Friday February 9th. The Rabbit goes under Water, the Dragon comes into the Wood and the Cat is out of the Bag.

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 9th, 2024

Tomorrow is Lunar New Year. The first day of the Wood Dragon. Today is the last day of the Water Rabbit. And he/she will not be back for another 60 years.

To all my Asian friends:

For the story on how the Cat got out of the Bag read an interview that was published to day in the local Gig Harbor paper. I am very grateful to the author, Chapin Day, because he understands what drives me and what I’d like to preach. He is a sailor himself. Until now I would describe my pulpit sermons here as what Jezus went through in Nazareth, “Not a prophet in my home port” Luke 4:24.

I dropped a teaser in my two previous blogs that I am looking for an other boat for a new adventure.

It is still in the form of my dream world. But dangerous enough. A few dreams in my life have come true and many prayers have been answered. Like the one that started as “Around the World before Eighty Years” which ended up as “at Eighty” instead of “before Eighty”.

The new slogan is “at Ninety Years”.

The oldest person who solo circumnavigated, is Harry L.Heckel,Jr., he did his first Westward and finished it at 78, the second one was started at age 78, an eastward voyage, and finished at age 89 in 2005. He wrote a very interesting book about both voyages “Around the World in 80 Years”. I read the book last November. I had always assumed that he had started at an older age. I will be 87 at the end of the month. My plan is to cannibalize/sacrifice part of my first circumnavigation. The part from the Puget Sound to Fort Lauderdale I sailed in 2016 when I was 79 and finished at 80.

The good thing about this is that I might never be beaten in my living years. Harry Heckel passed away February 7th, 2014 at age 97. The youngest sailors records keep being broken through the rest of their lifes….

That is why I am looking for “Fleetwood IV” on the Atlantic Coast or Great Lakes. And sail East through the Med and Suesz canal, after the Houthis have cleaned out.

My wish and prayers are for another multi chined plywood boat like my two NAJAs. I absolutely believe that this is the easiest boat to sail for an old man. Because of the light displacement and better speed than a fiberglass boat. If I can find one elsewhere I may sacrifice the route for it.

But first I have to get “Fleetwood III” sail/sale ready and find a good home for it in the Netherlands. Keeps me in shape.

I’m leaving today on the train to Eugene to meet friends and spend part of Lunar new Year and most of Super Bowl Sunday with my youngest son Seth and his wife in Roseburg, Or. And catch the night train to the S.F. Bay area. From there onto las Vegas to be with my oldest son and his wife and her daughters. Next onto Southern California, Texas and my 2nd home in Cape Charles, Va. Back in Amsterdam on Maudy Thursday.

Lisa moved from Federal Way to Puyallup on the 1st of the month. Good move. I went to my new parish at All Saints here, on Sunday. Very well attended and many young families. But I will miss the friends I made in Federal Way at St. Theresa parish. The group of friends from this church with whom Lisa and I have helped out at the feeding of the homeless in Seattle, with Cate’s Cate-Ring service will continue with Lisa and my occasional visits back to the North West. Cate and Gabriel gave me an early birthday/sendoff party on Sunday.

Mango Cake by Cate

Hardly a dull day this coming week, hungover on Monday from the Super Bowl party and on Ash Wednesday/Valentines Day  from Mardi Gras.  “Laisses les bon temps rouler”

And to all the Girls I love and Loved Before.

 

Off the Ice and On the Road again. January 16, 2024

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 17th, 2024

Since my previous blog, shortly after my 15 november arrival back in home port, I have had a great visit with my oldest daughter, Lisa. Her son Tyler and my youngest daughter Jeannine came up from Southern California to join us for Thanksgiving. Christmas was also a family and friends reunion. On New Year’s day I had my first “oliebollen” since 1986. And they were baked by a Nigerian friend where they are called Puff Puffs.

Oliebollen

After a week of a deep freeze, ranging  from minus 12 at night to minus 5 Centigrade by day, the thermometer rose above freezing today.
Since we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1970, I have never experienced an opportunity to ice skate in the open air in the N.W., with one exception in February 1972.
I made a few passes on the large pond at the Weyerhauser Co campus in Federal Way, where I had worked until 1971. A security guard chased me
off the ice. Lisa was then seven years old and Rose Marie had just turned four. Lisa turns 60 in April this year.

The same excitement as I experienced in the forties and fifties when the canals and lakes froze over in Holland, hit me on Saturday.
I tried on the same Frisian “doorloper” skates on which I had skated in February 1956, the year before I left for the USA.
That was on a 100 k.m. course called the 11 Village Tour. A poor men’s substitute for the famous 200 k.m. 11 Cities Tour ( 11 Stedentocht).
The most coveted skating accomplishment for a Dutch(wo)man. The event was started in 1909 and the fifteenth tour was held in 1997.
Since that year the conditions have not allowed another race and tour to be skated. My uncle Jan de Vries is one of the very few who managed
to get a gold medal, for the fifth completion. In his prime, 3 events were held in the first three years of the 2nd World War. My skates had been converted to a wall decoration by Lisa. The original ribbons were discarded and the old leather straps broke when
I tried tying the skates to my boots. So, I cannibalized an old pair of boat shoes for the leather straps and used the shoestrings.
Conditions were perfect, no snow on the ice and a cold bright sunny day. Panther Lake is just down the hill from where Lisa lives;
except for a couple dogs there was no one else on the ice. I was convinced that after 5 days of freezing it would be perfectly strong
but when carefully testing a few cracks appeared. I suspect that 70 years ago I skated on regular shoes. But when I tried this the laces
cut into my insteps, But the boots I now used did not fit the skates well. I took 11 steps onto the ice and you will see the rest of the
story on this you tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gTC5X4rlvI

As far as I got

Just before the cold spell, I took the PM-Trak to Portland on Friday the 4th and returned the next morning to Tacoma on the AM-Trak.
I gave a presentation at the Sauvie Island Yacht Club. Nice group of sailors. They broadcast their monthly meetings on Zoom so that their
diaspora of members in exotic places can participate. I spent the night on Gene Johnson’s Tayana-42, one of the members. Gene is fairly new
to sailing. He uses his car mostly for storing his bicycle and outdoor gear. Instead of using lifts, which are now no longer affordable in
the North West unless you are in the higher pay grades of Microsoft or Amazon, he hikes up to ski down. His plan is to sail the Northwest
Passage and ski the surrounding higher elevations.
The marina on Sauvie Island is 100% Rag Boats. I like that. The Island is just West of Portland adjoining the Columbia River.
From Tacoma, I rented a car and drove up north to visit friends north of Seattle and in Vancouver, B.C.

The third NAJA kit I imported in 1980 was purchased by my friend Michael St. John Smith in 1992. He sailed it in the Vancouver area for about
12 years as “Soul Fisher”.
I have been looking for it for a potential replacement. I visited Mike in Vancouver and he saw the boat a few years ago, somewhere
near Sechelt, in storage. Sofar I have not been able to find the owner. If any one reading has a lead, please, contact me jack(at)cometosea.us
For my next sailing challenge I’d prefer to start from the Atlantic Coast but I could be flexible for the perfect boat.

