently inhabited, the eight one is filled up with cargo, 70kg bags of cacao, which did not fit in the cargo hold. Aft of the focsle is the drystores, where most of the food is kept. Sometimes, especially in long ocean crossings, part of the stores of the drystores are stored in the focsle as well. The focsle can be reached through the drystores or from a hatch with a small ladder from deck.

The name focsle, focsel, or foxhole comes from the original fore-castle. The fore-castle was a castle like building on the foredeck of medieval ships. These ships also carried an aft-castle which later developed into the poopdeck. Since I live in the aft-cabin myself, the focsle, on board Tres Hombres, stays a bit of a mythical place for me. I have heard a lot about it of course, but seldom slept there. I did start my sailing career in different other focsles, on other ships. For sure it is the part of the ship, with the most movement, since it is all the way forward. Also, again since it is so far forward, it is the place where the most spray comes over. And as Tres Hombres is a wooden ship, with caulked seams, especially after the burning sun of the tropics, and the beating of the waves of sailing against the trades, it can not be called a really dry place either.

But then, although it can be a though place to live, for some it is also seen as a badge of honor, to start life on a squarerigger in the focsle. I remember a few years ago, one of our trainees, refusing a bunk in the aft-cabin, after this came vacant and I offered it to him. He would almost be offended, no I am a focsle hand, so I stay before the mast! In the old days there was the saying: coming through the hawse pipes, or through the portholes. Through the hawsepipes meant, starting as a focsle hand, so working yourself up from the ground. Through the portholes, would mean starting in the more prestigious rank of an apprentice, living in the cabin, without ever enduring the hardships of the focsle. Fortunately, signing on as a trainee on Tres Hombres, you have a good chance to start in the focsle, so, welcome on board!

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: The Atlantic Ocean

For days we have been on the ocean now, all the time over starboard tack. Because of the Easterly winds and our goal to reach the Westerlies on the higher latitudes. Since our departure from Boca Chica: sailing close hauled. Sometimes we douse or set the gaff topsail, the flying jib, the outerjib or the upperbob. Yet, every day has been different and beautiful. In the beginning we had, on several occasions, that we saw the moon coming up, huge and yellow, while the sun was making her way down. Or the other way around. This morning we had a rainbow covering half the sky. The past days the clouds have been building to majestic towers. And we are riding along their foundations, playing with their showers, and being perplexed by their powerful appearance. Sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it dies, and the sea colors accordingly.

We have been trying to fish, but the fish have been more lucky than us. Sometimes a flying fish would come up above the waves, before jumping away and neglecting our views. At one moment we came close to a whale and could witness the breathtaking circus of the waving of her tail. As we move more North, towards the legendary seas South of Bermuda, we witness the streaks of seaweed becoming more frequent.

We have logged almost six hundred miles, and another more than twenty two hundred to go, before we make a chance, to see the green mountains of the Azores appearing above the horizon. We expect the wind to veer. So for the first time this voyage, we can brace square, ease the sheets, and let our racing horse, named Tres Hombres, go free. Free, to show us her power, to make the speed where the stories told in seaside bars, talk about. Free, to go with white foam on her bow, and a straight wake at her stern, clipping along by pure wind power. Making use of this powerful sailing energy, just temporarily, before leaving it behind, for the next man to use!

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: Sailing to windward

Leaving Boca Chica, when bound for the Azores, one has two most straightforward options for reaching the North Atlantic ocean. There is going West of Haiti through the Windward passage, or East of Dominican Republic through the Mona passage. Theoretically the Windward passage would give a more favorable wind direction, the danger of loosing all wind in the lee of Haiti, and the disadvantage of the lee shore of the Islands and reefs of the Bahamas. The Mona passage is shorter and against the trades and currents. With the weather forecast of the coming days, there is not much advantage in taking the Windward passage, so, as Tres Hombres has been doing year after year we choose our course again against the trades, bound for the Mona passage.

One of the old master mariners of the grand windjammers firm of Leisz, I believe it was Capt. Heinrich Nissen. Formulated the rules to sail a big or small squarerigger to windward. They are universal, and are still used on the few squareriggers, sailing to windward without engine assistance. So, as we are one of them, we have been making use of these rules since Tres Hombres started trading in 2009.

