Tres Hombres crew, fourteen persons

If you followed this blog, you have been reading about many aspects of life on board of our small squarerigged cargo ship. But I have not really introduced you to one aspect, which is the most important one, to keep the ship together and keep her moving in the right direction. Of course it is her crew, fourteen persons, of all different corners of society. So here I will introduce you to all of them, one by one, and try to lift the veil on what connects them individually with this way of life. But, it is only in all of them working together as a team, that is making our great sailing ship crew.

Anne Flore is our Chief officer, even before she joined Tres Hombres, in 2012 for the first time, she had had a fair share of experience crossing the ocean, and sailing the seas, on traditional wooden boats. Next to an experienced mariner she is a first class sailmaker.

Alan, leads our Starboard watch in the rank of Second officer. He has had a wide experience sailing Tres Hombres, under almost all of her former Masters.

Judith, is our Cook, to keep our crew going, the most important person on board. She joined the ship last year, and had not been a seacook before that. However you would not notice, because she has a wide experience in restaurant and of farm life. Which apparently shows to be a great background for a seacook.

Thibaut, joined Fairtransport for the refit of our other ship: Nordlys. He worked hard to get Nordlys ready for sea, and then instead of joining Nordlys, somehow found himself on board Tres Hombres. Bound for foreign lands across the ocean. An able Deckhand, who knows the ship from bilge to royal.

Elisabeth, came on board two years ago as a trainee before the mast. And although still proudly living in the focsle, she went up the ranks to sail as a Deckhand. She is as able to hand, reef and steer, as any Cape horn sailor. Currently she is teaching the new trainees, about astronomical navigation with the age old device of the sextant.

Daniel, another Deckhand, has sailed for many years on Tres Hombres, his stories about this, became already mythical amongst our crew. Apart from sailing he joined the refits of Tres Hombres and Nordlys from the entire beginning, and mastered the art of caulking and making planks for hull and deck.

Muriel, joined this voyage last year, in Martinique, but before that she had logged many miles on different voyages on board Tres Hombres. Apart from sailing, she worked on refits of both ships. And next to acquiring her Masters ticket for commercial sailing vessels in the coastal trade, went to the Enkhuizen bosun school.

Mikael, has been a silent mountain of strength, from the time he first appeared on board, during the refit last year and onwards. Since that time he has reformed his cowboy and hunting skills, into the skills of a natural sailorman.

Lenno, for the first time on board in Boca chica, he brought his experience of sailing for years on the schooners, klippers and tjalken, of the Dutch inshore waters. Always ready to make a joke or tell a ghost story at night time.

Beate, started sailing on traditional ships about 35 years ago, and might well be the person on board with the oldest experience of sailing these wooden ships. She is great at the helm, and always ready to exchange a few nice words.

Guido, although not a professional sailor, his profession of doctor is definitely a well respected and welcome specialization on board. He signed on, to cross the ocean in working sail, and is absorbing all the experiences and information of practical and theoretical knowledge, to the maximum.

Susan, did sign on for a summer voyage on Tres Hombres before. Now she has put her focus onto crossing the ocean from West to East, via the Azores, and all the way to the European continent.

Caroline, was there on one of the voyages, when Nordlys was just operational again. Joining from La Corunha, to cross the bay of Biscay. After this, her love for wooden sailing ships was clear. And now she is working hard to learn the ropes of the other Fairtransport ship.

Jorne, as one of the co-founders of Fairtransport, I can not escape of, once in a while, going to sea in sail. Those times I am still perplexed of the beauty of these wild waters, the skill and happiness of our crew, and the mistery of it all…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Nordlys blog: As a team in the rhythm of the sea

We are navigating our way from Den Helder to the southern peninsula of Europe.
When you are sailing the North Atlantic waters in the early months of the year, the weather conditions might be sometimes a bit rough.
Fortunately there are nowadays good weather forecasts for the first days to come. The depressions developing on the Atlantic Ocean are moving northeast over the continent and bring us the southwesterly gales. Keeping a good eye on the forecast can be life saving. With this in mind we had to make a stop in Brixham and another one in Douarnenez.
While we were there and waiting for fair weather, we were able to do maintenance on the ship, we tested our new anchor winch and worked on sail training. Provisions for the ship came from local farmers.
Fellow sailors, shipwrights, local merchants and friends came by on the Nordlys. Creating a stable market and expanding ideas for the Fairtransport enterprise.

