Voluntarily and together
The men grab gloves, one makes do with a blanket. Then the lid comes off the end of the long box. Steam rises. They quickly get the hot plank out. But wait: you imagine a board, not a plank. With a thickness of 8 cm, this one looks more like a beam. They take it to the port stern of the “Tres Hombres” standing on dry land, where removed planks have left a hole in the hull through which one can see the former stern tube from the time when the ship was still under the engine. They routinely fix the tapered end with screw clamps to the plank below the hole and press against the hull with wooden beams and jacks. Then it becomes clear why screw clamps bear their name: meter by meter, they force the originally straight plank onto the arched hull, giving it the necessary twist. After about half an hour to and fro, the thick wood nestles against the hull. here it stays and cools down overnight and thus takes on the shape with which it fits into the outer skin of the ship.
For hours, the volunteers who work on the annual overhaul of the “Tres Hombres” boiled water in converted gas bottles and fed the steam through thick hoses into the chamber, which is insulated with old sleeping bags and woolen blankets. At the same time, others were working on further planks, making templates from long strips of plywood, cutting out the rough shape, planing, and sanding the raw Douglas fir planks taken from the sawmill. They work on a plank on starboard that had already been steamed yesterday, fastened it with steel jacks, car jacks, wedges, and screw clamps, as well as beating it into position with a large mallet. It is taken out again to make the final adjustments by hand. The adjustments are not enough and the process continues the next day.
Inside the ship is largely empty. The partition walls have been removed, and even the steel water tanks have been lifted from their anchoring so that the frames to which the old planks were attached and new planks are fastened, with thick carriage bolts, can be accessed. At the same time, you can get to places that you would otherwise not be able to remove rust. The noise of the needle guns operated with compressed air, the hand planes, and angle grinders that are used in various places would be unbearable without hearing protection. When you meet for a coffee break or lunch, dusty figures emerge from the hull.
Anyone who needs a helping hand in between will find it quickly.
What appears to be chaos at first glance quickly turns out to be an accumulation of goodwill that can be coordinated with just a few words. English is spoken, as onboard. In between, you can hear French, German, and Dutch. The professions are just as diverse as their origins: one morning, a Canadian aircraft mechanic is standing on the scaffolding with a brush and paint who has given up her job at Boeing. The German electrical engineer, who no longer liked his job in the auto industry, joins his first plank. It fits. And when I needed a partition to remove the completely rusted door lock of the companionway to the Foxhole, but had no experience with the dangerous machine. A Hungarian with the dreadlocks turned to help me. He brings experience from the heavy industry as well as being a video producer. The replacement for the brightwork on the bow, which broke on the return across the Atlantic, was carved by a young Dutch carpenter who lives on a nine-meter boat like alternative youths elsewhere in a trailer. The work is then painted by the German wood sculptor who studied architecture. On one side of the ship, electronic rap pounds from the loudspeaker through the noise of the machinery, while Mali blues and Fela Kuti’s Afropop play on the other.
The jobs are distributed by a Dutchman who has been with the “Tres Hombres” since the beginning. He was increasingly bored with his work in construction because it was more and more about the assembly of prefabricated houses. Then the Israeli ship officer is greeted with a loud hello, who also brought a friend in work clothes with her. The French DJ, who installed his electronic equipment on the ship on which we are temporarily housed, planes the newly installed planks smooth from the outside, while the former test ski driver and outdoor article marketer from France and a rig specialist from Holland hammer hemp into the cracks and then seal them with tar. “Love Tar” – someone wrote with a black handprint on the refrigerator standing outside, which houses butter and cheese for snacks or the after-work beer.
Theoretically, work ends at six, but hardly anyone starts clearing away the tools, unrolling the cables, and wiping up the wood shavings with a broom before half-past six. Most of them have never sailed on the “Tres Hombres”. Some hope to be able to ride in the future, others are just so proud, with bright faces, to help set up an alternative for bed and food.
Braked by Corona
Wednesday, the beginning of autumn: the wind is strong. It almost rips the flat bowl with the paint out of my hand. If I dip the roller in the paint, which is based on linseed oil, sometimes a gust of paint tears a thread of color in the air. Below me a colleague is covering the waterline with masking tape, I have to stop so as not to stain him. Later he “chases” me and, for his part, paints the area below the masking tape with copper-based antifouling paint, while a black drop of paint flies onto the left lens of his glasses when I coat the hull above the waterline with elegant, shiny black.
