Leaving my home to come home

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 13th, 2022

Or is it the other way around? According to the home port on Fleetwood’s transom, home is Gig Harbor, Washington, USA. But since Ash Wednesday 2005 my home has not been there but for two and a half years. She has spent more time in the Netherlands where her skipper was raised.

In my last blog I reported the major project to repair “Fleetwood III”. The replacement of most of the bottom is nearly done. I had hoped to have it completed by now because the temperature has dropped below the desired temperature for a proper cure of the epoxy. I had expected to have her back from the nearby “Amsterdam YC” to “de Schinkel” yacht club, floating. But now the boat will remain on the hard here for the winter.

I booked my return flight to Seattle-Tacoma yesterday, arriving on November 14th, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll be staying with my oldest daughter, Lisa, for part of the winter and intend to visit California and Virginia before returning to finish the boat in the early spring. That is, if I will be let in to my native homeland. I have exceeded my allowable Schengen 90 days. My application for a residence permit, so far, has not had a response from the authorities.

Since late September, I have had the assistance in the repairs from Robert Scagen a veteran amateur wooden boat builder. The one part of the repair that gave me sleepless hours was how to join the lower plywood panel strakes above the bottom panel. This “Waarschip” multi chined construction is clinker-built (overnaads), just like roof tiles. So, the next panel up from the bottom, fits underneath the next panel above it and then the two panels are fastened together onto the chine (leger). This is particularly difficult to do from the bottom up. Robert came up with a way to keep the top 4” of the panel above the bottom (the main deterioration is just above the lowest chine) and to join the replacement with a two and a half inch backing plate. The backing plate is made up from 12 mm (1/2 inch) plywood and stiffened with a 15 mm mahogany wood strip on top of it. Another new challenge was how to make the scarf joint (las) to join the ends of the remaining strakes to the new plywood ends. I was able to use a ten-foot 5/8-inch panel for the bottom but the strakes above it required longer replacements and were scarfed from eight-foot panels. It is relatively simple with the right equipment to make the scarf joints in the shop but making these on the remaining parts in the boat was time consuming and tricky. The ¾ x 8” mahogany keel plate also had to be scarfed in once we had removed the bottom panel and the keel. Luckily, Robert also has all the skills to operate the fork lift, travel lift and crane at this yacht club during his more than 30-year membership and run the shop equipment. Without him I would not have had access to the many clamps we needed to glue the joints.

Part of the bottom removed

Keel being rehung. New bottom and rot, moisture readings in next panel

starboard panel mounting.

The interior backing strip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next challenge will be to recover my expenses from the seller. If it comes to a court case, the judge might not have much compassion for the fact that I could have sailed away and gotten into serious distress, possibly fatal. I have plenty of pictures, samples and the ad which states that the boat was epoxied. But there is none to be found. This was the main reason of the rot from long standing water on the inside.

There will still be plenty to do after the boat is relaunched.

I will give a presentation of my adventure at “De Schinkel” YC on October 22nd.  I will visit my twin brother and his family near Hamburg from the 10th of November and fly from Hamburg on the 14th. I also expect to make a short visit to Brussels to meet up with Rose Marie’s godparents on the weekend prior.

I’d invite any interested parties in the Tacoma-Seattle area to make an appointment for one of my presentations and SoloMan book sales. I have an 18-minute slide show video of the best pictures of the 64 countries I have visited. There is an updated version of SoloMan for sale on the internet. The usual accumulated corrections and the updated Epilogue to include the February Cuban shipwreck and my current visit to the Netherlands.

It has been hard work and I have not had much opportunity to socialize other than with the members here at the “Amsterdam” YC.  The expectations were to have a ready to sail boat and returning to the Americas within the 90 day Schengen restriction. I am not so sure this boat will be up to it. Before I invest in solar panel, AIS, Windvane, life raft and offshore charting software, I’ll test sail her on the North Sea. I may end up setting shop as a wooden boat carpenter as my next career.

Last Sunday was a sad day for the parishioners of the Augustinus Church, where I have been attending from 2009, off and on. The diminishing attendance can no longer support the maintenance of this magnificent building. Several other nearby churches will also be consolidated in a church a 20 minute bike ride further away. Not certain what will happen to the large choir of which I was a member from 2012. This trend started years ago. The protestant church I grew up in was demolished and so was the R.C. church, in the nineties, in my neighborhood a few miles away from here. A similar trend is obvious in the time people reserve for their boats and with their club activities. This picture is of “Fleetwood I” in december 2009 at “de Schinkel”; I count 9 masts.

Where have all the sailboats gone?

Yesterday evening, I counted two masts in the same row. They have mostly gone to the “sloep” the open double ended motor launches that can hold many crates of Heineken and large speakers and are turned on with a switch. Or if they are still sailing they are in larger boats that do not fit in these slips. In this much larger club I count two sailboats. In 2009 half of the boats were sailboats. The youth program in Optimists and Lasers are not anywhere of what they used to be. People have no time, bicycle commuting has turned into a speed contest. Am I getting cynical in my old age?

Looking forward to see all the old and young friends, without masks and fears.

 

 

 

July 24th. Sailing Summer turned into Boat restoration project.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 24th, 2022

It was just today that I received the green light from the Yacht Club’s officer to start with the extensive repairs. I still have not heard from the seller and it is most likely that it might get nasty. I have plenty of evidence for a settlement. In my forelast blog I reported finding more serious problems, just before leaving for France for my great-grandson’s 1st birthday. I have not worked on the boat since then. I started taking moisture reading upon my return from France on the 12th. I found several more spots on the port side and under the keel. This means dropping the heavy bolted on keel. You might remember that the seller dropped the keel and fixed some loose spots before I accepted the purchase. It is hard to say if they are blind or dishonest. Right now, it looks a combination of both. In the original advertisement it is stated that the boat is epoxied, but I have not found any on the hull where I sanded the wet spots. There are no other old coats of any kind of finish under the one or possibly two coats of antifouling and a coat of white primer over the hull which was apparently sanded down to the bare plywood.

When this boat was built in 1980, epoxy was just filling the air with joy for the wooden boat enthusiasts. On My first NAJA, the laminated parts were glued with resorcinol. An excellent glue that requires lots of clamp pressure and is too dark for a clear finish, in contrast to epoxy. My first boat was glued and coated entirely in epoxy. I had assumed that this boat was also expoxy-coated by the text of the advertisement. And that would have avoided this disaster.

