15 miles circle for eternity (by captain Anne-Flore Gannat)

It has been a 48h of tacking in the very agitated sea and sky…

With the tide, we came back exactly where we were the day before in a distance of 15 miles straight line. The reality is that we needed so many little straight lines to reach this 15 miles further south. The explanation is maybe difficult to understand because we are “losing our north” sometimes. I stopped counting how many times we tacked and jibed. The picture is messy on the chart but all was under control. We reported our plan to Dover coast guards and Gris Nez Traffic who keep a sharp lookout on the traffic on the English and French side. Of course, we are annoying them by being the only one ship making a zig-zag route. Not so many options for us aiming the English channel. Some manoeuvres are impressive for those who’ve never seen the dear Tres in such meteorologic conditions. Facing high waves, big splashes, strong gusts in our ears. Our faces are burned or brown from sun and salt, muscles are getting tight and the new rain gears are baptized. Still a lot of positive and useful Joyce on deck.
The gale warning is cancelled now. It means the wind is decreasing and will shift to the West. The ship is well-positioned to go through this bloody tiny busy channel. We are looking forward to going through, at any minute now.
Under fore staysail, topsail and mainsail 1 reef. That is not much but enough. The royal and gallant furling was quick and successfully done with eager crew members called Jules, Colin and Lenno.

Anne-Flore

Tres Hombres blog: let go and haul!

How do we get back home? Tacking!
Down the flying jib and the gaff tops’l, ease the topping lift, cast off tricing lines, staysailboom midships, coils of braces and headsail sheets on deck. Ready on the foredeck? READY! Ready about! About ship, helms a-lee! Mainsheet tight, ease the headsail sheets….there she comes, helm back midships, ease mainsheet, tack the jibs and… Let Go and Haul! Cast off tack and sheet of course, haul away lee course brace as you might, change boom lift, ease mainstays’l boom, tack the bob’s, all hands (or the windlass) on the tack and pull it down together with the lee-topping lift. Tack down! Course sheet home! Trim the yards, set the gaff tops’l, set the flying jib and then coil up and clear the deck!
15 minutes of the mariners full concentration is vital for the ship to make her way up against wind and current, not to loose ground against the ever blowing Northeasterlies in the Channel.
3 weeks ago all those lines were mere mystery to the most hands aboard Tres Hombres, now, at the command of prepare for tacking, everyone is whizzling over the deck, finding the right line to cast off, haul tight or stand by! No more discussions, commands are understood and taken out with pleasure and power. At force 5, instead of life lines the flying jib is put up and the helmsman is smiling pleasantly, feeling the acceleration of the ship and her leaning over in comfort!
Good food and good company as a power ressource, one common mission: living live in a natural way!One tool: the most beautiful sailing vessel on the seas, currently hunting after De Gallant, where early sailing memories with Captain Hendrik make me think of the old days as a deckhand without any concerns, without any limits.
Now we are passing on those good times, the tools and the experience to find a way in your life, it’s your choice.
Andreas
P.S. : with some unexpected SW wind we are right now passing Dover, gybing the stunsails with boom and all to use the last heap of this rare wind, pushing us into the North Sea, where the next blow of NE will await us…see you soon in Amsterdam

Captain Andreas Lackner

Is your mind filled with the glorious majesty of the white winged masts of the Age of Sail? Or are you longing to master the arts of the traditional seaman? Then sign on, sailing on a cargo vessel is a unique way to discover the world and learn the art of real square rig seamansship. Price varies by voyage. The longer you sign on for, the less you pay per day. Visit http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ for the latest schedule and pricing or email booking@fairtransport.nl
[pdf-embedder url=”http://fairtransport.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Tres-Hombres-Winter-2018-2019-new.odt.pdf” title=”Tres Hombres Winter 2018-2019 new.odt”]

Encounter on the the high seas of Tres Hombres and Nordlys

Last night the second mate, Alan, and I where studying the charts, weather and shipping. When he brought up, where Nordlys, the other sailing cargo ship of Fairtransport would be? We knew they had been discharging a cargo of wine and olive oil in Brixham, England, and where bound for Douarnenez, France, after that. This, to pick up wine for Copenhagen and Bornholm in the Baltic. So theoretically she would be somewhere in between Brixham and Douarnenez, and we where too. For the heck of it, I put the cursor on one of the ships on our AIS (Automatic Identification System), and really a chance of one in a million, but it was Nordlys!

