The Wishing Table

The days on the “Tres Hombres” are becoming blurry. Sometimes we have to wake up in the middle of the phase of deep sleep.

Our crew is separated in two groups: six hours watch, six hours rest, 4 hours watch, 4 hours rest, 4 hours watch, and the next 24 hours it’s the other way around.

We set sail half a day later than planned, since the night before has been a night of extensive partying. The sea is also moving extensively as we take off. At first I climb up the mast to furl the sails, but when it’s time to eat I bend over the rail and for the first time in my life throw up on a ship. It takes me three days to get used to the movement on the ship and I ask myself if I really want to sail all the way to Brazil.

The stars that sprinkle across the sky every night, their light gets me back to myself. After three days I starting feeling myself again and enjoing the sailing. More and more I get used to the constant rolling of the boat and simply have to reduce my speed, otherwise I feel dizzy again and slightly nauseous. This slowness and giving myself completely to the sea is entirely new to me. I am an earth-person knowing the sea mostly from being on a beach. One morning I lie on deck looking up to the sky and try to just let all of my body cells simply do what my body needs in order to cope with this new situation. After half an hour only I already fresh and finally stronger again.

The third day we are spending out at sea is a day off. Still, the watches and resting times have to be kept, but other than that no work needs to be done. Our 1st mate, Francois, teaches me to sing French sea songs, we read, Rosa is knitting, Biz doing my hair, it’s peaceful. Yet a few tensions can already be felt within the crew. That isn’t really surprising, after all the boat is only 32 metres long! The cabin at the fore is bedroom to eight people, plus it is directly connected with the dry store and the galley. Four more people sleep in the cargo hold. I am fortunate and share my cabin with Alex, the chef. Her meals exceed all hopes I wouldn’t even have dared to think of. More than half of the crew is vegetarian, and the inventive meals are spiced with the endless number of spices that fill up the galley cupboards.

Keeping a loving and understanding spirit up is not that easy in such a tight space, as well as finding the right amount of work to bring into the community. Our colourful group is made of many different individuals that has to stick together for the period of the journey together; apart from sailing that also means organizing daily life, helping the chef in the galley, doing dishes, cleaning up, repairing and maintaining the ship, etc. We constantly have to be considerate of the others, because someone is basically always asleep due to the watch system.

During watch from midnight until four in the morning we bake bread. Kneading the dough while the boat is rolling can be quite a challenge. Every now and then I have to sit down again, breathe deeply and slow down in order not to get nauseous again.

After a few days of sailing I take out my camera for the first time and get excited about breathtaking images. I am curious whether the audiences in the cinemas will get seasick from the constant movement in the pictures. That would make for an especially unforgettable film experience!

Every night we look out for the comet Ison that is supposed to come really close to the sun at the end of November. At the time we don’t know it’s name, nor how and it which direction we ought to be able to watch the show. Someone on board just said that there was apparently this comet. Every night we look up into the sky, every night I count numerous shooting stars. It seems as if there were one every single time I look.
The night of Nov 27 / 28 our watch starts at midnight, and Biz asks if I want to take over the bread baking that night. Ten minutes more I would like to stay outside and breathe. The sea is quiet, because there hasn’t been much wind for a day. There, all of the sudden, a white ray crosses the sky in front of us and everyone calls out! Was that it, the comet? I get goose bumps and feel deeply touched by what I have just seen – this light up in the sky, that ray, an unexpected appearance, like a wonder, mystical, evidence of creation and its beauty. I feel deeply grateful having observed this natural moment, this innocence and unbiasedness in which al that is become and changes, childlike, natural. That’s life!

That night I really enjoy making the bread, crunch a whole lot of spices with the mortar and kneat the dough even three times. Everyone seems to enjoy the bread at breakfast.

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Two days without wind make some in the crew get impatient. Looking at the chart shows that we are in nearly the same spot as 24 hours earlier.
Sunday morning, however, the wind picks ups and reach the port of Santa Cruz the La Palma (Canary Islands) just before lunch time. The Tres Hombres is a ship without a motor at all. For certain manoeuvres we take the dingy, but we actually manage to reach the dock relying entirely on the wind. On command of Lammert, our skipper, we haul down one sail after the other. The whole crew is highly concentrated. Just before we get to the pier we throw an anker, as a sort of break, two guys jump on shore, catch the lines and throw them around the bollards, we have landed. Everyone is cheering and applauding, it worked! This moment really strengthens our sense of working together as a group.

Originally we were supposed to spend just one day in La Palma and load rum and cigars, but it turns into nearly a whole week. It turns out that the island is a perfect place to stock up on food and water supplies that have to get us all the way to Brazil.

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The most important thing when we reach shore are showers and laundry – but it’s not always easy to find that! The first shower after a week out on sea is truly wonderful, yet I don’t feel the need for a daily shower any more. My skin is soft like never before, my hair full and shiny. The body can finally produce its own oils again and cleanse itself. Again and again and stroke my arms and enjoy how my skin feels like.

I am excited to speak Spanish again and organize the laundry place fort he whole crew. Alex wants to find a way of having organic fruit and vegetables delivered directly to the ship. As we leave the laundry place my head turns left and I spot the little shop “Hierba Buena”. I suggest asking there. Rosa-Abel, the owner, is truly an angel. She makes all of our, and even more so most of my, wishes come true without even having to say it out loud! First she calls all of her producers ordering 20 kgs of potatoes, 20 kgs of mangos, avocados, lettuce, etc. Together we drive to a “finca” and see how the fruit are grown. She takes us on little detours, so we at least get to see a little bit of the island. And Rosa Abel particularly feels how important it is to spend time away from the ship. I shower in her shops little bathroom with candles and incence. She then offers me to use a separate room where they also offer Shiatsu treatments in order to work quietly on my computer.

I notice how all the tension of the days that a lot of things had to be organized is slowly going away and how I nearly feel landsick. I sit down on the floor and try to calm my body cells and seem to still be rolling like the movement of the ship. I really enjoy the days of getting goods and spending little time on the ship. Rosa-Abel makes a fabulous lunch and even offers Alex and me to go to the other side of the island with her, film beautiful spots and spend the night at her house. Alex has to go back to the ship, but I gladly take her up on that offer! Have I not just been contemplating to spend the night in a bed on shore, alone in a room, without movement and sounds, without the others? I thought I would maybe rent a hotel room here or later in the Cap Verdes, but it turns out there is no need for that. Rosa-Abel takes better care of me than they would be able to in any hotel.

I regard it as important that we step out of our “orbit” every now and again in order to avoid for our surrounding to become a swamp that drags us down, to step away from our families, daily life, the relationship, and feel ones own essence. That’s what allows us to renew decisions instead of continuing without thinking, to fully engage into the people around us. That way routine cannot arise. Maybe that’s the formula for successful projects, long-lasting friendships and deep relationships.

The journey is teaching me to deal with me wishes, to feel where I would like to get to instead of imaging every detail of the form it should have. It seems as if I only had to call for the wishing table to be set – like in the fairy tale, and let myself be surprised by the wonderful dishes I get served.

Tonight or very early tomorrow we will leave La Palma after almost a whole week and head for the Cap Verdes. The wind is slowly supposed to pick up again.
I didn’t get to know much of the island, but I have become curious for what secrets hide further inside, ready to be explored on extensive hikes. I am now looking forward again to experiences together with the Tres Hombres crew and, of course, to sailing!