“Soul Fisher”

My travel schedule for February:

Feb 7-9 Eugene and Roseburg

Feb 10-15 Napa, Ca and S.F.Bay area

Feb 16-18 Las Vegas Feb

18-23 Southern California

Feb 23-29 Dallas area Tx.

Feb 29-March 27 Virginia

March 28 Amsterdam

Keep the light on on those days, love to see you again.


                    
 

16 November ‘23 Ten years today since the original “Fleetwood”’s violent end

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 21st, 2023

An emotional farewell to a 33-year relationship, 5 ocean crossings, over 50, 000 nautical miles, 51 countries and 565 locks.

She was my home and, with the exception of a couple shoe boxes with memorabilia in my daughter’s garage, all my earthly possessions went down in the foaming waves with her.

Photo Maria de los Angeles Pena-Mila

You can read my emotions while awaiting sunlight and witnessing the breakup on the steep rocky shore of the small island of Tagomago near Ibiza in the Spanish Balearics at: “ALL IS LOST” 

I landed yesterday evening at SEA-TAC for a winter visit at home port with family and friends here. Lisa is cooking the turkey and expect to share it with 9 other guests. Jeannine, our youngest daughter, is driving up from Southern California.

To-day’s flight was one of the best economy flights I have flown across the Atlantic. The good old days of UAL buddy passes and ending up in Business Class are history. This flight was on Aer Lingus Amsterdam-Dublin-Seattle. Easy booking, check in, good service and price and I was able to book the return flight from Dulles D.C. on March 27th   to Amsterdam and the inbound flight at the low round trip prices. The other plus on Aer Lingus is that the US customs and the TSA have a station at the Dublin airport just like Vancouver B.C. and I was out of the Sea-Tac airport, with my checked in baggage, 20 minutes after landing. The flight left Dublin at 16.30 near sunset and landed at 17.30 at sunset.

Chasing the Sunset

I expect to be in the Northwest until the end of January and then work my way down to Southern California and make stops along the way to see my two sons and friends.

I am giving a presentation at the Sauvie Island YC in Portland, Or on Friday evening January 6th. I’m open for more of these. I need the books royalties.

As I wrote earlier on this blog, I plan to fly to Texas to see my oldest grandson and family and friends in February and visit Cape Charles, Va. in March and my grandson and my great granddaughters in Portsmouth, Virginia.

It was starting to get chilly on the boat in Zaandam. But, with the help of a marine mechanic, we managed to get the old Webasto forced air diesel heater working. October and November turned out to set rainfall records in Holland. With the deck leaks repaired, all I have to keep well covered is the cockpit area where my next project requires replacement of substantial areas where the seller managed to skillfully hide rotten areas and leaks. My plan is to sell the boat as soon as I have these repairs done, hopefully before the end of the summer.

Start keeping your eyes out on the US Atlantic coast or Great Lakes for a replacement that is seaworthy, max. 32 foot and preferably a chined plywood construction to complete a new adventure that is brewing and keeps me excited after the three year project I got suckered into. It is not all bad, as I have become accustomed to that there is always a reason for a setback. I have learned some new skills and am reinforced by the accomplishments.

I have jumped through many hoops to try and get my Netherlands residence permit. It was approved in April, I got photographed and fingerprinted in May and was told that I should have the permit by June 27. In August I contacted the authorities. No reply. Then in October I was told to go do what I had accomplished in May, apparently they lost me somewhere. But shortly after I was told that I could make an appointment to pick-up the document. But I could only do this with a DigiD number which has been bouncing across the Atlantic for the last three years trying to catch up with me. I got a hold of it a week before my yesterday’s departure and with my luck the earliest appointment I could secure was for today….With my luck they’ll have me start the process all over when I return in April. But, what the heck? I managed to stay longer than the 90 day Schengen limit, this year and last year.

 

October 9, 2023 Back in Zaandam

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 10th, 2023

I had a surprise in mid September when I learned that I could not live aboard after October 1st. I had expected to stay into November. This is a new regulation for the YC. Last year when “Fleetwood” was on the hard at the “Amsterdam” YC, I could not sleep on board either from October 1st. But Ben, a member, let me use his powerboat to live aboard while I continued working on the boat. On April 1st I am allowed to live aboard again. I motored here to the municipal marina on Sunday the 1st. I booked my flight for November 15th to arrive in Seattle. My oldest daughter, Lisa, will host me again for the holidays. I have my first appointment with the V.A. on the 22nd of November, for a check up and probably a few pokes and pictures. Then I plan to visit family and friends in Oregon and California and possibly Texas on my way to Virgina where I expect to spend a couple weeks. On March 27th I fly back to Amsterdam.

If you can muster up some enthusiasm for one of my presentations with slide/video show of my 65 country around the world sailing adventure on this visit, let me know. All I need is a digital projector or a large TV screen with a HDM port. I’ll have books to sell and sign.

I expect to finish up with the boat repairs after my return this Summer. There are no longer any leaks in the bottom and deck.

As you can see from the picture I have been busy varnishing the clear mahogany trim. The next project is the rot in the cockpit. I’ll be able to cover this area with a tarp during my absence. The leaks in the deck, even with a good cover, were impossible to prevent from ending up inside the cabin. Today I installed a 12 Volt sump pump in the engine bilge. My plan is to get the boat ready to sail the local waters and sell it. The original plan to sail her back to the Americas just is not possible. I still keep finding new spots where the seller skillfully hid defects with a thin coat of paint. It will most likely end up in court.

Before refinishing the Mahogany trim

After varnishing

Today is my father’s 125th birthday, he lived less than half of those years. But he lived his 57 years well, my 65 countries and circumnavigation will be a useless claim to eternity. But his forages for food for us in the 1944-’45 hunger winter, on a rickity bicycle in ice and snow and his reading the Bible with his cell mates. I am a lucky son of a saint.

 

Remembering September 5th 1944 “Mad Tuesday” (“Dolle Dinsdag”)

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 5th, 2023

By coincidence September 5th this year also falls on a Tuesday. The allies rapidly approached Holland, collaborators and even soldiers made a mad rush for the German border. The Allied Forces, since the June landing in Normandy had steam rolled up to the Dutch border. But what appeared to be the imminent liberation of the S.S. concentration camp “Vught” turned out to be the beginniing of a train ride to the hell of the Ravensbrück women concentration camp. About 1/3 of the 650 women pressed in these cattle cars would not survive this camp. And from this date onward the worst partof the war would be the hell of the so called “Hunger Winter” until the May 5th 1945 capitulation. Our mother, fortunately, together with app. 200 other, mostly, Dutch political prisoners ended up in a satelite camp of Dachau where the survival rate was 99%. But the terror for these women and there loved ones at home was that there was no commonucation allowed. And our father did not know anybetter than our mother being in the hell hole of Ravensbrück until two days before the return of our mother on May 22nd 1945. The Dutch Red Cross dropped the ball and several of the Dutch prisoners that were released in this period from Ravensbrück, like Corrie ten Boom, could have notified the families in Holland. The below are excerpts from my books “The Mastmakers’ Daughters and “De Mastmakersdochters”.