A week and a half ago we put in the whiskey plank. This is the name of the last plank that closes the hull again and that – analogous to the topping-out in a building on land – is celebrated with a bottle of the appropriate spirit and a short speech. The work on the outer skin was far from over: In addition to caulking the joints with hemp and tar, we sealed all the holes in which the screws are countersunk with wooden pegs. In addition to the new planks, all the small areas where the old paint was peeling were sanded and primed. So the fuselage got the appearance of a patchwork quilt – now the final coat is twice as fun.
Despite the wind, the mood is almost euphoric. We would have wanted to let the Tres Hombres into the water today. But the ubiquitous Corona protective measures have delayed the progress of the work. But now the mood is rising: there is paint everywhere, this time to Latino rhythms. Final sprint. The ship is supposed to go into the water the day after tomorrow. However, I’ll miss the party: Since the corona numbers are increasing all over Europe, my relatives in Switzerland would not understand if I extended my stay. So I’m on my way home. But the feeling says: It doesn’t have to be the last time.
Till now we took down the main mast, we cut a big hole in the deck to remove the tanks in the officers/ library compartment. We dismantled the chartroom, the lazarette storage, the bosuns locker, the captains cabin, the library and the officers cabins, the dry store, the forepeak and some of the f’ocsle. There is also a nicely organised workshop container!
We also treated the whole hull from the insideand needle scaled all frames from the library aft.
Tomorrow we will start painting them. The tanks in the library are being rebuild and the black water tank modified.
The main mast chainplates are removed and some of the frames underneath replaced.
Outside we are changing around 20 planks and a third of the ship is already recaulked.
This is only possible because of our amazing volunteers from all over the world. I think the one travelled furthest is our Mexican dentist! Anyways, no differences made – literally everybody is doing all they can do and they invest all their energy in this lovely barge. Thank you!!
If you want to learn something new, if you want to improve your skills, if you have been a caulking mallet yourself for years, if you are any type of crafts(wo)man, if you are eager to help and knock a heavy mallet on your already sore knuckles, posh things up or play the flute to keep the spirits up or if you “just” want to help in Den Helder, Netherlands – please contact email@example.com Learn more: http://fairtransport.eu/tres-hombres-refit-2018-come-and-join/
My watch mates are resting quietly around me in the darkness of the focastle. The thousands and one sounds of
the ship, the Bosun tools noises, the salty sailors boots heavy steps running on the foredeck, the yelling of the maneuvers (an hard-core symphony which might have sounded creepy or disturbing in the beginning of the trip but now incredibly familiar), together with the glassy waters knocking at the hull close to my ears compose a lullaby, the melody of an old hand-and-heart-made boat that has its own soul and spirit, that breaths as a living creature, that speaks, whispers, cry and shout, at its own way, in its own language.
The red light of my headlamp, which is restricted on deck by the Captain in order to get our eyes sharper and able to see even in the darkest moonless night, brights my bunk and these pages, making me feel alone somehow, if “alone” is a word with a meaning on board of a sailing cargo ship of walkable 25mt shared with 15 sailors. Being alone is a luxury of the land, and personally my biggest saudade on board. So I grab this precious moment and surf this intimate wave of sharing with you some impressions of this whole voyage, now that it is almost over. Yes, almost. Because on an engineless sailing vessel it is hard, pointless, counterproductive and even dangerous to tell such things.
Even if the betting already started nobody can predict with certitude when we will fold the sails, step on the quay, open a fresh beer and looking back at Her saying to ouselves “it is over”. Everything can be, everything can change. You never know. You cannot know. You can do your best, but still it is not you to decide.
The old chinese proverb “if you want to make Gods laughs, tell them about your plans” is truer than ever here and finds its perfect demonstration on the Tres Hombres. The ship and the elements are fully owner of our destinies. Isnt that epic great? So we are almost there and it is time for my watch to begin, lets see what it will be.
The summer trip seems to be a different experience to the way longer transatlantic crossing, but still it is something, especially for some brand new fresh sailors as most of us.
