Make fast slowly! Arrival in the Caribbean (Wiebe Radstake)

Make fast slowly! Arrival in the Caribbean
The last two weeks were arrival weeks for the crew of Tres Hombres. After 22 days we saw land again: the island Barbados was in sight in the morning of the 9th of January. Hotels! industry! cruise ships! We had a 25 knots of wind, so to reduce speed for the anchor manoeuvre we took down royal, upper bob, outer jib and course.
Close to the entrance of the river of Bridgetown we tried to anchor and for two times the anchor was not holding. Pump the anchor up by hand 2 times, set sail, tack back into the bay: we were busy with that for 7 hours. The 3rd time we were doing 3 knots again but then she stopped: we had 4 shackles in and where holding. This is how to make fast slowly I guess.

Soraia and I went into Bridgetown to clear in and get some fresh food. What a world we are living in! Music, car sounds, the smell: unbelievable after such a long time at sea. In the cruise terminal we cleared in and went to the fishing harbour after to get cold beer, veggies and some fish.
The weeks after were real organising weeks, talking with agents, rum distillers, harbour offices etc. etc.
In the end, we could go into the cargo harbour on the 17h of January, just for 10 hours. Make slow-fast!
At 5 o clock, we got tugged in by our friend Randall and at 9 o clock, we had the rum on the truck.
At 12 we were filling up the barrels in the Four Square distillery and at 14.00 we were back on the ship again. At 16.00 all barrels were back onboard filled up and sea tight. After that we unloaded wine, seaweed and olive oil for a slow food restaurant on Barbados and we picked up a new trainee from the Cruise terminal. I cleared out and at 18:30 we had all sails up and sailed out of the harbour of Bridgetown. Bye-bye Barbados! Seventeen hours later we arrived in the bay of St. Anne Martinique and we had a meeting with our friend Raphael. We cleared in and believe it or not: they have a pizza catamaran in the bay here: you order on a VHF channel and they come by with a tender to deliver the pizza. This was a good, goodbye party: with pizza, wine and rock ‘n roll music. 6 trainees are leaving and we get 6 new ones on board.
During this week we unload wine and Armagnac for Raphael, we unloaded empty barrels of rum on the beach and Friday we gonna load full barrels back on board. When I wake up and look around me, see the sun go up, drink a coffee, have a chat with the crew on deck in the sun, do a swim I can only admit that this life is like a dream.

No more land in sight (Jaap van Krugten/Trainee)

Foto: Marco van der Does

After our departure from the Santa Cruz de la Palma harbor, the shouts of command quickly changed into shouts of joy: we are on our way to Barbados with 10 knots! During the next night watches, we can see the lights high on the islands of Gomera at port, and later on Hierro on starboard. We are making our way south, towards the trade winds. Although the little wind we have now, makes our ride less bumpy and more pleasant for those with seasickness, we are not making a lot of speed. The couple of knots we are making seem to come from the current rather than from the wind, but hey, at least we are going south.

Since the container harbor of La Palma and the lights from Gomera and Hierro, the scenery has changed quite a bit: no more land. From the top of the Royal, the view is practically identical in all directions (and quite amazing). Through the few clouds that dot the horizon, the sun and moon rises are quite astonishing, the milky way clearly visible at night. The lack of wind and the lazy waves rolling by makes being here almost surreal. Only the radio, airmail and our sanity is telling us that there is more than us bobbing around in the seemingly infinite ocean.

One morning we were treated with a beautiful sunrise during breakfast, and on top of that, four small dolphins were swimming around the ship. Simultaneously breaching and diving again, they seemed to enjoy their little visit to the Tres Hombres. The all-, yet nothingness of the ocean around us was soon stirred again by a set of sail-less masts at the horizon. As the ship slowly drew closer, it appeared to be a small ocean crossing ship, flying the French flag. Strangely, the three people and a cat got close enough to exchange some waves (not the cat), but stayed to far a way for a chat. Strange people, those Frenchies. After stealing our dolphins, they slowly disappeared to the other horizon with the lazy thuf-thuf-thuf of their engine.

