“Good morning foc’sle, it’s time to wake up!”
But is it? Is it really? I groan internally. Firstly, I dispute this assertion that it is morning. It is actually 11.45pm. Secondly, I only went to sleep less than three and a half hours ago and my body is telling me it is surely anything but time to wake up.
But, I suppose, it is time for my watch. So I better had pull some clothes on and clamber out the foc’sle. But for the love of Neptune, please don’t turn that light on right above my head. That’s just too far.
The watch system we stand on the Tres Hombres runs as follows; two watches, port and starboard, each comprised of either the first or second mate, one deckhand, and four trainees. Watch on, watch off from midnight-4am, 4am-8am, 8am-2pm, 2pm-8pm and 8pm-midnight, ie. three 4 hour watches during the night, and two 6 hour watches during the day. Captain, cook and bosun are on day watch.
The debate frequently rolls around the galley table as to the faults and merits of this old Swedish watch system. Merits include that in any given 48 hour period, we get to see all hours of the day and night; sunrise, sunset, moon and stars and whatever the day may bring. I can tell you about dolphins leaving bio-luminescent trails in the bowsprit waves, jellyfish glowing brightly beneath the swell, even plankton lighting up the toilet bowl as it flushes. I can now find Taurus, the Pliades and Cassiopia in the stars and I know lots about the many different shades of darkness (and not so darkness) one might experience on deck at night. And when it comes to those sunrises and sunsets, where do I start? Oh yes, purple rain. The other morning the sunrise turned falling rain on the horizon purple.
But there is a downside. Namely, never getting longer than six hours off watch. Given that at night, it’s only four hours, when you factor in meals, fifteen minutes for wake-up’s and time to fall asleep in the first place, plus maybe some waking time to oneself during the day, you are looking at sleep in generally three to four hour bursts at a time. (With the glorious exception of holiday watch, which rotates through each member of the watch during night watch’s, sailing conditions permitting. Eight whole glorious hours off in row. Viva la holiday watch!). Developing a rhythm for your body clock is basically a non-possibility and it cannot be sugar coated, the crew often looks a tad fatigued.
The other element of the watch system debate falls to practicalities – size of the crew, number of hands needed on watch, the merits of having the Captain and Bosun on day watch…
Given that it is the only system I have yet experienced, I shall refrain from forming any sweeping judgments. As we settle into the second week of our Atlantic crossing, I am feeling more adjusted and my energy levels are generally higher. I am even now finding time off watch for daily ukulele and Spanish practise, and relatively frequent, refreshing salt water bucket showers.
And when all is said and done, I am sure I can look forward to telling my tales of the mad, exhausting life at sea and the many sights of the night and day which stretch out upon these vast horizons.
Fairtransport is like a spark. It started a fire, which is getting bigger and starts spreading around. The old way and the natural way of transporting is part of a bigger movement in the modern time. More and more the agriculture is taking a step backwards and a lot of farmers are producing natural again. More and more people start using of local products again. More and more recycling is going on. More and more people are taking care of their energy use, and so forth. Altogether more and more care for “mother earth” ; Our habitat!
Unfortunately there is still a stubborn group of people who still believe in capitalistic way of living and following the rules of the free market economy; Ruining the earth by doing so.
And a big group of people who are not really aware and just live the spoiled way of the western society.
There is momentarily however, a growing amount of protest against this way of living. We don’t want to eat gen-food, We don’t want our forests to be chopped away, We don’t want to stand in traffic-jams every day, We don’t want to breath polluted air and so forth.
We, the people, should demand back our freedoms and the more natural way of living. Protest alone doesn’t help; “Be the change you want to see”. Giving the example and inspire the people around you. I believe this is the best you can do. One moment we will reach the critical mass.
Since I started to work with Fairtransport, I saw the amount of cargo growing, after Tres Hombres came Nordlys and also others started transporting goods with their sailingships. A group of people with an ideal and a goal. A truly greener world; Our origin,our source.
If you search for the meaning of the word “economy”, you will find words like “thrift” and “providence”, also “careful management of available resources” and “sparing or careful use of something”.
So lets start to live a healthy economy together.
Change is not easy and doesn’t happen in one day. Stimulate this slow revolution and live more with nature again. We are trying and doing the best we can with Fairtransport;
Cargo by wind and sail!
Captain Lammert Osinga
Laughing and unstoppable, these are the people who build Fairtransport. No to stop by rain, by growing global economies, war, indifference to ecology problems and always wet bicycle seats.
In 2 intense months of good work the ship was taken in pieces, relieved from rust and rot, conserved and put back together again. After half a day she was watertight and dry again ki bakina p….
