Sourdough Bread on board (By Guven Daragon, second mate)

This post is for those who thought that we could spend all this time at sea without bread. Let me tell you that we could not!

If you already tried to bake bread, you might have experienced that it is a real learning curve, and onboard taught us to let go and trust our fellow salty crew, regardless of the efforts you put in to mix the dough or knead it, as usually the one making the bread isn’t the one who will shape and bake it.

Our breadmaking journey started this year in Den Helder with a sourdough starter given by a generous bakery from Amsterdam and a recipe that has been used onboard in previous years.

Sourdough bread is a real art and is pretty demanding, as you need to feed the sourdough starter, make the dough, knead it, proof it, shape it, bake it and finally enjoy it. To make things a little more spicy and interesting, imagine all this being done in a moving galley, where you have to dive into the bouncing dry store to pick up flour when you can be called at any time on deck for manoeuvers while your hands are dipped in flour, and where the temperature and moisture evolve as we sail along different latitudes.

As we all love to have fresh crispy warm bread for breakfast, the bread-making process is split in between watches to have it ready for 7h30. The dough is thus made from 20 to 00, kneaded and proofed from 00 to 04 and baked from 04 to 08.

We have been experimenting with many different consistencies and shapes, and don’t get it wrong, all bread was always appreciated, however, not all looked like bread. Do not get mistaken, bread making is not a fair game, regardless of the time and energy you put into it!

As a sourdough starter needs to be fed 3 times a day, ours became one of the “babies” we have onboard, got a name and got taken care of by all of us alternatively, big up to those who have taken greater care.

Here is a shortened version of the sourdough starter saga.

Early in our journey, our first sourdough starter had been named Herbert. To supply our bread consumption, the sourdough starter had to get bigger but still fit in the galley. That’s how Herbert got split in two one morning and became respectively Her and Bert.

Eventually, Her got spread all over the galley table by a gentle wave one morning. Scooped straight back in her homepot, she turned out the next day to be more active than Bert! Accidents sometimes make things better than they were before!

However, all stories do not necessarily end well. Unfortunately, our beloved sourdough did not survive the post north Atlantic ocean crossing in our stopover in Martinique where they got left aside a little too long, ending up with respectively an ore-dish and blue-greenish colours on their tops.

Fortunately, as all sailors have to have at least a plan B, we’ve been backing up our sourdough attempts with dry yeast, which turned out to be the easiest, less demanding and best bread results we made so far.

For those how are curious, here is the recipe the Tres Hombres crew (almost) always succeeds to make.

In a bowl, put 2 kg of flour with:

2 Tablespoons of salt for the taste

1/2 Teaspoon of dry yeast for the fluffiness

2 Tablespoons of sugar to feed the yeast

A drop of vinegar to reduce the yeast taste and help fermentation

Mix dry ingredients and add 1 litre of water.

Cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 6 to 10 hours depending on which latitude you are
sailing by.

Shape and bake for an hour at 230 degrees. Enjoy! (For nicer results use a Dutch oven!)

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Signing off (By Bosun Hanjo van Weerden)

Three captains
Three First mates
Four second mates
Four cooks
Nineteen nationalities
Six different bunks
Two hammocks
16 harbours
60 knots in the gusts
Ten tons of cacao
130 barrels
40.000 bottles of wine (roughly)
20.000 nautical miles (very roughly)

Just some numbers of these last two years. Some of those numbers don’t mean much written down like that, not even to me. But one is most striking: 20 months. I have now worked on the Tres Hombres for effectively 20 months. During the refits a few weekends at home and this last summer two months off to get my Basic Safety training and vaccination and some much-needed rest after the Atlantic Round, but still, twenty months. I signed on as a fresh-faced trainee who knew nothing of sailing, and now I am signing off as Bosun. I went from being uncomfortable with the rolling and a little seasick to the grizzled veteran who has seen it all and is not impressed. That is not to say that I did not love to be on the ship out at sea till the end, I did. It remains a great feeling to be out at sea with no land in sight and the ship rolling under your feet.

So I lived on a wooden ship with all sorts of people from all over the world, with limited space, with daunting working conditions like storms and hours and hours of rain. It really was a great time. Must have been, otherwise, I would not have stayed so long, right? But joking aside, it has been a great time, and all the people I sailed with helped make it great.

The last thing here on La Palma that I do before signing off is unload a barrel of La Palma wine that we loaded last year and has been ageing at sea in Tres Hombres’ cargo hold for that whole time. It has crossed the ocean tucked underneath the cacao and the rum,  and then Skagerrak tucked under bottles of wine. Right now, I am the only one still on board who was present last year when we loaded it, making this barrel from the Tendal winery also my most long term shipmate. The wine will now be auctioned off to benefit the people displaced by the Cumbre Vieja’s lava stream.

