We left Denmark, our good friends at Hawila, our old ones in Bornholm and Copenhagen and our new ones in Hundested, behind.
We also greeted quite a few fellow shipmates who are badly missed on board and made our journey very special till now.
And I left the galley as well, swapped it for the deck, and passed on the apron to my friend Shani, our new cook, who I happily introduced to the joys and sorrows of the rolling galley. I can finally begin my deckhand season as planned.
A new chapter of the summer voyage of Tres Hombres started: the ship is bound to Ireland, the longest leg of the entire season.
We cast off the lines from our last shore on a sunny morning, winds were fair and so was the weather as much as our moods. Lately, we have spent many days in harbour, moving from port to port, delivering cargo, and accomplishing our main mission. But we go sailing to be at sea and to be out here is what many of us long for the most. After a month and 4 stops, it was definitely time to fully dive into the Big Blue again.
We sailed on in Kattegat for a couple of days, heading North, making way decently, steadily, smoothly. Awesome favourable conditions to begin the training of our newbies in the watch: learning a whole new language, the names of the sails, all the lines, the sail handling and the manoeuvring theory. As much as the familiarization with all the details of the life on board our good ship: wake-up calls, deck washing, galley cleaning, bilge pumping, bread baking, coffee making…
An ocean of information that has to be properly dosed to be efficiently metabolized and not too overwhelmed for those amongst us who are completely new to this world.
We reached Skagen, the cape that marks the zone which connects the North Sea with the Baltic and stretches between Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
One last sunset tack at a golden hour just half a mile from the wild Norwegian coast, the fjords looking stunning in their unspoiled ancestral beauty. And then the ride began…
A depression coming from the Atlantic was moving fast towards us. It was pretty soon clear that we would have to earn our way to the North Sea tack after tack, watch after watch. The gentle cruising of the summer trip was over, and the time for the real action was finally on us. Tension was rising as the pressure lowered.
Once in the North Sea, the conditions didn’t improve.
The open waters created a mighty swell, with waves up to 4-5 mt high.
On Monday, cook’s day off, we were still confident the weather would remain challenging but still decent, just to end up experiencing a pizza party at dinner in a raging sea, with aplomb sky striped in sudden rainbows, the waves flattened by heavy showers, the bow rising and diving, smashing the surface of the sea with violence, the ship feeling like a wild mad black horse riding in the fast free wind. We felt excited as kids, contaminated by the madness of the Elements surrounding us. Cooking, sharing and eating pizza in such rough conditions has been hectic and felt insanely good. I was happy to take on the challenge to stick to my plan and bake pizza for a whole crew in such weather to finally succeed but I won’t do it twice. Once was more than enough, believe me.
For 5 days the ship has been washed from side to side, as much as all of us from head to feet. Heavy rains, strong howling winds, sudden squalls, and finally, the gale came in a dark casted night. Suddenly, at the midnight watch change, the wind picked up and reached a raging force 8. We dropped sails as fast as possible, furled the royal and gallant with gusts up to 30-35 knots. Full and by, helming hard, the rudder struggling, beating the currents, the legs anchored on the deck, the harnesses clicked in, the gravity becoming heavier as if we were walking on another planet. The cosiness of our wooden home kissed by the golden summer solstice sun was no more than a far away blurry memory.
That dog watch has been epic, even for those of us who already experienced such scenarios. It is always impressive to experience the force of Nature in this way, being and feeling no other than a bared and naked and tiny and fragile human in front of it in the middle of a dark sea. Do your best, keep the focus, and trust one another and the strength of the Black Lady. Hold fast.
And then, eventually, like every storm on land and at sea, also this one got tired and calmed down. Or at least it seemed…
Just this morning, we were still surfing waves up to 5 mt high. While I was steering the ship, a wall of water smashed on the aft deck, swallowing everything on its way. It was so ridiculously big and mighty that all we could do was just explode into loud laughter at our own shared wet misery (especially our first mate Jules, who choose the perfect timing to go inside the washroom just behind the helm to clean the toilet!). We were literally soaked. But the wildness of the Nature around us was fullying us with awe, and big exhausted smiles could be spotted all over the deck.
We are free, wild and alive. And we are where we want to be doing what we love. And we have each other and the precious fellowship that we build together watch after watch. What shall we do if not laugh?
Unfurling the gallant, a gannet (my favourite ocean bird) flew so close to me on the leeward side yard while the ship was heeling on her flank as if she could melt down into the water and I felt so alive, again, I could explode.