Thanks to you Giuseppe, Fieke, Sean, Demi, Hilde, Michael, Becca, Fa. Teerenstra, Annelies, Klaas, Nico, Wojtek, Dennis, Bertus, Eelco, Dirk, Herman, Sean, Jelte, Jeroen, Laura, Martin, Shimra, Daniel, Judith, Woody, Whoopy, Jeroen, Lis, Juliette, Eva, Wessel, Tim, Andrew, Boj, Tim, Remi, Freya, Anne-Fleur, Tibo, Marco, Laura, Erica, Vincent, Celina, Alan, Tim, Melle, Alex, Gerald, Jonas, Clarissa, Karl, Vinzenz, Corinna, Emils, Sabine, Hans, Muriel, Gerrit, Signe, Jorge, Andreas, Rodri, Hessel and all the others I forgot.
She will sail!
Captain Andreas Lackner
Like almost any other day I visited sailing cargo vessel Nordlys (1873) at Willemsoord , Den Helder. The ship has been refitted first at Teerenstra Shipwarf and is now lying in the Museum Harbour (http://museumhavenwillemsoord.nl ) getting ready and waiting for her cargo to arrive with her fellow sailing cargo vessel “Tres Hombres”. It is amazing to see what the crew of beautiful Nordlys is doing and has been done.
The bow of the ship has been trough a total rebuild including the focs’l where the crew will stay during the cargo trips in European waters. While sitting in the focs’l it occurs to me that the athmosphere there is tranquille it’s almost like a cosy coocoon keeping you safe from all the work and life on deck and the quay.
The deckbeams and planks have been replaced and a brand new anchor winch is nearly ready. The hull super strong, the galley is made ready, the rigging is being checked and her crew is in good spirits.
The builders , who do this as volunteers , did and DO a great job and I thank them for making this happen. Restoring the (possibly) oldest sailing cargo ship in the world is in safe hands with them. http://fairtransport.eu/ships/nordlys/
crew of sailing vessel Leprechaun
“O! the glory of our labours! sawteeth and hammer, adze and chisel, chainsaw and hatchet, the frozen north! oak and pine, pitch and tar, rope and tackle, oakhum and hemp! hands tarred and scarred, hearts singing and mighty, frames and planks, ribs and knees! out with the rotten, and pay up all the seams!
a guild together, no masters, all apprentices! no captain, only the loyalty to do the best for ourselves and our good ship! eight hours of work, eight hours of repose, eight hours of sleep, and this is what we have worked for! we resonate with this vision! we celebrate a craftsfolk tapestry! we step on the holy steppingstones of those before us to set sails into the bright miles to come, unbound by the shadows of the past! we break down to become stronger, we rise with toolsteel hands, a chorus of spirits, wandering shipwrights, we share our journey in these chapters!
the solstice approached and we descended into its depths, the solstice passed and we rose as a phoenix, tempered, smithed, far into the darkness, far into the light…
intent in our breath, intent in the cut of our blades, intent in our kinship, intent in our co-operation…we are rich with intent, we are visionaries all! sailors and journeymen, backpacks and boots, carpenters’ sure hands, and trusty eyes…
our good ship shall leap on the rolling wave! by tool and song, by muscle and sinew, by blood and breath, by spit and grit, and by intention we build her! we build ourselves! we build one another! brothers! sisters! in our ship we shall sail! in our vision we shall voyage! in our actions we honour ourselves! in our craft we hone the blades of our spirits! in our labours we bear the fruits of the endless gift of our journey!
these are the dances of the wandering apprentices, joining in the cobblestone shipyards! and as the nights drew in, and as the nights drew out, we were here all along, together, labouring, in our guild, in our kinship, hand in hand around stewpots and sacred fires! tools in hand at the oilstoned edge of our stories, bounding and singing onto blank pages, building this ship! building this vision!”
Nordlys refit crew
Voyage: Amsterdam to Blankenberge
Its nice to be out here on the Mare Frisium. The once called Frisian Sea that is now called North Sea.
We are on our way to Blankenberge Belgium for a 5 day Maritime festival http://www.havenfeesten.be/ this weekend.
Last night we anchored due to the lack of wind in about a meter water. Than this morning we had to break out the anchor out of the sand and pump the chain back in.
Setting all the sails again the ship soon enough made a good spead of knots with the current with us going South. Now the sun is shiny and our bellies are full.
Although the cook is a little sea sick she was able to cook a great meal and made here amazing sour dough bread. Life is good at sea seeing happy faces.
Next stop is Eyemouth, Scotland, wanna sail along? http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/
Captain Arjen van der Veen
Wind wind, wind wind wind. It blows hard here, bending the azorien palms, and it’s sound effects- whistling stays, creaking mooring lines, hauling wind mills. It swipes over our safe haven island Fajal with an ocean gathered strength, and pulls on my nerves like a cello tuned by a butcher.
Such a fragile home we’ve got. 10 Months out of 12 it’s tossed around on the waves, half in the sea half in the sky. Yet in 5 months of sailing, soft or rough, land has been our only danger. The sea is my refuge. Does this make me a sailor?