Dutch Red Cross statemment

September 5th 1944 Mad Tuesday in Camp Vught

We, the hundred odd women, in our satellite camp at the Michelin factory in Den Bosch, heard from the civilian factory personnel that the British forces were on their way from Belgium. There was a festive mood amongst us; we sang the songs that for the most part were composed here. We used to sing them softly, several of them were a bit rough and mocked our common enemy, but we became bolder by the minute and it seemed that the louder we sang them the more scared our guards reacted. One of the communist women began to sing the “Internatonale” which was promptly followed up by all, with our national anthem, the “Wilhelmus”.We watched with amazement the feverish activity on the factory floor, gasmasks were hurriedly crated up, and complete sets of machinery were disassembled and loaded into boxcars.

When the long train was filled the German production boss and his team also mounted the train, accompanied by our loud jeers. We hoped that we would never see them again.

There was nothing to do for us any longer in the factory. Our guards took us back to our barracks.

Three R.A.F. fighter planes flew low over the camp, that evening. This show of force removed any lingering doubts that freedom was only hours away.

Later in the evening, we were brought in a variety of vehicles to the main camp Vught. It was late and the women there were already asleep. There were no empty beds for us and we had to crawl into any available cot with a sleeping prisoner, to the annoyance of the sleeping woman. But because we had witnessed the exodus from our factory, we had news for them and now everyone was participating in the mounting euphoria. We stayed awake and celebrated for most of the night.

The excitement grew by the hour. The sound of the artillery of our liberators grew louder and closer and it was sweet music to the prisoner’s excited ears. The guards and the despised Aufseherinnen had shrunk away into the back ground. If one of them dared to show themselves in the barracks, it was done with an exaggerated display of courtesy.

No one went to work that day and we were all treated to coffee with sugar from the SS kitchen. Some of the women lit a smoke without any interference. Plans were being formed as to how we would be reunited with our loved ones. We exchanged addresses and assured one another that we would stay in touch after we were free. A rumor made the rounds that the Red Cross would take over the supervision of the camp and that we would be quartered with farmers in the neighborhood, temporarily. It was certain that the Allied Forces would be there within hours and that the German enemy had been brought to their knees. The guards were packing and would soon be on their retreat.

Riffle fire could be heard from the direction of the male prison camp. We assumed that this had to be close combat with the liberators. But the women who had been here for a longer period knew better. The riffle fire came from the execution range. After the riffle folly, there would be a single shot, the coup de grace. One-hundred-forty-two male prisoners were executed in the last three days before the camp was evacuated.

The head executioner in Camp Vught was SS Sturmbannführer-Major Erich Deppner, these murders are still known as the Deppner Executions.  His career started under Hans Albin Rauter, the highest SD boss in the Netherlands and Willy Lages of the SD in Amsterdam who worked directly under Rauter. Heinrich Himmler complimented Deppner personally for his first successful execution of 72 Russian prisoners of war in camp Amersfoort in April 1942. Deppner was captured in Berlin in 1945 by the Russians who released him in 1950. Next, he found shelter with the U.S. Armed Forces who managed to make good use of his “way around town”. The Dutch government requested the American Authorities for Deppner’s extradition, to stand trial for his atrocities. The Americans refused the Dutch requests. Deppner lived in comfort and peace in Germany until his natural death in 2005.

The next day, around noon, we all received a warm meal from the SS kitchen and once more coffee with sugar. The Germans obviously wanted to leave better last impressions for the liberators as to how we had been treated. But the sound of the artillery from the approaching Allied forces became weaker and our euphoria diminished at the same rate. The riffle fire from the executions had also stopped. “It is probably a pause in the fighting” was suggested. But the hours went by and then we came to the realization that it was a bit unrealistic that the British would go out of their way to liberate a few thousand prisoners in the nearest concentration camp. They probably had a couple more strategic targets to deal with, like the port of Antwerp.

We were back on the same sour bread diet that evening and the coffee was the usual brown tasteless liquid without sugar. The festive mood changed into disappointment and a deep concern as to what was in store for us now.

From Vught into the unknown

We were ordered to stand in formation on the exercise field of the camp early in the morning of September 6. Everyone was given a blanket and a chunk of bread and we were then marched to the rail depot of the concentration camp. A long line of cattle cars stood stretched out on the tracks. The male prisoners had already been stuffed in the forward cars. My group, of about 100 women from the Michelin factory detail, had grouped our selves together. Most of my group, 82 women, managed to end up in the same cattle car. These cars were meant to carry a maximum of six cavalry horses….The heavy wooden doors were shut and we heard a lock and chain being attached. We could only stand up and barely move. There was a latrine barrel in one corner and no water. The first thing we did was, with our wooden shoes, to break the wooden slats from the blinds in the small windows, to give us a little more air. We deposited all our bread rations in one corner as far away as possible from the latrine. One woman was assigned to distribute the bread. Next, we divided our group in three sections of 27 women to take turns in standing, sitting and stretched out on the floor. Now we had a plan and we felt a little more in control. The train started moving slowly. It felt as if the Lord stretched his arms out over us with a blessing when two young women softly started singing the Dutch version of: 

Abide with me, fast falls the even tide.
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
 

And the fourth verse:

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.

Where is death’s sting? where, grave, they victory?
I triumph still if thou abide with me.

More and more women in our car and along the track joined in.

Mad Tuesday in Hilversum

In the first week of September, Rennie Arendt (the other Nazi Mastmakers’ daughter) was told by the German authorities in Hilversum to pack her suitcases and be ready for evacuation to Germany. A special train stopped in Hilversum on September 5, “Mad Tuesday”. Rennie and her two sons climbed aboard. Georg was then fourteen and Gerard was nine. Uncle Jentje brought them to the station and he had an address for them of an acquaintance in Neumünster, Holstein, not far from where they had lived in Holtenau.

Three railway wagons were painted with red crosses and filled with wounded German soldiers. Just before crossing into Germany, the train was attacked by two American Thunderbolts. All the windows were broken, there were several casualties, and many injured. Rennie was cut by the shattered glass. When Georg, years later, had a tooth pulled the dentist also removed a matchbox full of glass splinters from his cheekbone. Gerard escaped the attack without a scratch.  

