Sunday February 23rd Marigot, St. Martin.

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 23rd, 2020

It is still early. I am in a laundromat washing the salt from the submarine parts of the two-week voyage.

The Sunday mass starts at 11.

I plan to leave tomorrow morning for St. Barth, about a four-hour sail from here.  Just in time to be there for their Mardi Gras festivities. Carnival started here in earnest on Friday evening with a loud concert on the waterfront. There was a children parade yesterday and there is to be an adult parade here today.

The strong trade winds have calmed down and I have no longer the need for a tow to shore. Friday morning Jim and Jeannette Drake stopped by in the anchorage. They had seen my home port on the transom and came to introduce themselves as recent Bay area transplants to Gig Harbor. By coincidence we have a good friend in common, Richard Spindler, the founder of “Latitude-38”. They are looking after his Caribbean “Profligate” catamaran and sailed her on Friday from Marigot to St. Barth. Richard and Dona will arrive this evening on St. Barth.

I am looking forward to joining them again on Monday. The 29th of February Marlys and Greg Clark will fly in and board their catamaran in the Marina Fort St. Louis, her in Marigot. Marlys was my office manager when I ran my wood products export business in Gig Harbor, from the late eighties until 1997.

She and Greg lived in the harbor on a motor yacht and she used to commute on their outboard to my office which had a dock on the bay. A few years after 1997 the Clarks moved into a totally new life style, Greg as captain and Marlys as cruise attendant on private motor yachts. Marlys retired last year and Greg is now working part-time as skipper.

Two other mutual sailing friends from Gig Harbor, Tom Gordon and Terry James, are also flying in from Gig Harbor to Sint Maarten on the 29th and Kelly and his wife Shawna Bussey are arriving here on the 4th of March. The annual Heineken sailing regatta is held from the 5th through the 8th of March, the main reason for the timing of this visit.

My oldest daughter, Lisa, is trying to pick a location to come join me for a short vacation on the boat. I intend to return for another short visit to St. Barth(olemy) after the Heineken Regatta. And then I’d like to see a couple more of the less visited islands in the string of the windward islands, like Guadeloupe,  Domenica and whatever is recommended along the way. Then I plan on turning North West and end up in Havana, via the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, possibly Haiti. I need to have some maintenance done on my teeth in Havana. From there I intend to sail to Florida and coast/ICW hop back to the Chesapeake by late May.

The pictures below are taken yesterday from the old Fort Louis ruins. “Fleetwood” is the smallest boat in the anchorage just to the left front of the main entrance to the Marina Fort Louis, with the dark hull. The consecration picture is taken at the 11 am mass at Saint Martin of Tours in Marigot. Beautiful service in mostly French and parts in English and Spanish. In the church the priest thanked the young French crew of the 57 foot sailboat “Frog Tour”. They had spent time cleaning up the church grounds. They are on their way to Cuba, this week. I chatted with some of the 7 students crew. You can check their project at https://thefrogtour.wixsite.com/thefrogtour/accueil/categories/vid%C3%A9o  and you can find their videos at Frog Tour on You Tube.

Marigot

anchorage Marigot

Fort Louis

St. Martin of Tours church, Marigot

 

Alive and well in Marigot, St. Martin

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 19th, 2020

Wednesday, February 19 ashore in Marigot

JO towed my inflatable to shore this early morning. I checked for moorage in the Marina Fort Louis. They had a spot for a few days but I needed insurance. My Boat US coverage stops beyond US territorial waters. I’ll try make some inquiries to see if I can get something temporarily as I did for Mexico. But in the meantime, just think of all the money I’ll save at anchor. It has been a nervous experience because of the strong winds. JO tells me that they will calm down from tomorrow. I cleared myself in at the marine chandlery. I got an address for a possible repair shop for the auto pilot. I plan on taking the bus there, to the Dutch side, tomorrow. By the way you can reach me on my regular US phone number. I got a call from Susan Kovacs last night. I hope to get in touch with Lisa who may be able to come visit me here. My plan is to sail to a few of the nearby islands, starting with St. Barth(olemy) and be back to meet my Gig Harbor friends the Clarks, Gordons and the Jameses for the Heineken Regatta, March 5-8.

I have a few more pictures but very slow wi-fi, will add later.

At the end of this rainbow is the “port of Gold” as in the Thelma Peterson song “Jack come Back” see previous blogs

A real sincere thanks for all your prayers that got me here safely, I pushed my luck a little further than I intended. I love you all very much.

“Fleetwood” center                                                               

 

Damage from the 2017 “Irma” hurricane

 

Monday morning February 10, 2020

I am at 27.46.7800 N and 57.57.7700 W. The wind changed during the night by about 90 degrees and it looks like I might already have reached the S.E trade winds. I am a little better than halfway to St. Martin from where I started last Monday, at Beaufort N.C.

There have been a few short periods of decent sailing, but, for the most of it, I would not recommend it for a fun retirement voyage. For reasons which I have already explained in earlier blogs, I got a late season start. I do not have any way to check the weather from the boat without internet, other than a short-wave receiver; I used to have a regular SSB radio on the first “Fleetwood” which gave me access to continuously updated Grib files.

All I needed was a decent one week forecast to get to where I am as I write this. I used Predict Wind, which has been quite accurate. It showed a low coming through from the S.E. with 30 plus winds on Thursday and Friday and I would miss the worst of it if I could get beyond it at around 32 N and 70 W. That should have been possible. But I got a late start from Beaufort, my anchor was stuck on an abandoned anchor chain. It took me about two hours and bruises to get it free. Once in the Atlantic, the waves and swells made for slow going and then during the night the winds and waves piped up to near gale force. That was not in any predictions, but might have been a local Cape Hatteras surprise. That slowed me down. Sailing was reasonable on Tuesday and Wednesday. But on Thursday I got into survival mode with a storm from the S.E. that I had hoped to miss. The only good part was that the wind direction was from Starboard and not closer to the direction I needed to be. But the wave height had to be near 15 feet. The worst was the constant falling in the holes, slamming hard. My wood plywood hull becomes a sound box. At one moment, on Monday night, it slammed so hard that I swore I hit a hard object, like a floating container. I rushed forward and then on deck to check if the bow pulpit had been crushed. No, just one of the hardest hits on water I ever recall, other than the knockdown in 2006 in the Strait of Madagascar. Wave crests ran over the cabin top. These water collisions stop the forward motion and the windvane takes a while to put the boat back on course.  Monday night was zero sleep. On Friday I tried to get a hold of the Coast Guard by VHF but I was too far off. I wanted to get weather forecast to possible diversion ports because I suspected that I had a slow leak; water was slushing over the floor boards when on a steep heel. Then I tried to use my satellite tracker to send a message on Face Book, to try a relay to the Coast Guard. But I must be doing something wrong, since there have not been any replies.

