June 17th Update on Fleetwood III repair, small world and my E-mail nightmare.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 17th, 2024

June 17, 2024 Stop Rot!

This is my prayer. And these two words are identical in both Dutch and English. Thank God that He is multilingual.

I had no idea when I started the project in the cockpit, as you read in my previous April 6th  blog, how extensive the rot extended under the seller’s cosmetic deception. These pictures tell the story where they just slapped epoxy right on the rot. The work done around the rudder shaft was covered up with a new full length teak cover on top of the repair of the cockpit floor. My pockets are not deep enough and the cosmetics will be sacrificed but the rot will be dealt with. It is still my plan to sell this boat after this three year project and make the seller responsible for his deception. The moisture measurements are taken in the last months. The boat has been under cover from the time I discovered the first leaks a week after I took delivery in early May 2022.

Foam glue sprayed against the rot

port storage locker lid

the back rest of the port bench has become separated

Exhaust through transom

port edge of cockpit floor

Notice spray foam glue slapped on top of rot

bottom of rear storage compartment. No drainage

from standing water. I have raised this and added a drain hole

Around rudder shaft caused by using galvanized nails







Good thing that the discovery started before I left protected waters, I could have stepped through the cockpit floor or lost the keel once offshore.

The weather has been unseasonably cold and wet. All existing records for rainfall in May have been broken.

In my last blog I reported my struggle in getting my residential permit. That has been resolved and I am no longer restricted to the maximum 90 day visits. But besides wanting to get the project finished, finding a home for the boat and learning how to sail again, I am getting pressure from the club where a few members are fussing about my project. So, my apologies to my friends and relatives here in neglecting you for now.

There is a very different membership here at the YC  than what I was used to in the 2009-2014 Europe visit. The majority of the newer members are now the small powerboats called “sloepen” which have taken the place of day sailors and cabin cruisers.

Gone are the twice yearly weekend visits to Marken, where I participated in, with handicap rated cabin cruiser sailboat racing. The new younger sloep members are less involved in the social aspect and it is hard to assemble them into the expected work parties. This is not unique to this club and happening worldwide.

This club still has about 20 “Vrijheid” (Freedom) class 18 foot day sailors that compete every Thursday evening, in season.

Thursday Schinkel

On opening day, in May there was a sail-by (in Dutch “Admiraalzeilen”) to honor the commodores of the three  adjoining Yacht Clubs. “Amsterdam” , where I did the bottom repair in 2022, “de Koenen” and “de Schinkel” where I am now and where I am again a member. Afterward there was a party at the “de Schinkel” YC. In the line was an attractive lady that made eyes with me while in line to the club’s bar counter. She looked familiar but I could not place her. Turned out we met on August 23rd in 2012 in Lyon, see https://cometosea.us/?p=3296 also read the August 24 post. Small world. She keeps her boat at “de Koenen” next door. That turned out to be my lucky evening. I got into a conversation with another boater from “de Koenen”, Annemarie. The next Sunday she was sitting one pew ahead of me at my regular service at the St. Augustinus church. We have become buddies. Since this church will be closed the end of the year, there is now a transition period where the four churches in this part of the Amsterdam suburbs will have service every other Sunday on different schedules and we can in the meantime alternate on the on-schedule for the other two churches. This will add about 20 minutes to my bicycle ride. Anne Marie lives close to me and I ride the bike to her home and drive in her car to the alternate church.

One thing I observed is, that I did not recognize any familiar faces of the St. Augustinus parishioners at their new home. Not sure where they were. Watching on Zoom?

I believe that there is a common thread with the social community decline in the YC membership I observed above. What the empty churches need to be filled is a 9-11 when for a while we had standing room only or a good little WW III. Read: https://cne.news/article/2494-spiritual-revival-in-ukraine I have vivid memories of WW II where we as children sat on the stairs to the pulpit to make room for adults. That slowly changed and the Christian Reformed, we attended, and the Roman Catholic church are replaced by apartments in the seventies. Right after yesterday’s service the church and parking lot filled for an English service by a Filipino priest, most of the attendees were from the Phlippines, with some Nigerians very similar as I have experienced in Istanbul, Athens and Geneva. I plan to attend at the next English service. The Augustinus church also is home to a flock of Eritrean Orthodox Catholics. There is a good chance that these groups will be able to at least keep the lights on in this magnificent building.