But for now, my Tres Hombres adventure is over. Now I’ll go to Denmark to help refit another sailing cargo ship, the Hawila, but Captain Francois, Mates Arthur and Guven, my replacement bosun Camille, cook Ed, deckhands Ali and Thore and all the trainees will bring her safely to the Caribbean and back to Europe.
I will miss them tremendously and wish them all fair winds and hope to see them well and good in Amsterdam.

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Heute nicht mein bester Freund – die Kombüse – mein bester Freund (by David Schynoll)

03:15 Uhr. Eine helle Nacht. Vollmond.

Interessiert mich gerade nicht. Brennender Schmerz fließt meine linke Hand entlang. Die Kaffeekanne darf ich deshalb aber nicht loslassen, sonst ist die Sauerei perfekt. Also, Welle abwarten, dann neuer Versuch.
Diesmal erreicht das kochende Wasser sein Ziel. Den Kaffeefilter. Jetzt nur noch aufpassen, dass der Kaffee auch in der Kanne bleibt. Wenn die Kollegen um 04:00 ihre Nachtschicht beginnen, werden sie sich darüber freuen. Nach dem Kaffee ist der Tee dran, das geht wenigstens schneller, ist bei dem Seegang diese Nacht aber nicht weniger riskant. Dann noch nach dem Brotteig für den nächsten Morgen schauen. Sieht gut aus, also schnell wieder raus aus der Kombüse. Draußen lässt das Übelkeitsgefühl langsam nach. Die Luft und der Blick auf den Horizont helfen.

Was erwartet mich auf einer Atlantiküberquerung?
Übelkeit in der geschlossenen Kombüse, daran habe ich vor Reiseantritt auf jeden Fall nicht gedacht. Nach zwei Tagen, die ich mit grünen Gesicht überwiegend über der Reeling verbracht habe, bleiben die Mahlzeiten nun zumindest dort wo sie hingehören. Aber zu mir nehmen tue ich sie doch lieber noch immer auf dem Deck, an der frischen Luft. Die Kombüse und ich sind noch keine Freunde geworden. Die Kollegen hingegen, die schon länger auf See sind, sitzen während den Mahlzeiten schwatzend und lachend um den Tisch gequetscht und schlagen sich die Bäuche voll. Kein Anzeichen von Übelkeit bei ihnen. Zum Dessert frische Papaya oder ein dick bestrichenes Erdnussbutter-Marmeladenbrot. Das gibt mir Grund zur Hoffnung.

Dieser schwankende Raum, der das Vordeck vom Mittelschiff trennt, 2,5 auf 2,5 Meter groß, zu beiden Seiten eine Tür, offen ist meist nur die im Lee. Bei jeder Welle hebt und senkt sich der Raum um mich. Neigt sich nach rechts, neigt sich nach links. Ach nein, Steuerbord und Backbord heißt das ja. Mein Magen gibt mir zu Verstehen, dass er sich mit dem Segelvorhaben noch nicht so ganz angefreundet hat.

(zwei Tage später)
Wir haben es durch die Mona-Passage, zwischen der Dominikanischen Republik im Westen und Puerto Rico im Osten geschafft und segeln jetzt seit zwei Tagen auf dem Atlantik. Das Meer ist hier deutlich ruhiger. Nach einer entspannten Nachtschicht sitze ich gemeinsam mit meiner “watch” in der Kombüse beim Frühstück. Es gibt warmes Porridge mit frischen Südfrüchten. Lecker. Dazu Chaitee. Der Captain erzählt Geschichten von der ersten Überfahrt der Tres Hombres. Wir haben viel zu lachen. Ganz automatisch gleicht meine Hand mit der Müslischale den Wellengang aus. Draußen rauscht das Meer. Vor einer Stunde hatten wir einen tollen Sonnenaufgang.
Ich fühle mich richtig wohl hier am Frühstückstisch.

 

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Aan boord van de Tres Hombres (by Cas Welling)

Terwijl het andere deel van mijn watch team een start heeft gemaakt met het vervaardigen van een dittybag (teerzak) – waar zo’n beetje alle touw en naaitechniek in voor komt – schrijf ik een paar woorden voor het thuisfront en andere geïnteresseerden in onze reis.

Na een paar dagen acclimatiseren in de Dominicaanse Republiek ben ik aan boord gegaan. Het ruim was toen nog niet gevuld maar met vereende krachten zijn er tonnen cacaobonen en rumvaten in getakeld. Vooral het laatste heeft baat bij deze zogenaamde dynamic aging, de gefermenteerde bonen moeten vooral droog blijven.

