A bloody seagull on a soapbox can sail downwind, but it takes a seaman to go against it.

Tacking against the trades,

Since leaving the anchorage of Cabo Rojo, we have been close hauled. A term, used by sailors when sailing as much against the wind as physically possible. It is also the course where the qualities of the sailor and his vessel are most tested, independently of the strength of the wind. In the Caribbean sea, when one is intended to move from West to East, there is no other way than going against the prevailing trade winds.

The voyage, before I came on board, which departed after loading coffee in Santa Martha, Colombia, and brought the ship to Cabo Rojo, Dominican Republic, was a good example of a close hauled voyage with strong winds. This is really where crew and ship are tested to the limit. Before leaving Santa Martha, the whole standing rigging was tuned as taut, that she was able to carry sail to the utmost. And this is what she did, and this is what had to be done. Because only with fighting over every degree and mile, it is possible to make headway against the trade winds and their accompanying currents. Especially when they are stronger than average. It has a prize though, a wooden ship pushed this hard, has a tendency of leaking more than in less challenging circumstances. Her crew becomes tired after days of fighting the adverse weather, having not a dry rag left, and being tossed around the decks and cabins.

This trip, to Boca Chica, we encounter a total different situation. Quite the opposite in weather really, the wind has not been very strong and at times even absent. At these occasions there is barely enough wind, to even steer the ship in a straight course. And as we have to tack almost every watch, to fulfill our intended zig zag course against the wind. We had it two times now, that we were not even able to tack her, due to the absent push in the sails, combined with a swell to stop her bow. If this happened, stubbornly we would, make speed again and steer into another tack, to only experience the same disappointment. And finally after having encountered the failed slow motion maneuver twice, we would finally retreat to the even more ground loosing maneuver of jibing. Also sailing with these light winds, would not be so much of a challenge, where it not for the constant strain of the current setting us West, and at our slow speed, making our zig zag course often not more than a parallel track.

Our voyage plan positively stated a voyage of 125 miles, yet we logged already well over 300 miles since heaving up anchor. These miles are not won, with a nice racing speed, no, we are averaging a speed of: 3 or 4 knots an hour. Our crew is in high spirits though. We are looking forward to fasten our mooring lines in Boca Chica. Meet up with the new crew members, who are awaiting our arrival, to join our ranks. And finally start loading the final precious cargo, cocoa, rum and melasse, up till her marks, to return home across the North Atlantic ocean.

So even these days the age old saying holds true: A bloody seagull on a soapbox can sail downwind, but it takes a seaman to go against it.

See you soon,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: It’s not entirely the ship which defines seaworthiness

Preparing to go to sea..

So while we are at sea again, I would like to explain a little bit about preparing a ship to go to sea. As you have read in the previous weblog, we have been at anchor for two weeks. I write: we, with that I really mean the ship and her crew, because personally I only joined the ship two days before setting sail. So really most preparations found place under the command of my predecessor, captain Fabian Klenner. So what does it entail? To explain in short: crew, ship and gear has to be ready for sea.

Most crewmembers have been for quite a few months on board. The core crew: mate, cook, deckhands and one of the trainees, has been on board since her departure from Den Helder last year. Of the core crew, most of them sailed before that on Tres Hombres, and of the other crewmembers some of them have. This means there is quite a bit of experience on board to built on. And under the command of Fabian, several safety drills where carried out to keep the crew up to high standards of seamanship. For me off course, being the one new on board, I had to familiarize myself with the capabilities of the crew. Because really, on a sailing vessel like this, it is not entirely the ship which defines her seaworthiness but it is more the crew itself which brings safety, continuity and comfortable sailing. To do this, I had a personal interview with each crewmember, to understand their previous experiences on board, find out about their capabilities and discuss ideas and wishes for the coming trip. Apart from that I had a lot of conversations with Fabian to discuss the management on board and learn about the things, he found out, which worked or did not work.

The ship has proved herself throughout the past ten years under the flag of Fairtransport, and many decades in all different roles under previous owners. This does not mean there is nothing to prepare on her. You can compare a traditional wooden square rigged sailing vessel, with her millions of parts, who are all subject to change, because of weather conditions, wear and tear and maintenance, almost to a living creature. Like any living being, she needs to breath (ventilation), drink (paint, linseed oil, tar) and eat (wood, steel, oakum, pitch, rope and wire) to survive. To make this possible every year she gets a thorough refit, mostly during a period of about a month, this past year it was three months. And also her crew is constantly supporting the life of their vessel with maintenance. Some things are more obvious than others. The standing rigging needs tarring, greasing and tuning. The running rigging, attention to protection for wear and tear, and constant replacing of her parts. The hull needs pumping, re caulking and painting. Here was one of the reasons to be anchored the previous weeks. Because on the voyage from Columbia, back to the Dominican republic, her hull had received quite a beating, which made her more leaky than considered wanted to continue. So repairs where carried out, with the final filling up of seams with a special putty I had taken along from Europe.