And now, as I write these lines, it is the end of the day, around midnight, the wind dropped almost completely and our tired sails who did so well over the last days, flap and release the tension, as we do too. The sun sets behind the biggest wind mill farm in the North Sea. Ironically enough, after few years sailing in this area, I can say I experienced many times wind holes in this zone. Funny place to set up a wind mill farm…
With the quitness of the night watch and cozy intimacy of my watch around me, I feel blessed.
We laugh loudly on the aft deck around the helm, we share the last bar of chocolate and we feel full. Full of life, full of joy, full of all sorts of emotions, feelings and impressions. We look into each other’s eyes and we don’t need words anymore. In only a few days this weather made what months of shining sun, smooth sea and trade winds could seldomly provide: a bunch of badass sailors out of newbies, a group of random strangers into forever fellow friends. A pod of very, very different souls matching and melting into one another beautifully, embracing who we are, simply. The biodiversity of our spirits couldn’t be greater and yet, we learnt how to happily and efficiently cooperate, to live and work together day and night, tired and soaked, supporting and accepting, embracing and appreciating fully who we really are without having to fit in a box to please one or the other. When givin up the ego we can finally see one another, dropping all arrogant judgement to set our eyes free and able to stare amazed at the true beauty and the real value that each of us can bring to the ship and into this world. My family grow bigger after this gale as our hearts wiser and stronger. I feel the Love I can give and I feel the Love I receive too. I can’t count my blessings anymore. All the rest, it’s just dust in the wind…
Thank you Miss Gale, thank you Black Lady and thank you once again Mister Big Blue. You are our true and only one Masters.
Exact time, day and date are not the most important parameters on board. Therefore, watch changes, meals and sea miles gained towards the desired destination make you notice time passing by.
After patiently awaiting the right wind and slowly moving along the southern Swedish coast, in the course of the night we finally made our way through the Copenhagen sound towards the Kattegat.
The gentle wake up of the other watch promises us a sunny windy day and a tasty breakfast. So we begin the day with fruit porridge, coffee and warm bread fresh from the oven to get ready for our morning watch.
After watch change daily chores call and we wash the deck and clean the galley. The major part of the watch is to take care of the sail handling, adjusting the sail trim to wind and course. So we gybe to change course, trim the sails and set the lower and upper bob to gain further speed. After some days on the same watch and a team experienced with the Tres, manoeuvres run quite smoothly.
Luckily, the wind gives us a break to enjoy the morning sun. So what to do? From my position on the helm helping our second mate to navigate through a lane of huge container cargo ships, I observe another type of action on deck. Guided by our oldest but most sporty watch member, my watch starts a Tabata class. Imagine three people engaging in 8 x 8 high intensity exercises on a moving deck. Utilizing the cargo hold and the aft and random planks as their sports gear. 20 seconds of action are always initiated by a sharp whistle and finished with a bell ring from the phone. This noise and the ever stronger swearing about the duration of the class are the only things that add to the sound of wind in the sails and waves against the hull.
What’s the tune? Sunshine … sunshine reggae … ”
…stapte ik als trainee aan boord van de Tres Hombres, zonder enig verstand van zeilen.
Ik voer mee de hele zomer, werkte mee op de scheepswerf, ging vervolgens mee naar de Carieb en nu ben ik deksman. Het kan gek lopen.
In de eeuwenoude traditie van de ommelandvaart, waar ook de Hanze uit voortkwam, zeilen wij door Skagerrak.
We zeilen waar 700 jaar geleden al de koggen uit Kampen, Zwolle, Hamburg, Brugge en verder voeren. Wij brengen wijn naar Kopenhagen en Bornholm.
Zij haalden haring bij Skanor, graan uit Oostland, bont uit Rusland.
Wij hebben dertien zeilen, zij hadden er maar eentje. In tegenstelling tot de tijd van Volcmar van Enesce en zijn schip de Brunte wacht ons geen Lübecker deernenkogge noch trage weken op de vitten, waar gewacht diende te worden –-wellicht vergeefs –- op de haring.
Ons wacht wijn en verwonderde blikken van de Kopenhagers.
Wij worden nu voor gek verklaard dat wij zonder motor door Skagerrak varen, toen was er geen andere keus. Het was simpelweg de enige optie. Het is wel bekend dat het flink kan spoken in het Skagerrak. De ommelandvaart was niet een reis die lichtvaardig werd ondernomen. Ik echter heb tot nu toe geluk gehad. Vorig jaar viel het mee, dit jaar is het nog rustiger. Hoewel het in beginsel niet per se leuk is om in zwaar weer te zeilen (geen slaap, zee in je laarzen) en ik afgelopen november op de Atlantische oceaan al een goede storm heb gehad, voel ik me toch een beetje bekocht dat ik niet het beruchte geraas van Skagerrak meemaak.
