The first month of our VOC Netherlands tour is now done and it seems much, much longer. Four weeks of preparing the ship for display, official welcomes and functions, being open to the public, getting ready for sea, manoeuvring through narrow bridges and shallow canals, handling the ship under sail while teaching volunteers, cleaning, restowing gear and removing excess junk from the last voyage has seemed like a lifetime. However we are now getting on top of the work and it is all starting to come together. We have reached a stage now where the èmuseum set upî is at a minimum, the ship is operating as it should ú using as many of the display artefacts as possible for our day to day living and using some good stowage and planning, finding convenient homes for the gear that we need to hide away. We departed Hoorn last Wednesday, there were a few nervous yachties berthed either side of the swing basin watching a bloody great 150 tonne jacht swing only metres from their boats before heading out through the narrow bridge. The crew had to work quick to run in the mizzen yard to prevent it fouling the rigging of the barge astern, but we made it around all right and stood out. We had the tug escort again but did not need it, knowing now where the shallow section are in the outer harbour, I was able to go around them and we avoided the embarrassment this time of sitting in the mud for a while. Once clear of the harbour, on a blustery day with a cold SW wind blowing and frequent squalls and showers sweeping through, we got under fore and mainsail and stood out into the Markemeer. One of the traditional barges with an oiled oak hull like us and tanned sails, was our escort, sailing very well too. It was interesting to see that in the squally weather, he had his foresail lowered somewhat, just like we do with our topsails when the breeze is too much for them at full hoist. Hoorn was the home of a few famous sailors ú Abel Tasman was one, a name familiar to all Australians, especially the Tasmanians. The other is William Schoutens, who in 1616, was the first to round Cape Horn, naming it after his hometown. He was a rebel ú with the VOC having the monopoly of the spice trade to Holland via the traditional route, Schoutens was looking for another way to the Spice Islands in the hope of making a tidy profit. As well as the other volunteers we have on our passage to Enkhuizen, many of them having been guides in Hoorn, we had aboard Carla Schoutens, the great, great, great, great x ??? granddaughter of William Schoutens. Researching her ancestor, she was thrilled to be aboard, I hope the ghost of William was looking down and approving of our ship and the way we handled her. William Schoutens was Master of Duyfken during her first voyage to the Spice Islands in 1601-1603, so we have another very tangible link with the history of the ship. We had plenty of time to make the 12 miles or so around to Enkhuizen, so I took the opportunity to give the crew a bit of sail handling practice and the volunteers a chance to see the ship perform under sail. We stood across towards Lelystad, and in the fresh breeze and flat water I made the attempt to tack just under the course. She missed stays on two attempts, partly through some poor line handling on deck ú the main tack started when it should have been kept fast, the ship losing valuable way early in the manoeuvre. We wore ship instead, putting her on a bowline on a port tack and for the rest of the day made boards back and for the across the Markemeer, wearing ship each time. A cold miserable day, but the ship loved it, sailing very well indeed. She likes being at sea far better than being in port. Handing sail as we ran up the approach channel, we came through the locks at 1830 and passing the brig Astrid and numerous other traditional barges, ketches and schooners, we arrive at the port of Enkhuizen soon after 1900. Another enthusiastic welcome from everyone involved here; I was fortunate to be presented with framed copy of a very fine first day postal cover that has been produced here to mark our visit. Visitor numbers for the next two days have been only moderate, but with the harbour filling up to overflowing tonight with visiting vessels for the Water Festival that will take place this weekend, we are looking forward to a busy weekend.