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