All throughout the weekend, I’ve been on the edge of my seat.
First an e-mail from my boss Maria telling me, that Tres Hombres is moving fast! We can expect her during the weekend. Then a phone call from deckie Jonas, they slowed down in the middle of Kattegat, no wind, they will be here in the middle of next week. And then Monday, suddenly a text from the chef on board Giulia, they are almost here!
This is how it is to work with Fairtransport. It is a bit unpredictable, because, well… They move when the winds blow. Several people have looked at me with mild desperation and disbelief in their eyes, at the mere thought of not knowing when to expect delivery, and although it sounds like a logistical nightmare to have a fluid ETA, allow me to make the argument that it is the opposite. When we can’t participate in the ever faster moving treadmill of capitalistic supply and demand, when everything is not just a ‘click’ on a computer away, we are set free. There is no truck driver being pushed to drive faster and ignore resting hours, no dependence on fossil fuels, and no company deadline to reach. The process of getting goods becomes fluent and independent. It’s not up to us, we place our trust in the sails of an engineless vessel. What freedom, that is!
Soils and sails
We import natural wines from France. The importance of transparency, when making and selling natural wine cannot be overstated. Natural wine is a grounded messenger of the soils, every drop of wine comes from a certain place and tells a story of biodiversity. The juice comes from a plant that has roots deep in the soil, and it has been worked by people with intention. It’s all about this connection between roots and humans.
The connection to the soil that the natural wines teach us about, made us realize that even though the wines are made with care and focus on the Earth, it doesn’t matter if the wines are then shipped to Copenhagen in big diesel trucks. It removes the wine from the grounded process, and they become just another product on the German highway, stuck in the past, relying on dinosaur juice, and the infrastructure of capitalism.
The reason we work with Fairtransport is to keep the connection to the soils that the natural wines conv. Sailing the wines to Copenhagen keep them grounded, and it makes the wines better. And it makes us all better when we unload the cargo and meet each other and the wines. The awareness of the pure wonder that is getting a bottle of wine from a sunnier place on Earth to our cold corner is humbling and all too often taken for granted. One of the key values of working with Fairtransport is that this wonder is underscored.
The other big reason we work with Fairtransport is, that it is necessary. It is necessary because we need to change how much space we take up in this world and how much disturbance we make.
Transformational power in transportation
I believe there is real transformational power in the stories of natural wine and Fairtransport is a very crucial part of that story. The 19.000 bottles of natural wine that are carried by winds and waves every year in the belly of Tres Hombres all the way from Brest in the Loire to Knippelsbro in the middle of Copenhagen, is a testament to the connection between humans and the Earth. When the crew of the ship and eager Copenhageners help each other unload the many bottles, I get a sense of something greater, something important, that we almost forgot, but are slowly retrieving by warm hands embracing each and every one of the 19.000 bottles with a label that guarantees that it is cargo under sail.
The Earth is struggling with unbalanced human disturbance, and nature and culture have become dichotomies in our minds and our ways. Subsequently, environmentalism has become synonymous with the powerless feeling of being only destructive forces. Fairtransport shows another way, where humans are not only a destructive force to nature and where nature is not just a mass of materiality that we can use but a coworker, a friend and a bearer of culture. It connects us, both to each other when we greet the ships filled with old and new faces, but it also connects us to the Earth and the Sea, they are the ones doing in this relationship, we’re just along for the ride 🙂
…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…
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,
“They call it the Caribbean of the North”…where you can have buckets of liquid sunshine and imagine coconuts growing on city lights. Welcome to the magical experience that is sailing a cargo of 19.000 bottles of natural French wines to Denmark.
Telling a story about the last two weeks is not easy. So many beautiful experiences were crammed into this short period of time and every day brought memorable moments of its own. They mostly involved but were not limited to awesome sailing, friendships old & new, bright Baltic summer nights, music, top-quality natural wine, delicious feasts, freshly brewed beer, and obscene amounts of ice cream.
