Once again I have been somewhat slack in keeping this journal up-to-date, but a bit of pressure from various readers has spurred me into action again. For the first time in our tour around The Netherlands we have some delays. Most of the day sails at Lelystad went reasonably well, despite some lively moments getting back into the tricky berth in strong winds. A film crew had two evenings aboard the ship filming a programme on slavery ú I donït know how realistic the end result will be with the èslavesî shivering while dressed only in loin-cloths when they were supposed to be in the West Indies. For the first time this season we have been delayed by the weather. With a WNW gale blowing, with squalls and driving rain, I was forced to cancel the day sail last Friday. Unfortunately, this was the day that the VOC committee was coming with us, as well as a film director who is interested in making a èBataviaî movie. It would have been pleasing to let them see Duyfken under sail but not to be ú the weather made the berth almost impossible to get in or out of, and with only a metre under us when outside, was wary of sailing in too big a chop in case we touch the bottom. So we had to be content with giving them a good look at the ship and Heidy preparing a VOC meal on the cookbox forïd, using firewood as fuel just as would have been done 400 years ago. It was no mean feat with the rain trying to put out the fire the whole time ú Heidy and her assistant Ron did a fine job in difficult conditions. The wet, cold, blustery weather continues; no sign of summer at all. Not sure who to believe now; some locals say ètypical Dutch weatherî, others say èsummer is not normally like thisî. All the rain is not good for the ship ú fresh water rots timber, canvas and hemp ú sails are going mouldy, the rig cannot be set up because it is soaking wet and continual dampness is trying everyoneïs patience. Because of the time constraints, we were unable to sail down to Amsterdam when we left Lelystad last Sunday. With the wind fresh out of the SW, a dead headwind, I had to motor the whole way down to Amsterdam ú the first passage we have been unable to sail. Our time constraints were getting through the railway bride into the Maritime Museum. The bridge opens only once in every 24 hours ú at the moment at 0150, a most unsociable hour. Despite the fresh breeze, we had a trouble-free run through the Orange locks into Amsterdam and after dodging some fast moving barge traffic in the harbour, we were hove to off the bridge entrance at 0120, half an hour to spare. It was a bit of a job to hold position there, a thoroughly miserable night with rain and squalls setting the ship to leeward with not much room to manoeuvre in. 0150 came and went with no sign of the bridge lifting, then 0200, 0220 and 0230. We called them up by VHF and were told that there was some delay, a blinding insight there, not knowing how long until the problem was sorted out. I began to think about letting her drop back onto the berth astern to wait when they called again to say the problem was unfixable tonight and we would have to wait until 0150 tomorrow. Bloody great ú luckily there was enough room for us on the end of the berth ahead, close ahead of some big river cruise ships. So we went in there, all fast about 0300 and not caring if anyone kicked up a fuss. With everyone have an extremely long night, we had a late turn too the next morning and then a big clean of the ship below½continual rain and strong winds preventing any work on deck today. The museum, understandably, was very disappointed about losing a day of us being on display, but not a lot we could do about it. I must admit it was quite pleasant to have the ship to ourselves for a day, the ship herself almost seemed to give a sigh of relief to have a break from the programme. Having been assured that the problem was fixed and the bridge would be ready for us at 0150 the following night; we all had an early night and turned to again at 0100. Again then we were told the bridge would be open on time, so we got underway at 0140, lifting off the berth and holding station off the entrance. Once again, o150 came and went, 0200, 0210, 0215, 0220, with no sign of movement, despite calls to say they would open at any time. Finally, at 0230, up comes the bridge, just as a fierce squall sweeps through, with driving rain, setting us down on the entrance piles. Once again, the ship responded to what we asked of her and we scraped through unscathed. I was pretty angry. Why cannot a simple thing like a bridge opening be organised? If it is not going to be at 0150, then donït bloody well tell us 0150 ú it is no fun hanging about in a gale of wind trying to hold position wondering what in the hell is going on. To cap it off nicely, a bloody great barge was berthed just in the approaches to our berth, so we had to squeeze around him before finally getting alongside at the Scheepvaartmuseum Maritime Museum) at 0300. The following days we have been open to the public, but the weather continues to be against us, wet and blowing a gale out of the W or SW. Will it never end?
Master - Duyfken