Next moment I was on the radio: “Nordlys, Nordlys, Tres Hombres”… A few seconds later the familiar voice of the Master of Nordlys, Captain Lammert Osinga, could be heard: “Tres Hombres, Nordlys”. We changed to a working channel, and had a nice chat about our voyages and the available cargoes. We where pretty much on opposite courses, so we both only had to alter a bit to starboard to meet each other. So we agreed to arrange a meeting on the high seas, in a few hours.
Around an hour after midnight we saw the bright navigation lights, red above green, and the silhouette of Nordlys became apparent. Captain Lammert and I, discussed matters over the radio, and decided that the safest maneuver would be, that Tres Hombres would go hove too by bracing the foretop aback, and Nordlys would approach under reduced sail. Then we would lower our boat, as part of a man-overboard exercise, and sent over a delegation of our crew, with a drink and a cigar. As described happened. It was really the most impressive sight to see the Nordlys, gliding effortlessly through the mirror like see, only partly visible due to the moonlight. When our boarding team returned, with an exchange of gifts, everybody was over excited. Like a wild bunch of privateer’s we echoed our greetings and wishes, our Austrian deckhands shared their flasks of rum to celebrate the occasion. Then, accompanied by the timeless sound of Nordlys their Japanese foghorn, and Tres Hombres her Norwegian foghorn, Nordlys disappeared into the darkness again…

Truly yours,
Capt. Jorne Langelaan

LAST MINUTE OFFER: The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a unexpected voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Royan, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with co-founder and captain Andreas Lackner, then come and join in!
Landlubbers will get sea legs, and old salts wil get a glimpse of how it was in the good days and how it will be!
For more info sail along or email booking@fairtransport.nl

Tres Hombres blog: The fine art of waking people up.

Sleep. Refreshing, delightful sleep from which you wake up naturally, fully rested. Heaven. However,this is not how it works on board a working ship. On Tres Hombres, 2 watches take turns on deck in a 48-hour cycle where the days are organized as follows: 08:00-14:00; 14h00-20:00; 20:00-00:00; 00:00-04:00; 04:00-08:00. Each watch is therefore woken up 5 times in 48 hours, at unnatural hours(7:15, 13:15, 19:15, 23:45, 03:44).
It is the responsibility of the outgoing watch to wake up the incoming watch.
You would think it’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not that simple. The way you wake people up can have a great positive or negative impact on people’s mood, and therefore on life on board.
It is important, when waking people up,to remember that the people you wake up are the same people who will wake you up in a couple of hours.
The most popular wake-up is gentle but audible, and includes information about the weather conditions on deck, so that the “wakee” knows if he should go out in full rain gear or shorts and sun scream. If the wake up is before a meal,mentioning food can also help. This is the standard sort of wake up. But again, it’s not that simple. You have to adapt to the different types of sleepers:
– the light sleepers
– the standard sleepers
– the heavy-weight, back-from-the-dead sleepers

– For the light sleepers, “Good morning” or sometimes just ” Good mo…” is enough. They can get on deck at supernatural speed.

-For the standard sleepers, see standard wake-up speech above.

-Now, the “back from the dead” sleepers”. There’s a challenge. They need, and sometimes prefer, a rougher wake-up. So you start by calling their name, crescendo, 4 or 5 times. Or 12. Or 20. Should this fail, they need to be shaken awake. Should this fail (but fortunately we have never had to resort to such extremities yet), you might want to consider trying a bucket of water or the foghorn.
Be aware that if you interrupt a dream involving pizza you might get bitten.

The best wake-up screw-ups so far:
-accidentally waking up people 1 hour early
– turning up on deck 40 minutes early because you dreamt someone had woken you up
-(almost) going back to sleep because you were woken up but thought it was a dream.

