> Last week, as were were approaching Rotterdam with a cargo of herring
> and Spanish silver (the silver being courtesy of English privateers,
> who gave it in exchange for herring and fresh water off the coast of
> Greenland), she began taking in water at an alarming rate. We made it
> into port, god be thanked (as we were but a few leagues out when this
> happened), but clearly she needs major repairs -- the timbers in her
> bottom are almost rotted out, her keel should probably be replaced,
> and perhaps the rudder too.
> Let me introduce myself, by the way. I am the captain of the "Lady
> Gwen", a fine (or so I had thought!) clinker-built cog of Dutch make.
> (Needless to say I'm surprised that a dutch-built cog should be so
> poorly built, for 'tis but 22 years since the Gwen's first voyage.)
> Jan Schulter, a provisioner from Utrecht, suggested I contact you; he
> praised you as a most superior Oracle whose advice is always sober,
> respectable, and free of charge. I place great store in Jan's
> But back to my problem. Now, perhaps I can raise money for repairs (I
> know a tobacco merchant named Reuter who, kind-hearted fool that he
> is, will perhaps lend to me on favorable terms), yet there's no chance
> my crew will loiter in Rotterdam until repairs are complete, when so
> many ships sit idle here for want of crews! In theory I could lure a
> crew from among the Java merchantmen by offering exhorbitant pay (the
> Java merchants always have full crews on hand, they being rich enough
> to pay their crews to be idle no matter how long they wait in port),
> but that would cost me so dear any voyage I make would only sink me
> deeper into debt. So, even after repairs are complete I shall remain
> in port, my debts piling up -- I cannot even pay the interest, Oracle!
> And my creditors are already hounding me, and if remain here they will
> surely press charges, landing me squarely in debtors' prison-- yet how
> could I abandon my ship, my home -- all I value -- and where could I
> go? You see my dilemma, Oracle -- I fear I'm up the shit canal sans
> bargepole! What shall I do?