Then the gear, which is usually looked upon as the main focus to prepare a ship. All spares, tools, charts, nautical books, stores, drinking water and fuel needs to be on board or brought on board. Gear, like machinery, instruments and safety gear needs to be in working order. And everything, including cargo, needs to be stowed and lashed properly and in a seamanlike fashion. For all of this, on Tres Hombres, we make use of a pre-departure checklist. So again, before proceeding, our fine vessel was deemed healthy again to go to sea.

Ahoy,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: Hands heave in the last meters of chain

Hands to the anchorwinch! The deckhands move to the foredeck while the mate is giving orders. The claw on the chain is taken off, and on both sides of the pump windlass two sailors take their places. Somebody keeps the chain under tension to the aft and, another deckhand is sitting next to the galley to feed the chain down to the chain locker were again, one of our hands is stationed to flake the chain. The anchorwinch starts moving by the age old energy form, of Norwegian (elbow) steam. The monotone sound of the pawls is the only sound you can hear. The power; the anchor, anchorchain and winch is putting upon the ship is felt everywhere in the form of a silent vibration.

There are 2 and a half from our 4 schackles ( a shackle is 27 meter) of chain out. The ship has been anchored  here for two weeks, in 10 meter deep water. Not the best holding ground, fine sand, she has dragged around a little but lately, assisted by this sufficient amount of chain she has been holding well. Now each time a shackle comes up the mate communicates  it aft. When the chain is almost up and down, the order is given to set the foretopmast staysail. The sheet and sail is held aback over portside to push the bow, gently, to starboard, while the hands heave in the last meters of chain. Now the mainstaysail is set. While the bow falls off further we start moving in a forward direction. We are sailing now!

While the anchor is still hanging partly below the waterline, the command is given: hands to the braces, brace to port tack. This means the yards, who where braced over portside, called starboard tack, will now be braced to the other side. So the wind can actually catch the sails. Now the sail configuration of our good ship changes rapidly. The topsail is set, followed by the topgallant and royal. Now the starboard watch is setting the other main staysails, and the portside watch hoists the jibs. To complement the picture the course and mainsail are set with the whole crew.

While the sun is setting on our starboard bow, we are leaving Cabo Rojo, bound for Boca Chica. A gentle swell and beautifull starry night accompanies us out to sea…

Ahoy,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Sailing out of Caribbean sea by Francois

First night at sea after our goods’ tour in 3 tropical islands
24 hours full&by, dealing with many wind shift
Against the wind, Tres Hombres is bonding to Mona pass
between Dominican republic and Puerto Rico

Locking forward to face th Ocean again

Greetings from the sea

francois

DATE: 6-02-16 GMT:1900  POS: 17º49’N, 68º59’W COG:55º  SOG:4kts
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
WIND DIR:east-south-east
WIND SPD:1 to 2 Beaufort
CURRENT DIR:west
CLOUDS:none
SEA STATE:calm
SEA TEMP:25ºC
AIR TEMP:28ºC
AIR PRES:1016hPa

Leaving Boca Chica by Wiebe Radstake

Yesterday our cargo was finally lashed well. We loaded Coffee, Cacao butter, Molasses and the last barrels of rum the last days. It’s not the loading what takes the most time but the papers, sea stowing and give everything a place in our cargo hold. The hold is full, so we were ready to take of, going back to Europe. We saw enough of Boca Chica, the street dogs, the scooters, the dirt and the sound of the shipyard next to us, we wanted to go back to sea.

A big cargo ship was moored at the same harbor as we were and the captain told us that his father was one of the last sailing cargo ship captains of the Caribbean. He asked if his son, Aneudi could sail with us to Europe. This idea was fantastic: Only one generation ago sailing cargo was a common thing and now the new generation decides that sailing cargo comes back. Not only in Europe but also over here in the Caribbean. We asked Aneudi to come on board and help us. Although he was not speaking a lot of English he gives a positive vibe to the crew and he worked really hard to get the ship ready for the ocean crossing.
This morning we had to organize the last papers before departure and then the people in the office said it was not allowed for Aneudi to come with us because of the visa and the Europe immigration rules. 5 minutes before we had to make loose our mooring lines he had to pack his luggage and had to stay in Boca Chica. And why? Why only people from rich country’s are allowed to travel where they want? Why can’t we all go over the world? A sad goodbye but we said to Aneudi he could come maybe the next time with us.
We made loose our mooring lines, set the jib’s to turn, hoisting the topsail and gallant and where out of the Dominican Republic. With 10 people on board we are not with to much but the atmosphere is good. Now all sails are up and we are sailing slowly East with a northern wind. This wind will next night change to south: Perfect to leave the Caribbean sea through the Mona Passage: back to the Ocean and on the way to Horta.