I had one acquaintance of one of the members here stop by to inspect the damage. He believes that it is an impossible task. He has had boats like this one and done a lot of repairs on wooden boats. But I also have had his opinion contradicted. So, I spent ₤ 250 for an expert to give me advice. He works in what used to be the facility that built thousands of these and different size Waarschip kits. And specializes in restorations of them. He came here on Wednesday.

I was releived that it can be properly fixed, I have become fond of this boat. I do not mind the extra work but I was not going to attempt an impossible task. It is also good to have an expert assessment for an eventual judgement.

Roelof Niezen, the owner of “Waarschip” showed me the proper way how I can repair the damage. They have done this type of repair on many similar boats. This usually takes his yard two months and would cost € 10,000 (The Euro is now close to parr with the US$).  It will probably take me nearly double that time, and a quarter of the expense, I am anxious to get going on it.

The keel needs to be dropped and the plywood strake on the bottom and the next above the first chine on both sides removed from the cross stringer under the engine unto the one just forward of the keel, roughly 14 feet. A tedious job removing the iron screws. (In 1980 they were still using iron instead of 316 grade stainless steel, which I will use on the replacement) and scarfing both ends and a scarf joint on the three panels since they are longer than an 8-foot sheet of plywood. Roelof explained to me how they in their yard use a sharpened paint scraper to scarf plywood, using the pattern of the individual glue joints to guide the 10:1 slope.

Spencer’s firstGreat-Grandson Spencer’s 1st Birthday: This turned out to be a welcome distraction from the disappointment with the boat problems. I came back a week ago today, but it still lingers as having been set in a fairy tale. Parts of it feel like frolicking with the von Trapp as in the The Sound of Music.

The Scottish grandparents, Doug and Margaret, came to pick me up at the boat here, on the 4th, with her brother-in-law, Mike, who lives in Delft with Margaret’s sister. He is also an avid sailor and keeps a Catamaran in New Bern, N.C. which is their more permanent residence. So, I had good company in the long line at the Schiphol airport and on the flight to Geneva and the ride to their chalet in the foothills of the Mont Blanc, in France.

Having spent most of my working life in the wood business, the chalet construction put me on a busman’s holiday. This large traditional farmhouse was built in the late 18th century. Huge Spruce timbers with precise joints, no nails or screws just wood pegs.

Euan, my Grandson in Law, has two sisters who each also have sons slightly older than Spencer, who also came over from Scotland. Lisa, my oldest daughter, and her birth-mother Donna arrived earlier on the fourth from Los Angeles. The Australian mother-in-law of Euan’s sister, Ann and her son Jack also came to the celebration. This made the total for this group picture of 12 adults and three baby boys.

Scots, Yanks and Ozzies and a displaced Dutchman

Mont Blanc

And that did not even make the chalet a full house…. We hiked up and down to the nearby village of Combloux, visited Mégève. Played table tennis. Some went mountain biking, had barbecues and all the cheeses and wines of the region. The cousins went to the swimming pool and playgrounds. The hills were hayed in the first good dry spell. And the sound of the cowbells was all around us.

 

 

 

 

 

I made this dumb video of attempting to impersonate Christopher Walken. I gotta have more Cowbell!!!! 

Corrine, my oldest granddaughter, Spencer’s mom, brought us back to the hotel she arranged near the Geneva airport for Donna, Lisa and I on Sunday the 10th. We all three had early Monday departures.

We rode into the city and had dinner near the lake. I managed to attend a 6.30 pm English service at the basilica of Notre Dame de Geneve.

N.D. de Geneve

Just like I experienced in Athens and Istanbul a good part of the parishioners are Filipino domestic servants. And here also the entire choir voices were Filipinas, waving their customary folding fans. I walked down to Combloux earlier on Sunday for their posted 9.30 am service, but, and I should have known better from my 2012/2013 trips through France, the scarce priests rotate between the neighboring villages. It was not my morning.

And Monday, July 11, definitely was not “My Day”.

We rose at 4.30 am. Lisa and Donna’s flight was around 7, mine at 9.20 am. So, I had plenty of time to get to the gate. When I showed up for the Easy Jet flight, the Pilot was making an announcement in English, but the PA system was barely audible. But between lip reading and bits of it we were told that there was a mechanical delay of anywhere from one to four hours. So, I looked around and saw one desk nearby against the wall, 50 feet from the gate where I could charge my tablet and phone and 4 hours is a long time. I went for it. I had my back to the waiting area but the gate was to my right. I heard some announcements but could not make out a single word of it. A little later, I turned around and saw that the waiting area was nearly empty and there was no one at the gate and the plane was gone. The pilot had mumbled something about a KLM flight to Amsterdam. I checked on line and it showed that my flight was on time. But where was the plane???

I tried finding another gate with Easy Jet personnel, but all is handled by the Swiss Air, on contract. They could not help me. I finally got trough to an Irish speaking Easy Jet employee and she was of no help. So. I had to leave the security area to go to the Swiss Air travel desk. With the prospect of going through the slow security check once again. Turned out, as I had expected, there were no seats anywhere for the foreseeable future. So, I hopped on a Swiss TGV train to Paris. There were no connections the same day from Paris to Amsterdam, just one at 06.13 am on Tuesday. The one-way ticket was as much as the round-trip air ticket I had paid for.

And nearly 150 % more than the original ticket I had booked for a three-day round trip but both flights were cancelled shortly before my departure. I had to rebook for a much longer period and then I changed my first leg to an earlier day to accommodate the trip from Geneva to the French destination, they jacked it up $80 and when I booked it the next morning it was another $50 more.

I have spent hours trying to communicate and file a claim with Easy Jet. They have the most contradictory incomplete web site I have ever dealt with and their chat robots are useless. A low budget airline trying to prove that you can robotize to a handful of employees.

Flying is for birds. I’d rather sail.

But there was one positive aspect of this flight from hell: I FB messaged Dona de Mallorca the wife of Richard Spindler, a long-time friend, retired owner/editor of the West Coast sailing magazine “Latitude-38”. They are on their boat in the Arsenal Marina in Paris. I spent the late afternoon and evening with them. Richard took me and a friend and part of his family for a boat trip on “Majestic Dalat” on a beautiful warm trip on the Seine. The nearly full moon came out before our return.