Good night, sweet dreams,

Caro, Trainee

The need for wine from Rioja and the Bordeaux region sends our good ship Tres Hombres on a voyage in June and July from Amsterdam to Royan, Douarnenez and back this summer.
If you want to experience a coastal cargo voyage on a square rigger without engine with captain Andreas Lackner, then come and join in!
Landlubbers will get sea legs, and old salts wil get a glimpse of how it was in the good days and how it will be!
For more info http://fairtransport.eu/sail-along/ or email booking@fairtransport.nl

Tres Hombres blog: Feeding the hungry beast

Secrets of the night and feeding the hungry beast.

In Holland there are holiday days happening I didn’t even think of in this time of year. Of course it’s May and we’re sailing towards European summer and all that, but we’re putting on our winter clothes and for a while my tanned knee peeking through the hole in my jeans was the only sign to remember we came from the warm Caribbean. I’m writing this blog in the chart house next to a box with electrical supplies which is marked ‘not really necessary’. We race the ‘Gallant’ all the way from Horta to Douarnenez. They turn on the engine (or not?), we set the stun sails. No news from the office for a week, the industrial civilization might finally have collapsed, I’m not really keeping track anymore.

I’m the cook on board this fine vessel as you might know by now or not and this results in quite a different experience from this trip then being on a watch. I’m feeding the always hungry beast, it is an endless process. Even if there is plenty of food, people come in an hour after a meal to eat again. Sailing makes hungry. Preparing a meal might take hours, in half an hour it’s all gone again and what’s left turns into leftovers like news turns into old news after reading the newspaper.

If a huge wave is coming, you see it approaching when you’re standing on deck. You brace yourself and if you’re unprepared and unlucky you get water in your shoe, the ship adjusts itself to the wave. In the galley I feel the impact of the water hitting the hull. I have to brace myself and all the stuff that I’m working with. This one unfitting lid falls on the ground again and if I’m unlucky or unprepared, there is a lot more that can spill on the stove or fly around and end up in various places.

It’s a nice sport to have every meal ready on the minute and in rough weather cooking in the galley demands a lot of focus and energy. It’s a different life with different struggles. The watches stand in rain and cold wind for hours. I’m boiling away, holding five things, getting occasionally seasick from the smells. We don’t know the fun, the secrets and the sorrows of each others function.

I like to feed the always hungry beast. Nothing so satisfying as a warm meal after a cold watch. To provide this is nice, and meanwhile I get to know the people with their habits and preferences. Sometimes though, I don’t have to cook and someone from the watch takes over. Besides that It’s nice not to make three meals in a row for a time, it makes me appreciate my own job more because now I can experience how nice it is that there is someone who prepares you food. And it gives other people the opportunity to feel what it’s like to cook on a rolling ship which without an exception always results in the command that their respect for the job increased. I on the other hand recently joined some night watches and with that I was introduced in the secrets of the night. All these months I was on day watch but the sailing never stops and there is this whole nightlife going on in which I’m not included. Night in night out the watches watch and for them it’s the most normal thing. For me it felt special to enter this world with its impressive sky full of stars, the moonrise, hot tea and stories. There is a more intimate sphere then during the day and although I know all the lines, handling them without really seeing them is something else.

During the crossing we had a birthday of our first mate and we organized a party for her. There was music and a fender dressed up as disco ball so that our sparkling dress also came in handy again. We went crazy with half a cup of wine and we danced under the blanket of thousand stars, holding on to the safety lines in order not to fall over while the ship was clipping along through the waves. By far the most special party I ever went to.

We often get a visit from dolphins. They’re curious and they like to play at the bow of our boat. They also show up at night and they slide incredibly fast through the fluorescent water, leaving a trail of shining bubbles. I was woken up to witness this miracle so there I stood with bare legs and a sleepy face to shiver on the foredeck until it was too cold to look at them anymore. I went back to bed and the next day I was not sure if this actually really happened or that I just dreamed about fairy dolphins.

Eight months in the trip, the end is almost in sight and there are still things to discover. Who knows, do I need another eight months to get to know the night as well as the day?
I’m a happy cook.