DATE:05/02/2016  GMT:13:45  POS: 18,22.137N, 69,28.773W COG:70  SOG:2.4
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
WIND DIR: NNE
WIND SPD: 2BFT
CURRENT DIR: E
CLOUDS: Cumulus 2/8
SEA STATE:1
SEA TEMP:27
AIR TEMP:26
AIR PRES:1018

Sunday at sea, leisure time by Annette

During our night watch a big cargo ship was about to cross our course right before us – perhaps in a distance of only 0.2 nm. Wiebe called it via VHF and asked if they could pass around our stern – and perhaps a little bit surprised they consented to do so. At seven o’clock we were on the watch again, but because it was Sunday we didn’t have to do any maintenance work. So while one person was at the helm, the others were laying lazily on deck, using thick ropes as the proper seaman’s pillow and sleeping or reading or writing or listening to music. The portside watch played cards when I got up after a siesta in a rather hot cabin. On the starbord side of the galley luckily there was shade and fresh air circulating and till sunset I could sit there, sipping a wake-up coffee, just watching the sea and talking to people I really hadn’t talked before.

Annette

DATE:  18-01-16 GMT: 1400 POS: 17º19’N, 66º40’W SOG:5.5kts  COG:290º
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
WIND DIR:north-east
WIND SPD:10kts
CURRENT DIR:west
CLOUDS:strato cumulus 3/8
SEA STATE:calm
SEA TEMP:27ºC
AIR TEMP:32ºC
AIR PRES:1018hPa

My first day at sea by Annette

Life on board is peaceful: the wind slowed down yesterday and the whole crew did a lot of maintenance work: tarring, painting and Soizic repaired the fresh water pump. It was quite hot at noon, but we had shade at the helm and in the afternoon the sun lost strength and it was ok. The last ship we saw was yesterday morning a big cruise ship heading for Guadeloupe, but since then there was nothing else than the sea and us. Instead of lots of ‘Ti Punches’ – rum with a slice of lemon and brown sugar – we are drinking now water, tea and coffee and it’s ok. Guiseppe prepared delicious pasta dishes and one day after our departure from Marie Galante I managed finally to get all the sand out of my bed. I’m enjoying the company of good sailors, philosophical talks in the galley and seeing lots of stars at night.

Annette.

DATE: 17-01-16 GMT:1300  POS: 16º42.5’N, 64º52’W COG: 290º SOG:6.5kts
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
WIND DIR:east
WIND SPD:15kts
CURRENT DIR:west
CLOUDS:cumulus, total overcast
SEA STATE:calm
SEA TEMP:28ºC
AIR TEMP:30ºC
AIR PRES:1018hPa

 

Cargo!

The crew of Tres Hombres is waiting for the Tres Hombres Rum​ 2015 edition to arrive so they can load it into the cargo hold. This year the cargo hold will be totally filled with Tres Hombres Rum, The Grenada Chocolate bars, Onima Aloe Vera, Olivier Cousin​ Wine and the Chocolatemakers​’ Cocoa beans.

Tres Hombres Ship​ will set sail again with her amazing crew Lammert, Rémi, Francois, Signe, Gerrit, Rianne, Cleem, Ewan, Wolfgang, Paulien, Richard, Laura, Ingo and Ranje Louise. They will visit the Azores, Ireland, England, Belgium and The Netherlands!

If the cargo gets wet, you better stay home – By Francois

DATE: 27-2-15 GMT:0440 POS: 18º11.7´N, 68º47´W

GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES

WIND DIR:east

WIND SPD:5 knots

CURRENT DIR:none

CLOUDS:2/8 cumulus, little showers

SEA STATE: flat

SEA TEMP: 27ºC

AIR TEMP:20ºC

AIR PRES:1017

 

« Drop the anchor »

And here we are. After dealing some gales in north sea, sailing down the bay of Biscay, passing threw the Canaries Island´s wind shift, the Capo Verde swell, the loneliness 2000 mille Atlantic crossing, the Tres Hombres drop the anchor in Dominica republic.

Where the « tres Hombres Rum » -Berlin rum fest Golden meda-l come from, where the cocoa bean of the « Tres Hombres chocolate » ,bound for the the chocolate makers in Amsterdam ,come from, the main goal of a 8 months sailing trip around the Atlantic.

The crew celebrates this with a big fire on the beach, after negotiation with « El Commandant » in charge of custom/immigration on Isla Saona, a natural reserve on south east of Dominican Republic.

This week end, will take some good rest before preparing the ship to load the cargo, waterproofing the deck, caulking and pitching on program, as the historic old windjammers said:

« If the cargo gets wet, you better stay home »

FMD