Annemarie suffers from Aphasia and our communications are limited. Very frustrating for anyone and it also involves chronic head pain. She worked 40 years for KLM and has seen a great deal of the world. She is 6 years younger than me. Her social contacts have been drastically reduced. But I appreciate the limited time I have for a break in my project. She has a great sense of humor and her home is an oasis from the mess in my home. She has an impressive art collection, looks like a branch of the Amsterdam municipal museum of modern art.

I attended the 79th memorial of the liberation of Camp Dachau, where our mother was one of the survivors, on April 20th. Pictures and speeches can be seen at: https://www.dachau.nl/nieuws/dachauherdenking-2024 I wished that the speech of the Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema would have been shown as well, excellent, typical for a Frisian female. This year the annual event was combined with an identical group for the Neuengamme concentration camp where thousands of Dutch political prisoners perished, including the boss of my mother’s resistance group, Henk Dienske who was arrested exactly 80 years ago on April 20. The military army band played the customary national anthem. Last year my sister and I planned to sing it but I fumbled for the text and no one else sang along. This year I had re-learned it by heart and shamed my former compatriots as the only singer. By now you know that I am a very timid shy old man, but sofar my lungs do not need artificial articulation. If there happened to be any one else I would have drowned them out anyway. Since 2016 the US Consulate no longer participates in laying a wreath as the representatives of the US liberators of Dachau. In 2015 I was invited afterwards to the consulate, see https://cometosea.us/?p=5270. This was the second conmemoration without any Dachau survivors in attendance.

This time a couple more “small world” encounters for my next book. One of the speakers is the current mayor of Leeuwarden, the Frisian capital, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, his grandfather was the mayor of Wimbritseradeel where our mother’s birth is registered. And the father of Sybrand was succeeded by my cousin Siebold Hartkamp as the mayor of Sneek, another Frisian city. The second new acquaintance made on this day is Kees Sietsma whose oldest brother survived Dachau; an uncle and two older half brothers perished as political prisoners. Kees Sietsma as Police Commissioner in Amsterdam was instrumental in the rescue of the Heineken heir hostage drama in 1983 and solving the murder of the for ransom captured Gerrit-Jan Heijn, heir to the biggest super market chain in The Netherlands, in 1987. https://geschiedenis-winkel.nl/p/kees-sietsma-uit-de-schaduw/ He is on a retired busman’s holiday in an unsolved case of an attempted execution by the resistance of a Nazi tobacconist who apparently infiltrated a resistance group in my neighborhood. This group was organized by the family members of Kees Sietsma who never came home alive. The unsolved mystery is how the tobacconist Hendrik Lavell managed to live happily after. I have not gotten any further by the surviving contacts in my old neighborhood.

Playing “Abide with me.” The Hymn my mother and the 86 women sang in the cattle car, on their way from the Vught to the Ravensbruck camp on Sept 6, 80 years ago


The row of speakers. I stood behind them, wave at me in the videos.My sister Karolien turned 90 on May 22nd. It was a great party. My niece and nephew and their children helped to make it another great party. The display of the baptismal gown was first made for Karolien, and apparently a second one was made for me or my twin and last used in 1958 for Dirk Jan, her first child.

L.R. Lukas de Ruiter, me, Karolien, Dirk Jan de Ruiter, Phoebe Ohayon and her mom Mariken de Ruiter

baptismal gown 1934

Karolien with her Oma (grandma)

While I am writing this my late night squatter shows up. Started a week ago. I have not been able to introduce myself. He/she jumps aboard and then rustles through all the parts and pieces. It has claws and sounds heavier than a cat. Possibly a pregnant one who is looking for a birthing spot on my berthing spot. No racoons in Holland.

