While we are sailing close hauled in the English Channel, making a nice course in East North Easterly direction, my thoughts wander off again to the early history of our fine vessel, “Tres Hombres”. In an earlier weblog, I wrote already something about her former life as a navy ship (of the KFK type), for the German Kriegs Marine. And afterwards her transition to a fishing vessel operating from Kiel. Now a bit more about how the story continues:
She used to fish for years, under the name of “Seeadler” in the Baltic, until somewhere in the seventies, she must have became to small or run down, to be profitable. Or maybe there was some European program in place to transfer her fishing quota, and she was, together with many other ships, laid up, in Kiel. This was when an Irish shipowner or businessman, was looking for a new vessel to continue and establish a passenger and cargo line off the West coast of Ireland, between the mainland and the Aran islands. For a few years she brought farmers, townfolk, and tourists, livestock, peat, building materials and drystores to and from the Aran Islands. Then she followed the same fate as she had met previously, and was replaced by a larger vessel to be laid up somewhere in the corner of a rural fishing port. This is where she was found, in 1984, by two Dutch students. They fell in love with her lines, and first dreamed about restoring her to a sailing vessel.
So it comes, somewhere halfway the eighties, the “Tres hombres”, back then still under her Irish name “Baidin”, which means: small blue boat, was towed by a Dutch fisherman to the Netherlands. Towed, because her original engine had been damaged past repair, due to the vessel being partly sunk in harbor, because the pumps must not have been looked after properly. Years later when, we where busy refitting, this fisherman even came by, to tell us the stories about this towing trip. And even then, he explained how beautifully and effortlessly the “Baidin”, while being towed, was going through waves and water. After the ship had arrived in the Netherlands, first a period of rigorous breaking began. The wheelhouse, the accommodation, the spray hood and foredeck, where demolished. From there on refitting started: several steel bulkheads and steel hatches where placed, deck planks and some hull planks, where renewed and a new modern system of caulking was introduced. The old broken engine had to go, and was replaced by an even older, but perfectly sound “Hundested” two cylinder air started engine. The two new owners, invested a huge amount of work, money and love in the ship. First they docked her for years in the museum harbor in Rotterdam, then they moved her to a small harbor in Delft. Here I first saw her, when growing up, and would secretly, together with my father, peak under her tent and dream about sailing a ship like that…
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
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