En de Nederlandse versie uit “De Mastmakersdochters”:

39 Dolle Dinsdag in kamp Vught

Op de Michelin fabriek, waar ik zat met een honderd lotgenoten, hoorden we van het vaste fabriekspersoneel dat de Engelsen in aantocht waren vanuit België. Wij raakten ook in feeststemming en we zongen ons repertoire van, meest zelf gedichte, liedjes. Liedjes die we stiekem zachtjes in de barakken zongen, als de Aufseherinnen niet in de buurt waren. Maar nu lieten de bewakers ons onze gang gaan. We werden steeds moediger en het leek wel of hoe harder we zongen de banger de vijand werd. Een van de Communisten zette de “Internationale” in en daarna werd het “Wilhelmus” uit volle borst gezongen. Er heerste paniek in de fabriek. Gasmaskers werden in kisten verpakt. Complete productiemachines werden gedemonteerd en in klaarstaande spoorwagons geladen. Ten slotte verdwenen ook de Duitse bedrijfsleider en zijn ploeg in de trein, onder ons luid gejoel. Er was voor ons niets meer te doen in de fabriek. De bewakers brachten ons terug in de barakken. Die avond vloog een stel R.A.F.-jagers laag over. De laatste twijfel werd hier mee weggevaagd.

Later in de avond werden we in allerlei soorten van vervoer van onze fabriek barakken naar het kamp Vught gereden. Het was laat en de gevangen waren al in slaap. Er waren geen lege kribben dus we moesten maar hier en daar bij een al slapende vrouw inkruipen, tot ergernis van de uit de slaap gewekte lotgenoten. Maar al gauw waren we allemaal wakker en bleek het dat wij, van buiten het kamp, al veel meer wisten van de haast waarmee de vijand aan het afdruipen was. Dus werd er druk heen en weer aan de euforie deelgenomen. En van slapen kwam niet veel meer. Tegen 12 uur, de volgende dag, kregen we een warme maaltijd uit de SS-keuken en weer koffie met suiker. Het was nogal doorzichtig wat de opzet van de verbeterde verzorging was. De Duitsers wilden de indruk achterlaten aan de bevrijders dat het toch niet allemaal zo slecht geweest was in kamp Vught.

De atmosfeer werd steeds feestelijker. Het geluid van de kanonnen van onze bevrijders werd bij het uur duidelijker te horen en klonk als muziek die het feest opluisterde. De bewakers en Aufseherinnen waren in de achtergrond weggeslonken en als er een zich in onze barakken waagde dan was dat met een overdreven vertoon van vriendelijkheid. Er werd niet meer gewerkt en we kregen allemaal koffie met suiker uit de SS-keukens en we konden ongestoord een sigaretje opsteken. We begonnen ons een beeld te vormen hoe we met onze geliefden weer zouden verenigd worden. Adressen werden uitgewisseld, we moesten in contact blijven.

Er bestond geen twijfel dat de Geallieerden in de aanstaande uren voor de deur zouden staan en dat de Duitse vijand op de knieën was gebracht. En we wisten dat onze bewakers aan het pakken waren en spoedig op de vlucht gingen.

We konden nu ook regelmatig geweervuur horen dat uit de richting van het aangrenzende mannenkamp kwam. Wij concludeerden dat dit al gevechten waren met onze bevrijders. Maar de vrouwen die hier al langer zaten wisten wel wat dat betekende. Dat geweervuur kwam van de fusilladeplaats. Na het salvo volgde een enkel schot, het genadeschot. Daaraan konden wij optellen hoeveel er geëxecuteerd werden. 142 mannen werden die laatste dagen voor Dolle Dinsdag vermoord.

Maar bij het afzwakken van het geschut van onze bevrijders zakte onze hoop en onze verwachtingen. Het geweervuur van de executies was ook afgelopen. “Het zal wel een pauze in het gevecht zijn”, dachten we. Maar met de uren zonder nieuwe tekenen van de bevrijding begrepen we dat het misschien toch wat te onrealistisch was dat de geallieerden optrokken om onze paar duizend gevangenen in het dichtstbijzijnde concentratiekamp te bevrijden. Ze hadden waarschijnlijk belangrijkere doelen op het oog.

Die avond waren we weer terug op hetzelfde vieze zure brood en de koffie was weer dezelfde bruine drab zonder suiker. De feestvreugde wisselde in teleurstelling en grote bezorgdheid voor wat de volgende dagen zouden brengen

40 Naar onbekende bestemming

De volgende morgen, woensdag 6 september moesten we in de vroegte allemaal aantreden op de appèlplaats. Iedereen kreeg een deken en een stuk brood daarna werden we afgemarcheerd naar het kamp spoorweg depot. Een lange rij veewagons strekte zich op het spoor uit. De mannelijke gevangenen waren al in de voorste wagons geladen.

Wij, ongeveer 100 vrouwen van de Michelin fabriek, uit een totaal van rond 650 vrouwelijke gevangen, hadden ons al zoveel mogelijk bij elkaar gegroepeerd en kwamen voor het merendeel in dezelfde veewagon terecht. Toen de bewakers er 82 van ons in de wagon geperst hadden werden de houten schuifdeuren gegrendeld en we hoorden ze een ketting aanbrengen en het klikken van een slot.

We realiseerden ons dat we, in een veewagen bestemd voor het vervoer van maximaal zes paarden, als 82 vrouwen makkelijk verstikken konden of onder de voet gelopen worden. Het eerste dat we deden was met onze klompen de houten horren latjes uit de venstertjes te slaan, dat gaf ons wat meer lucht. Alle broodrantsoenen werden in een hoek opgestapeld, zo ver mogelijk weg van de latrine kan. Een van de vrouwen nam op zich verantwoordelijk te zijn voor het rantsoeneren van het brood. Drinkwater was er helemaal niet. Daarna hebben we onze groep in drie secties verdeeld die afwisselend, stond, zat of zich uitstrekken kon.

We hadden nu op zijn minst een plan en voelden ons wat minder onmachtig onder de omstandigheden die ons te wachten stonden. Het was alsof God zegenend zijn handen over ons uitstrekte toen in het donker twee meisjes zachtjes begonnen te zingen:

Blijf bij mij, Heer[2], want d’ avond is nabij.
De dag verduistert, Here, blijf bij mij!
Als and’re hulp m’ ontbreekt, geluk m’ ontvliedt,
der hulpelozen hulp, verlaat mij niet!

En het prachtige vierde couplet:

Geen vijand vrees ik, als Gij bij mij zijd,
tranen en leed zijn zonder bitterheid.
Waar is, o dood, uw schrik, graf, waar uw eer?
Meer dan verwinnaar blijf ik in de Heer
 

En het koor zwol aan. We hadden van elkaar al veel teksten uit het hoofd geleerd. Van mijn zingende moeder kende ik veel psalmen en gezangen.

38 Dolle Dinsdag in Hilversum

Rond de eerste september 1944 kreeg Rennie Arendt-de Vries te horen van de Duitse overheid dat ze voor haar en haar twee zonen ieder een koffer moest pakken en zich gereedhouden voor evacuatie naar Duitsland. Op “Dolle Dinsdag” 5 september 1944 kwam een speciale trein vanuit Den Haag, via Amsterdam die ook in Hilversum stopte.