Friday night I sailed out of the east edge of the storm and determined that there was no leak. It had to have been water that spills from my stuffing box when I motor. I had motored 200 miles from Norfolk to Beaufort and totally forgot to dry the bilges before I left Beaufort.  Then on Saturday I fell into a hole for the better part of the day and night. No wind. To add to the agony, I could not motor out of it. My 12- volt tiller steering had pulled the cord from the cockpit socket. One of the waves into the cockpit must have had it out with the mechanical helmsman. I tried hand steering but that did not work either. The water was still so restless from the storm of the past days that the cockpit bulkhead compass spun like a drunken sailor and there was no other point on the horizon for me to steer by. What I had looked forward to, for the storm to calm, now became another challenge. The sails and boom were slamming around and when I finally got the boat moving the puff would die down again. Late in the evening the wind came back and slowly grew to many sail reductions, down to the third reef and in the end only a storm jib. This morning after a two-hour nap, I discovered that the wind had made a big change from East to North. Now I am sailing in what I believe to be the S.E. trade wind. Much closer to the wind direction than since my departure on Monday. Still with three reefs in the mainsail and now with the 100% jib. Both sails were the original sails when this NAJA version was launched in 1986. I have a nice newer mainsail aboard but it has only two reef options and needs some maintenance.

Last night I managed to get some entertainment from my small short-wave receiver, but the noise from the vibrating mast and rattling of the loose wiring PVC tube in it made the lyrics inaudible. This morning, I had a good reception of Radio Martin, the Cuba Libra station from Miami. Salsa sounds good from both sides of the Cuban wall. The station choices will get better by the day, Puerto Rico, soul music from the Virgin Islands. I’ll never forget, on my sail from Trinidad to the Chesapeake in 2007, I heard my first “Prairie Home Companion” on a Saturday, after having been out of reach of my addiction for the “Irreverent Reverend”, Garrison Keeler, since I set off in 2005.

 

Feb 12 Wednesday morning

25.21 N 67.05 W

Making decent progress averaging a little over 4 knots. As hard to the South East trade wind as possible, not the fastest way to sail. But it looks like if this holds, I will be able to stay on this tack until I reach St. Martin. With another 500 miles to go I should arrive late Wednesday the 19th. Had my coffee and egg and done last night’s dishes. I am listening to SW channel 5970. A mass in English by Radio Cattolica Mondial, a solo is just now being song, my favorite, “Pie Jesu”. Just lost it. Yesterday was one of the most perfect ocean sails I have had. With a 15-knot breeze close to the wind with full main and my second hand 120 % genoa, cruising at 5 knots. Just a smooth ride over the swells. By evening I had to put in two reefs and exchange the genoa for my 90% jib. I had hoped to be able to shake out those reefs by now, but the wind is more in the twenties still and a bit of the usual wave slamming. But it is a glorious day. Yesterday afternoon, a rainsquall caused a short fire drill, the wind changed quickly and threw the boat on the opposite tack. But it was short lived and your skilled fireman was back on the road within five minutes. And the short shower got most of the salt out my hair.

Yesterday was also the day to change my winter blues into my summer whites. No socks, just shorts and t-shirt. For all those first days fire drills I had to be dressed/sleep in my foul weather bib pants, boots, long underwear, hoody, PDF and safety harness.

Today’s project is to try and wire the 12-volt auto pilot. I have already cleaned the inside as best I could from the salt water intrusion. Wish me luck.

Contemplating my 15 year “SoloMan” voyage:

Since my 2009 North Atlantic crossing, I had not been more than a 100 mile off shore, in the Med in 2012 and the last part of my circumnavigation in 2016-2017 and the longest overnight parts were 4 days. After I lost the original “Fleetwood” in November 2013 off Ibiza, I told everyone that my ocean crossings were done with. This February the 28th I will be 83. But from these 10 days sailing and the 4 days on the ICW, I’ll have to find a better excuse to quit this, than to claim advanced age.

The weakened muscles are being re-tweaked. I am stiffer than when I left for the circumnavigation at age 68. I have to assist my feet, bending my knees, with an arm to get up through the small companion way entrance. I reduce sail quicker and add sail slower. Whereas at a younger age I went by the seat of my bib pants, now I need pre-plan my moves.

The big advantage I have to extend my foolishness is the fact that everything is lighter, smaller, simpler on my 30-foot light weight plywood boat than the standard set up. I can still get my anchor up without a mechanical device, do without roller furling.

The reefing system on this boat was originally set up with three separate lines that could all be done from the cockpit. All those extra sheaves in the boom started to cause too much friction. I now use just one line and have to go forward to attach the luff reef grommet, then raise the sail again, put the reef line through the leech grommet and tighten the line.

Monday evening February 17. Arrival at Saint Martin.

I dropped the anchor at 3 pm local time (we are one hour ahead of Atlantic time zone).  It just seems all so long ago that I had to plan every move on deck, struggle dragging my safety line, in the cabin always bracing to avoid being thrown on the constant moves. I had one painful replay of the smack I took at Cabo Malo near the Panama Canal in February 2017, that caused the crushed vertebrae. Again, thrown back from the stove against the chart table. But not as severe. I find blood and discover a leg or arm scratch that I don’t remember what caused it in the heat of the fire drill, mostly in the frequent reefing exercises. This morning, at dusk, still too dark to see it coming, a squall came through. The mast starts shaking, the boat heels, the windvane gets overpowered. Quickly boat-shoes fastened, harness on, drop the main. It quickly blows by. Main back up.

The trade wind piped up later and I finished the day under just the 100% jib. I was reluctantly to shorten sail. According to my calculations I could reach the anchorage at Marigot, Saint Martin just before dark.

But before I dropped the main, I saw spurts of over 7 knots per hour and with just the jib I was still averaging over 4 ½ knots and seeing sixes. As you already saw, I dropped the anchor at 3 pm. In the meantime it is Tuesday morning. Two weeks to carnival. Had a good sleep. There are at least 150 boats spread out throughout this anchorage, next to the wagon-wheel Marina Fort Louis. A few super power yachts further in the open channel. I am very close to the entrance to the marina, but I fear that it is too difficult a row in the strong winds to row to shore. I am close enough to shore to have flat water. But when the willy-waws come in strong blowing down the canyons, you see the entire fleet bow their bows in the same direction “to the mountains from where my help cometh”. I tried to contact the marina on VHF but they do not monitor Ch 16 and when someone else suggested channel 73, another deaf ear. It looks a bit run down from where I am. I will try to row to shore after the afternoon trade winds die down, or try hail a passing motorized dinghy.

