As the vernal equinox approaches, so grows my awareness that by this month’s end I hope to be at sea. At sea and Cathay-bound! My new crew seems more excited about this departure than my two previous commands. Maybe it’s their chemistry, as we have some English, some Hollanders, even some Frisians, and possibly the Javanese Pernomo—who quickly became adept at skating—although by now the canals are free of their ice. He’s eager to get past NordKap so he might there skate again.
Labors ongoing on the wharf have increased in frenzy, as there is much much to getting Half Moon shipshape. Riggers reinforce the lines and stays. Gunsmiths work out the most favorable array of cannon and other arms. Carpenters attend to dozens of repairs and modifications for the cold voyage. And VOC wharfmen provision the ship with casks of flour, cheese, salted meats, and of course grog. The crew with families spend as much time as possible with their loved ones while the crew with no families seek Amsterdammer fellowship in the drinkhouses. My son John will again sail with me, and he has spent much time with his mother Katherine and siblings.
It will thrill my soul to have him beside me as we sail into Cathay, for I know on this voyage we shall. I’ve told him that as ship’s boy, he will do the honors of drawing the spirits from the juniper grog cask as we enter the port of Cathay. He will offer drinks to the wealthy Cathaynese merchants there.
*Art modified above was by Jan Karel Donatus Van Beecq (1638-1722).