We crossed (without particularly fair winds and currents) the English Channel twice in less than a month, the damned tricky unreliable English Channel with its unpredictable winds and its scaring intense cargo monsters traffic. This has its sailing, nautical but also emotional consequences, repercussion on moods and dynamics, on deck or down in the bunks, as well as inside and outside yourself. This can mean for example that when there is no wind and you feel stuck and bored, kind of useless with no ropes to pull, you can easily get also stuck into a quarrel between peanut butter maniacs and chocolate paste lovers, which it is not such an important either interesting issue, if you know what I mean. The presence or absence of the wind, being anchored in the middle of the Channel unable to move, drifted away or backwards by the currents, the stillness of the wait, all very very tricky elements, and you have to learn how to take care of them. It is therefore very important to keep yourself busy, at least for me it is a strategy that helped a lot. Go to Bosun asking for tasks, take care of the ship to show your love and respect to her, hoping that he will send you up in the riggings, maybe to oil the leather around the shrouds, and there hidden by the sail in the silence of the sky you can listen to your heart beat so loud, making all the other voices quiet, finally.
Sitting on the galley roof staring at the tanks which seem to have released all their petrol cargo on the surface of the sea, so quiet and oily as it looks, witnessing one of the dirtiest fact of our society, a secret hidden in the oceans were every day thousands of thousands of thousands of metal monsters,spitting stinky gases and smokes, whose bellies are filled with a pure foie-gras style with all kinds of evil goods and cheap shit for all kinds of pockets, coming and going from and to all kinds of places, all kinds of materials, colors, shapes, flavours… it seems like we need it, it looks like we desperately need it considering the speed they travel in order to deliver their cargo on the other side of a planet. But do we? Really? What for? And Why? (ps. WHY NOT IS NOT AN ALLOWED FUNNY ANSWER). Are we able to reconsider completely, till the roots, our consumption? Am I?
How many questions, new and old ones, melting together in the messy pot of your mind…and from the outside they sneak into the inside and all the little things and details and events of just a single watch can be strong heartquakes, especially if you are an hopeless empathic sensitive human as I am or used to be? A huge refit of myself started, the one that was waiting for some time now but on land you know… there are lots of ways to postpone it, not to say avoid it. On board of the Tres Hombres, there is no escape from yourself. Your ego will try to trick and tease you but if you accept the challenge and the pain that eventually comes with, you can live a very blow-minding experience. Tolerance, acceptance, adaptation, self confidence and self questioning, the discover of the potentiality of your body, the power of the trust or distrust, in yourself and in the others, the strenght that turns into weakness and reverse, your certitudes upside down… and then the wind starts to blow again and somehow you get through it and you survive your own self while pulling ropes or adding extras crazy sails. or sliding the stunsail boom under the yard inside after having gybed it for the first time believing you cannot do that without making some bullshit… but your beloved one right next to you believes in you, so why wouldnt you?…And you just do it.
I wont go deeper into details, the salty sailors who are reading these lines will probably remember, recognize,understand or at least know what the hell I am talking about and some words could eventually recall some old memories of their very first waves, and the curious followers of the adventures of this ship and her crew are warmly invited to step closer and taste the salt of our personal challenges and mission while we are also sailing cargo pushed only by the winds. The harder the environment, the greater the lesson!
We all have our own hells and heavens, our skeletons and untied knots, dreams and nightmares, and there is nothing more interesting and that will make you feel so connected with yourself, with all the dark and shiny shades of this self, than sailing here. So personally I feel blessed and I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to face this me and eventually, hopefully, grow stronger and be a better being. I promise to myself not to give up on this quest as well as on understanding how this sailing masterpiece and the elements work together and bring us from A to B emission free. Who knows, maybe my path will keep me here for a little more if life will decide I deserve some more of this magic, or somewhere else seeking the same beautiful thrills that made me feel so alive, the learning crashed, the painful downs and unforgettable ups.
I want to thank all the crew, for the good and for the bad, I learned something very important from each of you. And a special one to our Captain, a humble guy who is a pure wild sailing living legend, ready to everything, unpredictable as the winds he loves, who opened up the arms of his knowledge and experience with patience and respect, smartness and balance, it is a true honor to pull the same rope, execute his orders, listening to the explanations of maneuvers, the afternoon lectures or the sunset readings, the generosity to welcome us on board and share his floating home with us, unknown strangers. I have a long list of memories and moments to be grateful for but I will keep it for me.
You are all free to write your own joining this outstanding project to improve yourself and the world living a true life changing adventure.