I need to get into a marina here or in Phillipsburg on the Dutch side. With the upcoming Heineken regatta, that might be a problem. I need to get my 12-volt tiller pilot repaired or replaced. I managed to reconnect the broken exterior plug and have power to the unit but it is not working. I was hoping that I could make it work with the remote-control line. Does not work. Probably ruined the wiring in the unit or the motor that runs it. The motor is probably the easiest to replace. The wiring appears very well sealed from any water intrusion. Yesterday I was able to steer the boat with the Monitor windvane , under power, when I had to go head to the wind to the anchorage and had to drop the sails.

One of my wind vane control lines needs replacement. The last, main part, of my windex wind-indicator, blew off the top of the mast in that storm of the first Thursday-Friday of the trip.

I have a ton of laundry, the winter clothes that were soaked, etc. Yesterday I gave up on putting dry shorts back on after getting hosed on deck, without an audience, I was dressed in just a life preserver, harness and soaked boat-shoes.

 

I have been reading Carl Robinson’s “The Bite of the Lotus”. A very interesting and very different perspective of the Vietnam war, than the many other books on the subject. Carl went to grade school in Redlands, California and moved with his Methodist missionary parents to the (then) Belgian Congo. On a side trip from his studies in Hong Kong, he ended up working for a few years in the South Vietnam delta for a US Government assistance program. He went back to finish his arts degree and earned a “cum laude” degree, in June 1966, at the University of Redlands with a thesis on the 1954 Geneva peace accords. He went back to work in the Delta at Co Cong for the USOM assistance program. He was fluent in French from his Congo days and also more adjusted to the post-colonial life style similarities that baffled most other Americans. Eventually he quit the US aid position, in disgust over the political ineptness. He joined Associated Press in Saigon working for Horst Faas the legendary war photographer.

He married a young student from Co Gong, who became his assistant for a few years and quit at the same time.

This book also contains one of the most authentic facts on the disappearance of Sean Flynn (Errol Flynn’s son) and his close friend Tim Page in Laos with whom Carl had a close professional and personal relationship. Robinson came to Vietnam shortly after I left in 1963. For me there are so many recognizable, places, events, people. The affection for the people and country of Vietnam, I share with Robinson. I knew a number of the press people he mentions in his book.

He also describes in detail his struggles with the then reigning drug culture, from marijuana to the opium dens of Saigon and Laos. The book was published late last year and is available in the usual formats and book sellers. I recommend it, especially for its historical details and why this ended up in one of our most embarrassing defeats.

It is now Tuesday evening and accomplished a few chores today. I thoroughly dried the starboard and port bilges. There is no leak. I was removing about 3 gallons every day since I suspected a leak on Friday the 7th. I replaced a frayed control line to the wind vane. Fitted the new ensign and staff that replace the one I lost on mooring in West Norfolk the first day out from Cape Charles, January 15th. The wind never let up today to dare row to the shore. I hailed my neighbor, who was returning from his work in his inflatable outboard. Jean Olivier, short JO, he will come by tomorrow morning, on his way to work, to get JvO and tow me in my inflatable to the marina. Then I can row back, down wind after I have talked to the marina for moorage and cleared in with the Marechaussee, and find internet to catch up with the 16 days in the wilderness and post this blog. There is still visible damage left from the 2017 Hurricane. Apparently, according to JO, the bridges are not repaired yet. Now, to get to Philipsburg in Sint Martin,

I‘ll have to sail twice the distance around the south end of the island. I shaved my beard this morning and, towards dusk, I got a long enough rain shower to wash the salt out of my hair and take a cockpit bath, I feel clean again.

Here is the You Tube video of what the storm looked like. Be sure to take your favorite anti-motion medication before watching this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDlgpnsjaws

 

Beaufort N.C. heading south

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 2nd, 2020

I will take one more look at the 7 day forecast in the morning. Right now it looks good for departing on Monday the 3rd of February. There are some 30 plus knot winds coming up from the south on Thursday Friday but it gives me enough time to get to the east and south of this system.

I left Cape Charles on Wednesday the 15th of January and had planned to spend a few nights with my youngest daughter, Jeannine, but near freezing cold and strong winds that blew the water out of the I.C.W. (Intra-Coastal Waterway) kept me tied up until the 26th.

I left from West Norfolk on the Elizabeth River on Sunday morning, did my dominical habit Saturday evening with Jeannine on the Saturday evening prior, and had a great sunny day on the ICW. I passed through the Gilberton Bridge right behind the ketch “China Rose” and had a nice chat with Peter and Linda in the Great Bridge lock. They are heading for Oriental, near Beaufort. They are both from Southern Norway and live near New York, Peter is a retired fireman and she was a nurse.    I anchored near day marker 57 on the west side of the channel close to milepost 40. Griffith Brinkley, the younger son of my Cape Charles friend Bruce Brinkley, who lives on Munden Point and he met me and guided me in and took me in his skiff to his dock. Griff and his Portuguese-American wife Soraia were my outstanding hosts for the night.

Sunset from the Brinkley home

 

Griff with the Vatican ensign and George the Portuguese waterdog.

 

 

 

On Monday I made it at dusk to an anchoring spot just north of the Alligator River bridge. I had not counted on the wind to go north and it was a very rough night and it was very difficult and time consuming to get the anchor up against the strong wind and chop. Little by little with help from the engine it came up. It was again after dark that I made it to a very calm anchorage on Tuesday evening just south of the long canal, east of Belhaven.

The Alligator River- Pungo River Canal

 

 

The nights were cold. Once the anchor was down, I opened the companionway stairs to let the heat off the engine and radiator warm up the closed cabin and crawled in my sleeping bag soon after dinner.

This is the 4th time I have transited this part of the ICW between Norfolk and Beaufort. In January and November 2008 and May 2017. I filled up my diesel tank and spare canister on Thursday here in Beaufort. I am writing this from the living room of Joni Dennis, one row back from the waterfront of this historic Maritime town. She has deep maritime roots here. I was introduced to Joni by Linda Chancler who is a sailor FB friend. Both Linda and Joni crewed and worked on large sailboats.  They started their adventures in their early twenties, in the eighties, in the Caribbean and Joni has been all over the globe. She moved her cooking skills and international recipes and ingredients on shore to Fort Lauderdale and now to her roots in Beaufort. She has combined her culinary skills, cultures and adventures in her books. The first one, which has been very well received: “Mermaids Yachts & Rum”. I started reading it and I could not put it down. This is a totally different part of the yachting world than what I ever get to see. Wild and wonderful and a constant changing scene in many parts of the world. She is just going on a book tour of the second book of the “Sea of Destiny Series”. You must get a hold of her books. Go to her web site: http://www.ChefJoni.com

Joni’s friend Meekah, who rents the upstairs, drove me to mass at the St. Egberts church in Moorhead City this morning. I have been here before but never read up on this, for me, obscure saint. Turns out the was an English priest who ended up in Ireland and sent Saint Willibrord, in the early part of the 8th century,  to convert the pagan Frisians.  He became the first bishop of Utrecht. Another one of his contemporaries, Saint Bonifacius was martyred in Friesland in 754. My mother is a Frisian. This N.E. Province of Holland became for the most part protestant in the Reformation. There are a few enclave villages in Friesland where the reformation never happened. One of them is the town of Sint Nicolaasga. Just 15 miles north of de Lemmer where my mother’s roots are. The maternal roots of Father Gary Weisenberger, our parish Priest for many years in Gig Harbor, are in Sint Nicolaasga.