They are the following:
1). Always carry the right amount of sail to guarantee optimal propulsion. At times this can mean pushing our vessel hard, and keeping as much sail on her as possible. It might also mean taking advantage of a favorable current or tide on one of the tacks, and reduce speed accordingly.
2). Decide, usually with a current or tide against you, if you want to keep speed, and do not pull your sheets to tight. Or, sometimes with a favorable current and tide, if you want to pinch as close to the wind as possible, to keep the advantage for a longer time.
3). Always put your ship on the tack which is most advantageous to reach your destination. This destination might be the final destination, or especially on longer or coastal voyages, a point where you want to be to make the most of an expected weather or tidal change.

Just before sunrise we tacked and in a few hours we will tack again, closely applying the rules of the trade…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Goodbye Horta, we’re ready to set sail again! by Captain Francois Mangin

DATE: 06-03-16 GMT:1300  POS: Horta de Faial, Azores, Moored

Wind: 10 Kts from north

4 days after landing in Horta, the Goods Brigantine is ready to sail again
after a zero emission arrival on the pier, we did use only the sails, and the anchor
Giuseppe our Cook did ride all around the island to visit the best farmers of Faial
Thanks Paula and Transporto Justo for your help and warm welcome
Our dry store is filled up with all local and seasonal vegetable and fruit

Cook Giuseppe

We did some maintenance as well
the rigging as been tight

We waiting now a nice south-westerly wind coming Tuesday
We’ll have good wind to sail to Den-Helder



Ode aan Horta en Peter´s Sport » door Wiebe Radstake (Eerste stuurman)

Ode aan Horta en Peter´s Sport » door Wiebe Radstake (Eerste stuurman)

In je oliegoed in het midden van de nacht al dagen in de regen bedenk je je ineens weer: in de Azoren, in Horta, nog duizend mijl van hier, is een cafe aan de haven zoals cafe´s aan de haven overal zouden moeten zijn. Waar de zeeman na een oceaancrossing zich kan warmen bij de kachel, waar de post binnenkomt van thuis en goed bewaard, waar je een goede maaltijd kan krijgen, waar het bier niet te duur is en waar de muren vol hangen met aandenkens van schepen die hier in de geschiedenis langs kwamen, foto´s, plaatjes, stickers en vlaggen. Het is niet een cafe waar een of andere gek in het kader van binnenhuisarchitectuur een paar ankers of scheepslichten ophangt, waar wat schilderijen van schepen in slecht weer hangen om dat gezellige maritieme sfeertje op te roepen. Nee dit cafe heet Peter´s sport en is een cafe waar al tientallen jaren de bezeilers van de oceaan komen. Elke dag hangen er nieuwe weerkaarten en nieuwtjes over andere havens worden daar doorgeven. Scheepslui vertellen hun bevindingen van vorige havens en oversteken.
Gisteren kwamen we aan in Horta, zonder enige motor te gebruiken voeren we de haven binnen en meerden af. Op de kant stonden behulpzame portugezen om onze lijnen aan te pakken. Een prachtige landing en aan alle kanten werden we vriendelijk welkom geheten. De mensen hier hebben al jaren en jaren zeilschepen zien komen en gaan. Van de grote traineeschepen tot de eenzame solo zeilers, ze kennen de verhalen en het leven op de ze eilanden is verweven met zeilen en het leven op zee.

Na de zeilen te hebben opgedoekt, het schip schoongemaakt en een aanleggertje te hebben gedronken kwam Paula die ons al jaren helpt op dit eiland aan om lokale producten te brengen en daarmee maakte we een heerlijke middagmaaltijd. In de middag haalden we het grootzeil naar beneden om het naar de zeilmaker te brengen en daarna konden we naar Peter´s sport. Daar dronken we wat bier met de nieuwe trainees die ons al stonden op te wachten. De Morgenster (onze buren in Den Helder) zijn ook in Horta na een reis naar Kaapverdie en het is vreemd weer Nederlands te horen na zo lang engels te spreken. In Peter´s sport haalde ik brieven van thuis op en gingen de meeste van ons al om 9 uur slapen. Voor het eerst sinds weken een lange nacht doorslapen, heerlijk. Vanochtend scheen de zon hier in Horta en zagen we het eiland Pinto aan de overkant in zijn geheel (geen wolken die het zicht op de top versperden). De warmte van een mooie lentedag, landvogels weer horen, die kleine dingen die je al die tijd niet op zee gehad.