Ach ja, we moeten ook nog terug natuurlijk…
After a beginning with 7 knots speed average, here we are, almost in Skagerrak.
30 miles away from the Danish coast and the low pressure eye caught up on us.
Sunny, catching fishes for lunch, oiling the mooring cleats and repairing Jibs. All of the sails are squeezed to avoid extra damages from shafing and swinging.
The crew gets a better sleep to recover from an intense sail training. 1.5 knots current to move us on an invisible flying carpet. Slowly reaching the destination.
The sound of the water along the hull is different. Bubbles instead of continuous flow.
I’ll let you ask the crew about this intimate environment which covers you at all times.
The voices, banging pans in the galley and the sound of the tools are more perceptible from down below when the wind has a break.
Almost all of us are resting under the water line inside a thick wooden cocoon skin.
Same as the bottles of wine, where the cargo is cooled down because of the sea temperature isolated by planks.
As the people aging in a rough and pure concept.
Sea birds were playing around the ship in the air while sailing and now the Boreal Fulmar follow us sitting on the water, paddling. Sometimes they argue with the teens, at times they accelerate to grab the mackerel hanging on a hook. Our pretty pets. Exterior fellows accompanying us on the road.
At the end of the afternoon a reasonably stronger breeze will support our ship to go.
For now, guitar melody is in the air and lunch is about to be ready.
Yes, there is a lot to tell about our adventures in the Baltic Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak and the
but let’s start with an impression of the alternative route from Holland to Ireland, over the
top of Scotland.Cargo ships have schedules, which always have two sides. Or you are lucky and sail ahead of it, then
you can hang out on pretty islands or sightsee-sail around them, or you have to take the fastest route
to get there in time.
Last weekend, while our short stop in Den Helder we had the choice: wait until
the south-west storm passes and then tack for 10 days against variable winds (the shorter route) or
take the chance and go around the British Isles, 500 miles more.
Checking the weather forecasts did not give a clear picture while the wind was picking up from the
south and above all, there was constantly a saying from our first voyages ghosting along my head: Gy
zult geen goede wind verleggen!! Now, let’s go then! Dirk, Louise, Marco, and Miranda brought us out
into the Schulpengat, where we started tacking just as the current turned and soon made our way
around the shoals and up north.
At first, legislation and economy kept us in their grip, traffic scheme
after oil rig after windmill park…it is amazing out there! War on nature and sailing ships is going on, as
usual, there is absolutely no change recognizable on the North Sea. New oil and gas fields are
exploited, trying to keep up against Russia and the Middle East, new windmill parks drilled and
cemented into the seabed, trying to color our energy-wasting green, and those pretty purple stripes
on our chart, the TSS (traffic separation scheme). 3 separate ones just off Den Helder!
As a sailing ship you have to alter course and do everything possible to cross those imaginary but still ruling lines
at a right angle, and if you do not totally succeed in crossing at 90 degrees because of wind and
currents, they see you with their eye of justice, call you up and prosecute you, even if there is not a
single ship around you could impede of its course of justice!
But finally, you get up to the Pentland Firth, where the world changes into a beautiful and exciting
challenge with nature. Changing winds and strong currents with magic eddies, many new birds, white
striped dolphins, seals, and even a Minky on the road. The wind was kind and kept us minimal
steerage through the dangerous passage and even turned with us after passing Cape Wrath. Now
heading to the Hebrides, closely passing rock after rock and discovering a new seabird every hour,
the crew is content that we choose this route instead of our good known old friend, the canal de la
So far we had a great voyage this summer with several cargoes, still, the voyage is becoming a long
one now for some of the crew, which have been onboard since mid-December, but also coming to an
end, as we have to deliver a functional and ready-to-load ship back in France. The wine delivery was
not the only one this summer, as the people in Copenhagen are unbelievably thirsty and only seem
to drink natural wine there! Our friend Sune Rosforth has introduced a whole new wine drinking
culture there in Denmark, with his charm, knowledge, and unstoppable perseverance. Since him,
Copenhagen is, next to Tokyo, the capital of natural wine worldwide. Copenhagen still has the
advantage of the transport 😉
We had a wonderful time in our Danish offloading ports Copenhagen (Under the bridge at Sune’s)
and in Gudhjem, the ancient natural port on Bornholm, where we lay in front of Provianten, the Havn
Bar of our great friends and clients Maria and Thomas. As the winds were kind to us on the way up there,
we had some time to spare and used it in all kinds of ways, painting the ship, exploring and
feasting over the island, getting to know many friendly locals, and sharing a taste of rum with even
Due to the wind, we decided to pay a visit to Christianso where we anchored overnight and were
woken by howling seals on the easternmost rocks of Denmark.
