Departure from the De Delft shipyard was on the 17th and we had to enter the Delfshavense Schie, the canal that will take us to the town of Delft, another of the old VOC ports. I was somewhat apprehensive of this trip, there had been some reservations of being able to do it at all because of the water depth in the canal, but the Harbour Master at Delft had assured me that there was at least 3 metres all the way. What was I worried about, that would give me at least 10cm under keel clearance and with some of the 13 bridges only 8 metres wide - a clearance of a metre or so on each side. 2 sharp right angle bends, an opening rail bridge that comes back down after 3 minutes if you are through or not and numerous sand barges running up and down taking up the whole canal. Should be a piece of cake. Actually we got up to Delft with no problems; we are all getting the hang of running these narrow bridges by now and the ship behaved well. The only hiccup was at the shipyard on the outskirts of the city where we spent the night, waiting for the official arrival time tomorrow. I had been assured that there would be at least 3 metres of water at the berth but when we got there the ship stopped with the stern still sticking a few metres out into the fairway. Aground. I was not happy with the situation but had no other option but to stay there and hope the passing barges would not run into us. All was well though and we carried on up into the town centre the next morning, negotiating a narrow, shallow section with no problems, under escort from an official boat and a tug ú just in case we did get stuck. Another great welcome, Delft is a very picturesque town with some fantastic old buildings ú dating back to the time of the VOC. These include the 14th century Nieuwekerk, which houses the crypt of the Dutch Royal family, the 800 year old Oudekerk, with its spires leaning 2m from the vertical; and the VOC house with a little Duyfken as a wind vane. Delft of course is home to the famous blue and white pottery; the factory here made a commemorative tile to mark the ships arrival in the Netherlands. The people of Delft were very enthusiastic about the ships, with more record numbers of visitors to the ship. Our coordinators here ú Leja and Herman had organised a big festival to complement our visit with entertainment, food stalls and craft displays. The whole visit was very successful and once again I am hard pressed to thank everyone who made it such a success. Then came the trip back down the canal and the subject of the heading of this journal entry. I wonder if it is possible to age 10 years in one morning? I think I did. We met a considerable amount of barge traffic on this passage along the canal and it led to a few manoeuvring problems. A heavily laden sand barge displaces quite a bit of water, but despite them still drawing less water than us, they did not want to give us any room as we passed and I was forced to hug the bank quite often. As vessels pass in close proximity and shallow water, they are affected by interaction ú first attracting each other as they begin to pass and then repelling. Close attention was needed at the helm and some bold engine movements to keep us going straight. At one stage though we were pushed across into the shallows and suddenly stopped. I had one trick up my sleeve though, one I learnt on the first voyage when a similar situation occurred at the Gold Coast in Queensland. èAll hands forwardî I bellow (I have been told I tend to bellow when I get a bit stressed ú but what Master doesnït, I say) and the sudden transfer of the weight of 16 people trims her a little by the head and we go free. Meting another barge just as we were lined up for a narrow bridge caused another sheer and only full power astern prevented us ramming the centre pylon. The narrow straight between the 2 right-angled bends also caused a bit of grief. Perhaps there was some silting over the last couple of days, perhaps we were lucky on the way up or perhaps we were affected by squat (the attraction of the ship and the bottom when the ship is moving in shallow water, causing bodily sinkage) but for some of the very few occurrences in my time in the ship, Duyfken would not do what I asked of her and twice we took a violent sheer across the canal. The second time the rudder touche the bank astern, wrenching the whipstaff out of Cian's hand, while the bowsprit was amongst the trees on the other side. Another tense moment, but somehow we got out of it and crept on. No damage done - the superb construction of this ship more than a match for the soft banks of a canal. Thankfully the rest of the transit was trouble free and I breathe a huge sigh of relief when we are finally out into port of Rotterdam. Despite the heavy traffic, the river seems as big as an ocean after what we have just done. With the breeze just fair, we get under courses and topsails and stand seawards. The tide is in our favour this time and we make good time down the river, plenty of ships passing close and giving us a wave or a blast of the whistle. A fire tug farewell as we clear the harbour but once outside the wind leaves us and we sit becalmed. The turning tide begins to set us back toward the traffic lanes and harbour control gets a little edgy. To keep them happy (and to prevent getting run down by a large ship!) we get under power and stand slowly northwards. That does the trick, the Eïly wind returns and we get back under courses and topsails Some sail handling for the crew as we tack twice during the night to avoid the traffic separation schemes but have a pleasant sail up the entrance to the North Sea canal at Ijmuiden. At first light today we lock in and on a wet, cold day, transit the canal under power and enter the Markemeer. Once again we gat under sail and with only a metre below us at times, stand across to wards Lelystad. With all hands on deck we come to anchor under sail, just outside the entrance to Lelystad in sight of our big sister èBataviaî. We havenït seen her since Sydney at the end of our first voyage, and she is still rigged down to her lower masts. We will remain at anchor here overnight and push on to Hoorn tomorrow.