“We have been longing to see it even if it was missing, but the treasure is there, for sure. Hidden by trickster demons and lost in the labyrinths of our questions and answers” Corto Maltese
We would like to invite all of you for our next refit of the Tres Hombres in Den Helder, Netherlands.
She has now been sailing bravely for 10 years and she has carried tons of cargo with very small rest periods in between. She survived really rough weather and really rough people. She has seen the most beautiful anchorages and the shittiest muddy foggy trenches. She has seen love, hate, respect and disrespect in any way shape or form imaginable. She has been build by great knowledge, enthusiasm and goodwill and she has been maintained like this as well. Effing awesome job people!!
But now is the time to clean up some bits which need more than only just further maintenance; now is the time to clean up the rust (of her steel structure and her human lovers) of many years; now is the time to clean up tunnel-views and resignation.
So this year will be rather special; we are planning a very extensive, (mid-July to end-October) and compared to the other years, different refit. Several major projects are planned which will reduce the overall maintenance workload, reduce the stress (on people and materials) and resolve some of the complaints aboard. This important refit will both strengthen and prepare the vessel for the next several years of cargo sailing.
Projects for this refit:
*Re-caulking the vessel
For the technical interested: Only a small job of the caulking is to keep the water out of the boat – its primary job is to bring tension in the hull and to bring up her strength to the designed level through added pressure in between the planks (several tons).
Reasons for a re-caulk: The hull is leaking a bit too much, it is moving to much when working in heavy weather or when powerful tension is applied to the rigging. Also many non-compatible systems of caulking have been applied over the years. There are additionally some wet seams which means possible rot between planks and future damage might follow. As per Lloyds (a major ship classification society) a composite build vessel has to be re-caulked at least once every 8-10 years; for Tres Hombres this is the time now. A composite vessel has a stronger backbone than a wood-wood one, yes, but if the tension between the planks decreases the movement goes into the plank-frame fastenings as there is a new tension-line between rigid and soft -> they (the fasteners) wobble their way into the surrounding wood -> humidity can enter -> potential rot, rust, loose fastenings
*We want to develop a recognized system of procedures and materials used in the maintenance and repair of the vessel – this will be orientated by the guidelines of classification societies and well-recognised handbooks.
As a result there should be a standard knowledge of how every part of the vessel has been built and how it has to be repaired, which will not only add to the overall strength of the vessel, but also simplify and accelerate work onboard during refit periods and maintenance underway.
*There will be new water-tanks fitted
*There will be an electrical refit
*There will be a rebuild of the generator (external company)
*There will be a lot of maintenance and nice-ifying work
If you want to learn something new, if you want to improve your skills, if you have been a caulking mallet yourself for years, if you are any type of crafts(wo)man, if you are eager to help and knock a heavy mallet on your already sore knuckles, posh things up or play the flute to keep the spirits up or if you “just” want to help – please join!!
We need specifically:
*Electricians/an electric engineer; our system needs some redesigning and cleaning out; has a few unknown faults and dead wires
*Woodworkers; changing planks on hull and deck, possibly batten-up planks, interior removal and refitting (tanks, frames), poshing things up
*Metal workers; change frames, install tanks, repairs (we have someone taking charge of this, but he will need preferably skilled co-workers)
*Caulkers; we need a few people who are skilled at caulking and we need people who are keen to learn it. This was the most rewarded and highest level job when building a wooden hull! Please do not underestimate this job; we will be tuning the Tres Hombres like an instrument. Concerning this hull the caulking is no rocket science and can be learned relatively quickly – but you need dedication and huge attention to details; you caulk too soft for one centimetre and you have a leak there; you caulk to hard you have a leak next to it as you are forcing the softwood planks apart in this spot… On this re-caulk we will practice and teach a technique which has been used in (mainly Scandinavian) fishing vessels for hundreds of years
*People who can sand, remove rust and apply oil and paint
*Riggers – this year we will only do small repairs though
*And of course the most important job – the cook; there will be around 20 hungry persons to be fed
This is a vast job for the time planned but the boat has to get sailing, no matter what; that’s what she does best. But we will manage, I promised the next captain and we always delivered on time.
But please understand the importance of this refit, for the company and for the ship itself; it will not be easy but very interesting, challenging and rewarding. This time will demand the strongest work ethic and a very high level of cooperation between all members of the refit team. There is no space for people who are not willing to give a good days work or spend hours discussing different methods and techniques during the working time.