Richard and guest Marie Laura reflected from the foredeck onto the dodger window

 

Au claire de la Lune

I had a bunk on their boat and got up early to catch that train before the Metro started running at 6 am.

I was back in Amsterdam at 10.00 am. On he fast Thalys. I honestly do not see what the purpose is for trans Europe airplane service, except the much higher cost of fast rail. But its worth the agony spared.

 

 

Today, I joined a group of 5 men from the choir I used to sing with here in the St. Augustinus church. The 5 of us will rotate from a larger number until the fall. Last Sunday the full choir of “Cantemus Dominum” sang the liturgy and hymns at the 10.30 mass. Most of the liturgy like the Kyrie, Responsorial, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei were from Bruckner’s Choral Messe the Offertory was the Ave Verum from Edward Elgar. There is a short video of it on my Face Book The Communion song was “Prayer for Ukraine” by M. Lysenko and the choir sang it in Ukrainian. Note the Sunflowers in the sacristy, the national flower of Ukraine.

Sunday July 17 ’22

Some general observations from a Displaced Dutch American in Holland: While waiting for a decision on my repair project. In all my travels and places I have lived, I find a common alikeness but also some differences. Other than my formative first nearly 20 years in the Netherlands, I have lived 55 years of my 85 years in the United States. And again, just like the 2009-2014 with “Fleetwood” in Europe, I still feel a strong bond with the people here and enjoy their deeper interest in each other and, even though less than before, stronger family ties and friendships than in the USA. More children here are capable to converse with adults due to more time spent with their parents and given responsibilities in the household.

Unfortunately, the news here coming out of the U.S., is even more restricted to biased liberal media than the Americans have access to and many seem to take the trespasses of Trump and the Republicans personal and froth at the mouth of pure disgust for the orange man when politics are discussed. I have learned to hide my political colors; I’ve got enough on my plate with my bow pulpit sermons and church pictures.

The inflation affects the Europeans even more because the drop in the currency make Dollar imported items, like fuel, even more expensive.

I find the food prices similar but the quality better, bread, vegetables even the Lay’s brand Potato chips taste better here.

Since the time to repair the boat will be a lot more than the 90 days allowed under the Schengen limit, I will try obtain a residential permit. Wish me luck. Lots of paperwork and cost more than €1,000. For one thing, I do not wish to overstay and sneak out under the cover of darkness. I need to exit through Customs with my stack of bills for the boat equipment, tools, repair expenses to recover the 28% VAT.

 

 

Friday July 22nd An emotional re-connection with Boukje, the Mastmaker’s daughter’s friend 110 years ago

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 22nd, 2022

One of the most moving memories our mother writes in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is about her short friendship with Boukje van Putten.

This week I connected with her family members when one of them, John de Vries, posted an old photograph of Boukje with her father in this car in front of the blacksmith shop, with her family members in the background. Note Boukje’s wooden shoes in front of the car. My guess is that she is about in 4th grade in this photograph. It is possible that this might be the same automobile my grandfather was involved with in this story. Our mother and Boukje were in the same elementary school grades. John de Vries posted this in a Facebook Group about People from “De Lemmer” in Friesland, with memories of the 20th century.

Chapter 13     Schoolmaster Funcke

My first day of school! Pa took me. I wore a brown velvet coat with a matching beret, lined with blue flannel. Moe had sewed it herself, of course. We stopped on our way to pick up my neighbor friend, Boukje, at the home and blacksmith shop of van Putten. Her dad gave my Pa a note to bring to school. I learned later that this was a so called “small pox notice”.

Van Putten was in my eyes, a genius. He had so many skills. He could have become a very rich man. He could play the organ and tune it as well. He was the only photographer in town. He did not have a studio, so he took the pictures in his back yard, on the lawn. He’d hang a screen on which some Pastoral scene was depicted as a backdrop. There was a table and chairs where the subjects sat and where they would lay their hands on the table and then van Putten would memorialize his subjects with the click of the shutter.

He also had the very first taxi service in town. Pa had to go with van Putten to buy his first automobile in Arnhem. He helped with the purchase negotiation and Pa put up the money. Van Putten was the first to have a radio in our town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boukje around 1911 with her dad in, what is possible the first taxi. (foto: from John de Vries, great-grandson of Cornelis Tjepke van Putten)

Boukje became one of my closest friends.  She had an older brother who would lend us his color crayons.Drawing with crayons was our passion. Boukje’s aunt, who lived with them, had a subscription to “De Gracieuse” a fashion magazine. The pictures fascinated us and we attempted to draw these figures from a magical world so far away from the Polderdijk.

Jan and Pa had been to Amsterdam but Kampen, Urk and Heeg were as far as I had ever ventured.

Boukje’s grandfather and another aunt shared the two rooms with the van Putten family behind his black smith shop. My friendship with Boukje, was also shared at times with another girl and lasted for a long time. Boukje developed diphtheria, but the family did not want a doctor because then a notice would be posted on their door: “Contagious disease….” and that would scare potential customers away. At that same time, we had scarlet fever and diphtheria in our clan. The doctor restricted us to a salt free diet because otherwise we could develop kidney problems. Boukje died, at age twenty-eight, of a kidney infection.

Hoofdstuk 13     Meester Funcke

De eerste schooldag! Bracht Pa me. Ik droeg een bruin fluwelen manteltje en bijpassende baret, gevoerd met blauw flanel. Had Moe natuurlijk zelf gemaakt. Het was dus al koud en dat kan heel goed, want we werden om de 9 maanden “verplaatst”, dus dat was ieder jaar in een andere maand. Onderweg gingen we bij de smederij van Van Putten aan om Boukje op te halen. Haar vader gaf een briefje mee aan mijn Pa, naar ik later begrepen heb, het pokkenbriefje. Die smederij had een onder- en bovendeur. Er- naast was nog een pand dat een winkel voor moest stellen, waar je alleen door de smederij kon binnenkomen. Er stonden tinnen koffiepotten en theelichtjes. Er ging heel weinig in om.