Back to Copenhagen, we discharged a load of Svaneke beer, which was accompanied by master
brewer Jan Paul, who made even some beer on the voyage in our galley. Some precious boatbuilding
oak from Bornholms sawmill Koefoed was loaded for Den Helder, where it will be used in one of the
local sail cargo projects.
We also visited the Danish sail cargo project Hawila in Holbek, where the international crew worked
hard to get this beautiful Baltic Trader back in sailing shape again, renewing structural parts as well as
constructing a substantial hold for future cargo and art-ventures! We wish them very well and hope
more enthusiast and talented craftswo-men to join their team.
Now all sails are set, bound for Cork in Ireland, where we receive a cargo of beer for France, we hope
that corona rules will allow us a shore leave, as for many of us it would be the first pint in Ireland
In respect of wind, current, and rocks,
After a harsh start through, more than over, the big swells, coming into the bay of Les Sables, we left the friendly town and tug behind us and got underway up the Biskay.
High, higha, Biskaya…true it was and many a stomach did not appreciate the food coming from our friends from the fertile land.
Tacking up against the westerly breeze shook out the last remnants of the landlife and made us forget about endless wine and cheese fast. After passing Ouessant with a smooth 11kn we turned right and undressed the old lady until her downwind garment and passed a smooth night along the Breton coast.
Island watching this morning, as Guernsey, Casquets and Alderney raced along us and now, just above Cherbourgh, we are caught in the current bringing the speed through the water of around 11kn back to 6 over the ground. Still she behaves as steady as ever, just waiting for the tide to turn in order to hurry up to Dover Strait and release us back into the North Sea. 18 days ago a strong north-easterly brought us down, now a south-westerly pushes us back up again … what can a cargo sailor wish more about?
Greetings from the wine carrier
The departure maneuver in Copenhagen was super cool and smooth!
It is great to move a big sailing ship like this in a harbor under sails. Nowadays being under sails inside a port is forbidden.
I allowed us to do it because it’s possible and it’s very important to understand your ship under all circumstances, in all places. It’s esthetic, it’s cheaper, it’s in silence, it’s an achievement. If you don’t try, you will never know the capacity of your ship and the ability of yourself to handle different situations. Pushing the boundaries means creation, without creation life is boring.
The smiles of the few crew members left on shore and Sune’s team singing for us were warming up our hearts. The Welcomes and the Good byes are precious. Later, I received pictures of the Tres Hombres from different spots on the coast. It’s hard to let a home, a friend sailing away. You feel like a part is missing in your heart. If you accept, the one who leaves goes lighter and stronger. The one who stays has to make sure that the inside healthy firework feeling will be recreated to get as high as possible to set it as a norm, life is exciting and too short to be wasted.
Yesterday we expected South wind all away through the narrow Sound Passage which wasn’t real. Of course, we tacked for a while, passed the ferry lanes which can be two at a time. Then the wind decreased so much that we were not under command, drifting on the edge of the channel to the right direction, but for how long?
No worries, we are safe, but that doesn’t mean that we have to wait for the miracle to come. So we dropped the dinghy into the water and Collin pushed us for an hour. At 7.30 pm we were out of the Passage. The current helped us to come in a wider area to progress and the wind came back from land. “Watch change” good luck.
Last night it was very rainy, sometimes 9 kts, dousing sails, sometimes 3 kts and setting sails.
In 24h the 6 new crew members got a large spectrum about what we are doing on deck with all this stuff above our heads. It doesn’t make sense yet. Don’t worry, you are part of the team and every hand is useful.
When you step on board you can’t be a spectator. And acting makes you understand “why”. You live the process into the details.
Today is sunny finally, linseed oil is spread here and there. As well as little repairs for the ship to go to Den Helder. Soon the big yearly refit comes…
(see you next year Copenhagen and Bornholm)
Anne-Flore and the crew thank the Rosforth & Rosforth team, Sabotoren and Provianten gigantically for their trust in Fairtransport and for bringing awareness to consume good quality products that help to provide healthy earth, healthy people, and working in short circuit organization.
Sailing cargo with the Nordlys.
A happy crew on a happy ship.
We sail from the Netherlands to Portugal and England,
from France to Germany and Denmark.
Sometimes storm, sometimes calm, sometimes sun, sometimes rain.