Please contact Hilde, our crew manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org to tell her about your abilities and availability – we want to plan as good as possible ahead (which project to start at which point of the refit and what material to buy) and avoid to have more than 20 persons working on the ship at the same time. On the refit we offer decent accommodation, good feeding and a professional environment.
I will most likely be involved in the planning and running the show – my name is Fabian, I am a merchant master mariner, a shipwright and a mechanic. I have skippered the Tres Hombres for a small part of the last Atlantic trip and have restored boats for some time. I will be the person on the front and Andreas (the famous co-founder of Fairtransport and most experienced refit guy) will do the logistics.
captain Fabian Klenner
Preparing to go to sea..
So while we are at sea again, I would like to explain a little bit about preparing a ship to go to sea. As you have read in the previous weblog, we have been at anchor for two weeks. I write: we, with that I really mean the ship and her crew, because personally I only joined the ship two days before setting sail. So really most preparations found place under the command of my predecessor, captain Fabian Klenner. So what does it entail? To explain in short: crew, ship and gear has to be ready for sea.
Most crewmembers have been for quite a few months on board. The core crew: mate, cook, deckhands and one of the trainees, has been on board since her departure from Den Helder last year. Of the core crew, most of them sailed before that on Tres Hombres, and of the other crewmembers some of them have. This means there is quite a bit of experience on board to built on. And under the command of Fabian, several safety drills where carried out to keep the crew up to high standards of seamanship. For me off course, being the one new on board, I had to familiarize myself with the capabilities of the crew. Because really, on a sailing vessel like this, it is not entirely the ship which defines her seaworthiness but it is more the crew itself which brings safety, continuity and comfortable sailing. To do this, I had a personal interview with each crewmember, to understand their previous experiences on board, find out about their capabilities and discuss ideas and wishes for the coming trip. Apart from that I had a lot of conversations with Fabian to discuss the management on board and learn about the things, he found out, which worked or did not work.
The ship has proved herself throughout the past ten years under the flag of Fairtransport, and many decades in all different roles under previous owners. This does not mean there is nothing to prepare on her. You can compare a traditional wooden square rigged sailing vessel, with her millions of parts, who are all subject to change, because of weather conditions, wear and tear and maintenance, almost to a living creature. Like any living being, she needs to breath (ventilation), drink (paint, linseed oil, tar) and eat (wood, steel, oakum, pitch, rope and wire) to survive. To make this possible every year she gets a thorough refit, mostly during a period of about a month, this past year it was three months. And also her crew is constantly supporting the life of their vessel with maintenance. Some things are more obvious than others. The standing rigging needs tarring, greasing and tuning. The running rigging, attention to protection for wear and tear, and constant replacing of her parts. The hull needs pumping, re caulking and painting. Here was one of the reasons to be anchored the previous weeks. Because on the voyage from Columbia, back to the Dominican republic, her hull had received quite a beating, which made her more leaky than considered wanted to continue. So repairs where carried out, with the final filling up of seams with a special putty I had taken along from Europe.
Then the gear, which is usually looked upon as the main focus to prepare a ship. All spares, tools, charts, nautical books, stores, drinking water and fuel needs to be on board or brought on board. Gear, like machinery, instruments and safety gear needs to be in working order. And everything, including cargo, needs to be stowed and lashed properly and in a seamanlike fashion. For all of this, on Tres Hombres, we make use of a pre-departure checklist. So again, before proceeding, our fine vessel was deemed healthy again to go to sea.
Capt. Jorne Langelaan
Dear partners, (former) crew members and friends.
You receive this newsletter while brigantine Tres Hombres has just crossed the Atlantic ocean again. Almost every other day you can read a new weblog on our website, with the adventures of our sailing crewmembers. That is why now, in this newsletter, our amazing shore and office crew is writing down their stories.
Off course many things happened within the past period in our organization, we often say to each other “Never a dull moment”. To start off we had quite a big change this summer, because the three founders : Arjen v/d Veen, Andreas Lackner and Jorne Langelaan moved on, to put down their daily functions as operational directors. They are still shareholders and they will continue to promote the organization through their own unique ways. Arjen is occupied with organizing sustainable cargo in Rotterdam. Andreas is very closely involved in the technical matters of both ships, and is planning some new ventures in Amsterdam. Jorne is busy with a new sailing cargo project and moved to Ireland. All three of them are still involved in giving talks around the country and in foreign lands, telling their story of sustainable business upon the seven seas.
