My apologies for the long gap between these journal entries, we have had a busy time of it in recent days. In the past weeks we have spent so much time working the ship up and down narrow canals, through tiny bridges and in and out of shallow ports, that it is nice to report on what the ship is so good at - sailing. We left Zaanse Schans on the morning of Wednesday 12th and had a trouble free run back down the Zaan river, loading another parcel of timber for the Seven Provinces just outside the Wilhelmina locks. We had some of the millers from the timber mill sailing with us, it was nice to show them how we made use of wind power after our experiences at their mill. Once out into the North Sea canal, we got under sail - fores'l and tops'ls and with a moderate breeze out of the WSW, we fetched up into Amsterdam. I am still not brave enough (or stupid enough??) to try and sail into the locks, so we clewed up all sail, cockbilled the lower yards as usual and passed through the Orangesluis locks at about 1230. Once through into the Markemeer, we set all square sails and ran for Lelystad. A very pleasant afternoon sail, despite the showers that persisted in sweeping through. We ran dead square, the fore tops'l clewed up as it was blanketed by the main (in fact being drawn aback) making a very respectable 5 knots. At 1645 we handed the spritsail and the courses - the latter furled aloft by the crew - no mean feat on a ship without footropes. I may not have been brave enough to attempt the locks, but a harbour was a different matter. We entered the breakwaters at Lelystad under topsails, lowering away a little on the halyards to slow our progress. Bracing up, we manage to sail right up alongside our big sister Batavia, still rigged down to her lower masts. Last time the two ships were together was at the end of our first voyage when we entered another harbour under sail, on that occasion to a huge welcome in Sydney. Handed sail and dropped in alongside our berth, under the towering bows of Batavia. This was an unscheduled stop, mainly to try out the berth arrangements that we will be using later in the month. Nevertheless, our arrival was still of interest, with a TV crew on hand to record our arrival. The next day was a passage across to Hoorn, to meet up with the traditional flat-bottomed barge fleet. We had an hour or so under power to get a bit of sea room and then stood NW on a bowline under the two courses, wind WSW force 5. A misunderstanding with the arrangements meant we were in Hoorn Bay at 1500 while the fleet was waiting at the harbour entrance. After wearing ship twice while the hiccup was sorted out, we stood in towards Hoorn and met the fleet, with many of the crews in traditional dress. Handed all sail at 1600 and entered harbour, slowly and carefully to avoid the mishap that happened last time. I really think that many people here do not appreciate the problems our 2.9 metre draft has in these little ports. One of the bigger 3 masted leeboard barges was hove to just inside the entrance and drifting slowly astern while all aboard were taking photos of us. If I altered to port to go around him, I would have been in the shallows where we went aground last time and frantic VHF calls did not raise him - it appears the Master was out taking photos as well. I managed to squeeze past his stern with only a metre to spare, at the last minute the Master ran to his wheelhouse and eased her ahead. We proceeded in through the narrow bridge and just managed to make the turn to starboard, a trot of 4 barges reducing the swinging room. Moving ahead up the harbour, we ran into trouble - there was less water in the harbour this time and the stern touched the mud and we took an uncontrollable sheer to starboard, narrowly missing vessels ahead and astern as I went full astern to try and stop her. An indication of the shallowness was the mud being blown through the engine cooling water. A tug helped us straighten up and get to the berth, to sighs of relief aboard (as well as on the other vessels around us I am sure) 2 days in Hoorn, surrounded by a big fleet of the traditional boats and plenty of yachts as well. Come sailing day, Saturday 15th, I insisted that all the boats astern of us leave first to give us more room to manoeuvre. This they did and with the tug on a headline again to help keep us straight we manage to come astern up the harbour, swing and put to sea. 4 out 4 now for getting through that tight opening without touching, I don't know how long my luck can last. We had a short wait at the jetty in the outer harbour while the shanty chorus sang some farewell songs, and then we put to sea. What a sight when we got out. With the breeze a perfect force 4 SW'ly, we set courses, topsails and spritsail and stood away for Enkhuizen, surrounded by dozens of the traditional fleet sailing with us with the evening light putting an almost surreal glow over the whole scene. Apart from the myriad of cameras working overtime, including my own, it could have been a scene on the IJselmeer 400 years ago - an Indiaman putting to sea surrounded by the local fleet of small vessels. Duyfken performed well as usual, none of the other vessels had much speed on us and we were able to leave many behind. With a fine commanding breeze, we were once again able to to enter harbour under sail, passing many of the fleet that had rounded up and handed sail outside the breakwaters. We sailed right up to the lock approaches before we took in