DO NOT use jack@cometosea.us in writing me. I am temporarily using vanommenjack@gmail.com When I brought my 5 domains to Go Daddy in 2017, they offered me a free one year Office 365 Outlook e-mail account. I already had Office and an Outlook a/c directly with Microsoft. I stopped using it. Every year since 2018 GoDaddy kept telling me to get a paid account. But I ignored it. But this year they were serious, about $100  year. So, I asked them to migrate their Outlook back for me to MS. I have spent about 40 hours on Skype, Chat and MS Community since June 5th and in the end Go Daddy just told me that it is gone. I believe that there might have been a misunderstanding of what Go Daddy was supposed to give me as a temporary password. And then I kept confusing my original account with the GoDaddy a/c. They both have the jack@cometosea.us address. So by trying too many times to access, MS would lock me out for 76 hours. Then I found out too late in the game from GoDaddy theirs was the School/Work version and mine was the Individual type and they have different passwords and different MS Support groups. When I change the password MS will only accept to send me a verification code number to my discontinued US phone number. I managed to add my Dutch number to the original MS Office account, but there is no way to do this with the one I lost and phone or chat is not available.

I am going into some length on this hoping that one of my Seattle friends knows Bill Gates.

I have the added handicap of the 9 hour time difference. I have a bunch of subscriptions on jack@cometosea.us and the error message are starting to pile up in my g-mail inbox, because I used to send with my g-mail address and then had an alias where they were answered to jack@cometosea.us

I uploaded the files, prior to the migration, of the lost version in a .JSON file. I might be able to use to create a new Gmail browser with jack@cometosea as my alias if all else fails.

Best way to communicate with me is Whatsapp at my Dutch phone number


April 6 2024 Back on “Fleetwood III”

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 6th, 2024

I landed on Schiphol early enough on March 28 to attend the Holy Thursday service at my familiar parish at the St. Augustine church and the stations of the cross on Friday. On Easter Sunday I took bus and train with my 50-lb backpack from my sister’s home in Badhoevedorp to Zaandam and attended the Easter Sunday service at St. Bonifatius church.

St. Bonifatius

The boat survived the unusually stormy winter in good shape. I am back, since Monday, at YC “de Schinkel” where I learned to sail as a pre-puber and spent a good part of my 2009-2014 Europe visit. It is good to be back on my floating home, cook my own meals, act crazy; a lifestyle I am stuck in voluntarily since 2005.


I slept in 19 different locations since I arrived on November 15 at Lisa’s home, on two boats, one train, one motel, one hotel, the rest “real” homes. Too many names to post here to express my gratitude for the hospitality, not to forget the many visits and meals at other homes.  Thank you all. I am very blessed.

The work to finish repairing the hidden defects on the boat starts in earnest today. So far I have been catching up on an unending battle to get my residential permit that was started in 2022. Last summer, my application got lost in the system, the permission to pick up the license was granted the day after my departure date on November 15. I was then granted an extension to the end of this month. But guess what? They have no trace of my permit, once again. The only way to communicate is by snail mail. I am going to advertise for a personal secretary with minimum 10 year gaming expertise to deal with the online DigiD maze.

In my previous blog, I had just come back to the Cape Charles, Va. area where I have spent time since I washed up on the Barrier Islands adjoining the Eastern Shore of the Peninsula that runs north and south between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. I made many good friendships here while I repaired “Fleetwood II” from the June 22 2017 shipwreck wounds.

On March 9th I gave another “SoloMan” presentation at the YC in Kinsale, close to the southern bank of the Potomac River. That Saturday night I was the guest on the yacht of Harry and Cathy Coorens in the Blue Water Marina in Hampton, Va. We met in Cape Charles in 2018. Harry is also raised in the Netherlands. Last summer they looked me up in Zaandam.

View from Coorens residence

The three of us attended mass on Sunday at the same church I wrote about on my blog of the 4th of July 2020, Our Lady Star of the Sea at Fort Monroe. That day I happened to be sitting in the same pew with Skip and Doreen Grimm. Skip is a walking history encyclopedia and he has been a great help in educating me, particularly the role the Dutch played on the Chesapeake and the James River in the New World. In 2020 he gave me a tour of the historic surroundings and the impressive Maritime Museum in Newport News. The five of us had coffee across the street at the old Fire Hall.