We departed from Douarnenez on a shiny sunday morning and tacked our way towards the Atlantic Ocean. The Bay of Biscay is well known for its rough seas and has to be avoided in the certain weather conditions.
With a ship like Nordlys you will need about four or five days of fair winds to cross this bay. This brings us to were we are right now. We are sailing southwards on the Atlantic swell about 150 nautical miles from Porto.
On board we are nine crew, so eighteen hands to handle the sails, ropes and rudder, preparing food and so forth..
As a team in the rhythm of the sea.

Porto will be our first harbor where we charge cargo of all kind. The hold will be filled with organic products from the Douro region. We will bring these products by wind and sail to the northern countries of the continent.
Transport makes it possible to eat delicious olives, taste an excellent olive oil,use Atlantic sea salt for your meals and enjoy a natural wine, in for example England, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark and so forth. Products which are not only produced in a nature friendly way, but also transported so. Sometimes the work on the land is slightly harder, sometimes the transport takes a bit longer… The taste of it all is definitely better! Respect the laws of nature. And nature gives it back.

captain Lammert Osinga

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: Sailing to windward

Leaving Boca Chica, when bound for the Azores, one has two most straightforward options for reaching the North Atlantic ocean. There is going West of Haiti through the Windward passage, or East of Dominican Republic through the Mona passage. Theoretically the Windward passage would give a more favorable wind direction, the danger of loosing all wind in the lee of Haiti, and the disadvantage of the lee shore of the Islands and reefs of the Bahamas. The Mona passage is shorter and against the trades and currents. With the weather forecast of the coming days, there is not much advantage in taking the Windward passage, so, as Tres Hombres has been doing year after year we choose our course again against the trades, bound for the Mona passage.

One of the old master mariners of the grand windjammers firm of Leisz, I believe it was Capt. Heinrich Nissen. Formulated the rules to sail a big or small squarerigger to windward. They are universal, and are still used on the few squareriggers, sailing to windward without engine assistance. So, as we are one of them, we have been making use of these rules since Tres Hombres started trading in 2009.

They are the following:
1). Always carry the right amount of sail to guarantee optimal propulsion. At times this can mean pushing our vessel hard, and keeping as much sail on her as possible. It might also mean taking advantage of a favorable current or tide on one of the tacks, and reduce speed accordingly.
2). Decide, usually with a current or tide against you, if you want to keep speed, and do not pull your sheets to tight. Or, sometimes with a favorable current and tide, if you want to pinch as close to the wind as possible, to keep the advantage for a longer time.
3). Always put your ship on the tack which is most advantageous to reach your destination. This destination might be the final destination, or especially on longer or coastal voyages, a point where you want to be to make the most of an expected weather or tidal change.

Just before sunrise we tacked and in a few hours we will tack again, closely applying the rules of the trade…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: Bye bye Boca Chica

Exactly one week we stayed in the port of Boca Chica, to load our main cargo: 200 bags of cacao for the Amsterdam Chocolatemakers, 5 bags of cacao for Chokolade from Denmark, 2 barrels of rum for a customer in Zwitserland, a barrel of rum for Paula Luiz on the Azores and a mix of many barrels of rum, cacao, coco oil and melasse for Fairtransport itself. To distribute further to a variety of partners within Europe. All loaded by hand or block and tackle, by our own crew, under the skilled supervision of our Chief officer. Combined with the coffee and other products, we had already in the hold, it is a very nice diverse and high quality cargo. A cargo well worth sailing for.

Organizing the entry, the loading, the storing, the daily life on board, and the departure out of Boca Chica is always a bit of a challenge. The bureaucracy, the rithm of the Caribbean beat (full volume), the heat, the loading operations, the waiting, the gate of the commercial port, and the overwhelming complexity of Dominican Republic life, have gained a legendary reputation amongst the Tres Hombres crew. Fortunately the ship has visited this port many times, meaning there is a wide network of people who are helping out crew and ship. Amongst them there is Forrest, the very friendly owner of the Nautical store with the same name. Victor, our agent who helped us every day, with a smile, smoothing out the relationship with the port and customs officials, arranging drinking water, helping us with getting stores, talking with the office of the commercial port and keeping the relationship with the pilots in good order. Than there was Chris, a dutchman, sourcing a quantity of cacao plants, and helping us with storing parts. Apart from them, there was a wide range of different people making our visit possible again: the producers and traders of our cargo: Belarmino, Jasser and Yamir, the nice ladies and gentlemen from the harbor office, the gatekeepers, the drivers of the motorbike taxi’s, the stevedores and many more. Off course there was also a lot of help from our headoffice in Den Helder: Hans, Sabine, Andreas, Daan, and also here without doubt many more. Thank you very much!