As the operational succesor of this trio I should introduce myself. My name is Hans van der Pluijm. Before I started as a volunteer with Fairtransport I used to work in a scala of managing roles in large healthcare institutions. Also, for five years, I was general boardmember at a similar institute in Palestina. After my first year coordinating the trading department within Fairtransport, mostly involved in distributing and selling rum, I went for a long walk from the Netherlands to Santiago the Compostella in Spain. At my return I was asked to become a pro-deo general manager to run the organization. It was agreed to evaluate my position after a twelve month term, and since that moment (August this year) I have been general director.
As you can read in this newsletter, before setting sail in May, the fine trading ketch Nordlys has had a thorough refit of the forward part of the ship. The grand old lady is not only still beautifull, but strong as ever. This has been also the first season, with her experienced skipper Lammert Osinga again, that the amount of cargo she carried was on the rise. With the current brokers contacts and promising cargo deals for the coming season we believe this trend will continue. So, if you where thinking to invest your capital in a sustainable cause, forget about bitcoins, and sign on with Fairtransport again! For more information feel free to contact me at: email@example.com.
Or you can download the Nordlys Shipping Company business plan through this link: Invest Contact Form
The past year, apart from many crewmembers, some experienced new captains joined us again. One of them even started sailing with Tres Hombres as a trainee and worked himself up through the ranks of Deckhand, 2nd mate and Chief mate. Next to the real sailing, there where also quite some improvements ashore in the office. Many procedures where put in writing or streamlined. The administration was further automated and connections between the different entities where put in place.
Personally I can only say, that I am very proud: to be part of the group of enthousiatic people which make up Fairtransport. A shipping organization, where care for our natural environment comes first. And because of this, has been proven able to transport its goods in a fair and sustainable matter, while keeping the traditions and craftmanship of traditional sailing alive. This is the reason that I can see a flourishing coming year and further future for Fairtransport, her crew and ships: Tres Hombres and Nordlys. Finally, dear reader, it is because of you, that all of this is possible. So, thank you very much and fair winds in the coming year!
Hans v.d. Pluijm
Last season was absolutely the season of the Nordlys. Gradually she has sailed herself out of the shadow of our flagship Tres Hombres. Which port the Nordlys visited the past months, everywhere the press, film crews and snapping photographers were waiting for her. Whether it was Porto, Noirmoutier, Brixham or Bremerhaven.
Of course, the oldest sailing cargo ship (1873) in the world deserves this attention. Sailing from port to port with olive oil, olives and natural wine in her hold is really special. She is one of the best with her red fluttering sails. Fortunately, the photographers who get the sailing cargo ship and beautiful crew on film were so free to share their images in high resolution. In this way I’m building up an archive for future press reports and other media requests. But the Tres Hombres also has no complaints when it comes to media attention. Recently I received a request from the Lonely Planet to come and film for a report about the best travel experiences in the world. Unfortunately, it did not fit in the schedule. Because in addition to trainees stepping up for a special experience, we also have a cargo schedule that we must adhere to. Hopefully there will be a next time. In any case, we feel flattered. At this moment the Tres Hombres has the trade winds in her sails and will soon arrive at Saint Martin with relief supplies for animals.
With Spotfinder we can closely follow the ships. The crew leaves a track via the satellite. In that way, we can see when the ship is about to arrive. The press is ready to go at that moment.
Our captains can tell extensive stories about these cargo adventures, exciting sailing trips and of course about our Tres Hombres rum. Fairtransport offers custom-made talks for companies or other organisation, even in different languages. If you would like to know more about this, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing and Communications
Dear all, We are coming to the end of the year, so it is a nice occasion for a moment of reflection, to pass the events of last year again in review. It is an opportunity to stop and think about the course for next year. One thing is guaranteed… At Fairtransport, nothing is predictable! Ships that sail only on the power of the wind, the changeable weather, and people who come from all over the world and meet each other through Fairtransport, as well as personal developments ensure that is always remains exciting.
