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: Learning the ropes

Next to being one of the few engineless sailing cargo ships, engaged in international trade, Tres Hombres is a sail training vessel as well. Nowadays most squareriggers, are occupied in some form of sail training. With us, it is of course the combination with carrying freight in this century, what makes it really special. Normally we have any number of: up to eight trainees on board. Trainee, is the modern name, but I am inclined to name them apprentices. Originally an apprentice would be a practical student to become a ships officer, and normally an apprenticeship would take an average of four years. Because really, what I feel as my personal goal here on board, is to inspire them for a career at sea, a return to sea, or at least an unforgettable memory and love for the precious place the ocean is.

So how are we trying to teach the mysteries of the sea? First and most importantly, I would like to refer to a short poem of: Longfellow, his poetic writing says more than I could describe in a thousand words:

Wouldst thou- so the helmsman answered,
Learn the secret of the sea,
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!

It does say most of it, and it comes down to the point, that you are learning by doing. And you ought to give this time, a lot of time. Apart from this we also try to organize a short lecture in each day watch, every day. Since leaving Boca Chica we have talked, apart from the safety procedures, about: ship design, shipbuilding, history of sailing ships, standing rigging and bringing up lower and topmasts the traditional way. Right now we are doing an experiment as well, where each new trainee is coupled to one of the experienced crew members. This way we reenact the old tradition, of having a seafather appointed to a green hand. This seafather is teaching the intricacies of the arts of the seaman, at a one person to one person way.

In the more than 15 ocean crossings Tres Hombres has made in the previous years, our teaching concept has been proven right in many instances. Currently one of our deckhands, started as a trainee the past year. And even one of our Captains, grew from trainee, via deckhand and officer to his position of command!

So join Tres Hombres, and comprehend the mystery of the sea…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

NEWS! Nordlys is about to set sail from Douarnenez. – by capt. Lammert

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There is this old saying; “Ship and Men, Rot in Port”.…. For us it is time to go to back to sea.
Although Douarnenez is a beautiful place to be and the people are truly nice over here, now it is going to be time to cast of the lines and set sail. We have to transport precious products with the wind.

The reason of our long stay in Douarnenez, is one I do not wish to overcome to other sailors. For me, being a skipper for some years, this is the first “crazy” accident that happened to me and to the ship. Something I hope will never happen again. Not to me and not to any other sailor as well.

Hard working and tired fishermen at sea, can become a nightmare.  The struggle with the insurance companies is another one, which follows. Because of insurance companies, we were hardly allowed to work on the damage ourselves. We, with Fair Transport, already try to make the world of transport a bit more in the natural way.  Perhaps it is time to slightly convert the insurance system as well. Into one, which is “really” helping people in need.

On the ship, we have been working on caulking the planks and also on the rigging we had things to do. We have been for about one month on the slipway. This is a place with a beautiful view and we could enjoy the sunrise and sunset every day from the ship. Bretagne is just another example of how beautiful the world really is.

Jean-Rene, one of the workers on the slipway, became a good friend.  We were invited to his house, where he lives with his wife and their two children. They are growing their own food and making their own cider. On his land he has been planting more than three thousand trees. A small forest planted by just one man.

Just imagine ….If we all just would treat the world with big respect, like this man does. There would be plenty if everything for all the people in the world. Living within the creation of plenty, instead of creating plenty of plenty we don’t really need.

There was enough time for cultural exploration in Bretagne. We have been visiting the countryside and the coastline. We were invited on small farms and harvesting our food our selves. One day we helped Paulette, a beautiful Breton lady with a small farm. We helped picking apples for making a delicious apple juice. We’ve got twenty bottles for the ship out of the total production of four hundred twenty bottles. The money for the apple juice is for a cinema project, which travels by sailing boat with the name  “Sobre las Olas”.  They perform interesting documentaries about the beautiful and crazy world we are living in.