And now, back at sea we are. After a nice maneuver of sailing out of the harbor, in between the reefs through the buoyed fairway, while setting our entire complement of sails, including royal and course. We are loaded on design draft, hatches are battened down and all cargo and gear lashed and stowed. An hour after departure, we where logging already more than 7.5 knots, and currently we are hugging the coast to try to keep some North in the wind, caused by the land effect. Anchors and chains have been ocean stowed, safety lines and nets rigged. It is still all hands, but after lunch, we will have a muster and the watches will be divided. We are ready for the ocean crossing, the weather forecast looks promising, so Azores here we come.

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Nordlys blog: The rhythm of nature is our engine

Nordlys underway, heading for Porto.

This year we had an early start. As Dirk and Annelies came along with their tugboat “Gar”, on the 19th of March, there was still some ice in the canals of Den Helder. We sailed out of Marsdiep with a fair and cold Northeasterly wind.

Supposedly we should have departed a week earlier. Due to the wintery weeks before, there was a little delay on some deck repairs.

A tough crew of seven people handling and navigating Nordlys over the North Sea in the wintery weather. Warm clothes and a lot of blankets kept us warm since there is no heating system on the ship.

Fair winds brought us quickly in the English Channel, where the westerly winds appeared. Tacking our way trough the Channel with her strong tidal currents, especially with spring tide, made us progress a bit slower.

Sailing our way westward, my idea was to make a stop in Falmouth. You need a good weather window to cross the Biscay. It can be very rough in stormy weather. Due to our slow progress westward, beating our way against the waves and wind, I decided to make a stop in Brixham. Here we have some time to work on the crew and ship. We could also unload a barrel of organic wine. Anton, the wine importer, was happy to receive his goods earlier then expected.

There is nothing changing as quickly as the weather. The rhythm of nature is our engine. To sail a ship by wind means to respect the rhythm.

Soon we set sail for Porto. Again we will fill the hold with beautiful Portugese products for the northern European market.

Captain Lammert Osinga

photo ©Martin Sinnock

Tres Hombres blog: Goods from foreign lands

The most important destination to pick up cargo for the Tres Hombres, has been since the beginning, the Dominican Republic. This is the place where the Amsterdam Chocolate makers source their organic cacao. This is the place where the first editions 2010, 2011 and 2012 Tres Hombres rum came from. Later off course Andreas also found an excelent rum distilery on La Palma. The distilery with the ancient copper distilling aparatus… Year after year, Andreas added other Atlantic and Caribbean islands, to load as much as a variety as possible, for our fine rum.

But untill these days, the Domincan Republic, always has been the origin of the main cargo. Sometimes there where different other products added. There has been a long standing relationship with Belarmino from Caribbean labs, as a source for coffee, honey, cacao and the famous mamajuana. Year after year we have been taking big barrels of molasses for a rum distillery in Germany. On a small and experimental scale we have been taking cigars from Hispaniola, what the combined name is for the island which the Dominican Republic and Haiti share as their landbase. The cigars proved a tricky cargo to comply with the customs, so we did not continue this.

As for the ports, in this Caribbean jewel, our fine vessel has been, there are: the open roadstead of Cabo Rojo, the metropole of Santo Domingo, and the commercial port of Boca Chica. Cabo Rojo, is a place of tropical athmosphere, with white beaches. Where even the footage of an “commercial” for the rum, starring Capt. Andreas Lackner himself as the sea (movie) star, was shot. This was also the first place where the ship was anchored for three weeks in 2010, to repair the rigging after the topgallant mast was broken. Santo Domingo, is the biggest city in the Caribbean with three million inhabitants. Here the ship moored in 2010 as well, just after visiting Cabo Rojo, and this is where Capt. Andreas met Mr Forrest who introduced us to the fine port of Boca Chica.