Father Davis at St. Egberts church

 

 

 

Besides Peter, Linda, Joni and Meeka I want to introduce you to two other new friends I made yesterday. They are Dan Brown (a.k.a. Nguyen Viet Tri) and Le Ly Hayslip. The last name might be familiar to you if you read her book or saw the Oliver Stone movie: “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” I read her book when I was in Vietnam on “Fleetwood” in 2006. A few years later I read this moving story from Dan Brown. There are so many similarities in their stories, geography, struggles and search for their relatives and uprooted roots. I finally succeeded in getting the two together, yesterday. This came about through a Google group I belong to of mostly Vietnam era war correspondents. They are having a reunion in Hue in April and it turned out that one of the members made contact with Le Ly who is going to be in Vietnam in her mission for her Global Village.  

You know how to follow me, see the upper right box on this post.

By now you’ll know the winners of the super bowl. Her is my bit of name dropping and bragging about the friends that keep me. I was talking to my dear Cape Charles friend Thelma Peterson suggestion the super bowl. She told me that she, and probably a few more women, had a crush on Joe Namath. A couple she knows invited her to attend a game and with the suggestion to come down to the field to take a look from there at the season ticket loge they had in the Kansas stadium, she was confronted by Joe with a smirk on his face “Hi sweetheart, I understand you wanted to meet me…” You can see more of Thelma in the previous blog, as the songwriter of “Jack come back”.

Thelma with “Broadway Joe”

 

 

You know how to follow me, see the upper right box on this post. It is good to be moving again and I hope that you will keep an eye on this blog for more adventures.

 

 

 

Sailing South

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 14th, 2020

I’ll be casting off tomorrow morning from my berth in Cape Charles, Va. My aim is for St. Martin. I had hoped to catch a weather window to leave directly from here into the Atlantic, but instead will be looking for an opportunity out of Beaufort, N.C., by way of the Intra-Coastal Waterway  (I.C.W.). My first stop will be on the Elizabeth River in West Norfolk to spend a couple days with my youngest daughter in Chesapeake.

You will be able to follow me on my Garmin In-Reach satellite tracker at: https://share.garmin.com/JackvanOmmen This link is permanently visible in the right upper corner of my home page, together with my AIS position. I will from time to time leave short messages on Facebook, from my Garmin tracker, when I am underway out of Internet communications. I hope to be in St. Martin at the time of the Heineken Regatta from March 5-8. But this all depends on the weather and my progress. In January 2009 I ended up going down the ICW and ending up too far south and west to fetch farther than the British Virgin Islands.

I plan on getting back on the same routine as I did since I started this blog with my Transatlantic crossing in June 2009. I am embarrassed to see that my previous blog dates October 15, reporting on my September/October trip to Europe. Since then I had one long weekend cruise across the Chesapeake for the local OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) encounter on October 24. Since then “Fleetwood” has not been from her stall. The rehearsals and performances in November for the play/musical of “The Gift of the Magi”, which turned out to be an unforgettable experience and introduction/preparation for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Several of the cast members were already good friends and others became new friends. This was my first experience of having to memorize the lyrics and be in costume. I am the one on the far right in this picture,  with my belated wishes.  The baby  is real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day after the last performance, on November 25, I flew to the North West for Thanksgiving. My oldest daughter, Lisa, had 16 guests at the Thanksgiving meal. This was the first Thanksgiving since our 2nd oldest child, Rose Marie, passed away, on June 2nd. Traditionally the two sisters alternated in hosting the holiday.  I re-acquainted with my friends in the Northwest and in British Columbia.

One visit was with Bernard and Betty Wessels in Canada. I had not seen Bernard for 75 years, since 2nd grade. He and his Jewish parents survived by being selected by Hans Calmeyer a German lawyer who managed to falsify theirs and thousands of other Dutch Jews’ ethnic roots. By coincidence, Calmeyer worked with another Dutch good crooked lawyer, Jaap van Proosdij, whose father handled the defense for the arrested members of our mother’s resistance group. But to no avail. Shortly after our parents were arrested, the Nazis did away with any sort of legal process. In the diary my father kept while our mother was in prison he writes about a chance meeting on November 25 1944. Our father was on his way home from foraging in the countryside for me and my twin brother. Our mother was in Dachau concentration camp. The winter 44-45 goes down in Dutch history as the “Hunger Winter”. Food ran out in the cities and long foot and bicycle searches were made into the countryside. Father wrote in his diary for November 25th:”I returned with 5 bottles of milk, 1 rye and 1 white bread, 2 pounds of beef, vegetables. It was a difficult bike ride. The Amstel river was flooding over its banks. I had an unusual encounter. Just outside of Uithoorn I overtook a man who asked if he could ride up with me. He was also on his way to Amsterdam. He had left that morning at 7 am and arrived in Gouda at noon. He lived in the Kribbestraat and he told me that he was Christian Reformed. I said: “So am I”. He attended our Waal church. His name was Wessels, I suspected this because he looked Jewish. When I told him that I was the father of Jan and Jaap, he told me that Bernard spoke often about our boys. His company made the trip a lot shorter. ” Bernard was in my (Jaap) 1st and 2nd grade in 1944-’45 and then we lost track of him. I had always wondered how they avoided deportation to the gas chambers. Through An Huitzing, of a group FB page for our old Amsterdam neighborhood, I found Bernard back. He is two weeks older than I am. He had quite a story to tell me. He had bounced around to many family and strangers’ homes before we met in 1944 and again after the war. He emigrated to the United States a few months before I did, he ended up in northern Michigan. In the winter of 1956-’57. His first job was to borrow a snow shovel and going door to door in the better neighborhoods. After these fifty years, I would have picked him without any problem out of a line-up. But he does not even remember the name of the grade school we were in, let alone remember me or my twin brother. But he described the neighborhood accurately.