Later is de geblokkeerde deur vervangen door één brede deur en is van de winkel een garage gemaakt voor de Eerste Lemster Taxi! Van Putten kon alles, die man had schatrijk kunnen worden! Hij kon orgelspelen en ook orgelstemmen, hij was de enige fotograaf Hij had natuurlijk geen atelier, zodat de opnamen bij hem achter het huis op het grasveld gemaakt moesten worden. Er kwam dan een soort landkaart, waarop iets van bomen waren geschilderd, tegen een muur te hangen, er werd een tafeltje met een bloemstuk neergezet waarop het slachtoffer de hand kon leggen en de opname kon plaats vinden. Zo had hij dus ook de eerste taxi. Pa moest mee, naar Arnhem geloof ik, om te onderhandelen over de tweedehandse auto en misschien ook om geld voor te schieten. Later had van Putten ook de eerste radioactiviteiten. Grootvader, een tante en de familie van Putten, deelden de twee kamers achter de smederij.

Boukje werd mijn vriendin. Die vriendschap met Boukje, die we dan weleens deelden met een ander meisje, is lang aangebleven. Boukje kreeg een besmettelijke ziekte, maar ze wilden geen dokter, want dan kwam er een biljet aan het huis “Besmettelijke ziekte…” en dat kon klanten kosten!

Wij hebben thuis in dezelfde tijd ook Roodvonk en Difterie tegelijk onder ons dak gehad. We mochten van de dokter geen zout, anders konden we last van de nieren krijgen. Boukje is aan niervergiftiging gestorven, ze was 28 jaar. In mijn eerste poëziealbum, schreef Boukje, op 22 oktober 1912, toen ze 11 jaar was: Vriendin Rensje:

Rijke Zegen                                         Maar als smarte

Op Uw wegen                                    Soms Uw harte

Weinig ramp                      Naar Gods wijsheid

En weinig druk                                  Kwellen moet

Reiner vreugde                                  Drink den beker

Dan U heugde                                   En weeszeker

Zijn vriendin                                        Na het zure

Tot Uw geluk                                      Komt het zoet

Er was nog een oudere broer, van wie we vaak de kleurkrijtjes mochten gebruiken. Want kleuren was ons lust en leven. We kregen dan afleveringen van het modeblad ‘De Gracieuse’, waarop Boukje’s tante geabonneerd was.

 

 

When it leaks it pours Saturday July 2nd 2022

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 2nd, 2022

The leak that I discovered just after getting to my moorage at de YC “de Schinkel” has been repaired and I was all lined up to be relaunched two days ago. It was, as usual, a much more challenging fix than I had anticipated. I still am dumbfounded as why the yard that had fixed this are of the bottom did not notice the two open bold holes; the bolts had for some strange reason been taken out off the inside backing block, if the exterior keel board of about 5/4 x 6″ had been properly fastened the water would not have entered. I removed the selftapping woodscrews and used M8 bolts fastened through the backing plates and a few screws. The yard had missed and placed some of the screws straight through the hull plywood instead of the interior backing and since there is a fair amount of slope in the stern the screws did not make a tight fit.

The first repair done

 

 

 

But on Tuesday I discovered another problem that was ready to turn into a major leak. I had already noted rot in oner spot and advised the seller, but it turned out that it had penetrated all around this area and when I sanded the anti fouling and primer in the area I could see the moisture and it ended up in a good size patch to be removed of about 10 x 10 inches.

The new problem

 

I was supposed to receive a moisture meter today but there is a hang-up and it will arrive by the time I have to leave for the airport to fly to Geneva on the 4th. I fear that there is more work in store and I may not get to sail this summer, yet.

I had planned for a few days off from my project but Easy Jet cancelled both flights and it is now grown into a week’s visit with the Scots and Lisa for Spencer Wheatly’s 1st birthday celebration.

Epoxy was a brand new wonder glue for the wooden boat world when I purchased my kit from England in 1979. The laminations of the ring frames, the backbone and the stem were all done in Resorcinol glue on my first boat, but we put it together with West System epoxy. The three kits that I bought in 1980 (to make it rich in the marine business…….) were all done in West System epoxy. This Waarschip kit was assembled by the yard itself also in 1980 and it is all done in Resorcinol and the coating of the interior looks like a good varnish. But that needs to be redone in Epoxy if I am going to sail to my plan until 2037. So what’s one summer sail lost, anyway? The people here are very helpful and I love being in my old stomping grounds, reaquanting with old friends and making new ones. There will be positive trade offs, that I would have missed, for sure.

It started by being able to accept an invitation from my nephew Dirk Jan, now that I was not in a hurry to get the boat ready to launch, last Tuesday. He took me away to the North Sea beach at Bloemendaal, where his son Daan runs a kite sailing and beach catamaran school/rentals. It was gorgeous day.

 

 

 

Sunday June 12, 2022 “Fleetwood III” will rise again

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 12th, 2022

On Thursday, “Fleetwood” was demasted and hauled out at the WSV “Amsterdam” another yacht club like “de Schinkel”. I was getting a bit desperate; the water was coming in faster. Over a gallon an hour. I had to continuously suck it out with the wet-dry vacuum. Douwe, the harbor/yard manager, found me a nice spot outside, well protected from the midday sun. He had wanted me inside the shed and then I would not have been able to live aboard. Since the main job is the leak, it is better to be outside anyway. So, no need to tend to your cat in exchange for lodging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The leak turns out to be two holes where the bolts have been removed at one time for un unexplained reason. And the yard, the seller of the boat, replaced part of an app. 1 ¼ x 5” strip of wood that runs from bow to nearly the stern but the bedding did not completely seal this area.

The bolt holes, in front and aft of the strut

The inside strut block

The top of the strut and hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two missing bolts were to mount the angled wood block, inside the hull, that holds the strut with the cutlass bearing. They should have been mounted through the hull. I had already determined that this was the location of the origin of the incoming water. But I needed to remove the diesel tank to get a good access to it. There is deterioration to that solid wood block, but this is caused by the two bolts that run through the block, horizontal and through the bronze strut. They are stainless steel and they are totally rusted because these two different metals do not like to be near water together. I will replace these with bronze bolts/washers/nuts. I had first thought that I might have to renew that block, but believe that it is repairable. And there does not appear to be any rot in the plywood hull except for a small spot on one side of the strut. The yard had filled this with a caulking which they had also used to replace the 1 ¼ x 5” exterior dead wood backing. In a way this simplified the job of removing their “fix”, with epoxy it would have pulled the hull plywood planking surface with it. The exterior part of the shaft stern tube also suffered from corrosion but that should be insulated by the cutlass bearing from the electrolysis in the shaft strut. I suspect that may have a similar cause of fasteners on the stern tube block. If the stern tube needs to be replaced. I will need to pull the shaft, more expense more time.