Georg was toen veertien en Gerard negen. Het drietal werd door “de Baron” naar het station gebracht. Hij had ook een adres voor hen van een Hilversummer die hij kende en die in Neumünster, Holstein werkte als buschauffeur. Niet ver van Holtenau, waar Rennie opgegroeid was.

De speciale trein werd getrokken door een Nederlandse locomotief, een lange rij wagons, drie ervan waren beschilderd met grote rodekruizen voor gewonde Duitse soldaten. Net voor de Duitse grens werd de trein bestookt door twee Amerikaanse Thunderbolts. Alle ruiten waren kapot, er vielen doden en veel van de passagiers liepen verwondingen op. Rennie zat vol glassplinters, Georg vertelde jaren later dat de tandarts in 1984, samen met een kies, een luciferdoosje vol glassplinters uit zijn kaak haalde. Gerard had geen enkel schrammetje opgelopen.

Uit het Dagboek van Dick van Ommen, de echtgenoot van Rennie:

4 September 

Geallieerde troepen de Hollandse grens overschreden. 

5 September “Dolle Dinsdag”

Wilde geruchten, ze zijn in Breda, Dordrecht, Rotterdam, den Haag, Leiden. De dokter kwam vertellen dat het van Jaap wel diphtherie was, nu mogen de jongens niet meer naar school, vanavond om 8 uur binnen zijn. Vught zou vrijgegeven zijn.

6 September 

Geen nieuws, het gerucht van al die steden blijkt onwaar te zijn. Het bericht dat de gevangenen uit Vught vrij zijn wordt steeds hardnekkiger, ik informeer overal, het schijnt dat er wel een deel naar Duitsland gevoerd is. Met Den Bosch kon ik gisteren geen telefonische verbinding meer krijgen. Veel geschoten in de stad.

 8 September 

Het gerucht dat Vught bevrijd is blijkt onwaar te zijn, van iemand gehoord die Dinsdag ontslagen is dat allen naar Duitsland zijn overgebracht een droevig bericht, ik vind het erg naar.

2] De Nederlandse versie van het: Abide with me; fast falls the eventide

 

August 19th The making of a new family member and new friend in IJlst, Friesland.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 22nd, 2023

I finally met a distant cousin today in IJlst Friesland. We have a Great-great-great Grandfather in common. Six generations removed. (In het Nederlands Oudovergrootvader) His name is Eeltsje Durk de Vries, one year younger than me.

It all started, over 75 years ago, with a paragraph in a letter from my maternal grandfather’s oldest sister, Gepke de Vries, where she wrote about Sybolt Ottes de Vries, born in 1769: “Hun huwelijk werd gezegend met tien kinderen, maar toen er vier geboren waren begon Napoleon een nieuwe oorlog en moest Sybolt Ottes de Vries tot aller spijt, ten strijde trekken, maar hij kwam, toen de strijd beëindigd was, behouden terug na veel doorstaan te hebben”. Translation: “Their marriage was blessed with ten children, but Napoleon started a new war after the fourth child was born,   to everyone’s regret Sybolt had to take up arms, but when this fight was over, he returned safely after having endured many hardships”.

I did not read this carefully and had always assumed that our forefather was fighting against Napoleon. I discovered my misinterpretation when I spent Holy Week on the island of St. Helena on my sail from Capetown to Brazil, in 2007. There was a complete library on Napoleon’s life and battles on the island and I discovered that Sybolt Ottes de Vries had been drafted in the disastrous expedition to Moscow in 1812.

Their fourth child, Poite, was born in 1811 and it is most likely that Sybolt Ottes de Vries was part of the 25,000 Dutch troops that were drafted to fight the Russians in the ill-fated expedition to Moscow in 1812. Only ten percent of Napoleon’s 600,000 soldiers returned from this battle. More than one million people died in total including those casualties of the “Grande Armée”. Most of these soldiers and civilians alike died not only in the fighting, but also from starvation, exhaustion, and the sub-freezing cold of the 1812-1813 Winter. Typhus killed more of Napoleon’s troops than those who died at the hands of Russian defenders.

In 2007 I did not write a blog yet, but I did post a report after each section of the voyage and this report on the crossing of the South Atlantic was read by the oldest son of Eeltsje (the report is still available on this website at: https://www.cometosea.us/albums/log-St.Helena.htm) . We met for the first time in 2011 when I was in Europe on “Fleetwood”.

Sybolt Ottes was raised in Woudsend in a mastmaker’s family. He decided to move to the saltwater port of De Lemmer. A younger son of Sybolt Ottes, (brother of Jan Siebolts born in 1807 the great grandfather of my mother) started a mastmaker shop in IJlst. Besides mastmaking the IJst branch also made ice skates, for which IJlst became the Frisian center. There are records in the bookkeeping of the family where the de Lemmer store bought ice skates from their cousins in IJlst. Eventually the IJlst family became more involved in the sawn softwood lumber trade to the farmers and eventually most of the building contractors in the area bought their needs from Houthandel de Vries. When Eeltje joined the family firm he diversified from softwoods into hardwoods. He gained his experience by working for hardwood importers and one of them was Maatschappy de Fijnhouthandel in Amsterdam, where I was an apprentice in 1955/1956. He retired after selling a very successful large distribution company to Pont-Meyer in Heerenveen.

l.r. Carol de Vries 1942 full cousin, Eeltje de Vries 1938 my new cousin, Wiepke de Vries, son of Eeltje

Sawmill frm 1770 “The Rat” now a working museum

 

The waterway from Sneek to Stavoren, I used this in 2010 on Fleetwood

 

 

 

 

In background the museum “IJlst Houtstad” translates “Woodcity”, appropriate for both of us having made a living in the international wood business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A one minute video of the sawmill working.

 

Some of this may already be familiar because there is an anecdote connected to the IJlst de Vries branch of the family that I discovered through one of those one in a million coincidental meetings. This happened in San Diego a few days before the November 1st start of the 2016 BAJA-HA-HA sailboat rally to Cabo San Lucas. One of the boats was the “M” of John and Maggie Stienstra from the S.F. Bay area. Both his parents had emigrated from IJlst to California by way of Canada. His mothers parents, the Woudstras, had taken in a Jewish baby girl, Mia, born in 1940. Her parents were murdered in Sobibor. An aunt took her to Israel at war’s end. One day Mia contacted a t.v. program in Holland and showed an old picture of her foster family looking to re-establish contact. John’s uncles responded. The story can be seen at A newspaper article in Dutch 

Read more details in my October 29, 2016 post at: https://cometosea.us/?p=5941

I reported this meeting to the son of Eeltsje de Vries and then found out that Mia lived next door and was two classes below him in the same elementary school. This photo shows Mia Levy-Lakmaker around 1943 darting in the viewfinder of the camera recording the laying of the first stone for a new Lumber warehouse at the the buisiness of the de Vries family. Looks like she stole the show by the reactions of the crowd. Eeltsje, my new cousin, is the blond boy with his parents and grandfather behind them.

