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
In her 75 years of life, Tres Hombres, has had many different occupations. Starting as a navy vessel for the German Kriegsmarine, being used a a fishing vessel, a package and passenger ferry in Ireland, being laid up at several occasions, and finally becoming an ambassador for the revival of the sailing cargo industry.
Seeadler, was her name when still under German registry. I can not recall if she was built under this name, but what I do know is that her keel was laid in 1943, somewhere in a Northern German shipyard. She was part of a program of the creation of a fleet of KFK”s, about 800 or 900 ships of this type where built. In two or three different diversities of design. The original KFK prototype was designed by an Austrian firm in the thirties. They took a series of hull types of Baltic fishing vessels, assumable sailing vessel hulls, and did one of the first tank tests with them. Through combining these tests, they where able to design a hull with a very small resistance through the water. Great seakeeping capabilities. And the advantage of being able to be effectively maneuvered and propelled, with the smallest amount of propulsion power.
The abbreviation of KFK stands for Kriegs Fischerei Kutter, meaning a vessel designed to be used as a patrol or small army vessel. With the added advantage of the possibility of being utilized as a fishing vessel, after her war duties would be fulfilled. For what exact missions our Tres Hombres served, will probably never be revealed. The story does go, that, after the second world war, she helped to clear the Baltic of mines. And, that during this operation, she even sunk in the Oslo fjord. What we know for sure, is that she picked up her peaceful intentions a few years after the war, and started a fishing career from the port of Kiel.
Capt. Jorne Langelaan