This leak problem could be fixed in a week. I also plan to fix the 3 or 4 life wire stanchion bases. This is tough to do wile the boat is in the water. They have rot and previous attempts have been poorly done.

This 1 ¼” backing board was screwed into the deadwood through the plywood hull. But in a few places the yard missed the deadwood and they are protruding through the inside of the plywood hull…..

The rudder shaft tube also appears to have some water weeping in. That could be a job. I had to drop the rudder on F.W. #2 in Cape Charles and had to dig a deep hole to drop it out of its tube. This here is asphalt.

So, as depressing as it sounds, I had visions of replacing section of the hull around the leak. I think this is not as bad as the repairs I faced in Ocean City, Md. and Cape Charles, Va. On F.W. II.

I will share these pictures and facts with the seller and I trust that he will make good on his work and product. But there is a lesson I learned here that I hope I will not need to myself off in the next 15 years of my long and blessed life.

Today is the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. I was privileged to attend the service at Saint Augustinus church, a 10-minute bike ride away and my temporary parish between 2009 and 2014. A beautiful brick building, of the very same vintage as your truly, 1937. But unfortunately, it is one of the many churches in Holland that will become extinct. It all started in the sixties/seventies. The church I was baptized and confirmed, the Christian Reformed Waalkerk built in the thirties could not sustain itself with the remaining worshippers and was demolished in 1989. The Roman Catholic church, nearby, the Thomas van Aquino kerk, was replaced with apartment buildings in 2004. In my earlier blogs, I wrote that most American R.C. parishes would kill for the facility, the pastor, the 5 choirs, the organ and its St. Joseph school. But the lack of financial support and the expensive of the old heating system makes it unsustainable and there will be a consolidation with other churches in the area. The list that is read of the recently deceased, at one time, parish members, is often almost as long as the number of  attendees. No children, mostly grey hair wit a sprinkling of families from Polish, Asian and Latino families.

When I was a teenager most of my cousins attended church, now just a few still do.

All I can say is to repeat the words my dear, wise and loving mother once wrote as I recorded in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”:

This morning my thoughts drifted back to the winter in Dachau when I had managed to trade a pair of men shoes for the old shoes that were too small and hurting my feet. I nearly danced down the factory steps while thinking: “I am a child of God, there is nothing to be afraid of! Occasionally doubts confront me. Just the other day a friend said to me: “I wished I could be sure that it is all for real”. I wanted to bring up a cliché. Am I really that convinced? But then why did I sing this morning the familiar psalm 89 “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound”? Is this just because of the way I was raised? No, I don’t think so: “I cannot live without you Lord, hold on to me””

I am a miserable sinner and need all the help I can get. And most will agree that I have been privileged with many blessings, ups and downs, but I have no regrets and have not missed a thing by spending time in God’s house, to the contrary. The Dutch tend to be blunter and direct and I hear some mocking of my pictures of churches in my books and blogs and on social media.

I hope that I throw in enough entertainment to make up for my preaching.

 

 

 

Whitsom Sunday June 5 th. The Spirit is a-moving.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 6th, 2022

The first month, back in Holland, the farmers were getting worried that their fresh crops would shrivel in the drought. The last of the Tulips and the permanent “Floriade” world famous flower garden looked the worst of it. But the last weeks are making up for it and this evening it was a regular deluge bent on extinguishing those tongues of  flame with which the Spirit descended on Pentecost. Some of that deluge is finding it’s way through the poorly bedded new life line stanchions. One of the items on the long list of projects on the new boat.

But a bigger problem is the discovery of a liquid intrusion from below and a major project. At a rate of a gallon an hour. Where the drive shaft exits the hull, the backing block has deteriorated and the two bolts are corroded. I am scheduled for this Thursday by a nearby marina to come and be hauled out, which will also require the keel step mast to be taken out. The closest yard where I can stay on the boat while doing the repair is in Zaandam and they require that I de-mast before arrival and then they have no space in their shed until mid july. My options to find lodging are limited. I have already used up my two week annual allotment with my sister. If anyone in the southern Amsterdam area needs a house-cat-chicken sitter, let me know. As a plus, I can teach any pet a second or third language.

This postpones my plan to sail to Scotland for my youngest great-grandchild’s first birthday on July 9th. When I informed his grandmother about my setback, she told me that the Scots have changed the venue to their ski-chalet in the French Alps. So, I hope to have the repair done by then and attend the celebration.

Besides this defect, I have discovered a few other items that I wished I’d discovered on my first inspection. (I would have had to take a panel out, behind the engine to discover the deteriorated area). But I remain content with the replacement. One major chore is the wiring and coax cables. There appear to be twice the number for the items served. Not every black wire is a ground, and vice versa. No diagrams left to solve the rat’s nest puzzle.

While I am hauled out, I will need to spend all of the daylight hours to complete the repair, which means that my planned visits with local friends will have to wait until I am back in the water.

The “Cantemus Dominum” choir sang the Missa Festiva from Gretchaninoff with today’s Pentecost service at the St. Augustinus church, near where I am moored. I went to one of the last rehearsals but found it difficult to catch up with the rest of the singers and could not find an online practice tenor part. I hope to rejoin the choir, like when I was here in 2012-2014.

St. Augustinus June 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the pleasure of visiting with several Gig Harbor Yacht Club friends in the last two weeks.

With Wayne and Elisabeth Gilham

John and Trishia Mulligan and Don and and Mary Lynn Pannen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my dear friend Elma Mujanovic and her friend Jackie Demko. I met Elma on the Greek island of Aegina in 2012 https://cometosea.us/?p=2852. A Bosnian-American, who has seen more of the world in her working life than the most travelled retiree. My cousin Carol de Vries, who you all know by now, gave us a private canal tour on Friday May 27th and the two ladies spent, a fair sum and a good time with Wim Hof, AKA “The Iceman” on the weekend, including a a 10 minute soak in a tub with ice cubes…..https://www.wimhofmethod.com/ .

Elma and Jackie

The Icewoman, back center

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between, my sister Karolien van Ommen, celebrated her 88th birthday, my twin brother  Jan van Ommen and his wife Catharina came down from North Germany and stopped by tyo check out “Fleetwood III”.

258 years of van Ommen togetherness

Time for another pump out with my bright shiny stainless wet-dry shop vacume cleaner. I started out with zip zero tools and spending my hard earned book royalties on propping up the Dutch standard of living. In the vacuum process I have accumulated an impressive collection of wasted boat fasteners and 40 years of dust.

