Waiting... In Monnikendam, Holland

Gigantic thanks to Ash & Tana from Melbourne, for sending through additional funds in my time of great need. I have such generous friends helping me behind all this, it's simply amazing! I've been waiting here in Monnikendam for the past two weeks - I left England around the 6th of August, and have unexpectedly spent what must be the best part of a month in Holland. The town of Monnikendam is incredibly quaint. As you walk down the small streets, there are chickens in the bushes, cyclists peddling past, the smell of smoke from the eel houses, and beautiful 100 year old original sailing barges moored up alongside - I swear on my life, I saw a man with a bicycle, holding a chicken under one arm and wearing yellow wooden clogs. Holland is great.

Constellation is coming together in terms of preparedness. The self-draining cockpit issue which has been a downer on me since I bought the boat, has been more or less solved for the immediate future. The floor really needs to be raised to fix it properly, but I've made some arrangements as a secondary measure, and I think it will suffice. I've also finally fixed the mainsheet connection to the boom, which tore off because of a destructive Chinese jybe - I never did find the special sliders, but again, I swapped some things around, re-riveted a few bits, and presto, it's back. The spreaders have also been giving me stress, by dropping down after load has been put on the rig. It turns out when the mast was put up, the spreaders were not angled upwards slightly and tensioned correctly, which meant pressure on the rig would eventually loosen the lee spreader.

My final dilemma is that of the stove situation, because again I've been forced into heating food with tea-light candles, after finding my British gas tanks cannot be re-filled in Europe. It's going to set me back 100euros for a new tank and regulator, and I just can't bring myself to do it. For all I know, Portugal will have yet another standard to conform to. Oh what I wouldn't do for a multi-fuel liquid stove...

The windvane (think of a wind powered auto-pilot) from Windpilot arrived last Friday, and it is proving to be the nicest piece of equipment on the boat. The engineering and quality of it is beautiful, and it's a shame Constellation has a transom mounted rudder, because it means the Windpilot (I've yet to give it a name) will need to be mounted off of a custom stainless bracket. I've spent a a lot of time designing and r trying desperately to remember back to high school art classes in perspective drawing to create something that made sense. I eventually scribbled together a napkin blueprint, which the workshop seemed to understand. For some strange reason, the engineers kept insisting on speaking Dutch back to me, even though it was clear I had no idea what they were saying. When pressed they'd revert to English, but it turned into an amusing conversation after this repeated for about half an hour. I can't work out whether it was forced learning, or if they thought I was faking my lack of linguistic flair - Either way, the bracket will be finished on Friday lunchtime, and I hope I can get it mounted by nightfall.

Which means, I'll be leaving this weekend. (Weather pending).

Ohhh boy.