Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Masters Journal Last Sunday was our final day of the 2002 VOC tour and, coinciding with the final day of the World Harbour Days festival, meant we had a good crowd coming to visit the ship. When 1700 came and the last visitors had left the ship, we all felt a sense of accomplishment ú this little ship of ours has made quite an impact in the Netherlands this year and I think we can all feel quite proud of what we have done. I personally am very happy in what my crew have achieved, proving wrong quite a few people who doubted the ability of the ship and her people. They said we would never be able to sail on the Ijselmeer and we did. They said we would never be able to get up the canal to the Amstel River and we did. They said we would never get the ship up to Delft and we did. They said we would never get into Hoorn and although we nearly didnït, we did (3 times!) They said we could not sail on the North Sea canal or the River Maas and we did. There was little expectation of doing much sailing this season, heavy use of the engines thought to be needed. In reality we took on fuel once, way back in the second week in Middleburg and we still have 700 litres of fuel left, some 35% of our capacity. When the current crew joined, the previous crew told us that the old sails were worn out, but in fact they have done good service, carrying us through the season despite a few holes here and there. A few facts and figure to show the extent of the challenges we have faced. Since arriving at Texel in April, we have covered 1028 nautical miles, have entered port 30 times, (quite a few ports more than once), passed through 32 locks and were on standby to pass through 94 bridges, many of them little wider than the ship. To mark the end of the tour, we had a party at the ship after we had closed to the public for the last time. It was great that so many of the friends we have made here in the Netherlands made the effort respond to the invitations and come along. We had some of long term volunteer crew, guides from various ports, many of the Navy personnel that have helped us and sailed with us, the team from the mill at Zaanse Schans, coordinators from many of the ports, suppliers of paints and rope to the ship, representatives of the VOC committee and many many more. Far to many to name in this journal, but whoever is reading this, please know that we in the crew give you our heartfelt thanks for the assistance and friendship you have given us this year. Once again, this little ship has managed to weave her magic and bring people together to keep her going. A good party to finish up with, leading to a few headaches the next day I expect when turn to time came. The tour may be over but now some hard work starts, we have to get her ready for the shipment back to Australia. The rigging down commences with the topsail yards sent down and the associated running rigging unrove. The opportunity was taken to give them a coat of oil in preparation for getting stowed in containers. We begin to pack up personal gear and museum exhibits, quickly the hold turns into a real mess, with gear and chests scattered everywhere. A good days work sees a lot achieved but now we have to move the ship one last time, a few miles down harbour to the Waalhaven, where the final de-commissioning will take place and the ship lifted on to the transport ship. A freshening SW breeze makes me a little nervous about this final shift, this is a tight berth to get out of and I would hate to do any damage to the ship in this final stage. Soon after 1800, just before high water we depart the berth and at first the swing goes well ú I have to turn her around in her own length before heading out through the first bridge. However the strong breeze and the last of the flood tide push us sideways across the basin and I am forced to let her fall alongside the piles there, having swung through 180 degrees. Some quick work by the crew with fenders meant that no damage was done and with the assistance of the harbour master in a workboat, I was able to straighten her up and get through the bridge. An interminable wait then in the Haringvliet for the next bridge to open, backing and filling to prevent getting set down on the boats moored close alongside, before heading out finally and proceeding down harbour. Just after 1900 we passed through the final bridge, number 94 and a small sigh of relief from me that that particular challenge is over. We get down to the Waalhaven to another interesting development - our mooring pontoon has not been delivered. I was pretty angry ú despite a meeting, faxed worklist, confirmed order by phone and a follow up meeting, why is it that the pontoon cannot be here on time. I had requested it here for yesterday so that I could shift the ship down first thing this morning and was told that it could not be delivered until midday today. If they had the courtesy to tell us that it could not be delivered then I would have not moved the ship in the strong wind; I could have waited for the next morning when the wind was forecast to drop. If this is how the world's busiest harbour works then I am not impressed. The tidal range is too much here for us to lie alongside safely and the only place I could see to tie up was alongside a huge floating crane, that conveniently had some fenders overside. We came alongside there, tying up right under a no mooring here sign, I was too annoyed to pay any attention to such a thing, nor to the statement from the manager here that it was not appropriate to berth there. We all turn to the next day to find out from the shipkeeper that the pontoon was delivered around midnight (only about 12 hours late-where were they bringing it from ú Russia?) but had put it in the wrong place. The foreman on the wharf here wanted us to move it, without specifying logically how about 6 people were going to move a 20 metre pontoon by hand ú out and around the massive beam of the crane barge. It took two phone calls to the pontoon company before a tug finally turned up and mid morning before it was finally in position and we could shift back. So our final move was going astern about 100 metres, swinging in and berthing starboard side to the pontoon. Finished with engines ú the trip was over. Rigging down commences in earnest now, all yards struck and sent ashore today, with all running rigging unrove, the packing up and cleaning out continues below.
Master - Duyfken