 

 

 

Monday, May 16 ’20 Back in the Hood

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 16th, 2022

I laid my eyes on “Fleetwood III” on Wednesday the 11th. We have been getting acquainted and she’s a keeper. She’ll be a piece of work for a while. Cleaning the interior, sanding, revarnishing, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The carved tree butt mooring post is the remains of the magnificent Horse Chestnut in my four seasons series of 2009/2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She and my two ex-es, have lots in common, dimensions, model, material, her plusses are the Yamaha 2GM which runs great, smoother and quieter and more power than the previous four  diesels that propelled her two predecessors. A lot more storage and sleeping berths, a nice 3 burner gas galley stove, a Webasto heater, swim ladder and it even has a TV and masttop tv antenna. The first TV for me since I dumped my last one in 1998 when Jesus reminded me that dumping a TV is less painful than tearing an eye out when the flesh tempts. But so far it is part of a puzzle of wiring waiting to be tackled after the FM-AM radio, SSB receiver, VHF, GPS, AIS, etc.

On Friday, I got some help from the yard to figure out the switches for the nav lights. It was a great ride on Saturday to Amsterdam. I just barely made through the two fixed highway bridges. I had gone through these bridges in 2012 with a taller mast, so I felt no fear. But the next day I realized that the mast then down since I left the Mediterranean by way of the inland rivers and canals. The flexible VHF antenna went pinging at every joist. The architect for these bridges had miscalculated the height and the Dutch government had to compensate all the Botter fishermen to put a hinge on the mast heads, to lower and raise the tops from their now landlocked villages along the Old Zuider Zee shore to reach their fishing grounds. Last year, you may remember, I was not as lucky on the New York East River.

My highest priority was to show registration numbers to get underway to Amsterdam from Zeewolde, an eight-hour trip. I requested quotes ahead of time from my previous Gig Harbor source and two Dutch sign makers for the vinyl stick on boat name, home port and registration numbers. The Dutch quote was way over my budget and I had no reply yet from Gig Harbor. But a local sign maker in Zeewolde had me walk out the store in less than 15 minutes from my arrival on a borrowed bicycle, after I had e-mailed the details an hour prior. The whole detail cost less than $90 and much less than my previous expenses.

Moonrise at Schinkelbrug

In the meantime, I have arrived at my old spot in the yacht club “De Schinkel” where learned to sail when I was 12 and where I spent memorable visits from 2009 until 2013.

Feels like home.

We have one of the first rainy days since I arrived nearly a month ago.

The one good thing is, that against predictions, the US dollar has done well and is at a record high. We can’t put that blame on our illustrious leader. Europe has probably been hurt more by the Covid than the US.

I needed to replenish my euro account here with dollars from my US account. And I nearly had a heart attack when a very inexperienced young lady at my local bank told me that the rate was 79 euro cents for the dollar, but that I needed to purchase it on the bank’s app. That did not work and I must have spent another hour in many phone calls before I was able to make the transfer and rate turned out to be closer to 98 cents. When I was here in 2009 the Euro was much more like between $ 1.30 and $ 1.40.

A couple from the Gig Harbor YC is due to visit here this week, together with another friends of theirs’ couple.

My previous blog was sent on May 4th, just before the Memorial Day concert done by the choir, I joined back in 2012 and sang with in the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in 2013. It was a fabulous program, just wished I had been able to sing with them if I had been able to attend the rehearsals. There will probably be opportunities coming up soon.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a gorgeous day, in the seventies and half of Amsterdam was on the water. I was moored next to a lock waiting to cross the lake to where I am because they were having the 75 anniversary of the “Vrijheid” open class day sailers. My long-time friend Evert Slijper and his brother participated. Evert lives in Eugene, Oregon. I expect to see him in the next days. He is a very active contestant in the Eugene YC in Eugene in the “Thistle” class and knows a lot of my Puget Sound Thistle families. He met his first wife at the University of the Puget Sound.

 

Wednesday May 4th.  It is official, meet “Fleetwood III”

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 4th, 2022

This is going to be a longer than usual blog. Much has happened since my previous blog on March 24. I arrived in the Netherlands on April 19th. My nephew, Dirk Jan de Ruiter, drove me to Zeewolde and it was love at nearly first sight.

Port View

taken before winter storage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is very similar in size and performance to the 1st and 2nd NAJA. This is a Waarschip 9 mtr (30 ft) It was also sold as a kit, just like the Najas. But the hull construction is clinker built, like shiplap siding. This one was professionaly assembled by the Waarschip yard, in 1980, same year as my first Fleetwood. It has a 1990 2 cylinder 2 GM Yamaha diesel engine. The beam is 6″ wider. Because the hull is stiffer there are fewer chines/stringers and bulkheads and has more space. This will be my first experience with roller furling. Also means fewer head sails in the storage area. It has a new two part L.P. paint job, new pulpits, stanchions. It is not set up yet for single handed sailing, it has a decent 12 volt auto tiller pilot. It needs a good windvane, solar panel(s).

But there were a few items that needed attention. The keel was dropped and resealed. I expect that I will move in next week, once the boat is launched and the mast has been set again.

I am very pleased that the “De Schinkel YC” in Amsterdam has found a spot for me again. During my 2009-2014 Europe visit, I spent a good part of it with this active boating community. This is where I had my first sailing lessons from my uncle Fred van Ommen in the fifties. I am looking forward to renew the many good friendships I made there.

Shortly after my planned arrival there will be a sailing regatta, on the adjoining lake, of the “Vrijheid” (Freedom) class 18-foot two crewed wooden day sailor.

This class was introduced in 1945, the end of the 2nd WW. I attended the competition in 2010 for their 65th anniversary. (see my blog, to get a look at these floating Stradivarii) This year it will be the Covid postponed 75th anniversary regatta.

Today is the 77th National Memorial Day for the victims of the 2nd WW. I will attend the evening choral-concert at the Saint Augustinuskerk. I was a member of it from 2012 until 2014, one of the highlights was performing in the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome on Ascension Day 2013. And singing during a visit in 2015 when the theme was based on the hymn “Abide with me” and a dialogue was read from my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” where our mother describes singing this hymn in the 8 cattle cars stuffed with 650 women political prisoners to the hell hole of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. (see blog https://cometosea.us/?p=5282)

“Abide with me” is part of this evening’s concert. I hope to be able to rejoin this impressive 50 plus members choir again while I am back here.