The good weather and easy rolling of the ship makes it an ideal time for some maintenance. During the day watches we busy ourselves with small repairs and maintenance here and there, sanded and oiled the cleats, and stopped the ladder next to the foxhole sleeping quarters from making that annoying sound every wave. At night we resort to telling jokes and playing games like `animal chain`: the next one in the circle has to name an animal beginning with the last letter of the previous one. We got stuck at the letter `e`. Besides that small hitch during the last night watch, all is well onboard the Tres Hombres, as we slowly make our way south, towards the trade winds.

Greetings,
Jaap (Trainee)

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 blog: Bye bye Boca Chica

Exactly one week we stayed in the port of Boca Chica, to load our main cargo: 200 bags of cacao for the Amsterdam Chocolatemakers, 5 bags of cacao for Chokolade from Denmark, 2 barrels of rum for a customer in Zwitserland, a barrel of rum for Paula Luiz on the Azores and a mix of many barrels of rum, cacao, coco oil and melasse for Fairtransport itself. To distribute further to a variety of partners within Europe. All loaded by hand or block and tackle, by our own crew, under the skilled supervision of our Chief officer. Combined with the coffee and other products, we had already in the hold, it is a very nice diverse and high quality cargo. A cargo well worth sailing for.

Organizing the entry, the loading, the storing, the daily life on board, and the departure out of Boca Chica is always a bit of a challenge. The bureaucracy, the rithm of the Caribbean beat (full volume), the heat, the loading operations, the waiting, the gate of the commercial port, and the overwhelming complexity of Dominican Republic life, have gained a legendary reputation amongst the Tres Hombres crew. Fortunately the ship has visited this port many times, meaning there is a wide network of people who are helping out crew and ship. Amongst them there is Forrest, the very friendly owner of the Nautical store with the same name. Victor, our agent who helped us every day, with a smile, smoothing out the relationship with the port and customs officials, arranging drinking water, helping us with getting stores, talking with the office of the commercial port and keeping the relationship with the pilots in good order. Than there was Chris, a dutchman, sourcing a quantity of cacao plants, and helping us with storing parts. Apart from them, there was a wide range of different people making our visit possible again: the producers and traders of our cargo: Belarmino, Jasser and Yamir, the nice ladies and gentlemen from the harbor office, the gatekeepers, the drivers of the motorbike taxi’s, the stevedores and many more. Off course there was also a lot of help from our headoffice in Den Helder: Hans, Sabine, Andreas, Daan, and also here without doubt many more. Thank you very much!

And now, back at sea we are. After a nice maneuver of sailing out of the harbor, in between the reefs through the buoyed fairway, while setting our entire complement of sails, including royal and course. We are loaded on design draft, hatches are battened down and all cargo and gear lashed and stowed. An hour after departure, we where logging already more than 7.5 knots, and currently we are hugging the coast to try to keep some North in the wind, caused by the land effect. Anchors and chains have been ocean stowed, safety lines and nets rigged. It is still all hands, but after lunch, we will have a muster and the watches will be divided. We are ready for the ocean crossing, the weather forecast looks promising, so Azores here we come.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: In the port of life

After five months of voyage together, a few dear friends have left us, continued their way home. We stay behind as a small crew. But the voyage isn’t over yet. I wrote a song for those who left and for us who can appreciate what has been and can look forward to what is yet to come. In this blog I’ll share it with you. You can sing it on the melody of ‘Amsterdam’ from Jaque Brel (My sister should definitely try this! I missed you while writing it!).