We are very happy that the Nordlys is finally in such a good condition. That after the long refit, Lammert and his crew were able to sail a great season and that they could delight the cargo customers with their cargo. The next season of the Nordlys will start in March. We can proudly state that our cargo customers are expanding their cargo volume and that there is already a lot of cargo waiting for the Nordlys’ next season. She will have a pretty fixed cargo route in the future; to Portugal, France, the UK, Denmark and Germany. If you would like to meet her and the crew at a festival next year, that is possible in in Blankenberge in May or Rostock in August.
The moment I write this, the Tres Hombres is on her way to Saint Martin to bring relief supplies. She is now halfway on her ocean crossing. Rémi, who has sailed for us as first mate for several years, has had his first time as captain from Den Helder to Santa Cruz. We hope that he will continue to sail for us as a captain for many years to come. He has passed on the helm in Santa Cruz to Fabian, who has come to us recently and is for the first time the captain of the Tres Hombres. All three men sailed as captain on the Tres Hombres in 2017. Something that has not been the case within one year in the past.
Probably you have noticed that we had to make one of two Atlantic voyages. Which therefore has become longer. We expect the Tres Hombres to return to Amsterdam in May 2018 with rum and cacao. Of course, the yearly unloading party takes place in Amsterdam at that moment.
Everyone who wants to sail with us (again) will find our schedules under the following link: Sail Along. The sailing schedule for the winter 2018/2019 for the Tres Hombres will be developed within the next fourteen days. Thereafter, it will be available on our website under sail along and downloads. If you have any questions, you can send them to: email@example.com
Kind regards and until next time,
A day out of the Shipping journal
This morning I had to make clear to a cargo owner that we do not have any ships sailing on the route from Argentina to Iran at this time. As much as we would like to meet the wishes of enthusiastic cargo owners… In this case we had to disappoint the man. Nothing to be worried about according to the same man: “I see possibilities to transport some things from the Caribbean to Sweden.”
Soon after, the same story with someone who would love to transport a cargo consisting of chocolate bars from Ivory Coast to France. So, requests from all over the world pass the desk of Shipping each week. All of which are answered. Even requests that must be answered in negative are answered with a clear explanation. Thereafter, they are put in the digital archive…
“Because you’ll never know…!” All requests from cargo owners are checked with the sailing schedules of the Tres Hombres and the Nordlys. Concerning the Tres Hombres, we can of course see some acquaintances, who have been using the ship for years to transport cargo from the Caribbean to Europe. For example, cacao for the Chocolatemakers in Amsterdam and rum for our own Trading department. Although, the complete hold is not contracted at the departure from Den Helder, our experience has shown that the full capacity of the ship (about 40 tons) will be used during the return journey. Exciting is that this time (the winter voyage from 2017-2018) probably will be our first North American adventure.
In Nordlys’ case things are different. On the routes along the Western European coast it is still a bit of a search to get regular customers, just like the Tres Hombres. In 2017, the Nordlys came into permanent service and visited Portugal, France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Denmark. The indications are favourable for the summer voyage of 2018. We will re-establish the relationship gained in 2017 and we expect to be able to sail a good year along the coastline of Europe. The thrown-out bait in 2017 must lead to the catch of large(r) fish in 2018!
“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.
In de haven
Nordlys ligt vredig afgemeerd aan de houten steiger in Willemsoord, Den Helder. Omringd door zeezeilschepen, stoomslepers, enkele botters, een voormalig lichtschip en een paar tjalken, is dit een mooi schouwspel dat zich voor mijn ogen voltrekt. Het schip en de bemanning zijn weer veilig in de thuishaven aangekomen. We hebben afgelopen zomer fabuleuze reizen gemaakt met de Nordlys langs de Europese kusten. Eerst Noord en daarna Zuid. In elke haven waar we kwamen hebben we fantastische mensen ontmoet. De Nordlys is ons welgezind en het vrachtruim steeds meer gevuld met heerlijke producten. Nog moeten we een tocht varen naar Bremerhaven deze maand. Daarna is er periode van rust voor het schip en kan er enkel onderhoud gedaan worden.
De zon schijnt meestal tussen enkele korte felle buien die even snel langstrekken als dat ze aankomen . Er waait een frisse vlagerige Noordwester over de Noordzee en hier over de Noordfriese kust. Terwijl een vissoep boven het vuurtje staat te pruttelen zit ik aan dek, kijk om me heen en geniet van een wijntje. Als ik een pijp had gehad, had ik hem gerookt. Het is rustig aan boord, de gehele bemanning is aan land. Ik sla het boek van Hylke Speerstra open, Schippers van de Zee, en begin te lezen.