Since that day Boca Chica has been our most important loading port in the entire Caribbean. It is a place one will never forget about, when entered or left by a ship under sail power only. Sailing in between the reefs and breakers through a narrow buoyed channel. Dealing with the officers on the gate of the comercial port. And drinking rum with the local “shipping magnates”. A port of extremes, a port where the crew of our brigantine, loads the barrels and bags by hand into the cargo hold, while a few hunderd meters away the most high tech container cranes are discharging the biggest container ships. A port with a fishing harbor where the most tiny fishing boats fish from. A port where every weekend the sound of merengue, salsa and bachata, mixed with the tropical heat and smell of fried fish and fresh ocean breeze are competing. This is the Caribbean…

Hasta luego,

Capt. Jorne Langelaan

 

 

 

Tres Hombres blog: Prepairing to take command on a brigantine

Part of the story behind the screens of; blue seas and fair winds…

A few weeks ago the descission was made that I would take command again on Brigantine Tres Hombres. Our current Master had to leave the ship, because of earlier arrangements. At that moment I was the Fairtransport Captain with the least fixed obligations, and well rested, due to my lifestyle on a smallholding in the rural West of Ireland.

Original plans where that the good ship Tres Hombres would sail for Charleston, USA, however when cargo deals fell through, the Fairtransport management decided to cancel this trip. This was too late for my preparations, because I had allready enrolled at the USA embasy to acquire a VISA. A lenghty process which was even longer because the couriers where held up by a spell of crazy winter weather, bringing the Irish public life to a standstill. Being snowed in, I had to wait paciently for my VISA, and by then more importantly my Passport.

While waiting, I got in contact with the Master on Tres Hombres, who was off course, with crew and ship, waiting and working, as well. At anchor off the coast of Cabo Rojo, Domincan Republic. Although I had never met him before, and still have not, the communication went pleasant, and was aimed on handing over the ship, from Master to Master in the most effective way. Things enrolled following an age old rythm, now instead of over a glass of rum in the seaside bar, through a screen via email. But the subjects where identical as the Masters of former Packet ships, handing over command, would have talked about. We discussed: state of the ship, maintenance, experience of the crew, training, cargo, gear, rigging and many more details. A great start, to make things easier, for when we would meet for real.

While the landscape, outside of my window in the Slieve Aughty Mountains, turned an idylic white, I tried to remember my voyages around the steaming tropics of the Dominican Republic. I looked up weather maps and thought about seawinds, landwinds, tradewinds and currents. Remembered the days in Boca Chica, waiting for a month, to see the cargo turn up. And dreamt about the manouvre to enter and leave this sheltered port, by power of sails only. After discussing matters with my colleque and predecessor it became apparent that more crew was needed, so I came in contact with old shipmates from all over the world. To “Shanghai” them, into signing on, to our good ship. A couple of trainees where allready bound for the Dominican Republic, and also two professional sailors, I knew well, agreed to the ships articles.

In the meantime, discussions where held with the “headoffice” in Den Helder. Mainly about the planning, the cargo and the crew. Sometimes, I could hear our shipbroker in the background talking about cargoes, fixed, or just not fixed… And the pile of gear to bring to the ship, next to my telephone, grew steadily.

Now, I said my loved ones goodbye again, and I am on my way to the Dominican Republic, by way of the cursed airplanes, I am not strong enough to avoid. I am looking forward to see the ship, the crew and the Master, I will relief. The coming months I will take command, really I will be there to serve the ship, trainees, crew, cargo and above all an ideal. One thing is sure, sailing and working this ship, there will be never a dull moment!

Yours,

Capt. Jorne Langelaan

Tres Hombres blog: In the port of life

After five months of voyage together, a few dear friends have left us, continued their way home. We stay behind as a small crew. But the voyage isn’t over yet. I wrote a song for those who left and for us who can appreciate what has been and can look forward to what is yet to come. In this blog I’ll share it with you. You can sing it on the melody of ‘Amsterdam’ from Jaque Brel (My sister should definitely try this! I missed you while writing it!).