I spent Christmas at the home of my third daughter, Jeannine and have been back in Cape Charles for two weeks. Last Sunday my friends organized a bon voyage send-off at Susan Kovac’s home. Thelma Peterson, song writer, painter, Eastern Shore historian, etc., had composed a song for my farewell on June 14 on the occasion of my transatlantic crossing. That was planned before the tragic untimely death of Rose Marie, on June 2nd. It is a great song you can find it on You Tube at “Jack come Back”. In the picture, I am wearing the t-shirt that was autographed for the June 14 departure.                                                                             

 

 

 

 

The Frenchman has it right: “Partir c’set mourir un peu” . In my wildest imaginations I could not have suspected that in this unpretentious flat dead end of the Eastern Shore where I ended up by accident, shipwreck, I would have met so many new friends. The Acropolis of combined talents in every conceivable art form, diversity. And, most all of these new friends happen to share the same importance I attach to my faith.

For the readers of my book “SoloMan” and the ones who have yet to treat themselves or a friend to it: I have a slideshow in sequence of the book’s story on You Tube This is in particular attractive to watch while you are reading the Black and White print versions. And I have most of the slide shows of the different parts of the 60 country circumnavigation on You Tube, instead of down loading them from my web site. I started making videos in 2016 on the last leg from the West Coast to Florida that you all find in their proper categories There are a number of videos to watch made here in Cape Charles, in case I got you all excited to start packing. Voor de lezers in Holland raad ik aan, vooral voor de E-boeken de Mastmakersdochters en SoloMan die bij Pumbo te bestellen i.p.v. Amazon.

My plans: I hope to be back here in Virginia by Easter, April 12. And I hope to be able to be in Holland/Germany for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of our mother and her companions on April 30, on their Death March out of the Dachau satellite camp. And the May 5th end of the 2nd world war.

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 15. Back in Cape Charles, Va.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 15th, 2019

In my previous blog I left off one of the main reasons for the Europe trip, the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of the inmates from the Nazi S.S. concentration camp Vught on September 6th 1944. The commemoration was held the first Sunday after I arrived on September the 8th. I attended the 65th anniversary in 2009, together with my twin brother. This time I represented my twin brother and my sister. There are still a few of the survivors alive but no longer physically able to attend. It was a beautiful sunny day. There was the usual silent procession, through the pine forest, from the camp to the nearby execution wall. This is where 142 male political prisoners were executed in the last three days before the September 6th transport to Germany. (Those of you who might have read the book or seen the movie “The Hiding Place” about the Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom, might have read one of several inaccuracies in the story, she reported this as 700 men executed on the last day prior to September 6th. The grand total for the existence of the camp, from 1943 until the closure, was 329 executions.) In my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is the eye/ear witness story of Tiny Boosman who was with these men in the bunker in their last hour before their execution. She, with a few other women prisoners communicated through the ventilation ducts with several of their nearby cell mates. They sang the “Dona Nobis Pacem” refrain from Mozart’s Requiem for the men.

The memorial service was well attended by my second generation and on down. There were a number of speakers. The one speaker I particularly valued was the leader/speaker of the Dutch house of representatives,  Khadija Habib. She is a first generation Moroccan-Dutch woman who came as a child with her parents to live in Holland. She revealed new facts and unique significance of this day in the second world war history, I had not been aware of, and the lessons to apply to the tumultuous times we are in right now.

The execution wall. credit: Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught

On the way out the Royal Marechaussee brass band played: “Abide with me”. I think it was a coincidence, even though it is not uncommon to be played at memorial services, it just so happens that this is one of the most emotional memories our mother shared with us of the 1944 evacuation: (excerpt from “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”)

“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 barrel. 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.

More and more women in our car and along the track joined in. The chorus could be heard afar. In the earlier part of this book, I wrote about my hymn singing mother. Amongst us, we had complimented and enlarged our repertoire of the Psalms and Hymns we had grown up with. We had no Aufseherinnen in the car with us, so, we could sing as much as we liked.”

The train stopped in Sachsenhausen, the destination for the nearly 3,000 male prisoners and the book continues: “The doors in the first cars were opened and we heard the clatter of wooden shoes on the stone platform and the shouting of commands by the guards. This was the destination for the men; their cars were uncoupled from the long train. A chorus swelled from the remaining eight box cars. Over six hundred women sang a farewell to the men. The men nodded to one another:  “Listen, the women are singing!”

When the women reached their destination at the infamous women concentration camp Ravensbrück, they walked singing from the train station through the camp gates. But the female camp guards quickly silenced them with their billy clubs. But throughout my mother’s story you’ll learn the strength and joy she and her (in)mates drew from the songs, mostly religious, they shared. She and our father passed this on to us and I just keep on singing.

By another coincidence “Abide with me” was chosen for the concert given on May 4th. 2016, the annual 2nd WW memorial day in Holland. You can read more about this concert, I sang in, and listen to the recording at: https://cometosea.us/?p=5741

What were the survival chances of these 650 women? From its inception in 1939 until the end of the war, 140,000 women went through the Ravensbrück gate. Only a third came out alive. The vast majority of these women died from disease, physical abuse and malnutrition, not in the gas chambers. Even of those survivors, a portion died prematurely and many remained scarred physically and mentally for the rest of their lives. The majority of the women were political prisoners. Of the approximately 900 Dutch women who were imprisoned in Ravensbrϋck, estimates vary, between 162 and 200 Dutch women died in the camp or on the Death March out of the camp at the end of April 1945.  But for 192, including our mother, out of these 900 Dutch women, the survival chances improved when they were sent to a Dachau satellite forced labor camp. The so called Agfa Commando (see full details at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agfa-Commando where only 2 Dutch women perished.

Before the event at Camp Vught, I attended the high mass at the nearby St. John cathedral in den Bosch. My first visit to this medieval gothic church.

St. John, den Bosch 9/8/’19

 

I have a short video with the choir and service at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYGPdNAYakQ

I flew back to New York from Schiphol on September 8th.  My niece Mariken cooked mussels for us a week before my departure.

L.R. My sister Karolien van Ommen, niece Mariken de Ruiter (hostess) nephew Dirk Jan de Ruiter, grand niece Phoebe Ohayon, grand nephews Daan de Ruiter, and front Lukas de Ruiter, Phoebe’s boyfriend Maikel.

On the Saturday October 5th I attended the centennial celebration of the “De Schinkel” yacht club in Amsterdam, where I had been a guest between August 2009 and September 2013, and joined the club in the last year I was there. My uncle Fred van Ommen, taught me my first sailing lessons at this club in the late forties. Frankly this was a bit of a disappointment compared to the 90th anniversary when I was there on “Fleetwood”. At that time there was wide participation in the program by the members and I got to lead sing one Dutch sea shanty with the Amsterdam Harbor Choir. This time it was in the confinements of the club house and a huge band made conversations very difficult. But I still managed to reacquaint with a good number of my friends from the 2009-2014 period.