the last of our canvas, cockbilled the yards and eased into the locks around 2100. We have got his lock procedure going smoothly now - as we ease in at slow speed , the aft spring is sent ashore leading well aft, and checking her with this, the ship falls alongside bodily, landing (gently is the plan!) on the fenders held in position. A short headline is lead off the foredeck to hold her there and with one engine ticking over ahead, she usually sits quietly alongside while the lock takes us to the new level. Of course it is not always that easy - prop wash from a vessel ahead, a gust of wind at the wrong time or a stuff up in my manoeuvring and suddenly there is frantic wielding of lines and fenders to save the situation. The crew are old hands at this now and so far so good. More lively times as we approached the berth at Enkhuizen. We found another shallow spot right in the entrance and once again the ship took a shear as she smelt the mud with her stern, the bowsprit coming perilously close to the rigging of some vessels berthed just inside the entrance. Once again we recovered (not sure how much longer my luck can hold) and got alongside. A short stay this time at Enkhuizen, departing again at 1600 on the 16th, in company with the flat bottom fleet again. The fresh S'ly breeze was keeping me pressed alongside the berth and I needed assistance to get her off. In a nice touch, the old steam tug Rosalie lifted us bodily off the wharf face and then escorted us out. The whole fleet under sail was another magnificent spectacle as we stood north for Den Oever, our overnight stop on the way to Texel. A very pleasant evening sail under courses and topsails was brought to a sudden halt as once again we found the shallow water, the ship sailing gently on to the sand in the approaches to Den Oever. Let go and clew up everything, the deck a mess of lines as all sail came in at once. I was puzzled, the latest edition chart was showing 4 - 5 metres of water in our position, quite deep compared to other parts of the Ijselmeer. I managed to get her off under power but couldn't find a way through to deep water. We had to get assistance from the local volunteer rescue boat that helped us back into the channel - they cleared up the mystery. When the channel is dredged, the spoil is dumped right alongside the channel buoys. Good one - not much point having a bloody chart if they are going to do that, I wonder what other shallow areas are not marked. Finally got into Den Oever and had the rest of the night berthed astern of the brig Astrid. Off again at first light, out into the channel leading to the Texelstroom. For the first time in quite a while we are back in tidal waters again and the ebb carrying us out nicely as we set courses and topsails. Breeze was SSW force 4 and we made good time up to the Texel roads. Came to anchor mid morning under sail, rounding up under main topsail nicely and letting go right in our appointed spot just outside the harbour entrance. Later in the morning the rest of the spice fleet came to anchor with us - brig Astrid, clipper Stad Amsterdam and the schooners Eendracht and Oosterschelde. 16th century does it again, we were the only ones to sail into the anchorage, all the others came in under power. Am I bragging - just a little perhaps, makes up for running into the mud. The flat bottomed fleet came past, saluting us by dropping their foresails, we responded by dipping the red ensign. Weighed anchor and followed them in, berthing in the same spot in Oudeschild harbour as previously, all secure just after lunch. Another short stay, we departed again in the evening of Tuesday 18th, with a forecast of 50 knots of wind in thunderstorms. This didn't eventuate and we had another great sail back down to Den Oever, running under topsails and courses up the channel that 7 weeks ago I was told was far too narrow to sail in. Sailed into the harbour entrance yet again, then alongside a berth to wait overnight. An 0600 start the next day, through the bridge and locks under power back into the Ijselmeer, then we got her under full sail, full and by on a starboard tack, standing SE for Lelystad. At one stage during the morning we had to remind ourselves what country we were in, we met a Malay junk under sail, also standing SE. Very appropriate I thought for an Indiaman, although 400 years ago we would probably have exchanged gunfire rather than the pleasantries that were passed. For the first time in quite a while, we ran out of time to make our arrival at Lelystad and with the breeze backing and heading us, we were forced to hand sail and get under power. Down through the locks at Lelystad and alongside our pontoon under the bows of Batavia, to be greeted by a gun salute, her great guns roaring out as our first lines went ashore. We are to have 10 days at Lelystad, doing a series of day sails for some of the sponsors of the ship and the VOC celebrations. Yesterday we took out Fugro, a long time supporter of the ship, and despite the wet and windy conditions, the ship performed well as usual, giving our guests a good look at how the ship performs, all aboard lending a hand as we tacked and wore a number of times. The strong breeze setting off the berth made for some interesting and lively manoeuvres as we came back alongside but we finally made it safely. More sails next week, today and tomorrow though we are open to the public, a great chance for people to see two VOC ships berthed together.
Master - Duyfken