”From the port of Den Helder did we leave months before
Waving farewell to friends we don’t see now no more
Adventures ahead and a ship full of food
Our minds alive for the best and the good
We sailed over seas heading south and then east
Through the waves and the wind from our fears now released
So far from home all the way that we came
In the end we’ll return to love and to fame

Not all that was easy, no we challenged each other
But living together makes us sisters and brothers
Day after day we shall work together
In sun, cold, storms, squalls, all conditions of weather
Our morning moods, our evening moods
An early wake up call might not do much good
Yes after months at sea, we know everything now
From joy to sadness from the aft to the bow

We are stretching our boundaries we reach out to each other
We seek comfort on shoulders if we miss our mother
From time to time we don’t know what we do
We get wet, we dry up, and who knows for who
When we finally reach land, oh we sight with relief
We have rest we drink rum it is hard to believe
But nothing so needed as time together
Surviving this trip is the most important matter

Many crew came along, people joined people left
We expended, decreased and now we’re bereft
From the whole trip around only three months ahead
But not 15 will join we are 9 now instead…
Our brave 2nd mate is gonna wave us farewell
After service of seatime and an easterly swell
For him the time came now to leave this big ship
To home he continues his personal trip

No more rice, no more beans no more fried platanos
Is this really the route you voluntarily chose?
Enjoy your last breakfast, your last drink your last piss
Remember all this that you’re about to miss
Your last pulling on lines, your last dinghy ride
Your last galley tank water, your last dreams at night
Your last shanty with us, your last mandoline tune
And then we all hope you’ll find your fortune

Besides Conor is also our Jack leaving us
Will it be by train, airplane, boat or the bus?
He fits so perfect to our current crew
We hope next year he has the chance to re-do
And then last but not least captain Fabian takes off
He is leaving us hear and his office aloft
No more playing with dinghies and no bossing around
No ‘I don’t like sweets’ – it’s not true we found out

What means this for us at this beautiful place
So many bunks empty, so much surplus space
This is not the end of our trip together
We’ve still to sail back in all types of heavy weather
Let just not forget, what has brought us here
For the ones who leave we can shed a tear
But what’s left is a group and a beautiful crew
Let’s point out our beauty that we already knew

I am sure that the hardships that are saved for the last
Can only mean that we’ll be at our best
We collect our strength and collectiveness
we hoist the sails and try not to make a mess
After living together so many months in a row
Don’t we know the pearls in our oysters now?
We shouldn’t forget how special we are
That, my friends, will bring us so far

From the port of Den Helder did we leave months before
Waving farewell to friends we don’t see now no more
Adventures ahead and a ship full of food
Our minds alive for the best and the good
We sailed over seas heading south and then east
Through the waves and the wind from our fears now released
So far from home all the way that we came
In the end we’ll return to love and to fame.”

Judith
Ships cook

Photo by Chelsea Pyne

Tres Hombres blog: Giant toy of the sea

Photo by Woody Coudijser

Already a week in the Caribbean Sea after Colombia. We are not so gossipy about this leg and yet it’s plenty. Plenty of splashes on deck, sail-handling, swearing in a gale, salt on clothes, water in bilges. Thirty kts full & by you know. Bodies and ship are in tune: fighting against the waves, blaming the trade winds (which is so helpful downwind), fighting against the tiredness, uncontrolled movement of the ship, abandoning wet banks (people invaded the cargo hold modelling their bodies on coffee bags), battled with seasickness.

Everybody is eating well now, Judith is a treasure. Everyday new mixture in bolls, new colors, new texture. She’s helping on the ropes, on steering. We are tacking four times a day in coastal “cruise”. Twenty-five miles away of the coast maximum to avoid the hell. Yesterday night, the wind increased rapidly, top gallant was already doused and course clewed up, came down lower bob and inner jib as well, obviously one downhaul got stock. Two persons on the bow sprit, one furled top gallant, two others furled lower bob.

The royal never seen the sun in the past two weeks, the fore mast looks like a pine tree without leaves on top, only nicked branches. We always get soaked on the foredeck. We always wearing harnesses clips on safety lines or on the compass box when you are steering. During the day the sun is shining this circus troupe: sheets and halyards trainers, jugglers, tightropes walkers. We could work close to Royal Deluxe Company (met in Le Havre last summer for wine operation), we having also a giant toy. And the night, relieve by the moon and stars, the adventure keeps on going, the same show as close as possible of the wind, enjoying all little five more degrees on the winds rose.

Yeah, we are taking the unique feels of that voyage but also looking forward the paradise beach of Dominican Republic in few days.

Anne-Flore, first mate