Mia around 1943

I made decent progress on the boat this week. The teak has been replaced on the deck and next will be caulking the seams and sanding it level with the old deck. A new skill learned, Never thought I’d be able to bend the curves.deck

 

Sunday July 23rd Extending my Zaandam visit through the 28th. 

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 23rd, 2023

I had booked 4 weeks that ended on Friday. But did not get the job done yet. I was able to stay another week in the same yard shed at Klaas Mulder Watersport.

I had promised that I would post the size of the rot repair once I had opened up the wounds. But it is only after these 4 weeks that I can give an estimate of it. I feel confident that this extra week will finish the need to be under cover. She should be closed up and I can take a breather and not have to always have a tarp over the boat. But there will still work to be done back in the water in Amsterdam.

The rot ended up practically all on the starboard side at all but the most forward stanchion bases and both starboard and port pushpit bases.

one of the stanchion bases

starboard stern

what this stern corner looked like on purchase. Neatly hidden under the paint and putty.

Starboard stanchion post. Notice the white epoxy filler just attached to the rotten plywood. This is most likely an older “fix” than the seller did.

Port stern corner

 

 

 

I cut out 8 foot by 5 inch of the outer edge of the starboard deck, and replaced the entire deck width, about 6 feet of the rest of the aft starboard deck. And I cut down as far as a foot of the hull below the lifeline stanchions. I scarfed in new 3/8” thick of the same Okoume marine plywood.

Yesterday I was fitting in the deck replacement and just could not figure out why there was not enough space left to glue on the teak deck strips. Turned out that the original deck is 3/8”  (10 mm) and I had measured it as 12mm. A difference of just under 1/8”. But it would not give me enough room to match the new teak strips. I made this 8 foot up from 3 lengths and had the 6 scarf joints made up. Because of the bow in the deck it would take a large panel to cut this much width out of it.

the 8 foot deck edge removal

the repairs scarfed in the hull

It would add more than a day to start anew with 3/8” plywood.

So far, I have not needed to purchase any plywood or boat lumber. I had a good stock of ½ and 3/8 inch marine plywood remnants from  last year’s bottom repair. I, or better the crooked seller,  got lucky, I also did not need to purchase the solid wood for the gunwhale which was glued to the upper rim of the deck and in the removal split apart. I had a square of clear Meranti left over from which we made the backing plate on last year’s bottom repair.

A very kind man, René, was recommended by the yard boss here. He is close by and has a boat building shop on the water at his home. He has every latest wood working machinery, sawing, planing, sanding I can dream of. He split the square at an angle to get the size I needed with a 22mm top and about 12 mm bottom. I need to install this first because the new deck extends over the 22mm edge.

And I just talked to Rene and he will sand the ½” pieces down to 3/8” to rescue me on yesterday’s bad discovery. I plan to do the teak strips back in Amsterdam. They were originally 6 mm (1/4”) but have been sanded/worn down to 4 mm and less. The toe rail was screwed and glued to the guwhale and also broke in bits. I will worry about it in Amsterdam.

It has been a rough job and probably a bit above my pay grade. To measure and cut some of these many angled pieces. As an example the corner post on the stern had four different angles on the sides and slopes on the top and bottom. Lots of trial and error. But I have become a pro in comparison to last year’s training by Robert Skagen to make the scarf joints and now 4 times faster.

The yard is family run, father and son. Very nice friendly well organized. No showers. So, I wash in the boat, rinsing with cups of water standing in the bilge and then removing the water with my wet-dry vacuum. It is very quiet here at night in comparison of the noise in Amsterdam right next to a freeway. But miss the club socializing. The Sunday service is my weekly social treat. The Saint Bonifacius church is reasonably well attended. Quite a few Indonesians, Filipinos and Vietnamese. The Indonesians, to me are as similar to the Filipinos as the French Polynesians to the Hawaiians.

And I quickly have to correct my self if I wish the Indonesian Mabuhai or the Filipino Selamat Pagi.

The pastor is from Perala but the priests rotate between the 4 parishes in the Zaandam district. So do the choirs. Two weeks ago it was a special treat. A soprano solo sang Mozart’s Ave Verum and a baritone Panis Angelicus.

It was the Slavery memorial day and prior to the service the organist played Amazing Grace when the choir rehearsed. I quickly looked up the lyrics on my phone. Would not miss this opportunity. But, it ended up as an organ instrumental only, very nice, jazzed up. The Neo-Gothic building was completed in 1900, this picture shows one of the large stained glass windows and you will see below it part of one of the 14 Stations of the cross. They are done by the very same artist as the ones I showed in my Good Friday post in the much older Saint Nicholas church in Amsterdam.

Saint Bonofacius church

Zaandam is a village compared to Amsterdam. The people are even friendlier. On my first grocery shopping I had a young man lift my shopping basket onto the cashier’s conveyor belt and then when I bagged them another customer lifted my shopping bag up to the bagging level while I stuffed my bag. I miss home (which one Jack?) but I enjoy the kindness and genuine interest the average Dutchman has for total strangers.

I am slowly getting over my depression from the disappointment on the miserable response on the effort to help out my friend Ken. A few more donations came in.

The article in the June “Zeilen” magazine, that promoted me to sailing celebrity status can now be read at 

 

One side benefit is that there has been a very nice surge in “SoloMan” book sales, through this article. You should be able to use a language translator to get the major lines of the story.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and say a prayer for your friend while he is atoning for his past sins.

 

 

June 9 2023. Two weeks delay in departure for Zaandam

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 9th, 2023

I was all set to depart today, for the deck repair in a covered spot in Zaandam. But doing a last-minute check, an hour ago, I learned that I had no reservation after all. I had responded to their offer for four weeks from now and sent a follow up two weeks ago.

But the problem was that the subject of the continuation of the correspondence was based on last year’s change of plans when I had arranged to come to Zaandam for the bottom repair. But the leak was becoming an emergency and the YC here in Amsterdam was able to lift me out right away with their travellift. So, the subject in Outlook was still “Cancellation” and they did not read further. Lesson learned…

From May 15th , when I went back into the water, there has not been a drop of rain, I could have done most of the deck repair without having to cover the boat constantly, like before May 15. This long high-pressure period, with strong cold N.E. winds blowing from Siberia is due to change for low pressure from the west bringing in wet weather from the Atlantic Ocean.

On the 12th of June I will have used up my 90 Schengen days, from my March 14th arrival. I had all my fingers printed and passport photos taken on May 25th and I am supposed to hear back on my residential permit by June 27th.

In the June issue of “Zeilen, the most read Dutch sailing monthly, is a four pages article written by Michiel van Straten about me. I believe, I am his second or third target under the heading “Unknown Celebrities”. It’s about time that I get some respect for bungling my way around the globe.

The header of the article:

TAAI EN VINDINGRIJK
Dat faillissement is het beste wat mij ooit is overkomen.” Jack van Ommen
heeft in zijn leven flink wat tegenslagen gehad. Hij leed met zijn Fleetwood
meerdere malen schipbreuk, kende teleurstellingen in de liefde en verloor
een dochter. Desondanks staat de solozeiler zeer positief in het leven.
“Dankzij mijn geloof in God vaar ik nooit alleen.”