 »From the port of Den Helder did we leave months before
Waving farewell to friends we don’t see now no more
Adventures ahead and a ship full of food
Our minds alive for the best and the good
We sailed over seas heading south and then east
Through the waves and the wind from our fears now released
So far from home all the way that we came
In the end we’ll return to love and to fame

Not all that was easy, no we challenged each other
But living together makes us sisters and brothers
Day after day we shall work together
In sun, cold, storms, squalls, all conditions of weather
Our morning moods, our evening moods
An early wake up call might not do much good
Yes after months at sea, we know everything now
From joy to sadness from the aft to the bow

We are stretching our boundaries we reach out to each other
We seek comfort on shoulders if we miss our mother
From time to time we don’t know what we do
We get wet, we dry up, and who knows for who
When we finally reach land, oh we sight with relief
We have rest we drink rum it is hard to believe
But nothing so needed as time together
Surviving this trip is the most important matter

Many crew came along, people joined people left
We expended, decreased and now we’re bereft
From the whole trip around only three months ahead
But not 15 will join we are 9 now instead…
Our brave 2nd mate is gonna wave us farewell
After service of seatime and an easterly swell
For him the time came now to leave this big ship
To home he continues his personal trip

No more rice, no more beans no more fried platanos
Is this really the route you voluntarily chose?
Enjoy your last breakfast, your last drink your last piss
Remember all this that you’re about to miss
Your last pulling on lines, your last dinghy ride
Your last galley tank water, your last dreams at night
Your last shanty with us, your last mandoline tune
And then we all hope you’ll find your fortune

Besides Conor is also our Jack leaving us
Will it be by train, airplane, boat or the bus?
He fits so perfect to our current crew
We hope next year he has the chance to re-do
And then last but not least captain Fabian takes off
He is leaving us hear and his office aloft
No more playing with dinghies and no bossing around
No ‘I don’t like sweets’ – it’s not true we found out

What means this for us at this beautiful place
So many bunks empty, so much surplus space
This is not the end of our trip together
We’ve still to sail back in all types of heavy weather
Let just not forget, what has brought us here
For the ones who leave we can shed a tear
But what’s left is a group and a beautiful crew
Let’s point out our beauty that we already knew

I am sure that the hardships that are saved for the last
Can only mean that we’ll be at our best
We collect our strength and collectiveness
we hoist the sails and try not to make a mess
After living together so many months in a row
Don’t we know the pearls in our oysters now?
We shouldn’t forget how special we are
That, my friends, will bring us so far

From the port of Den Helder did we leave months before
Waving farewell to friends we don’t see now no more
Adventures ahead and a ship full of food
Our minds alive for the best and the good
We sailed over seas heading south and then east
Through the waves and the wind from our fears now released
So far from home all the way that we came
In the end we’ll return to love and to fame. »

Judith
Ships cook

Photo by Chelsea Pyne

Tres Hombres blog: Ships and sailors rot in port

This blog is written by Elisabeth (deckhand) some days ago, when the Tres Hombres was sailing from Barbados towards Colombia.

Ships and sailors rot in port.” After nearly three weeks on anchor in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, I know the truth of that old saw completely. The endless whine of the jetskis by day is replaced by the thumping bass and screaming DJs of the party boats that circle the bay all night, and with our dinghy engine in for repairs, we are all stuck on the boat all day and all night, and are thoroughly sick of each other. Tensions rise. We become careless of one another, and more injuries seem to happen than at sea. We do the maintenance tasks necessary for the boat, not out of a sense of delight at keeping her in good shape, but in a desperate attempt to stave off boredom. The Round-the-Island race was a perfect excuse to shake out our sails again, get the rough ropes under our fingers once more, but having to tack back into the same anchorage only a few hours later almost broke my heart. This, again? I check email compulsively, though I neither want to nor care.

But now, now we are sailing once more, the wind at our backs. Flying to Colombia downwind at 8 knots, I can feel the cares and troubles of land slipping away behind me. The ship is alive again, and we are full of purpose. As soon as we weighed anchor, I could feel too the weight in my mind lifting free. The things I worried about on land seem far away and inconsequential in the bleaching light of the full moon. I forget the internet, and instead reacquaint myself with the stars, murmuring their beautiful names to myself as I find each one in the sky; Sirius, Rigel, Capella, Aldebaran. All the water of the sea washes away whatever it was I worried about on land–what was it anyway? I can no longer remember. I watch the light change the color of the water instead, and the clouds rolling across the endless sky, the scintillations of flights of flying fish, and I swallow each sunrise whole. The moon turns the tops of the clouds silver, and the waves break in hissing foam.