Judith, Ships cook,

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

Cargo Under Sail: Xisto Wines

Xisto Wines, run by Anton Mann and Lela McTernan are proud to be the only UK wine importers dedicated solely to importing Portuguese artisan wines.
They work with the new wave of young winemakers , who work sustainably, producing small quantities of the finest quality wines with character and a sense of place.

Wines that take you on a journey from the banks of the Douro river to the high mountain tops. Lisbon wines that hint of salty seashells, wines from Dao, Alentejo and Vinho Verde that reflect the terroir perfectly.
These wines are made by producers who are experts in knowing their vineyards, nurturing them in organic and bio dynamic ways.
Indigenous grapes are hand picked, foot trodden and allowed lovingly with minimal intervention and maximum skill for the amazing delicious wines to emerge.

Xisto Wines have become great friends with all their producers and visit them regularly so they can assure their customers of the provenance of their wines.
The producers are 100% behind them in their chosen method of transport, even making unique wines that are shipped in barrel on Tres Hombres or Nordlys to be bottled in Bristol under the PORT O ‘BRISTOL flag.

Bristol and Portugal have historic trade links (Bristol and Porto are twinned cities) which feels right to reestablish with their wines and organic olive oil ( Portugal’s finest , single Quinta do Romeu ) cargo in the belly of a Fairtransport vessel.

From the beginning of 2010 Anton was in discussion with Fairtransport to try and realise their dream of transporting their wines by sail using zero carbon. Over the intervening years this is a reality. It is extremely important to them and the winemakers to leave as little a footprint as possible.
To that end they are really excited to sail the wines made with grapes, genius and passion in a vessel powered by the wind and skilful sailor’s..

Their Motto:

MADE BY REBELS
SHIPPED BY PIRATES
DRUNK BY HEROES

For more information about Xisto’s sail shipped wines : https://xistowines.com/

Move your cargo emission free on one of our ships: http://fairtransport.eu/shipping/

Tres Hombres blog: Four weeks already at sea….

For the first time since La Palma there is music from a speaker on deck. He’s spreading in the atmospher a taste of romantic country music where we can see O brothers running in the wheat fields under a burning sun and Jack Kerouac jumping on board this ship as a slow merchant train crossing the blue country full of ideas to built or rebuilt this world weared of a bag pack & unapropriate Espadrille. Clamour of poetry in the radio to throw a new look on details.

Well, despite a few worried members aboard about being somewhere ( on land) for Christmas, everything is going sweet here. “Not so much things to complain” said captain. And then cuban music blows her cosy voices flow on deck, gold sunset sky becomes darker and stars are taking over the space. It’s not blues  but your feeling is on the border. Yes four weeks already at sea far away without news from your lovers, parents, children. Is that feeling of missing brings you more in reality, more alive, more true ? blablabla but yes ours bodies are talking to us and that is a lovely great creation.

Since a week, instead of the swedish, the captain decided to set a new watches readim system: 4 hours each watches, 3 watches of 4 or 5 peoples. That brings more peoples on deck during daylight, the maintenance goes forward faster because those 8 hours of rest at night and we are meeting eachothers.( So , sorry for the tres hombres tradition but it works well for the crossing. If the loyals of the company has any request about this, feel free to explain your opinion, I wouldn’t bring the bad luck here like to move the giraff outdoor with a full cargo !!). Can you beleave, we were sailing full and by for a day , trade winds are not strong but the lady keeps on going half of the wind speed.

Shower on deck, 1 hour of rain today (11/12/2017). Soap & shampoo !

ps: we got rid of 2 hammocks of bananas.

Anne-Flore, first mate

Tres Hombres blog: “Good morning foc’sle, it’s time to wake up!”

“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.

Rebecca, supertrainee

Tres Hombres blog: A must read from the ocean

“There are still a few old sailing vessels laid up in various odd corners of the world, but most of them have been idle for a long time with their gear rapidly deteriorating. It is not likely that they will ever be recommissioned to stave off the inevitable day when the beautiful sailing ship, for trading purposes, is a thing of the past and only a memory to those who suffered many hardships and discomforts but loved her just the same.”