Cast off the lines and let the world go to hell.
2 More weeks will bring a stop to a journey that seemed endless in time, or better said – the end of which I could not imagine.
So total is life at sea on an engineless sailing ship, engulfed in a nature beyond that which was meant for men.
So simple is my existence here – stay on the boat, feel the wind. And how do I go back to the social pollution of society?
On our ship every sound has a meaning, a reason and a reaction called for. The sails speak to you, telling ‘pull’ or ‘ease’ ; the wind says ‘brace’, ‘ set sails’ or ‘ douse’.
Visual and noise pollution in harbour and cities is overwhelming to me now. Did I sail across the ocean to return to this?
Have I changed and now must plunge into car exhausts church bells led screens and selfies once more?
Cast away from sea to land.
God have mercy for those lost at sea, for they had to go out again, not to be lost on land.
Second mate Shimra
As the rhythm of the sea gets left behind, farther a day at a time, and though my feet touch the ground, I am not here nor there.
I should be writing this blog about our last 2 weeks of sail, since our last port of call , Bornholm.
About the cold, the crazy winds we battled, the waves in-golfing the ship. The sleepless nights and the strength of our crew.
I could write of that moment we cast off the last mooring line and the uplifting feeling when the wind catch the sail and without looking up you know you’re flying again, with nothing to hold you until the next quay.
I can tell endless stories of the unconditional kindness of people we met, and how amazing it is to arrive from the storm and hear a stranger say -” i’m so happy you are here, we’ve been waiting , come in…”.
How we shared the night steering in the Kattagat, with frozen fingers and clicked in to the mizzen sheet, feeding each other chocolate and counting the minutes to tea time, to wake up time, to pillow time. Chase the darkness away with our voices.
How in the toilet which is the only place it wasn’t raining you would get a back flash and be, Well , wet.
How just when we made it 0.5 NM from IJmuiden and already breathed in relief, we had to stay another night at anchor and spend our last power raising cables from the bottom of the sea with the anchor (grinding skills improving….)
How we shared with each other our last dry clothes, our last emergency candy, rolling paper, tampons, our crazy dreams, our hopes, our fears, our bunks, our love.
I can tell you how good it feels to trust each other to sail us safe through a gale while we sleep in our fox’ol bunks to the loud sounds of pounding waves.
I Can tell about hoisting the jib and reefing the main in 7 Bft , pumping bilges in 25 degrees heel, the backstay in the shrouds, the bucket over board, the oil rigs jungle, the tiny birds, our new best friend Handy Billy, and garlic.
But all this, my friends, is another life time, just a few days away, and from the relative safety of this NDSM terrace, over looking the mooring Nordlys which carried me so far, “The rhythm of the Sea” becomes a cliche’.
Fill up my cup and i’ll tell you a story.
Date : Tuesday the 18 of October 2016
Position : 55*35.5’N 3*46.9’E
Speed & course :3 kts to south
Wind speed & direction : west 5 to 10 kts
Sea state : calm with a long swell from south
Sky state : Cirrostratus
Air temp: 14*C
Sea Temp: 14*C
Cirrostratus in the air, what does that mean?
Our web log followers answer “Low Pressure coming”
They are right
This morning, we already enjoyed the showers associated with the warm front
Or like the French crews call it on board “Ze Worm front”
Later the cold front will reach us and bring with it some wind
In between, light wind let us rolling on a long swell
What a pleasure to sail the North Sea in October
We don’t need to fill up our cup with water from the tank
Just let it outside and wait a couple of minute
And you get one of the purest water to drink
Living on the rhythm of the Nature
Grabbing all opportunity in the weather to go forward
But not wanting to give up so fast a new plan of battle was prepared. We tried to tighten the bowsprit with several handy-billys hoping to stop the wiggling and to fix it into place.
After some sweat breaking attempts in tightening everything we set the flyer for the third time in one day and hurray, it finally worked! Although we made jokes about our beautiful Nordlys being only held together by quick fixes at the moment, spirits where high and we enjoyed speeds of over seven knots which was something new to us on this so far mostly windless journey.
The mood on board went up even higher when our mate Henk came up from the chartroom with the message that, should we be able to hold this speed we would be across half the Biscay in 24 hours.
It turned out this kind of delight would only be granted for about 12 hours.
Some minutes after watch change the next day, our crew member Martin who had just vanished in the foxhole to get some rest stuck his head out again, “What was that noise?” he asked evidently worried. But the wind hat picked up and our ears filled with its blowing nobody on deck had heard anything.
We went about our business unworried. The boat making strange sounds was normal and especially in the foxhole it sometimes screeched and rummaged all over.
Some minutes after that, a movement caught my eye and looking up I could see tangling lines filling the air next to our mainsail on starboard. After the fraction of a second I had seen them and started to ask myself what was wrong and why, a mess of steel wire, blogs and twisted ropes came crashing down on the deck.