Tekst MICHIEL VAN STRATEN Foto’s JACK VAN OMMEN

I discovered a few things that I was not aware of but I am very pleased with the way Michiel describes what drives me, much better than I could put it in words. I like as many as possible to know that you can pursue an active life after retirement and with limited means. He explains the importance of my Faith and gratitude for the free gifts I enjoy every day.

It has already brought in a number of new customers for “SoloMan” and blog followers. It also puts a couple more arrows in my quiver when reckoning comes for the unexpected hidden boat defects expenses. The seller earns his living from the people who read “Zeilen”.

I will attempt to translate the article into English, now that I have some extra time before the real work starts.

I sang with the large choir at the Pentecost service.

The Missa Princeps Pacis from A. Lloyd Webber was used for the liturgy, Entrance Song: Veni Creator Spiritus – Cl. Casciolini, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Gregorian), HALLELUIA by Mawby, Offertory: Tantum Ergo in Es – Franz Schubert, Communion: Ubi caritas et amor – O. Gjeilo, Recession: Jubilate Deo (KV 117, part 3 from Benedictus sit Deus) by W.A. Mozart.

Many a large congregations would be tempted to commit venial sins to have a building like the Sint Augustinus church, a pastor like Ambro Bakker, magnificent organ and organists, the L.K.P. and the other 4 choirs of this church. But the neighborhood does not seem to have a need for it. Maybe there will be another opportunity, God forbid for the victims, Deo Volente for the near empty churches, like 9-11, when the churches had standing room only for a short spell.

Last Tuesday, I attended a presentation of a new book, at the same Saint Augustinus church. It was the biography of the architect who designed this church which was built in 1935. The architect Jan (Johannes Martinus) van Hardeveld 1891-1953. The same generation as my father 1898-1956. He was also not well known. But the presentation revealed that he should also be a Celebrity. It was the period of the Amsterdamse School and Modernism, Bauhaus, etc. Van Hardeveld met his future wife, a Bretonne, when studying and working in France. He faced a similar predicament as I did in 1959. Skiing at Mammoth Mountain in the spring of 1958, I ended in a double seat chairlift with a total stranger. I worked fast on a long ride. I told her I was a Christian, well, so was she. She was Roman Catholic and raised Christian Reformed I attended the Presbyterian church. I suggested a cheap date: “Maybe you can come sometime to my church and I’d like to see your church” Joan answered: “You can come see my church, but I am NOT going with you to your church”. The woman always wins. And it turned out that the author, Mart Franken, of the biography is also a convert like me and Jan van Hardeveld.

I met the grandson Annick and Jean Martin (French version of his grandpa’s name). Annick is named after her aunt. The aunt was the very last of the Dutch women couriers to be murdered on the very last day of the 2nd World War. She was 21 years old. Born in 1923. She is the last of the total of 11 female Dutch resistance members executed during the second world war. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annick_van_Hardeveld

She is mentioned with the 11 in my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”. The best known of these 11 is Hannie Schaft who was executed two weeks before war’s end by Maarten Kuiper, the same Dutch Nazi butcher who arrested my father on April 4, 1944 and 4 months later was part of the SD patrol that arrested the Frank Family. He is one of the few Dutch bad guys who was death sentenced and executed by the Dutch justice.

Staying on the subject, I am reading a new book “The Watchmaker’s Daughter”.

Title inspired by my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” ?? A well-known American author, Larry Loftis, who is expanding on Corrie ten Boom’s story “The Hiding Place”. My research that came up with the 11 names was prompted by the part in “The Hiding Place” that claims that all the women her age were gassed after she had been discharged from Ravensbrück concentration camp. This was grossly inaccurate, it never happened. The book also gave a count of 700 men being executed just before the evacuation of camp Vught on September 6th 1944, where our mother was part of. The real number was 170. My book gives more details of these errors. This new book has the number at 180 but has left the outrageous claim of the murder of her companions a week after her release. And he has added a few of his own.

An example: that 140 resistance men from the Haarlem area, were executed as a reprisal for the killing of two Germans, in October 1943. And that there was an aerial battle over Camp Vught on August 23rd, 1944, with thousands of allied airplanes. The D-day forces had not reached Paris yet on that day. The eye witness reports for my book have none of that, other than one spotter plane coming to take a look. They could hear artillery fire from the British attempt to secure the port of Antwerp in the last days before the camp was evacuated on September 6th. I’m not half way through the book yet. Not until the battle of Arnhem from September 17 until the 26th, might a the description be attributal to. Corrie and her American ghost writers can be excused for some of her inaccuracies, no Google searching then, Camp Ravensbrück remained behind barbed wire in the German East Zone until 1989 and has since become more accessible.

This was my Culture Vulture week. It started with another new book presentation  at the Atheneum book store in Haarlem, just around the corner from the Beje, the ten Boom watchmaker shop. Frits van Oostrom presented his newest publication.

Many versions of this 13th century poetic fable exist. This is definitely one of the most complete reference work and interpretation. His talk was fascinating. What I got out of it was that in order to bring some order back in our judicial system in the United States you must learn to think like this Reynaert. Incredible the complex strategist this fox was. Oostrom has even come up with an intricate diagram of the steps involved of talking yourself outof the gallows and get away with making a fool outof the accuser. I was invited because my name is mentioned in his book. For those of you who have read “The Mastmakers’ Daughter” the youngest son, Gerard Arendt, of the “other” the Nazi Mastmaker’s Daughter Rennie de Vries, earned his doctorate on the same subject and his work and life is a major part of this book. Jan de Putter a younger student of the same midieval literature at the University of Leiden found the references in my book and shared his discoveries with me and Frits van Oostrom.

 

 

For Sale my Retro Treasures retrieved from “Fleetwood III”

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 26th, 2023

This equipment might be of interest to collectors. They are all in working condition before I removed these. Most are from the late eighties and early nineties. I believe the TV is newer, but I have not owned a TV since 1998 and have worser addictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am inviting any offfers on all or part of it. I have it also listed on Marktplaats. Dit is aftehalen bij Watersportvereniging “Amsterdam” Punterspad 15 1081KJ aan het Nieuwe Meer.

Here are the details:

Retro Zeilboot apparatuur van eind 80 begin 90 jaren, nog in werkende conditie.