So far, no one here in Cape Charles has remarked that they wished that I would have stayed away longer than the six weeks. I just heard that the Messiah choir and sing along for December 10 has been cancelled here. I will sing in: “The Gift of the Magi” musical adaption. Being performed on November 22, 23 and 24 in the old Palace Theater on main street in Cape Charles, Va. I shall fly on the 25th to Sea-Tac for Thanksgiving with my west coast family at Lisa’s home. I will use a standby buddy pass and will have to wait until the air has cleared after the mass exit from the holiday, for space availability. I figure on setting sail for the Caribbean by mid December.

Next week, Thursday the 24th, I plan sail to the Matthews Yacht Club for the annual fall dinner of the local chapter of the Ocean Cruising Club. There will most likely be a number of members from the N.E. Atlantic who are gathering here for the official end of the hurricane season to sail to the Caribbean in the Salty Dawg rally or individually.

 

 

Sunday September 29 Europe Visit.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 30th, 2019

This blog is done in reverse chronological order, working back to the 4 September take off from New York.

Sunday evening in the train returning from Brussels to Kerkdriel, where I have been staying with my cousin Gido van Ommen and his wife Riet since Monday 23rd. I trained to Brussels for the day to spread a small amount of Rose Marie’s ashes at the church where she was baptized 51 years ago. On the way down, I missed the one transfer in Breda because there was a delay in den Bosch. I missed the 11 o’clock mass at St. Pie X where I had planned to meet Yvette, Rose Marie’s god-mother, and her sister Colette. I met them after the service and to my surprise Rose Marie’s godfather, Claude Claeys, joined us as well. He had made the trip from his home in Cordoba, Argentina. As you can see from the picture the Roses in front of St. Pie X were still blooming and waiting to watch over the memories of their namesake. We stopped by at our mutual residences, near the church, where we lived at the time of Rose Marie’s birth in 1968.

L.R. Colette, Yvette and Claude

Reunited with Rose’s baptismal ground where she received the seal of everlasting life.

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, moi and Colette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are more pictures of the baptism and yesterday’s reunion at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsL0JlhDwXCLli20nBnVyUAmAGlN?e=mwvWau

On Friday my (distant) cousin Karel van den Berg (no relation, as far as we know, to Jennifer van den Berg, my daughter in law) came to pick me up in Kerdriel. You might remember reading my blogs of my chicken/cat/farm sitting in Eck & Wiel, where Karel and Ankie live, in 2013 and earlier. Karel drove me to Barneveld to visit Maria and Stephen Boonzaaijer.

Ankie v/d Berg with their decoy Holstein.

 

Black sheep of the family

 

 

 

They are the sailing couple I met in Papeete in 2005. Maria is a prolific author and one of the editors who helped me with my Dutch versions of my books. Stephen is a Dutch Reformed pastor and leader of the ‘commune’ “De Bondgenoot”. Friday evening is their weekly communal evening meal with a program. I was privileged to share with the members my experiences since I last attended a similar meeting, in 2014, right after my first shipwreck. Kerkdriel, where I have been since the 23rd, is a small town, near the southern banks of the Waal river, near where the Meuse river joins the Waal from its origin in Northern France. The Waal, Rhine and Meuse were the borders where the Allied Forces were held back in the fall of 1944 in their liberation of the Nazi occupied North Western European countries. There was some heavy fighting here in these southern Dutch provinces. There are commemorations all over the area to celebrate the 75 years since the liberation. Gido took me on a bicycle tour of the wide vistas across the rivers and levies to the medieval city of Zaltbommel, with its distinctive church steeple. There is a well-known poem, written in 1934 about the bridge here across the Waal river, by the poet Martinus Nijhof. Titled “Moeder de Vrouw” (Mother the Woman) It ends with:

Het was een vrouw. Het schip dat zij bevoer, kwam langzaam stroomaf door de brug gevaren.

Zij was alleen aan dek, zij stond bij ’t roer, en wat zij zong hoorde ik dat psalmen waren.

O, dacht ik, o, dat daar mijn moeder voer. Prijs God, zong zij, Zijn hand zal u bewaren.

This always brings back emotions, reminding me of our mother. The poet is resting in the deep grass on the river bank of the Waal River near the bridge and a sailing barge is slowly approaching from under the bridge. A rough translation of the above:

“It was a woman. The ship she steered came slowly downstream through the bridge. She was the only one on deck, she held the helm, and then I recognized that what she sang were hymns. I thought this could be my mother. Praise God, she sang, His hand shall always save you.”

Zalt Bommel, taken from “Glissando” April 20, 2011

Please, check my blog of April 20, 2011 at https://cometosea.us/?p=1883   where I passed Zaltbommel, from the barge “Glissando” which towed “Fleetwood” upstream on the Rhine in August 2010 on my way to the Black Sea.

Interior of the St. Maarten church in Zaltbommel.

 

Last weekend, from the 20th., I travelled to Reinbek, near Hamburg, to see my twin brother and his family. On Sunday there were nine of us at the lunch Jan treated us to. It was a glorious late summer warm sunny weekend. His two sons, Jacob, my namesake, came with his wife Maren from Berlin, Carl with Steffi and their daughter Sita from Hamburg, Anna from Bath, England. Jan and I attended Sunday service and communion at his Lutheran church. The readings are the same as in all R.C. and Episcopalian churches, so you might remember, one of the readings was about Jacob (my baptismal name) cheating his brother out of his inheritance. On the subject of brothers, I have always told you that Jan and I are fraternal twins. But most of you have never seen us together. This has now been corrected by an expert, our gynecologist neighbor who has known us from birth. We are now identical twins.

Jan and Jack

 

L.R. from end Jacob, Maren, Jan, Steffi, Sita, Carl, Jack, Catharina, Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend of the 13th my cousin Carol de Vries took me up to de Lemmer, in Friesland. It was the yearly “End of Summer” festivity. Boat parades and a race on the former Zuiderzee of the of traditional sailing fishing boats, etc. We stopped in at the mastmakers shop where my mother grew up. It has been turned into a hotel with the exterior left in its original state since it was built in 1906. A 2 1/2 minute video of the visit: https://youtu.be/Bdh2ORnJIcY

Replicas of the traditional Lemster Aak fishing vessel.

smoking eel.

The Dutch Reformed church, where my Grandfather was a member until he married the Christian Reformed pastor’s daughter on the island of Urk in 1900

 

 

The boeier “Friso” the “showboat” of the province of Friesland

 

 

Earlier from September 5 onwards, I visited friends at the Choir I sang in during my 2012-2014 stay and 2015 and 2016 visits, stopped by “De Schinkel”, saw family and friends in and near Amersfoort, Soest, Arnhem, and Nijmwegen.