Al in het midden op de oceaan had ik aardige kiespijn gekregen dus kon ik vandaag gelijk naar de tandarts. Na een operatie van twee uur is mijn kies nu verholpen. Het eerste lente gevoel zit hier in de lucht, niet weten of je een trui moet dragen of niet, dat gevoel. Het is vreemd dat te hebben na al die hitte van de Caribbean. Het leven in de azoren is mooi, ik zou hier best kunnen wonen.

Wiebe Radstake (Eerste stuurman)

Port of Horta – by Francois

DATE: 6-4-15 GMT:2250  POS:  38º31.8’N, 28º37.5’W COG: anchored  SOG: stationary


WIND DIR:North-north-east

WIND SPD: 25knots






AIR PRES: 1027


After 24 days at sea the good sailing ship Tres Hombres dropped the anchor in the Port of Horta, on South East of Faial Island in the Azores archipelago.

The cargo is safe and dry.
Everybody on board’s happy to discover a new island.
Few days we need to fill up the board’s dry store.
Some sewing needs to be done on the sails, rough weather forged the spirit, and ripped the canvas.

Everyday closer to our old Europe.
Greetings from mid-Atlantic.


We can almost smell the islands.

Azores waiting for Tres Hombres’ arrival

 DATE:04-04  GMT:23.04  POS:38.43  N,34.59 W COG:80  SOG:9-10 kn






SEA STATE:moderate





Nice westerly wind,
We can almost smell the islands.

ETA 6 april perhaps the 7th,


780 miles to go!!!

DATE:01-04  GMT:23.17  POS:35.32  N,44.36 W COG:80  SOG:5.5






SEA STATE:slight




Ahoy sailing friends,

Today we had a sunny day with a gentle breeze.
In the morning we collected 500 liter oceanwater.
The water being used for a sea surface salinity research project.
For the night we expect smooth sailing.
Tomorrow increasing winds which will be in our favour.
Whole crew is looking forward to arrive in the Acores.
780 miles to go!!!


Clean the ship, dry your cloths, be ready – by Francois

DATE: 31-3-15 GMT:2330  POS:34º44’N, 46º06’W COG:60º  SOG:7kts



WIND SPD:Moderate breeze



SEA STATE:Small waves



AIR PRES:1020hPa

Dealing with a Low Pressure

Yesterday, the barometer dropped down 2 hPa an hour in the morning, the wind turn south-east to south gradually, increase from gentle breeze (15 kts) to strong breeze (25 kts) at sun set.  This are signs that a Low Pressure coming on us.
The day was spend to prepare the good sailing ship, brigantine Tres Hombres, for the incoming weather.
At the end of the day, she was wearing, Fore-stay-sail, T-Gallant, Top-sail and main-stay-sail only, and still running up to 9 knots Broad reach.
Steering well in the waves is the only thing to do now, we have to be focus at the wheel, waiting for the warm front.
The boundary between the cold and warm air.

At 2300 board time, the sea built 4 meters high waves, a heavy rain wash the deck, the wind suddenly turn to westerly and pick up to near gale (35 knots) or a 40 knots gale (according to the girls), in less than 5 minutes. A biggest wave flushed on deck, making the port watch crew more than wet and salty, my coffee cup almost went by the lee, steering is now quite heavy, two peoples at the wheel to keep the course broad reach.
The ship is now bearing south-east.
« All hands on deck », it’s time to jib, here you feel the power of the elements in the yards braces.

In the warm sector of the low , the wind stabilize at 25 knots we are progressing 7 knots north-east, all sail up, to Azores.
Clean the ship, dry your cloths, be ready, the next low pressure is coming the day after tomorrow.