We have been open to the public at the Scheepvartmuseum each day this week, with good visitor numbers despite the ongoing wet and cold weather. Yesterday Phil and I had a bit of a day out away from the ship, visiting th e Langman rope factory in Nijkerk. It was a fascinating visit =96 rope has be en made at Nijkerk since the 1630=92s and the Langman family has been involved in the industry for over 100 years. Jan and Margriet Langman, brother and sister, showed us tremendous hospitality, beginning with an in depth tour o f the factory. A mix of new and old =96 a long rope walk with a rope making machine dating from the 1920=92s which is used to make the larger diameter ropes =96 as well as the latest machines, computer controlled, laying up yarns and strands faster than the eye can see. As well as the traditional fibres =96 hemp and manilla - that they supplied to us for the rigging of t he ship, the factory also produces the more contemporary polypropylene, polyester and various blends, in a big selection of sizes and colours that are required by their customers. Fender making was taking place on the top deck of the factory, some traditional marlinspike seamanship going on to make up the various bow fenders and other gear supplied to vessels. After the tour we were treated to lunch and then a tour of the surrounding countryside, the highlight being a visit to the small port of Spakenburg. A shame that Duyfken is too big to get into this port as it seems to be a rea l centre for traditional boating. A boatyard had a number of the wooden botters and schouws, including some quite old ones, hauled out for repair and it was interesting to examine the timberwork in them and compare it to our own ship. We even saw new planks being bent by fire, just as Duyfkens were =96 a couple of shipwrights were running a gas torch flame over some blanks and hanging steel weights and bricks on the ends to bend them. A steel rod was used as a template to get the correct shape to the bend =96 a couple of the planks bending into shape as we watched. A sailmaker next doo r was the next quick visit =96 again a mix of new and old with a laser cutter sitting next to a traditional sailmakers bench with a palm and set of needles on it. The sailmaker must have been good as his own boat has won th e local races for the last 7 years in a row =96 the trophy, a magnificent stainless steel model of a traditional sailing schouw, is on display in his shop. We depart Amsterdam tonight =96 out through the rail bridge at 0200 again, (if it can be opened!) and towards the naval port of Den Helder via the North Sea coast. The forecast is for favourable winds, so we are hoping for a quick passage up there, arriving tomorrow night or early Tuesday morning.
Master - Duyfken