There is another busy schedule the rest of the week. On Saturday is the centennial celebration of the yacht club “De Schinkel” where I learned to sail from my uncle, Fred van Ommen the father of my current host Gido. I was berthed at the club marina and attended their 90th anniversary in 2009. I was a member from late 2012 until my departure in September 2013.

In Sloten, south of Amsterdam is this old windmill, once used to maintain the water level in the reclaimed “polder”. At times they crank her up under the right conditions. Here is a short video of it: https://www.facebook.com/jackvanommen/videos/10158772594185898/?t=3

Die Mooie Molen van Sloten

 

 

 

 

Ocean City, Md.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 13th, 2019

According to my log, I left the marina in Portsmouth on the Elizabeth River at 9.30 on Friday July 26th. I motored most of the way against a Northerly. I was out in the Atlantic by late afternoon. This was the same route I took on June 22nd, 2017, which ended up in a shipwreck at 03.00 on June 23rd on Godwin Island in the Barrier Islands. The details of this shipwreck can be found in my blog for that period. This time I had left earlier and was able to put plenty of distance between the coast before dark. I motorsailed in a light Northerly. The excitement of being on the ocean again kept me awake most of the night. A large pod of porpoises kept me company for a while. The promised southerly never materialized, but the in last hours of Saturday afternoon the wind eased to the East and I had a great fast reach on still smooth seas.

I knew from the charts that the entrance to Ocean City was a challenge. The setting sun was making it difficult to recognize the channel markers’ color and shape. The channel is in a zigzag pattern in the entrance. The sport fishing boats, with their 1000 plus HP and speeds of 25 plus knots, have absolutely no concern for my 14 HP and 5 knots of speed and nearly swamp my boat with their wakes. Once inside, the harbor crawls with all sorts of water crafts. I try the one deep spot for anchorage but my knot-meter goes to zero. (I found out since that the transducer was all fouled by the wrong antifouling I had applied in June.) A helpful outboard boater offers to show me where I can anchor. I follow him and he leads me right over a shallow spot. I’m stuck and can’t back off. He keeps trying to pull me off but instead gets me even worse aground. He is determined but I worry he is going to quarter the boat. The marine police boat suggests to call Tow Boat US. He has me off in no time and $390. Because of the force on the keel, I checked for leaks and it looks like a small amount had entered through the forward keel bolts. Rob, the tow operator took me to the Sunset Marina and had me set up for a haul out the next day, Sunday. Once tied up for the night, $90, I checked for leaks again and found that the water had sloshed from the engine bilge, from the packing gland. I cancelled the haul out. At least I learned, the hard way, that the two years shipwreck repair had stood the destruction derby test. As a coincidence, Rob the towboat man, was part of the posse from Ocean City that hauled “Fleetwood” off Godwin Island in 2017. That had to be one of the easiest hauls for the crew. Greg, who passed away last year at 77, had learned from my liability insurance that I was insured for $19,450. Jake, who worked for Cape Charles Yacht Center, had attempted to bring the boat to the Yacht Center, on his weekend off, but gave up close to sundown on Sunday when he was running out of fuel for the pumps. He had managed to reduce the opening in the hull and had the boat floating. The next morning the Ocean City crew had an easy haul.   

I blamed my misfortune for leaving on a Friday. A maritime no-no. For those who have followed me over the years, you will know that many of my departures for a new destination started after Sunday morning service. I headed out of Ocean City shortly after I had attended 10 am service at Saint Mary of the Seas church.

Rev. John T. SoloMon

I filled the diesel tank, with plans to continue northward to New York City and beyond. The inner harbor of Ocean City was another spectacle of all sort of water crafts and between the jetties the same rough water from the speeding sport fishermen coming and going. The wind was seaward but the tide was coming in strong. I had to accelerate to make headway in the narrow harbor entrance against the current. All of a sudden, the engine stopped. It could not have happened in the worse moment and time. The cover was off the main sail but I would not have been able to raise the sail fast enough. The current pushed me back between the jetties and I was only 150 feet from the rocks. I called a mayday. I had to repeat my location several times because the coastie wanted a coordinate. How much clearer could I have been with being between the end of the jetties at Ocean City? Beach goers started to gather. There is an amusement park right at the North jetty. The boat hit the rocks and started bouncing. I figured that it would be a matter of minutes before the boat would start breaking up. I had to get off the boat. The crowd suggested I stay with the boat. The rocks were slippery. I found one ledge with a flat foothold with barnacles to keep me from slipping. A retired fireman got on his belly and helped me up. Now I am looking at the boat bouncing like a rodeo bronco. This time I was unable to grab anything off the boat, like laptop, camera, wallet. The coast guard came and attempted to pull the boat off the rocks. No luck. Then the same Tow Boat US showed up. He had me off within 5 minutes and the actual damage turned out to be much less than those violent 10 to 15 minutes could have inflicted. The same police officer who had assisted the day before, Corporal John Bunting of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, came to pick me up from the spot where I had watched from shore. He took me to the travel-lift at the Sunset Marina where the boat was towed. There I discovered what stopped the engine. The long tow rope, I had used to have the good Samaritan attempt to pull me off the shallow the day before, had become my bow line for the night and when I left the gas dock, I had brought it inside the life lines on deck. I should have taken it off the bow before reaching the harbor entrance. The traffic distracted me. If I had used a regular bowline it would have never reached the propeller, this tow line was a much longer genoa sheet. John Bunting, the police officer, came to check on me and offer any help, on Monday.

I was embarrassed and did not have the courage to fess up until now. Between Saturday’s tow and this repair, tow, haul out car rentals I spent a little over $ 2,000. Ouch!!

The pictures show the damage and repair

Keel damage   

Hull damage    

Rudder  

Rudder repair   

Done

 

 

 

Again, this was an even more severe test on the integrity of the 2017 shipwreck repair. The main damage was to the rudder. Worse than the 2017 shipwreck. The shaft was twisted fore and aft and to one side. Lou Negretti, who straightened the shaft in 2017, managed to get it straightened again. The test will come tomorrow back in the water. It took two trips, first on Monday a week ago and a second one last Wednesday. I rented a car to drive to Exmore, about 80 miles to the south from here. I was counting on getting professional help to repair the torn bottom of the rudder. John Bunting recommended a fiberglass expert. But all the marine pros were spoken for by the crowd that showed up for the annual White Marlin Open sport fishing event. I have little or no experience with fiberglass. I called Todd Dhabolt who put this boat together and custom built the rudder with foam steel frame and fiberglass cover. He walked me through the process. He had used hard foam, I decided to use a spray can as used in insulating and gap filling. By trial and error, I used left-over Formica from my galley and bunk leeboard make over, to shape the foam and then covered it with epoxied fiberglass cloth. There was some deep damage above the waterline on port. Luckily it struck the rocks where there is the companion way bulkhead and the galley counter. It took many layers of epoxy putty. Fortunately, I carry a supply of epoxy, anti-fouling, brushes, rollers, barrier coat, hull paint and all the tools.  The keel took quite a bit of gouges and scratches, as the pictures show. As I write, on Tuesday evening, I am hanging in the travellift slings to dry the anti-fouling paint on the bottom of the keel, where it was blocked off on. I shall be off in the morning. I have decided to make a right turn towards Cape Charles. The wind and distance though the Chesapeake-Delaware canal and south on the Chesapeake does not look for the southerly winds this weekend. I should be in Cape Charles by late Thursday unless I anchor that night south of CC. Hopefully, I’ll have some decent sailing. Winds look mild to weak for the next days. Watch for a good full moon rise picture and possibly a moon set in the Chesapeake.