I stayed with my friend Susan Kovacs who lives in Machipongo on the banks of the Hungars Creek. Where the deer and the Bald Eagles play and one never gets tired of watching the watermen work oysters, clams and crab and see the recent full moon set.

Full Moon Hungars Creek

The Palm Sunday service and Saint Patrick day dinner at Saint Charles church were opportunities to shake hands again with parishioner friends I got to know here.

with our Episcopalian neighbors in Cape Charles. Blessing of the Palms

Susan drove me to the Amtrak station in Norfolk on the 26th for a ride to Quantico, the marine base just south of D.C. My new friends Jack and Scottie Foster drove me to their home in Warrenton, Va. Scottie is the Bauernmalerei art teacher of Cathy Crowley I reported on in my previous blog. Just like my experience with the Crowleys in Napa, we share the same interests and values as sailors and Christians.

Bauernmalerei. 4 Seasons. “I and my house, we will serve the Lord”


    Jack & Scottie


They drove me to Dulles the next day for my flight to Amsterdam via Dublin. Again, just like the flight to Seattle in November, excellent service on Aer Lingus. Highly recommended, total opposite of my experience with Easy Jet in 2022, with whom I will never fly again.



4-4-24 Eighty Years ago. A day I will never forget.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 6th, 2024

80 years ago on 4-4-44 

I was only seven years old. This is a date that has left a permanent imprint on my entire life. I still see the posse, with an armed German soldier, coming up the stairs, hiding behind our mother.

from my book The Mastmakers’ Daughters:

“Chapter 30. My husband arrested

A black car drove slowly into the Alblasstraat where we lived on the evening of the fourth of April 1944. The car stopped near our address. A civilian stepped out and asked our daughter Lientje, who was playing in the street: “Can you tell me where I can find the van Ommens?” Now, that was not that difficult for an almost ten-year-old.

The civilian happened to be Maarten Kuiper, a Dutch traitor, who was accompanied by Friederich Christian Viebahn, Staffelsturmscharführer. Later on, we discovered that we had earned the distinction to have been visited by a notorious posse of the German SD (Sicherheits Dienst). These same two men arrested the Anne Frank family four months later. The Frank family went through the same routine as my husband via the SD headquarters in the Euterpestraat and then sent to the prison on the Weteringschans. Maarten Kuiper was also the one to empty his pistol on the legendary Resistance heroine Hannie Schaft, two weeks short of the end of the war. His bloodthirstiness became the fatal fate for the many men picked at random in the “Silbertanne” executions at the end of the war. Kuiper was sentenced to death by the Dutch war court and executed right after the war.

The black booted gentlemen rang our door bell and announced themselves as: “Police” and then explained that they were looking for housing for people that were being evacuated from the coast line, where a defensive system was being built to keep any invasions from the North Sea at bay. Dick happened to be on the fourth-floor attic listening to his clandestine radio transmissions from the BBC. After tramping through our apartment for a half hour, they disappeared across the street to pay a visit to the street level apartment of Henk Dienske’s parents. But twenty minutes later Kuiper with a German soldier came back up our stairs. The soldier had his rifle drawn. They arrested Dick and took him across the street to the Dienskes. It was obvious that they were on a wild goose chase. Dick had never been involved in any of my resistance activities, and for every one’s safety, it was not discussed between us. I was hoping that it all would turn out to be an error. It was obvious that they were on a wild goose chase.  They did not seem to be clear in what or whom they were searching for.

But yet the thoughts of what the Germans could be up to frightened me and my praying started in earnest.