This I found in a book entrusted to us in Brixham. Toni, skipper and artist (and Brixham legend), told us that it would provide hours of reading, on the long night watches of the crossing, and he was right. “Shipping Wonders of the World, Volume 2,” now sits among our pilot books in the charthouse, and I think every one of us has at one point or another picked it up to flip through. Or, really, set it down to flip through–the book is huge. The article I found that quote in was all about the last great sailing cargo ships, and the decline of sail cargo as engines took over. Of course, the author’s glumly romantic prediction has not, in fact, come to pass, and reading it aboard the Tres Hombres is particularly ironic. “It is not likely,” he says, that cargo sail will ever be resurrected, and that it is inevitable that the beautiful sailing ships will become “a thing of the past.” I look up from this sentence to go trim the foresail sheets, passing by our cargo hatch on the way.

But what thrills we get from that phrase, “a thing of the past!” The dying out of greatness, the passing away of some beautiful thing, they fill us with a sense of melancholy longing for a past most of us never knew, and may not have ever existed. We raven the romance of the lost hope, the dying star. Our books and movies are full of this sweet remembrance, like the flowers we send to a funeral instead of attending ourselves.

What is it about watching or hearing about the end of something that satisfies us so? It is romantic–utterly romantic to feel the ebb tug at our heartstrings of something ending. It sweeps our minds away into pleasant fantasies of what the past was like–how much better it was, how much simpler, or grander, or more beautiful. “A time when men were men!” for example. Bittersweet, we call it, as though the sweet would not be so sweet without the bitter.

But I can’t help but feel that there is something insidious in our love of this kind of romance. A kind of laziness, perhaps, that creeps in around the corners and says “Ah, at last. That was hard work that now we can safely say is over. We can lay those burdens down and go back to sleep, to dream maybe of past glories, but never to do the hard work again.” Perhaps this is part of what is so satisfying to us about stories of the Last Great this or Final Stand of that. We have all the pleasure of contemplating those great acts or noble things, and none of the daily grind of maintaining them.

Because sail cargo, while utterly romantic and still a dead notion to most people (if they think of it at all), is in actual practice a lot of work. It’s a grind, tacking from the Canaries to the Cape Verdes, searching for the trade winds we hope will appear, “sometime before the food runs out,” we joke. It’s wearing to the senses and the spirit to drift, windless, north over ground we fought so hard for every degree south on. And even when the wind is good, and the rigging is humming and the wind turbines are whirring away happily, there is little romance in leaving your soft bed at four in the morning to stand your turn at the wheel, fighting a nasty cross swell and watching the squall you know will drench you creep up from behind. There’s nothing pleasant or noble about spilling dirty dishwater down your pants, or getting tar in your hair for the third consecutive day. The railing must be scrubbed again, though your back aches still from the time before, and the fresh paint of yesterday was ruined by the waves under the railing in the night. But you get up and scrub and sand and paint again, because the boat has got to be held together, however you do it. You put chafe gear on the foreshrouds for the third time this trip, hoping that this time it will hold longer. You do what must be done, because giving up, giving in, is to surrender to the insidious romance of “things of the past.”

Give me instead the romance of the plain quotidian! The daily washing of cups and pumping of the bilge, the constant upkeep of the rigging as we wear through miles of marlin and gallons of tar, inch by inch, and drop by drop. Give me the coffee break daily, that someone must remember and prepare, though it is not a grand deed, and far from exciting. Give me the small words and smiles that build frienships, the late-night conversations and learning to work together with all different personalities. When considered from up close, there is little romance in these things, in the actual maintenance of a true sailing cargo ship. But it is, in the end, far better I think to keep going than to give up, no matter how nice and restful the giving up would be. Just because something is hard or ignoble doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And the beauty of sail cargo is not lessened by the fact that it has not fulfilled the prediction of Clarence Winchester, writing just after World War II. It has not passed away with other glorious things we remember with a sweet ache–our childhoods, the old-growth forests of the world, life before advertising. Instead we cling doggedly to life, and others now come alongside Fairtransport to help shoulder the burden. Perhaps even some of those ships Clarence talked about, mouldering away in shipyards in various corners of the world, will soon be refit and put once more to use, carrying goods across the oceans on wings of canvas, not clouds of pollution. That is romance enough for me.

Deckhand, Elisabeth, Nov 27, 2017