But I am still working on a way to extend my time through the summer, beyond the 90 day Schengen limit.

My first sea trials are planned as a trip to Glasgow, across the North Sea and through the Caledonia Canal, for the first birthday on July 9th of Spencer Wheatly, my fourth Great Grand Child.

I have discontinued the service on my US cell phone (253-441-7204) my Dutch cell number is: 0031-649-676419.

You can reach me by voice/video/text also through WhatsApp at this number. I am 9 hours ahead to the Pacific Coast and 6 to the US East Coast.

I finally managed to catch up with an old friend, Ed van Kan, I last saw in 1961 in Saigon. We grew up in the same neighborhood, near where I will be moored again. Our elementary schools were right across the street. His with the Catholic brothers and I with the Protestant preachers. When I left for the U.S., Ed was starting his reporter career in the Belgian Congo. We totally lost contact.

When I arrived on the USNS “Core” from Oakland, Ca. to Saigon in the first days of December 1961, I immediately picked Ed from the crowd of reporters down on the quay from high up on the flight deck. He was filming this first escalation of the military assistance by sending two full company strength units with our helicopters to Vietnam. By yelling his name and then a back and forth in an un-understandable language, I caused some consternation among the 450 odd spectators. Our mission was “An overseas exercise in excess of 90 days” to an undisclosed destination. So, I became a marked man, I obviously had something to do with the organization of this exercise. Our orders were to take no civilian clothes with us. But then it turned out that our Vietnamese hosts did not wish to release a stampede of these olive drab dressed barbarians loose on their town and their gorgeous sensuous “oa dai” dressed maidens. Guess what, private van Ommen and just one helicopter pilot, happened to have stowed civies away in their duffel bags. It took weeks for the visits to the tailor shops to dress the rest. No ready- made, certainly not for these occidental proportions.

Ed stood at the gangplank and introduced me to this fairy tale Paris of the Orient and his press buddies. He had much to do with what became one of the most memorable parts of mine and my American wife’s lives. More details of my unusual 1 ½ year Vietnam period in a chapter in my book “SoloMan”, as a backdrop to the 2006 Vietnam visit with “Fleetwood”

We had much to catch up on and more to follow since Ed now lives very close to “de Schinkel” YC.

In Amstelveen, near Amsterdam.

USNS “Core” Dec 11 1961 AP (Associated Press)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Sunday, on May Day, I participated in the annual, May Month of the Virgin Mary, festive service at the Saint John’s Cathedral in Den Bosch. The mass is accompanied by the traditional Guilds in their colorful regalia, drummers and flag-wavers. The cathedral celebrates its 8th centennial this year. I made a short video/slide show at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD6MS9gKLA4

The annual royal birthday was on April 27th. The crowds and street scenes are colored orange. :https://studio.youtube.com/video/EWB0_DajQyU/edit

After inspecting my future shelter and long distance environmentally friendly vehicle, on April 22nd, I saw the exhibit in the Haarlem municipal archive of photographs of 137 women in the WW II resistance, from the province of North Holland. Our mother is one of them.

Many of you will be familiar with Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch evangelist, known best by her book and movie “The Hiding Place”. Her family clock shop and the hiding place are not far from this exhibit. Our mother, with the only complete bible available, which was smuggled to our dad in his cell by mother and then later by father to mother, participated in the secret religious encounters led by Corrie and her sister Nellie. Corrie’s picture is in the lower left.

Top center Rennie-de Vries-van Ommen, center left Tiny Boosman, Bottom center Kiky Heinsius, Lower left Corrie ten Boom

Tiny Boosman and Kiky Heinsius memoires, by permission, were incorporated in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Memorial Day is very different from the previous 76 years. A repeat is taking place less than a thousand miles from where I write this. May God help us to wake up and learn to love one another.

 

Thursday, March 24 “Fleetwood III” ?

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 24th, 2022

This morning my Dutch sailing friends, Janneke and Wietze on S/Y “Anna Caroline”, took a look at the prospective “Fleetwood III”. I put earnest money on it today and intend to negotiate a purchase on or around April 22nd with the seller in The Netherlands. You just cannot put that venerable “Fleetwood” title on a fiberglass or metal sailboat and as the progeny of Mastmakers and my lifelong career partners in the wood business they would puke at the thought. A few years ago there were a number of NAJAs, like Fleetwood I and II, for sale in Europe. Not anymore. The closest is this 30 foot/9 meter “Waarschip”, also produced as a kit like the NAJA. The main difference is the hull construction. The Naja 1/2″ thick plywood panels were edge, jointed on the chines and reinforced with stringers. The Waarschip hull is a lapstreak plywood panel construction, to give it longitudinal stiffness. This particular boat was built in 1980, just like my first “Fleetwood”. In my prejudiced opinion, wood has a longer lifespan than fibreglass, when kept in epoxy and two part primer and paint.

So say a prayer, or, for the few unbelievers, keep your fingers crossed that I’ll soon have my own roof over my head again for the next 15 years. I promise, no more shipwrecks. I learn the hardway. The Dutch saying is: “Een ezel stoot zich in’t gemeen geen twee keer aan de zelfde steen” (A donkey usually does not stumble twice on the same rock). Mine go in threes, X’s and Wrex’s. But my good news is tempered with the reality that these next 15 years may turn out to become a repeat of the first 15 years of my life, from 1937 to 1952, with another tyrant and destruction and a passive, clueless following enabling another genocide.

I have enjoyed my stay with my oldest daughter, Lisa, since my flight from Cuba, here in the Pacific North West. Yesterday, my granddaughter Corrine joined us here, with my #4 great-grandchild Spencer. They flew in for a short visit from Scotland. I look forward to spending the summer in Europe, probably cross the North Sea to Scotland, through the Caledonian Canal, to meet up with Corrine and family. Some of you may have met Corrine in Amsterdam in 2012/2013 when I was there moored at the Watersport Vereniging “De Schinkel”. She finished her Pacific Lutheran University studies at the UVA and then moved to Belgium where her Scottish fiancee finished his masters degree at the University of Louvain in 2014.

I also plan to make a train trip to Paris, in the first week of May to find a home for the 26 foot “Cormorant” sailboat as advertised in my blog: https://cometosea.us/?p=7325 If anyone is interested in this boat let me know and we can try put this together.