  • 22×30 cm T.V. “FLATTV” AC 220 V PHILIPS Model 15PF412/01, SAMSUNG-KPN SMT-1000T Digital AC Terrestriai Receiver met VCR en TV KPN Masttop antenne 14 mtr kabel Samsung-KPN en Philips afstandbediening en set KPN/Funke binnenantennen DVB-2
  • Philips FM-AM auto Radio met cassettespeler Model 22RC459/30
  • CD-6 DISC PHILIPS Changer RC 027 12 V Model 22RC027/50B
  • SAILOR SSB kortegolf ontvanger R2022
  • SAILOR Marifoon RT2048
  • SHIPMATE GPS RS5510
  • AIS-2 responder San Jose Navigation, Inc VHF-GPS
  • Set of BM AUDIO 12 V Surround Stereo Speakers Model PR-222 12 Volt

 

 

May 15 ’23 “Fleetwood III” is afloat again.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 15th, 2023

“Fleetwood” is afloat again, as of last Friday. It was love at first site, a year ago, but the subsequent honeymoon lasted less than a week when I discovered the leaks and shortly after the hidden defects of the rot in the bottom panels. I’m glad that is done and that I am on the water again and don’t have to climb a ladder and away from steady noise of the freeway traffic. And Spring has finally Sprung this weekend, after a long, cold, rainy start.

But there is still more work to be done with the many leaks in the deck. I had a tarp on it while on the hard. And I cannot risk working in the open with the rainy Dutch climate. I have reserved a shed at Klaas Mulder in Zaandam from June 9th for 4 weeks. I can do some work before here on the Nieuwe Meer in Amsterdam. But I also hope to catch up with friends and family, get some dental work done, etc. I have an appointment to get my passport picture taken and fingerprinted on May 25th for my residence permit; this will solve the problem of the maximum 90 days stay for non-Schengen passport holders.

Now, let me get on with what you have been looking for: the response to my appeal to you to help Ken House, in my last blog. A whopping number of four American friends and one Dutch friend responded. Not sure what went wrong. Did the other 495 family/friends figure that there were enough others to chip in?

We managed to help Ken with a month rent. Not sure where the next month will come from. I’ll keep the page open for a while longer and the option to get a book gifted at:  https://cometosea.us/?page_id=7613

Much has happened since my last report of March 20th.

I had another memorable Lent and Easter experience here in Amsterdam. Some of the outstanding memories of Easter are starting my voyage from Santa Barbara in 2005 at the magnificent old Franciscan Mission, where Lisa, our first born, was baptized in April 1964; in 2006 in Hanoi, 2007 with the Anglicans on Saint Helena, 2011 in Amsterdam and a week later, on the Orthodox calendar, on the Greek Island of Chios, 2020 in the French West Indies on Saint Martin.

From my arrival in Amsterdam until a month ago when I was allowed to take up housekeeping again on “Fleetwood”, I was the guest of my 5-year younger cousin Carol de Vries who lives in the oldest section of Amsterdam in a 425 year old building. I could walk to the old Saint Nicholas Basilica. A magnificent church with a great choir and organ.  I walked the 14 stations of the cross there on Good Friday. This church happens to have some of the largest depictions of the stations on both walls.

On Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, I sang with the large “Cantemus Domimum” choir of the Saint Augustin church. This was one of best settings to welcome Christ’s Resurrection, ending with Handel’s Messiah Halleluia chorus.

The annual liberation of concentration camp Dachau was held on April 22 at the monument in the “Amsterdam Forest” near where I am on the boat. This was the first time that not a single one of the survivors is left. Over the years I have seen the survivor attendance shrink. There are just a couple of the U.S. liberators alive but not capable to attend any longer. The U.S. consul in Amsterdam has not laid a wreath any longer since before Covid, as it used to be their annual contribution. The German delegation still does. My niece, Jozina, visiting from Australia for her brother’s 65th birthday party, attended with me. I have no pictures, I did not have my SD card in my Nikon and the ones I took on my pone are in the repair shop.

Every Wednesday evening, since my arrival, there was choir rehearsal, for Holy Thursday and Easter and for the May 4, 2nd WW Memorial Day concert. The main portion was Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem mass, the Hymn “Abide with me” and the English version of Mendelsohn’s “Hear my Prayer”. In 2not 016 “Abide with me” was sung with parts of my mother’s story being read, between the verses, about how the 650 Dutch political prisoners started singing the Dutch version after the cattle cars started rolling to one of the worst NAZI concentration camps, when the allied forces approached the Dutch concentration camp. (see https://cometosea.us/?p=5741) This time three high school juniors read war memory stories. Here is the link to the sound and some part of the performance of  “Hear my Prayer”  . In the last picture you’ll be able to find my white haired head in the left back row.

May 4th by Veronica Tummers

I am the oldest choir member. Fortunately, two of the three program pieces were familiar. It turned out well. I love to sing and all the rehearsing ends up with a great award shared with my choir friends and the director and musicians. I feel very blessed that I can still participate. At Pentecost the liturgy will be sung from Missa Princeps Pacis –from A. Lloyd Webber. And that might be the last time magnificent church, built in 1935, will be used and be mothballed due to the lack of attendance.

On April 29th, I completed a task that, at the last minute, I faked and kept it just between myself and Rose Marie’s Godparents. Our second oldest daughter Rose Marie passed away on June 2nd., 2019. She was baptized in Brussels in February 1968. Her ashes were distributed in many of her favorite places. But when I arrived at the church St. Pi X (Saint Pius the Tenth) in September, 2019, I did not have the small container in my backpack. So, we faked it (see https://cometosea.us/?p=6856).

A day later, back in the Netherlands, I found it in my backpack after all.

The godmother, Yvette Claeys, assisted me again.

I walked that Saturday morning, just about the same route I used to bicycle to work in 1966 and 1967, when I worked in the European sales office for the Weyerhauser wood products division on Avenue Louise. We lived very close by this church until we moved into a beautiful small village south of Brussels, in Ittre. The picture shows the same bed of roses where I faked it in 2019. By coincidence the address of the church is Rue Roosendaal=Valley of the Roses street. This church has also lost too many of its flock and the services are rotated with a priest shared between the remnants of several churches in this part of the city. “Please, God, send us another Jonah!”

I rode from Amsterdam with my cousin Carol de Vries, who was my host since March 14th. His niece, Katinka, lives close to Avenue Louise and celebrated her 63rd birthday on that same Saturday. Katinka works for a Brussels based NGO helping less developed regions, in particular women’s health and social causes. Her Spanish husband works for the WHO. There were over a dozen different nationalities among Katinka’s party guests. A Canadian friend of Katinka and Joseph, Carla Huhtanen sang an opera aria and “TAKE CARE OF THIS HOUSE” from Leonard Bernstein musical “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”. Very appropriate suggestion to the current occupants. This was a treat for me, like a throw back of the outstanding memories of the four years we lived in Belgium.

This Mothers Day weekend were the annual Spring sailing regattas held on the man-made lake here. The biggest fleet were the “Vrijheid” class. A stripplanked mahogany 17 foot day sailer. It was conceived in 1945, right after the end of the 2nd WW.  YC “de Schinkel” has the largest active fleet in Holland. Thirteen years ago “Fleetwood” was a long time guest at “de Schinkel” and I made lots of pictures of the 65 th anniversary regatta, see: https://cometosea.us/?p=1266

1421 get that chute up!

sailing Stradivarius

wild start

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