Last Saturday saw us get underway from our berth outside the windmill for a short run up to the village of Uitgeest. The significance of our visit here lies with the most famous son of Uitgeest, Cornelis Corneliszoon. It was he, in the late 1500s, who invented the great wooden windmill machinery that I spoke of in my last journal entry. In particular, the use on windmills to cut timber meant an increase of productivity over hand sawn planks of some 3000% and was the reason that Dutch shipbuilding was able to reach the capacity that it did. The Zaandam area, because of this development, became the world's first industrial area and enabled the VOC to build the vast fleets that were the reason for its wealth and power. As an example, in the period 1600 - 1649, the VOC towns of Amsterdam, Delft, Hoorn, Enkhuizen and Rotterdam built between them over 100 vessels of up to 500 tonnes (ships like Duyfken)and dozens and dozens of bigger vessels, many well up over 1000 tonnes. These numbers are staggering, that is one small vessel every 6 months, not counting the big ones. 400 years later it took us 2 years to build Duyfken, 4 times as long, and that was with power tools. Bringing the ship to Uitgeest meant we were visiting the birthplace of the industrial process that made her possible. We were berthed at a pontoon off the Foundation Industrial Heritage Park De Hoop, where a replica sawmill and associated buildings are being constructed to let people see what this whole industrial area was like. The chairman, Wladimir Dobber, has been tireless in his organization of our visit here, including dredging the area we were tied up in - the surrounding Uitgeest lake being very shallow. We found this out on the way in when we had to get tug assistance to pull us through one shallow area in the fairway, close to the mooring pontoons, before settling gently into the mud alongside. The next two days were very successful, boatloads of people ferried out every 20 minutes by the same vessel that helped us in, an old workboat/tug built a hundred years ago fitted with an old diesel engine from the 1930s, replacing her original steam engine. When it came time to leave on Monday morning, the shallow water gave us a few more problems. With limited space to turn, I had to warp the ship around the end of the pontoon and use the tug to haul the bow around through the mud. This manoeuvre went smoothly and in a fresh SW breeze we move doff back down the channel. Getting to the final buoy in the Uitgeest channel, I thought we were in the clear and we let go the tug. Just as they were waving goodbye to us and altering course to head back, we came to a gentle stop despite the engines at about half ahead. Quickly stopped those but the now fresh breeze drove us further up on the mud and with the engines giving every thing they had astern, I had all the guns run forward to try and trim by the head a little, but to no avail, we were stuck fast. A vain hope, but to reduce windage I had the mizzen yard lowered and the considerable sail area of flags hauled down, the tug lashed up again on headlines and with him pulling and me trying to screw her around with the engines, we had another go. Not an inch of movement. Some fishermen came by and with brilliant insight told me that I didn't want to be there as it was quite shallow. Thanks very much for that vital information. I sent Phil and Bob out in the ship's boat to sound around and find out where exactly the deep (??) water was - as it turned out I was only just out of the channel by about 2 or 3 metres to port, but extremely shallow on my starboard side. Another big power boat happened by and was quickly requisitioned to lend a hand. The report from the blokes in the boat was that we were fast aground aft but probably only just touching forward. We moved all the guns back aft again, the rumble of gun trucks on deck sounding like the battle of Trafalgar, and both tugs took up a headline. With them both pulling to port, I gave it everything on the engines again, blowing muddy water through the cooling systems unfortunately, but it did the trick. Heeling to port to bow slowly moved around and then with a gentle motion she slid off the mud and was alive once more. Answering helm and engines we regained the channel and we're on our way. Passing through peaceful farmland, my heartbeat regained its proper rate, until the next little challenge. Just as we were passing through one of the bridges, we were hit by a cold front, ringing a sharp squall with driving cold rain. Of course she wanted to round up immediately and only some more furious manoeuvring saw us through. The crew are used to these bridges now, responding quickly to position fenders wherever they are needed, but luckily we got through unscathed. Approaching our old berth at the windmill at Zaanse Schans, I found there had been some build up of silt approaching the berth and we took a couple of big shears to starboard as she found the mud again. We got in and I was very pleased to get her tied up and finished with engines. It is so very obvious why all the vessels you see here in the Netherlands are shallow draft and fitted with leeboards - deep water is a real luxury. The millers were very pleased to see us back for a couple of days.They have sawn a cargo of planks for the replica Seven Provinces currently building at Lelystad, and we have agreed to carry a cargo of planks down there for them. I said that we would have to charge a freight rate of 1 euro to take the consignment, but I didn't count on the labour costs - Victor Moussalt and Peter Nieuwburg charged me 1 euro for their wages for loading. Profit - nil, Graeme will probably shoot me when he gets back. It is great to see the mills here being used for real work though. Zaanse Schans is a real working museum, with people living and working in the village. As well as the windmills, there are the beautiful wooden houses, typical of the 17th and 18th century, a cheese farm, clogmaker, pewter foundry, antique store, clock museum, heritage costume museum, old fashioned grocery store and a museum of baking. The crew are lucky enough to be staying in one of the old houses, with its quaint little sleeping cupboards, steep staircase and beautiful pottery tiles surrounding the fireplace. The village is situated on the Zaan river and surrounded by peaceful farmland. Without a doubt one of the prettiest places we have visited. But enough of that, we are out of the mud safely and have a cargo to deliver to Lelystad, sailing tomorrow morning.
Master - Duyfken