“Une grande ballet” on the oceans waves.
The flow of air which makes us move.
As we are dancing away from and towards the land.
The sun and stars are shining above us in the sky.
As we dance this handcrafted wooden ship,
The natural wines, olive oil and flowers, are dancing with us overseas.
Products from the earth, natural grown and cared with love.
“Une grande ballet” of quality and taste.
As we farm the land, as we sail the ship.
Producers, transporters and consumers meet.
We are dancing the melodies of life,
during this precious time here on earth.
Thriving like a grapevine, an olive tree or a flower of life.
The planet earth is meant to thrive.
Let us follow her tunes and dance her melody,
and she will be prosperous for every soul.
Everything is moving in circles, everything is rhythm.
The waves of this rhythm are the universal heartbeat.
Life on Nordlys – living the rhythmic pulse of the sea.
This rhythm of life is moving forward in spirals.
The sun, the moon, the stars and the planets are all circling above us in the sky,
Sometimes clear to observe, sometimes obscured by clouds, mists and sheets of grey.
The clouds of water also travel with the spiralling moving flow of air.
These movements of air bring raindrops on our heads, wind in our hair and sunshine on our faces.
We are sailing this wooden ship over the surface of this beautiful planet we call earth.
Planet earth, full of water, spiraling through the universe.
This ocean planet is floating through the universe; sailing between the stars.
The magical life of circles, cycles and rhythms is forever spiraling upwards.
We are sailing this wooden ship through the breathing liquid of life.
We ARE the water, we ARE the rhythm, we ARE the spiral of life.
Like the ocean tides, we will be born and we will die,
Over and over again.
The ever changing rhythm of the universe –
No change to escape.
We are nature; and the rhythm of nature is our life.
Movement and flow ….. We travel with our wooden ship.
We bring cargo infused with rhythm and flow.
We sail with this flow, making peace with each moment
Trusting in natures rhythm.
Allowing life to deliver through us, not by us.
We are nature; technique is an entity within the universe which is living next to us.
We are no robots, we need natural food, we are the natural cycle not the technical one.
We can only thrive by rhythm of the nature.
As we remember our ancient ways to be re-anchored back into life again,
We are the new ancients, traveling back into fullness and flow
The way nature guides and gives in her own time,
we become a deeper, richer, more abundant and generous spiral.
Here we are on Nordlys; sailing this wooden ship.
Captain Lammert Osinga
Last night the second mate, Alan, and I where studying the charts, weather and shipping. When he brought up, where Nordlys, the other sailing cargo ship of Fairtransport would be? We knew they had been discharging a cargo of wine and olive oil in Brixham, England, and where bound for Douarnenez, France, after that. This, to pick up wine for Copenhagen and Bornholm in the Baltic. So theoretically she would be somewhere in between Brixham and Douarnenez, and we where too. For the heck of it, I put the cursor on one of the ships on our AIS (Automatic Identification System), and really a chance of one in a million, but it was Nordlys!
Next moment I was on the radio: “Nordlys, Nordlys, Tres Hombres”… A few seconds later the familiar voice of the Master of Nordlys, Captain Lammert Osinga, could be heard: “Tres Hombres, Nordlys”. We changed to a working channel, and had a nice chat about our voyages and the available cargoes. We where pretty much on opposite courses, so we both only had to alter a bit to starboard to meet each other. So we agreed to arrange a meeting on the high seas, in a few hours.
Around an hour after midnight we saw the bright navigation lights, red above green, and the silhouette of Nordlys became apparent. Captain Lammert and I, discussed matters over the radio, and decided that the safest maneuver would be, that Tres Hombres would go hove too by bracing the foretop aback, and Nordlys would approach under reduced sail. Then we would lower our boat, as part of a man-overboard exercise, and sent over a delegation of our crew, with a drink and a cigar. As described happened. It was really the most impressive sight to see the Nordlys, gliding effortlessly through the mirror like see, only partly visible due to the moonlight. When our boarding team returned, with an exchange of gifts, everybody was over excited. Like a wild bunch of privateer’s we echoed our greetings and wishes, our Austrian deckhands shared their flasks of rum to celebrate the occasion. Then, accompanied by the timeless sound of Nordlys their Japanese foghorn, and Tres Hombres her Norwegian foghorn, Nordlys disappeared into the darkness again…
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
LAST MINUTE OFFER: The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a unexpected voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Royan, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with co-founder and captain Andreas Lackner, then come and join in!
Landlubbers will get sea legs, and old salts wil get a glimpse of how it was in the good days and how it will be!
For more info sail along or email email@example.com