“ Eeuwenlang werd in Europa kustvaart bedreven. De schepen waren betrekkelijk klein, schippers waren ondernemende zeelieden. Mannen met moed en vakmanschap. En het waren niet alleen de mannen…
Hun vlakgaande kustvaartschepen waren geschikt om de lading uit de havens in het binnenland te halen en naar toe te brengen. Maar schipper en schip bezaten ook de eigenschappen de zee te trotseren. Door deze tweezijdigheid ontstond een vorm van handelsvaart die gedurende een periode van naar schatting twintig eeuwen onuitroeibaar bleek.
Toch hebben perioden van grote bloei en crises ook in deze tak van scheepsvaart elkaar afgewisseld. Oorlogen, die handel tussen de landen vrijwel verlamden, deden de varensmannen en hun gezinnen soms grote armoe lijden. Gedurende die tijden overwoekerde het gras de scheepshellingen. Maar zodra er weer een opleving kwam, bleken er schippers en scheepsbouwers overgebleven te zijn. En met hen was het vakmanschap bewaard gebleven. Steeds opnieuw kwam de kustvaart tot bloei.”
Ik kijk op, overpeins, geniet een moment van rust en vervolg.
Name: Conor McGowan
How did you hear of Fairtransport?
Two years ago I became curious in sail- freight and did some searching on the internet. At this time I was working in the tall ship industry and my goal was to somehow eventually join the crew of Tres Hombres. I’m so trilled to finally be here!
Why did you want to join Tres Hombres?
Like many others, I have a dream that sailing ships and their culture will return to prominence in the modern world by the virtue of their power to transport cargoes across the world without the use of fossil fuels.
I wanted to see for myself the real thing in action, the logistics and procedures and craft of sail cargo, and Tres Hombres (Fairtransport) was pretty much the only operation making it a reality.
What do you expect from this voyage?
Learning to handle a ship without the assistance of auxiliary power is a true test of seamanship and a virtually nonexistent practice in our time.
I know that the demands of this undertaking will teach me so much in the space of these coming months that I could notexpect to learn on a similar vessel that runs on engine power.
I’m humbled by the scope of undertaking and eager to learn all that I can from this ship. And as Always look forward to become friends with my shipmates as we bond under the shared experiences of our voyage. The connections you forge out there at sea, on a ship, are so strong and true. You don’t easily find that kind of bond on land.
Lastly but not least, the traveling is an adventure too and I’m excited to reach new ports and add to my knowledge of the world.
Fairtransport is like a spark. It started a fire, which is getting bigger and starts spreading around. The old way and the natural way of transporting is part of a bigger movement in the modern time. More and more the agriculture is taking a step backwards and a lot of farmers are producing natural again. More and more people start using of local products again. More and more recycling is going on. More and more people are taking care of their energy use, and so forth. Altogether more and more care for “mother earth” ; Our habitat!
Unfortunately there is still a stubborn group of people who still believe in capitalistic way of living and following the rules of the free market economy; Ruining the earth by doing so.
And a big group of people who are not really aware and just live the spoiled way of the western society.
There is momentarily however, a growing amount of protest against this way of living. We don’t want to eat gen-food, We don’t want our forests to be chopped away, We don’t want to stand in traffic-jams every day, We don’t want to breath polluted air and so forth.
We, the people, should demand back our freedoms and the more natural way of living. Protest alone doesn’t help; “Be the change you want to see”. Giving the example and inspire the people around you. I believe this is the best you can do. One moment we will reach the critical mass.
Since I started to work with Fairtransport, I saw the amount of cargo growing, after Tres Hombres came Nordlys and also others started transporting goods with their sailingships. A group of people with an ideal and a goal. A truly greener world; Our origin,our source.
If you search for the meaning of the word “economy”, you will find words like “thrift” and “providence”, also “careful management of available resources” and “sparing or careful use of something”.
So lets start to live a healthy economy together.
Change is not easy and doesn’t happen in one day. Stimulate this slow revolution and live more with nature again. We are trying and doing the best we can with Fairtransport;
Cargo by wind and sail!
Captain Lammert Osinga