The old Dienske, Johan, Henk’s father was not home yet. Another man, a certain van der Most[1] out of the Deurlostraat, was being interrogated, in the Dienske home, by Emil Rühl, second in command at the SD Amsterdam headquarters. Dick was brought, with van der Most, to the SD headquarters. Dick was asked what he knew of a certain “de Ridder”. This was the alias of Henk Dienske. Dick did not have a clue. The only “de Ridder” he knew was our milkman who came daily through our neighborhood to deliver fresh milk. Johan Dienske was brought later that evening to join Dick and van der Most. When the old Dienske arrived home, Kuiper was waiting for him. His wife, Jo, had a plate of cereal ready for him and Kuiper let him eat it and mocked him: “Don’t you need to say grace first?” The threesome, Dick, van der Most and Johan, were brought over to Weteringschans prison, near the Rijksmuseum. Each was in a separate but adjoining cell with van der Most in the middle cell. Johan was transferred to a different part of the prison the next morning. Dick’s cell number was B 2.16. Johan’s wife, Jo, was also arrested and brought to the women’s section of Weteringschans prison. Dick shared his cell with an “onderduiker”[2] and Sponmoelee who had been imprisoned for more than two years. The first thing his new cellmates asked was: “Do you have any cigarettes or tobacco?” No, Dick had neither. Dick slept reasonably well on his straw mattress that first night in prison, considering his predicament. Their daily routine was to be woken at 7 a.m. and then to wash their faces from the water pitcher. Each had four thin slices of bread and tasteless coffee for breakfast. The best that could be said for the coffee was that it was warm. Lunch consisted of potatoes and cabbage that floated in warm water. Every other day they were served soup that did not taste bad, but was far too little. Dinner was identical to breakfast. On Saturday, the prisoners received 25 grams margarine, a small chunk of cheese, and a tiny measure of sugar, which was meant to last for a week.

When Dick paced himself, it could last him through Tuesday.”

Laissez Passer

As a background to this chapter: Henk Dienske was the leader of the L.O.L.K.P. in the province of North-Holland. This was one of various resistance groups in the Netherlands.

L.O. stands for Landelijke Organisatie voor hulp aan onderduikers. (see picture). Their function was to provide hiding places, false I.D., food ration coupons, etc., for targets of the enemy, Jews, young men forced into labor for the enemy’s war industry, conscientious  objectors.

We still do not know the exact role our mother played. The curiosity came after mother passed away in 1993. My theory is that she was asked by Henk to take over the role he had assigned to his parents, our neighbors across the street. They lived at street level and anyone could see the couriers come and go with their contraband for re-distribution. We lived on the third floor and access was on a stone stair to the 2nd floor to a portico with three different exterior doors. The couriers, mostly female university students, would ring the door bell in the portico and mother would push a button from the 3rd floor, she’d keep our interior apartment door ajar, the couriers would drop the documents behind the commode in the bathroom and disappear; mother never saw them. Then mother would meet with, mostly with Henk Dienske present, others in the group to sort the incoming contraband for further destinations. Since the 4-4-44 visitors did not know the gender of the van Ommen they came for and did not know the real name of de Ridder, I speculate that it may have been a courier who was compromised by the enemy.

Two weeks after father’s arrest, Henk Dienske was taken into custody. The S.D. managed to get the identity from someone we all knew. I discovered this in 2009 in my search for information in the national archives about the young Dutch Nazi who worked for the S.D., Sonja van Hesteren who managed to trick Dienske out of his hiding place. This is all detailed in my book. Henk Dienske succumbed on February 15, 1945 in the Beėndorf/Neuengamme concentration camp.

Mother turned herself in to replace our father on April 25. She figured that since the S.D. had their precious price that they would probably have little need to keep her. Apparently she was suspected to have more to share. She drove their interrogators to desperation, as described by her in the book. Her uncle, the father of her NAZI cousin, the other Mastmakers’ daughter, tried to plead her cause but was told that she would have to be locked up until war’s end. Mother ended up in two prisons, three S.S. concentration camps and was intercepted by the U.S. Army on the death march out of Dachau.

On May 1st the L.K.P. made a failed attempt to free Henk Dienske from the Weteringschans prison because word came from inside that Henk Dienske was under much pressure and had started to spill details. As you may have noticed above our father had a problem in his confrontation in prison with Dienske. My parents and the parents of Henk were all still in this prison and recalled the commotion of running guards, shooting, barking dogs.

Father was released on May 5th, , the parents of Henk on May 3rd.

[1] Philippus van der Most. Dick van Ommen wrote in his diary that v/d Most was very scared. His name has never come up again.

[2] Literally: diver=gone into hiding from the enemy   .


