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Archive for June, 2009

Crash!  Tear!   Rend!  Rip!  Thwack! all sounds of terror added to wind and thunder in the darkness before dawn!  Horrors for any mariner until reason intervenes and fights back.  So it was when the foremast splintered and crashed into the sea last night, leaving the foredeck a confused jungle of rigging.  Any crew tangled in this web would have found himself dragged to his peril as waves pulled the debris away from the ship, mostly away.  Crew took up knives and axes and quickly severed the fibers, keeping the colluding wind and water from capsizing our ship. . . .

dismasted
No one was injured although Cathay, the ship’s cat, was saved only by pouncing back onto the deck as her favorite spar was about to plunge into the wild seas.  Lucky Cathay.  Her previous near-communication-with-the-sea came at Nord Kap, where she leapt from the foremast to the forehouse, not realizing it was sheer ice, and nearly slid into the chilling seas.

As the crew labors to fashion a temporary foremast, I realize that for the first time in weeks  the crew have put aside their feuds, their divisions; they ceased cursing each other in their different languages.  With united purpose, we can juryrig a foremast that’ll get us to the forests described by Champlain and Smith, where we’ll fashion a new mast, new spars.  By my calculations and give or take a few hundred leagues, we are at latitude 48 north and now closer to North America than to Nord Kap where we turned.    With this new unity of mission, we will soon reach the rocky pine coast, make repairs, and begin the next leg of our journey to Cathay.

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Henry’s happy to report that 2009 sympathizers of his have put together this game to help you appreciate cultural facts about his current employers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, there’s some time warp here. Your job is to match each half with its mate. You choose which half to start with: top or bottom.

drinkJenever

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Since leaving our beach promenade in the Faeroes, we’re had alternating fair weather and fog, along with gales and more gales mostly from easterlies.  Fog and gales . . . or as the Dutch crewmen say, mist en sterk wind.

It’s a secret confided only to my personal diary that our heading west southwest is my choice, my defiance of orders from the VOC to attempt only the Northeast Passage over Nova Zembla to Cathay, but this adverse weather plays in my favor.

westerlies
Some day after we arrive at and register the VOC letters with Cathay, we shall return to Amsterdam and besides the Directors van Os and Poppe, I will face my friends Yope—Jodocus Hondius—and Emanuel van Meteren, and they may demand explanation for my traveling to the west rather than the north and east.  But here I have my excuses:  we made for the Northeast Passage, we tried, we struggled, but the weather overwhelmed us.  To save VOC property . . .  this vessel Half Moon, we had no option to heave-to,  lie-a-trie, or even lie-a-hull and allow the easterlies to have their way with us, almost, nearly throwing us onto numerous icebergs and the shoals of many fata morgans.  .

Driven by the gales to Cathay . . .  auspicates well.

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