Jeroen, our cook, was cooking two times in a local restaurant and we were all invited. Chez Mathurin is just the best restaurant in town; delicious food and only natural wine. We made a lot of contacts and friends.  People come by to bring fresh fish, apples, vegetables and so on. Life is not too bad here in Dournenez,

We have been sailing on a small boat to “Ile de Sein”. This is a small island west of Finisterre. The roughness of this place, where the ocean meets the land, is just amazing. Rocks, waves, current and swell… We were sailing all the way into the harbor, without using the stinking machine, and the next day we sailed out only by the wind. Anne-Flore , thank you so much for this awesome weekend.

We’ve been visiting the boat building school and sail maker school in town. There is a big community on building of and sailing with traditional boats in Douarnenez. We met Christoph from “ Plein Mer”. They are doing a very nice job on building and restoring old wooden boats. Of course a lot of people came a board to visit the Nordlys. Every time people who come on Nordlys are amazed of the fact, the ship is having no engine at all.

We adjusted a mast and sail on our dinghy, so we can go sailing in the harbor. It’s a beautiful wooden dinghy, perfect for sailing and rowing. Most of the crew had some time of. Time to visit family and friends. After two years hard working on Nordlys to make her sail again, it was a good moment for some rest as well. Live is not only about working.

One Saturday we organized a party on the boat. The cargo hold was still empty, so we transformed it into a dancing place. There was only organic beer and natural wine….. and of course some Tres Hombres rum. A big success it was.

Right now the ship and her crew are ready to go back at sea. We have some time to do sail training and little adjustment on the rigging. We managed to organize a cargo of Breton Cider for England and the Netherlands, which we can deliver to the cargo owners before the winter feasts. On board, everybody is delighted to have this cargo on board right now. We show the world, transport can be done in a different way.

“In die Ruhe liegt die Kraft”, as they say in Germany. Right now I am working on the adjustments of the sea charts. The North Sea starts to look like an industrial zone. A lot of oil and gas riggings, highways for the big ships, new wind farms for the so called “green energy”.  In between they create some marine reserve areas.  I hope there will be still some place to sail.

These are the waters we are going to sail. It is winter right now, so it will be cold. Most of the storms will hit the north of Ireland and Scotland. We will take the right window according to the forecasts. Whole the crew is excited to do this trip. We have enough warm clothes and sail back to Den Helder and prepare the ship for next year’s program.

We have cargo to sail and inspire the people with what we do……

Let’s combine our forces and make it happen!

Captain Lammert


Tres Hombres is here!


Captain Andreas and his crew made a swift passage from Great Yarmouth to Den Helder.

At the moment the ship is sailing in front of the dyke of Den Helder waiting for a tug to pull them in.

We expect her at the port of Willemsoord around 15:00


Almost halfway Skagerrak.

DATE:22-8 GMT:14.37 POS:58.19 N,8.53 E COG:200 SOG:1.5






SEA STATE:rollin´





Almost halfway Skagerrak.
Wind is gone, rainclouds with thunder.
Drifting 1.5 knots with the current in the
good direction.
Drinking hot chocolate.
Everybody is well on board Tres Hombres.


A sunny day after stormy weather

DATE:25-8 GMT:13.11 POS:55.42 N,04.05 E COG:240 SOG:2






SEA STATE:slight





A sunny day after stormy weather,
Wet clothes hanging out to dry.
A birthday cake makes it even better,
Fishing gear is out to catch a fish to fry.
Till Eyemouth it is two hundred miles to go,
The forecast says an easterly is expected to blow.
All the best here out at sea,
It is all about ¨to be¨.


[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Tres Hombres by: Joost Mulder, registerloods Rotterdam-Rijnmond” type=”image” alt=”foto 3.JPG” ]

A long tradition of nautical education.

Enkhuizer Nautical College

Nautical education is a long-standing tradition in Enkhuizen, Netherlands dating back to the 16thcentury. Then sailing ships departed from this, at the time, important city to sail the world’s oceans. Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer (1534-1605) was already giving lessons in nautical education there..

The introduction of steamships and reliable engines resulted in merchant sailing ships rapidly becoming redundant. Clippers, schooners and other traditional sailing ships disappeared from the rivers and seas, and along with them the nautical education and knowledge of sailing tall ships. However, a turning point was reached in the 1960’s, when a young generation started restoring and sailing the remaining rotten, rusty ships. Read more…