Back on the Atlantic. March 6th 2024

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 7th, 2024

Jack came back to the “Port of Gold”  on the Eastern Shores of Virginia. This is my last stop on the cross country trip I started when I wrote my previous blog on February 9. The first stop was Eugene, Oregon to visit with Evert Slijper my Dutch-American friendship since 1972. Next to visit my youngest son, Seth, and his wife Carly, in Roseburg.

I took an overnight train ride to the San Francisco Bay area to see Bill and Cathy Crowley in Napa, California. This was our first in person meeting. While I disentangled myself from the Covid restrictions in the West Indies in April 2020 by sailing onto the only open shores to U.S. citizens, the U.S. Virgin Islands, I had an engine problem. I appealed to the expertise of my Face Book sailor friends and Bill won a “SoloMan” paperback by accurately diagnosing my problem. In the subsequent contacts I expected that this could bloom into a friendship. And it sure did. I had a wonderful week with them. The Crowleys live in a deep canyon with tall Douglas Firs and Rewdood trees and a roaring creek running through. In this picture you see the burnt bark on the Fir trees from the 2017 “Nuns Fire”.

Crowley’s Nest

Bill is a sailor and antique race car fanatic and a lot more hobbies. Cathy taught Bauern Malerei a skill she learned from her friend Scottie Foster. Here are a couple of Cathy’s pieces:


I flew from Oakland to Las Vegas to spend time with my oldest son, John, and his wife Jennifer and her two daughters. My last stop on the West Coast was to see my youngest daughter, Jeannine and her daughter Gabrielle and my first wife, Joan, in Redlands, California. Southern California was my first home in the United States when I emigrated from Holland in 1957 until 1961 when I was drafted to serve as a foreign mercenary in Vietnam and discharged in 1963.

I finally made good on a promise to visit Texas to see where my oldest grandson, Mark II, lives with his family. His father and step family moved here in 2005 from California. They are doing well and sharing in the robust economy of that state. I was impressed how in the last decennia totally new cities have grown on the plains. Everything is “more better and bigger” in Texas, but a bit monotonous for my taste. My grand daughter in law, Tori,  spoiled me for my birthday dinner with fresh clams, rack of lamb and Tiramisu for dessert.

Vongole alle Tori

God is alive and well here in Texas. I have bitched on these blogs about the empty churches in Holland and the U.S. inner cities. The Christian Reformed church in Amsterdam I grew up in was demolished, so is the Roman Catholic church in the same neighborhood. The church I have attended in the last 15 years in Amsterdam is scheduled to merge because of a lack of members. This picture of the Saint Martin de Porres church in Prosper, Tx. shows a different picture.

St. Martin de Porres, Prosper, Tx

When I was in Roseburg, Oregon it was also a large full church and about 12 adults being initiated into the church.

St. Joseph R.C. church, Roseburg

Last Sunday I had the privilege to worship in a Baptist church in Blackwater, Va. where the grandfather of my two great granddaughters is the pastor. This church is celebrating it’s 250th anniversary this year, founded two years before America’s independence.

Blackwater Baptst church

4 generations L.R. Lily 2010, Madison 2009, me 1937, David Leon 1989 missing 2nd generation

This Saturday I will be giving a presentation in Kinsale, Va. on Potomac River, for the local YC like I did in October 2021 and last Spring. That evening I’ll be the guest of Harry and Cathy Coorens on their yacht in Hampton and we will be at the Sunday morning service with Russ and Doreen Grimm who I met in this historical church, St. Mary Star of the Seas, at Fort Monroe on the 4th of July in 2020. Just in case you have missed my point that churches are the best places to make lasting friendships: at the Feb 25 th service in Texas at St. Martin de Porres I met the “R-Quad Squad”.

R-Quad Squad

I asked the handsome dude on the left: “How old are you?” answer: “Six”. So I turned to the taller brother and said: “You must be the oldest” answer: “NO”. Next I turned to my last try, also “Six”. Turned out they are quadruplets. And all their names, including dad, Robert, start with an “R” . The sweet sister is Rosslyn.

I am set to return to my “project” home in Zaandam on March 28. But until now I have no definite prospects to return to the YC “de Schinkel” in Amsterdam. I might have to find an alternative as the “Flying American”.







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.


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