We had a fun and intense day unloading our cargo in Kopenhagen with Sune and his team from Rosforth & Rosforth, with the traditional lunch under the bridge at the Knippelsbrogade and the equally traditional sampling of the treasures. We were not allowed to leave the immediate vicinity of the ship and as a consequence became (almost) famous street musicians: Tres Hombres crew presents “The Bilge Leftovers” & friends. Our shoreside supporters supplied us with everything we could wish for, from fresh laundry to famous Danish pastry. We accidentally ordered Pizza the night Sune arranged a Dinner delivery from his wine bar. Super fancy Georgian inspired lunch at sea en route to Bornholm anyone? We sailed Kopenhagen – Bornholm in 23 hours and discovered that there actually exist other courses than full & by…20 knots in the butt hip hip hurray!
In the port of Gudhjem, we were invited for delicious feasts at Provianten every night. Maria and Thomas did not only open their restaurant to us but also their home. The Bilge Leftovers kept rocking and we had a hard time finding our way to bunk with the sun never completely setting. Which of the many local ice cream shops is really the best? Only one way to find out. We went for an excursion to Svanneke brewery. In turn, brewmaster Jan went for an excursion all the way up to the royal yard. Sune came sailing and shared our life aboard for a few days, experiencing first hand how much hard work and pure happiness flow into the transport of his cargo – and how tranquil life can be without a phone. During our stay in Bornholm, his family stayed in the cargo hold, which doubled as a wine tasting parlor in the daytime. His kids were a welcome addition to the Tres Hombres team on the football field, where sailors who are used to walking (no running on deck!) a maximum distance of 28 m have lots of fun but lose their breath quickly.
Leaving a place like Gudhjem is not easy, but ships and sailors rot in port and we are eager to return to the sea. So one last icecream everybody and we cast off our lines to the sound of Ursula singing opera and half the village waving us farewell.
This has been my third wine run to Denmark. The generosity, the heartfelt welcome, and the shared enthusiasm for our cargo sailing mission we encounter there leave a deep impression on me every time. Thank you, everybody, for making this happen together, the crew of our beautiful ship and the crews on land, in Kopenhagen, Gudhjem, and Den Helder.
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.
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
Nordlys had finished the Baltic voyage earlier this year. The ship was loaded with natural wine from France for Copenhagen, Bornholm and Rostock. From there we made a stop in Den Helder and prepared for a southern cargo trip. On our way to Porto we made a stop in Devon, a region on the southern coast of England.
Brixham is a little historic harbor in the Torbay. This is a good bay to shelter for the westerly storms.
Over here we waited till the first autumn storms passed by. Sorlandet,(a Norwegian Tallship) also bounded south,
was at anchor outside in the bay. She was taking shelter, just like us.
While being here, we could do little maintenance on the ship. Caulking, pitching, rigging work and so forth.
Brixham is the home port for several Sailing Trawlers like Nordlys. They do charter-sailing their goal is to bring the people out of the cities and take them into nature.
It was a beautiful view to see Nordlys moored together with these similar traditional sailing ships. With their crews we were able to exchange knowledge about Sailing Trawlers and spending a good time together. Our good friend Tony Knights, skipper of the Leader, was also around and of great help. We had a useful stop and a good time with the sailors from Brixham.
Last Thursday morning we set sail again, since the forecasts showed a good weather window to cross the Bay of Biskay.
Jeroen is the cook on board and providing us every day with delicious food. He supplied our stock with beautiful seasonal products from local farmers and producers. It takes a bit more time, but it is so much better than the supermarketfood. Good food which stays longer fresh, are stored in the galley now. The taste of this vegetables and fruits are just fantastic.
At the moment we are sailing southwards in the Biskay and making a good progress. Next port of call is Porto. This old town is situated on the mouth of the river Douro. Porto and the Douro were of great value in the era of sail concerning in- and export of goods for the country. We will be moored in the Douro estuary and going to charge a well amount of precious goods from Portugal.
We have Olive-oil, Almond-oil, Salt, Natural Wine and Port Wine, to fill our cargo-hold with. These wares are bound for the more northern parts of the European continent, like France, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
We will be able to tell everybody the story of the producers and their way of working.
Fairtransport completes the tale, by the way these products are being transported. The cargo-hold of Nordlys will be completely filled; Almost thirty tons of beautiful products from Portugal we have to move by wind and sail. More and more cargo-owners like to see their goods being transported overseas by sail. They are also willing to pay a little more, for a better cause
Captain Lammert Osinga