Om met het watch team verder te gaan, deze bestaat uit 5 personen. We draaien een dienst van 3 x 4 uur vanaf 20 uur en 2 x 6 uur  vanaf 8 uur. Zo is er altijd bemanning paraat terwijl het andere team haar rust probeert te vinden. Met een internationaal gezelschap zijn we een week verleden vertrokken vanuit Boca Chica. We hebben wat vertraging gekend maar varen nu volop de Atlantische oceaan op met alle 11 zeilen gehesen. De stormtouwen zijn vanmorgen verwijderd aangezien de zee nu ook kalmer geworden is. Een aan de windse koers stuurt ons in noordelijke richting, als we over een paar dagen in een ander drukgebied komen zullen we oostelijker kunnen varen met meer snelheid.

Gisteren hadden we een onverwachte gast op tafel, een barracuda die zich had laten verleiden een hap te nemen van een geel rubber dat aan de boot hangt.
Deze roofvis van zo’n halve meter lag precies 2 uur later vers op ons bord als extra side dish.

Ook Engels is de taal aan boord wat bij sommige commando’s wel even wennen was: ‘prepare for tack’ of ‘get out the slack’. Alle lijnen zijn een uitdaging, nix geen gekleurde lijnen zoals op een plezierjacht, hier is het allemaal oker kleurig en hangen er tientallen lijnen aan beide zijden van het schip. Hoe dat ‘s-nachts gaat laat ik even voor wat het is.

Het eten is los van de vergezichten over zee en lucht het hoogtepunt van de dag waar ik en anderen elke keer naar uitkijk.
Geen alcohol natuurlijk maar missen doe ik het niet. Afgelopen dagen hadden we volle maan. Als het schip dan overstag gaat en je kijkt omhoog of het zeil goed plooit en je ziet de sterren voor je opdoemen, niet tientallen maar honderden, alsof je een gordijn opzij schuift, dan is dat zo’n mooi – geluksmoment.

Cheers!

Cas W.

 

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The fantastic world! (By captain Andreas Lackner)

You find yourself outside of the intercontinental human communications and information network when you are at anchor for a few days without internet.

But life goes on, and how! A short impression of a disconnected time aboard in vicinity of Barbados: (not allowed to touch the land )
Wake up at 0530, heave anchor, receive a little fishing boat to tow us into the harbor, make fast at 0630, hoist barrels on land for refilling by Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. Breakfast while a truck picks up barrels, then little siesta until lunch, just fine. Barrels arrive back at 1400, loading them into the hold. Receive a wind change at 1600, stop loading process and fix rest of barrels on deck. Prepare lines to pull ship of lee shore and set sails. Pull hard and sail off… great! Then tack back before a stunning sunset to the anchorage to wait for new orders. Night comes and no internet yet but some good company from our anchor-neighbors Laura & Sander plus the kids from Guppy, some guitar and violin music and more excellent food and talks.

Next morning the machete opens the daily coconut at sunrise and with it, the day’s activity at anchor. Clean up mess, pump bilges, wash deck, prepare jobs, start music and start working in fine companionship to keep our all admired, magic ship in shape and beauty. No internet yet. So after lunch a rope swing is installed from the yardarm and everyone needs to show her/his abilities on that one. Tired of smashing in the water we continue work until a rum-infused watermelon appears on the mid deck… all right then, lay down weapons and enjoy this before the imminent Caribbean sunset.

Next morning, shortly after the coconut, the internet is back! I do not tell the crew so they can start their daily life unconcerned and with clean energy. After email, which contained highly overrated local invoices, the wind and then the news. Wow. I knew that corona was still going on but now it was going crazy with new versions and more horror stories, and the first message is that someone brought it around with a plane again. What a coincidence! Or does the spreading have nothing to do with fast global traveling? Fly to hell fast! might be the slogan of the virus I’ll be with you!

Next article on climate change: China starts worldwide biggest emission trade! I find it reasonable that they (Austrian news) file it under economy, because it obviously has nothing to do with the environment.
And on it goes with about 95% of negative news from all over the world. This must be a kind of brainwashing which is able to suck out energy from any reader, or consumer, as we are called nowadays, but where does it go, all this energy?

I’m stopping now because the positive energy and the noises all around onboard pull me out of my room and disconnect me from the trouble on all these far away continents. Just outside we see people walking on the beach. Not allowed to touch the land they stay just as far away as the ones at home, as well as their trouble.
Somehow this internet is just a huge shift of peoples energy between them, while some obscure companies with obscure manners try to control some of it.
I hope air, earth, water, plants and animals can stay out of that net for a while more, so some of us have a chance to reconnect and enjoy basic life. I also hope these people will form a critical mass someday.

Let’s open another coconut … all the best from far,

Andreas
P.S.: Imagine it’s the bottle which brings you this message!

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.