I am back to feeling the way the boat responds to my steering, slithering her way between the swells, back to watching the flag for any wind shift, back to work feeling like it means something again. We have somewhere to go, some things to carry there. In port we are merely a theme-park attraction for tourists to take selfies with, a floating quaint hotel. But at sea we are sailing cargo, doing the work of it, the dailiness of this grand goal, not just talking about it.

Of course, I don’t mean to discount the immense amount of work that goes into even allowing us to sail, the work that our captain, mates, and the Fairtransport office do without us hands and trainees ever seeing. Without that work, I could never have the feeling of freedom I have now, the wind scouring clean my mind as my hands grow dirtier with tar and sweat. For that work, they deserve much thanks, for giving us a purpose and a goal. Without that purpose, without something to keep our hearts beating and our muscles pulling, to keep our brains sparking and our creativity alive, we are left to do nothing but rot.

Meet the crew: Elisabeth, deckhand

Always wanted to know the wonderful people sailing our cargo? From now on we will regularly post short interviews with our crew on the site. Today we will start with Elisabeth.

Name: Elisabeth Wenger
Age: 29
Nationality: USA
Position: Deckhand

When did you hear the first time of Fairtransport?
​I heard about Fairtransport on a farming blog, Greenhorns, in connection with their Maine Sail Freight project.

Why did you want to join Tres Hombres?
Learning how to sail a working ship has been a dream of me since I was a kid reading adventure novels. I thought there were no more ships doing what Tres Hombres (and others) do.

When I found out that sail cargo still existed, it was as though someone told me dinosaurs weren’t extinct anymore. I had to go experience it for myself!

I sailed last year on the full round trip as a trainee, and this year I got the opportunity to sail again as deckhand, which I am so grateful and happy for!!

What do you expect from this journey?
I’m so excited to be sailing this time as Deckhand. I anticipate I will learn so much more, from practical sailing knowledge to helping to teach the trainees and creating a sense of community on board the ship. Fairtransport so far has been a wonderful company to work with, and I anticipate more of the same for the journey ahead!

Sign up as a trainee! We can guarantee one thing… this is an experience you will never forget http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/

Tres Hombres blog: The crew wishes a Happy Christmas to all theirs families and friends

After 8 tacks in the Antigua Channel to go to the East , it s seams finally possible to reach windward side of Guadeloupe to go down south to Martinique.

Not easy for everybody to sleep well on this choppy wavy sea, anyhow we keep on going. Further more sail handling moments are perfect times to work together and built a team. Few days ago we had an accidental tack because the wind direction is changing under shower. Time to realize on which apprentice step are sitting the crew. The fact is that after a month of running downwind, our movements on deck were slower, manoeuvers communication was gone, rigging tricks were forgotten. Now, happy and proud of my watch, we are tacking within 10 min (Preparation, passing 8 sails and trimming) with fun.

We are enjoying the sun, the morning pineapples,  Lis the technical full&by steering, watching birds diving for fish, britany butter, Frederieke likes when the flying fish hit me at steering! Thibaut likes swinging by the waves on the yard, Ilja observating the evolution of his out of control moustache and likes the sails handling action, Jan the sea and sailing…

Judith wants to make a special dish for Christmas, we will be at sea that is why we gonna wait til the 26 for having a nice meal together at anchor to avoid any sliding pans or wounds! She’s exciting and prepared already almonds paste made by hands and the crew will participating as well.

All the crew wish Happy Christmas to all theirs families and friends around the world and all others. Special warm word for Icee who left us in St Martin, sea you back in Barbados !

