After explaining to a friendly Englishman in Zeebrugge about the plan to move into the canals, he disappeared into his boat and came out with a stack of charts. He exclaimed 'this should get you to Hamburg' - I couldn't believe such luck! Enormous thanks to the man in the Dufour 40, for parting with an expensive set of charts. I helped Johannes into Rotterdam with all his equipment, and saw him off back to Hamburg. It was sad to see him go, but it had to be, and I was glad the trip could still continue, even if it meant meandering through the canals. I called my good friend Ben in Germany, who managed to create the time to come over and accompany me for a few days aboard to Rotterdam. It wasn't without mishap, when I grounded Constellation because I was concentrating more on keeping nice wind on the sails, than staying within the channel markers on the Oosterschelde however... Enormous thanks to the two unknown Belgian sailors who came to our rescue, literally minutes after my poor helming. Ben suprisingly volunteered (or as skipper did I overexert my power and demand it? I can't remember!) to jump in and retrieve the tow-line. With us leaning on the boom and 'August' the Yanmar engine in full reverse, a few tugs had us back on our way.
I spent another few days in Rotterdam, contemplating the idea of getting work. I was quickly influenced to continue further north when two friends flew over from England to join the trip. We motored out of Rotterdam and made good time to the outskirts of Amsterdam within a few days. While my charts are spectacular, it seems the one from Dordrecht to Amsterdam went AWOL, and navigation consisted of asking people which way to go, and referring to a road map of sorts.
Outside of Amsterdam we had to wait until 1am for a bridge to open and let us into the city, after which nine more bridges were opened in succession. It was surreal moving through the middle of the night with 15 or so other yachts, who were also following the 'Standing Mast Route' (the route which allows you to keep your mast up).
So here I am, in Amsterdam... I've run out of money, and am trying to find work... I desperately wish I could just keep sailing. I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know what's going to happen in the future, and tomorrow I'm going to move out of the marina and live with the other boats taking advantage of free mooring along the inside of a canal in northern Amsterdam - I didn't quite think my trip would end under such circumstances so soon, being moored up as a gypsy (literally) and becoming terrified of the oncoming winter, but there you go.
I fear the day counter at the top of this page is nothing more than a countdown to nothing at the moment... But I'll keep trying - The Bay of Biscay can still be crossed within the next month, contrary to popular thinking, and with some kind of self-steering I don't see why it couldn't be done.