A disappointment and an expensive outing. I had wanted to get up to NYC, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and possibly up to Newport, Nantucket, etc. I need to get some of my administration in order for the books, appointments for the Europe visit, etc.  

Ocean City was an experience, very nice and helpful people at the marina, yard and store. But it is not typical Americana. Apparently black Americans avoid the place. In the three services I attended at the large Ocean City Saint Mary of the Seas church, there was not even a token African American in attendance. The sport fishermen here are a special breed. Note the Trump flags, horse power in their boats and pick up trucks. My new folding bike came in well, for grocery, hardware and the main town across the long bridge.   

Trump country  

1600 Horses  

You don’t dare show up in a puny sedan or older model p.u. truck

 

Tuesday July 23rd. “Fleetwood” likes the new routine.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 23rd, 2019

Two years after the June 23rd, 2017 shipwreck, she has been making new tracks on the Chesapeake Bay. You can see them at: https://share.garmin.com/JackvanOmmen (The link is permanently displayed in the right upper corner). If you just click on any of the tracks it will give you the dates. I just got a panic call on the track that ended with the shipwreck on June 23rd, 2017, off Myrtle Island in the Atlantic. The caller skipped over the year…. The maiden voyage was the week of the Independence Day holiday, to Deltaville. I sailed down to Portsmouth on the Elizabeth River, last Saturday. Which is just a stiff bike ride away from my daughter’s home. We went for a sail on Sunday with my two great-granddaughters, Madison 10 and Lily 8.

 

 

 

 

Last night the over a week long heatwave ended with temperatures dropping from over 100 F to the mid seventies. My daughter’s home in Chesapeake, Va. with A.C. and a real bed is a very welcome respite from the boat. I had a shopping list for items that are hard to purchase in the Cape Charles area, and purchased all of it here today. My plan is to sail north to New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island on the Atlantic and return through the Delaware-Chesapeake Canal into the Chesapeake Bay into Cape Charles by late August. The wind is not expected to ease up from its dead North direction until Friday. I need a few days anyway to acquire cruising guides and update my charts, 

My Europe trip: I have booked my flight to Amsterdam to arrive on September 4th. My first date is the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of concentration camp Vught, which will be commemorated on Sunday, September 8th. I am looking forward to visit family and friends in Holland, Belgium and Germany in September. If I am still in good standing, I hope to attend the centennial celebration of Watersport Vereniging “De Schinkel” on October 5th and return to the United States shortly after. Winter Plans: Inshallah, I hope to be able to sail south to warmer weather and see more of the Windward Caribbean and possibly make that long aspired road trip from Cartagena to Southern Chile.

Just like the 2013 shipwreck in the Mediterranean, and the stranding for engine replacement on the Romanian Danube in 2010/2011, the aftermath brought another string of blessings, totally unexpected new adventures, challenges and most all great new friends. My first impression of the prospect of being stuck in Cape Charles turned out to be a total contradiction. And the two years have turned out into an unforgettable experience and friendships made for ever. 

Time heals the pain of losing my sweet daughter Rose Marie. Tomorrow is her daughter Olivia’s 23rd birthday, a very difficult day for her. Pray for her. Her brother turned 25 the day before Rose Marie passed away on June 2nd. I intend to place part Rose Marie’s ashes in her homeland, Belgium, in September.

 

Wednesday June 26. 2019. My daughter Rose Marie’s Celebration of Life on June 14

Written by admin on June 26th, 2019

This turned out to be a true celebration of the memories she left us. Tears mixed with joy.

I knew Rose Marie was special but a parent should not have to learn the significance of their child by her premature departure. But I totally treasure the legacy until I meet with her in the promised land. 

There was standing room only at the Tacoma Yacht Club, an estimated three hundred friends, colleagues and friends. I posted a 3 minute video/slide show on You tube at:

And professional pictures by Lorie Limson Cook can be seen at: Rose Marie If you attended you’ll see your picture in this link.

All four of her siblings were present, besides her son Elliott and daughter Olivia, a number of her nephews and nieces. Her widower, Donovan Barton, did the bulk of the organisation with the help of her oldest sister, Lisa and Donovan’s family members and friends. Tyler Meyers, my youngest grandson, created the continuous slide show of which I show a small number in the 3 minute You Tube video. 

Delta Airlines gifted the round trip fares for me and #3 daughter Jeannine and her husband Sean and my granddaughter Gabrielle, from Norfolk, Va. Rose Marie worked for SoDexo  who look after the hospitality service in a number of the Delta Air Lines Sky Clubs. Besides her responsibilities for the SeaTac clubs, she supervised a number of the West Coast Sky Clubs. She left an indelible impression with the crews she worked with, many of them came out to show their love and pay their respects.  (See Lorie’s pictures).

The four us flew back on Tuesday the 18th and I have been back in Cape Charles since the 19th. The boat is back in the water after fixing the barnacle invasion and recoating the iron keel with a better primer. I expect to go for a test sail in the next couple of days. The Surveyor discovered some deficiencies that I need to fix and waiting for the parts.

It occurred to me that this new schedule for flying to Amsterdam the last week of August and returning in early October should give me a chance to try and spend some time on the boat here in the Chesapeake with my great granddaughters. They are 7 and  8 and a perfect time to enjoy the water. I am waiting to hear from their grandmother when this would fit in their schedules. I still expect to also sail North for a few weeks.

 

 

 

Monday morning June 24 ’19 A well prepared Solo Sailor

Written by admin on June 25th, 2019

A Gringo Argentino Gaucho, John Freeman, sets off from Cape Charles Yacht Center for an Atlantic Crossing. John Freeman left this morning from Cape Charles Yacht Center. I am totally in awe for the boat and the man. Both are are about the best I would ever aspire for this adventure. This is a 30ft Morris Annie. 

Just look at the size and construction, cutter rig, a sensible hard dinghy, a Monitor Windvane, etc. John is heading for Portugal, with a stop in the Azores. He and his Argentine wife raise cattle in southern Argentina.