Anne-Flore, first mate

Tres Hombres blog: And the case of the missing olive

A weblog every other day is the assignment they give us. That seems to be a lot for a place with so little external factors that can influence what happens on board. And yet there is enough to write about. Because the ship is a little village where we have to live together.
I like to see all those people, coming from so many different places and lives, bringing their own story. The one might be on board, only for the crossing. Being astonished by the ships life, not used to the lack of comfort and privacy. But still they come here with a personal challenge to get to know themselves better. The other might be a born sailor, not even noticing we’re already at sea for so long. But in a way I think everyone can smell the land coming closer now (and the land can smell us coming closer I suppose…). And in all the different states of mind we pass, punchyness (meligheid) is one of them.
By running out of trainees to teach the ropes to, Alan is doing a pinrail tour with a wirebrush. Thibaut and Conor keep shaking up flexseeds in water to look at them spinning around. The desperate smokers start roling pipe tabacco in sigarette papers. Well, you see it’s a small world wherein little things can become a big problem or a great pleasure.
Almost four weeks now we are out here at sea. Steady in a routine, but also busy in our minds. Because as wide as the ocean around us is, the ship is only a couple of steps long and we can not leave it. I came to the discovery that this can drive me a bit crazy. As far ‘of the ship’ and away from the people I can get for now is sitting on the little chair on the bowsprit. Which comes with a nice bath if we’re dipping far enough into the waves.

This morning only 250 NM to go! So I think it’s finally time to say we’re almost there. Bets are being made about our estimated time of arrival. We dream about all the things we want to consume we don’t have on board. Although I’m also curious about Sint Maarten: How destroid will it still be? What has happened in the month that we didn’t receive any news from the world? It must be a strange realisation to expend our world again to the scale of the world that has been around us all the time.
So are we actually ready to go on land? I think so, but it will be as much as an adaptation as it was to be at sea.

In small things on board I find my joy. Taking a shower in the dark evening when it’s finally cool enough to stay cool. And to curl up in my camping spot underneath the stairs like Harry Potter, instead of in my stuffy bunk. Most of the time I also enjoy the people and I’m glad I can still make them happy with food.
Showers visit us also by the way. After a day of steaming hot, we could dance in the rain and wash our hair in saltless water from the sky.
Even though they won’t admit it, the boys-watch is getting better and better in making the bread. And even though an unvoluntarily sourdough slaughter took place this morning, a real catastrophy could be prevented. And for everyone who thinks we’re not dealing with any serious problems in this little world of ours, I can confirm that from the 24 olives on the focaccia, 23 could have been saved, and only one went missing.

Judith, cook.

Tres Hombres blog: Four weeks already at sea….

For the first time since La Palma there is music from a speaker on deck. He’s spreading in the atmospher a taste of romantic country music where we can see O brothers running in the wheat fields under a burning sun and Jack Kerouac jumping on board this ship as a slow merchant train crossing the blue country full of ideas to built or rebuilt this world weared of a bag pack & unapropriate Espadrille. Clamour of poetry in the radio to throw a new look on details.

Well, despite a few worried members aboard about being somewhere ( on land) for Christmas, everything is going sweet here. « Not so much things to complain » said captain. And then cuban music blows her cosy voices flow on deck, gold sunset sky becomes darker and stars are taking over the space. It’s not blues  but your feeling is on the border. Yes four weeks already at sea far away without news from your lovers, parents, children. Is that feeling of missing brings you more in reality, more alive, more true ? blablabla but yes ours bodies are talking to us and that is a lovely great creation.

Since a week, instead of the swedish, the captain decided to set a new watches readim system: 4 hours each watches, 3 watches of 4 or 5 peoples. That brings more peoples on deck during daylight, the maintenance goes forward faster because those 8 hours of rest at night and we are meeting eachothers.( So , sorry for the tres hombres tradition but it works well for the crossing. If the loyals of the company has any request about this, feel free to explain your opinion, I wouldn’t bring the bad luck here like to move the giraff outdoor with a full cargo !!). Can you beleave, we were sailing full and by for a day , trade winds are not strong but the lady keeps on going half of the wind speed.

Shower on deck, 1 hour of rain today (11/12/2017). Soap & shampoo !

ps: we got rid of 2 hammocks of bananas.

Anne-Flore, first mate