Time flies, the masks here went off on the 11th. So, it is now easier to get together with my old friends here. I hope to make some more appointments. Before the 20th of April. I am looking forward to the culmination of this pre-Easter season with my family and friends in the N.W.

It has been cold and rainy this month in the Nortwest but Spring is in the air. This picture is of the backyards of the street Lisa lives on in Federal Way, Wa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish everyone a meaningful and happy feast of the Resurrection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday February 12th Confessions of a Geriatric Shipwrecker

Written by Jack van Ommen on February 13th, 2022

I did it again. My third and last shipwreck. On my way to Rio Dulce, Belize from Marina Hemmingway in Havana, Cuba on February 3rd,

It was a fine sailing day, reaching in a North Easterly. Just after a beautiful sunset I had dinner, I put the dishes away, did not lay down and apparently fell into a deep sleep. I awoke three hours later hitting a reef off the coast of Cuba, just west of Bahia de Honda, where I had anchored the night when the entrance to Hemmingway was too rough to enter on January 12th.

Last photo of “Fleetwood”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My laptop screen shattered in the impact, so, I could not retrace my inbound track. It was pitch black. The only orientation I had was the lighthouse on Punta Gobernadora. I managed to break free with the engine for a short distance but then probably ended up closer to shore and got washed further up the shallower coast. I set off the alarm on my Garmin “In Reach” and called in a May-Day on Chanel 16 bon the VHF Radio and set off the alarm on the radio. Next, I texted my oldest daughter Lisa on the Garmin In Reach, that I was in trouble. The boat started to list sharply and bounced hard on the reef. But I was on the shore side of the main reef, somehow, I had passed over it. I expected some rescue action but it was not unto daylight that a fishing boat appeared. She anchored nearby in deeper water and came to my rescue in a rowboat. The son of the fishing boat captain and another young crewmember and a uniformed man from the Guarda Fronteras. An unsuccessful attempt was made by a second fishing boat to tow “Fleetwood” to deeper water. The threesome went back to the boat and spent over two hours checking it out. I saw no other way than to abandon the boat and I told my rescuers that they could have at it. The border patrol man apparently phoned in the details for a release I signed to the Cuban government that I signed when I came ashore later in the day.  I brought up the question of liability for the environmental protection. The fishing boat captain nodded to the Guarda Fronteras man and told me not to worry about it. I signed the papers for a Customs officer. An Immigration employee came for me and brought me to their office in Bahia de Honda. A maniac driver, in an ancient Russian Land Rover kind of vehicle, who knew to skirt nearly all the 1,000 pot holes in the road. These Immigration men turned out to be of incredible help. They fed me in their cafeteria, arranged for a place to stay in a “Casa Particulares”, a B&B, in Baracoa, near the Marina Hemmingway. Whose owners, Osmany and Miralys Perez treated me like a king and helped me in trying to recover some of my personal items from the wreck.

If you ever need a place for visitors while you are in Marina Hemmingway, I highly recommend their hospitality. I have their details. $20 a day Room/Board.

My hyosts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After I rested up and came to my senses, I realized that I left a bunch of my valued personal items in the only home I have occupied since 2005. On Monday the 7th, we spent the day visiting the authorities in Marina Hemmingway where I had checked out on Tuesday and with the Commodore of the Club Nautico de Cuba adjacent to the marina. The Commodore is also the Port Officer for the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) of which I am a member. He got in touch with the head of the Cuban Capitanerias, who suggested we hire a seagoing boat to go to the wreck.

I figure that the Guarda Fronteras man and his fishermen buddies have another plan. And I had hoped to be able to pick through the items they will bring to shore.

Anyway, I did not bring much ashore in my first wreck in November 2013, off Ibiza and I survived that.

The Coast Guard requested permission to rescue me, they are less than a hundred mile away, but the Cubans refused to enter their territorial waters. They obviously had no way to assist other than sending the Border Patrol man with the fishing boat, 9 hours after the grounding.

The US Embassy was informed. This gave me some concern because I was on an unauthorized visit in Cuba. I had some e-mail exchanges wit the embassy and nothing was mentioned about my visiting status. I tried to find a flight from Havana to Seattle via Canada or Mexico. That did not happen. I flew from Havana on American Airlines, to Seattle with stops at Miami and Charlotte, N.C. I feared being greeted in Miami with a set of handcuffs. No mention at all. The Cubans did not stamp my passport. The previous time when I was in Cuba in 2017, I had a 14-day permit from the US Coast Guard, but when I cleared in, back in Florida, no one seemed to care how long I was in Cuba.

landing in Miami

 

 

 

 

 

 

My savings are in much better shape than after my 1st wreck in 2013 and after the repair of the June 2017 accident.

I am looking at a few options. Most likely I will end up with another boat, affordable housing and you can’t beat the waterfront view. I have started to search for an off-course alarm, so far little luck. The equivalent to my Garmin “In Reach” tracker, the “Path-Away” has an alarm. But I fear that it would be difficult to hear it when I lay down in the cabin. It needs to have the Satellite antenna outside of the cabiin.

I can’t recommend Cuba for a cruising destination. Life for the Cubans is tough and getting worse by the day. Food is scarce and limited and expensive. Long lines for bread, as an example. The bureaucracy is hard to swallow. The infrastructure is falling apart.

I can highly recommend it for a dental or other medical repair. I have seldom had such quick, pleasant and less than a quarter States side costs dental work done. Within three days, a molar filled a root canal and crown done for $395, if I had had more cash dollars on me it would have cost me even less, but I paid the bank rate with my European credit card. The bank rate is 24.50 Pesos for the Dollar and 27.50 for the Euro. On the black market the dollar is now at/near 100 Pesos….Which makes everything very cheap in Pesos. Internet is very spotty and state controlled. Moorage at Hemmingway is half the states side cost. I had to get medical insurance after I extended my visa beyond the first thirty days. I lost my receipt in the wreck but it was pricy.

The people are wonderful and resourceful. I liked their classical radio programs. But their propaganda and constant lessons on the media are nauseating. The country side is beautiful.

Their tourist business is hurting badly. Very few other cruising boats in the marinas. The situation in 2017 was much better and no black currency market.

I have posted a short You Tube video of this last week prior and after the wreck. There are a couple more since my last “where is Jack e-mail” to all on January 1st and you can find all four at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLCQ2Vs114grM1WdnlNo8WQ