GOOD News-Bad News

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 3rd, 2020

The Good News-Bad News is to bring you up to date on the pricing and options on my books “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and “SoloMan”.

Amazon keeps increasing their costs and squeezing the royalties. In particular on the Kindle version, which has forced me to increase my sale prices. The GOOD news is that I have been able to secure alternatives to maintain the old Amazon prices on most versions, including the Electronic versions. And I can now offer the color version of the “SoloMan” print book for $ 40.00 which brings it much closer to the Black and White version. This less expensive version is printed by in 7 x 10” compared to the $ 59.00 Amazon 8 x10”. I include a comparison picture of a page from the St. Helena island chapter. I think that you will find that the story comes more alive in color. There are over 400 illustrations in “SoloMan”. (remember to click on the image to enlarge it.)

The new electronic option at $ 8.50 at LuLu is in Epub format, which is more adaptable to tablets, laptops, etc. than the Amazon Kindle which I had to raise to $15.00.

The web sites for both books have been updated at and

Similar changes and new options have been made to the Dutch books and their web sites.

The “Fleetwood” store is open from 06.00 to 21.00 for signed discounted paperback copies.

Between the two titles, two languages, paperback and e-book, different dimensions amongst the printers, I have been busy updating the manuscripts, covers, and the four web sites. I started the long overdue project in early August, while waiting for a replacement starter motor from China.

Since my last blog of June 10th, right after my return from the winter cruise to the Caribbean, I made a couple short trips to Portsmouth/Norfolk and one to Smithfield on the Pagan River, a branch of the much bigger James River.

Sunrise in Smithfield



My first stop, on a couple weeks cruise I had planned up the Chesapeake Bay, turned in to the last stop, in Deltaville. I burnt up the starter motor. It turned out that there was no equivalent to be found here in America. I sailed back to Cape Charles, sans engine power.

But it took less than ten days for the replacement to arrive from China. In the meantime, I was committed to my books project. What I had expected to take days, took weeks.

The starter motor is installed but a new problem developed in the ignition, all the expert remote helpers are scratching their heads and I am waiting for a miracle working mechanic to get me going again. They are a very scarce commodity here in the lower peninsula.

I am still hoping to do an Indian Summer cruise up the Chesapeake. And I am starting to form a plan for the winter. It looks like I might finally end up in Cartagena, Colombia. My children will be scattered for Thanksgiving and I now plan to head south to Florida via the ICW and weather permitting the Atlantic and then fly to the Northwest for Christmas from Florida or Cancun before continuing on to Cartagena..

So, while you are waiting for my next blog and anxiously looking forward to the details of my third shipwreck, wrap up your Black and White of SoloMan and pass it down as a Saint Nicholas or Christmas gift and treat yourself to an affordable color version. I’ll be needing the money…….

While I am writing this blog, a couple from Lexington, Va. stops by the boat here in the marina. She, Pauline Mason, has a British accent. Her brother works with boat architects in Holland, she lived two years in the Eerste Helmerstraat in Amsterdam and on “de Eilanden” in the Amsterdam harbor. He is a sculptor, not sure what came first his last name, Mason, or the hobby. She is writing a book of some of the exotic places they have lived and taught in Eastern Europe, including Armenia. Encounters like these will be the subject of my next writing project. I have accumulated a long list of one in a thousand type coincidental encounters. Last Sunday I made new friends with a friend of a friend who read “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and who has now introduced me to her friend in Richmond, Va., where both live. Her friend is Ellen de Kroon-Stamps. Ellen is born in 1940 and grew up i Rotterdam. She married her American husband here and spent 10 years working and travelling with Corrie ten Boom. In 1978 she published a book about her experience: “My years with Corrie”. Corrie and our mother met in the Dutch concentration camp Vught. Corrie became a well known evangelist in the United States and her book “The Hiding Place” was made into a very popular movie. My mother’s bible was used by Corrie in their secret religious exercises. Ellen and her daughter Johanna are scheduled to come and meet me here in the coming week.

Monica Grant of the sailing magazine Latitude-38 wrote an article, “Jack is Back”, prompted by my previous blog.



Back in Cape Charles, Va.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 10th, 2020

The previous blog was published from Fort Lauderdale the end of April. I wandered in and out of the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) in and out of the Atlantic. Greg and Marlys Clark were my hosts at their condo in Cocoa Beach over the weekend of April 25th. You will have read that they were also my hosts on their large catamaran in March during the Heineken regatta in Saint and Sint Martin. I moored “Fleetwood” on the barge canal and left from Port Canaveral into the Atlantic and back into the ICW at Saint Augustine and from there via Jacksonville to Green Cove Springs Marina on the St. Johns River, for a haul out. This was my fourth visit since 2008 to this funky collection of mariners and semi permanent boat people. I got back into the Atlantic on May 22nd. Sunday night, before Memorial Day, I got whacked by a nasty storm at Cape Fear and finally gave up on trying to work my way out of it and took refuge on the ICW at South Port, NC.  My plan was to go back into the Atlantic at the Masonboro Inlet. But the wind was dead on the nose so, I decided to continue on the ICW, but when I was to pass through the first bridge, at Myrtle Beach, my shaft became uncoupled. The current pushed me through, I dropped the anchor and Tow-Boat US towed me to the large anchorage nearby. It took me 7 hours that day to try and fix the problem and the next morning another 8 hours, when there were still issues. In the mean time the wind had turned more favorable and I left at 4 pm from Masonboro Inlet for Cape Hatteras and the Chesapeake. A very fast sail, there as to be a northbound current, I did 120 nautical miles in a 24 hour period. But then the wind died and I motored. Another 3 hour repair job in a motionless ocean. On early Sunday morning, May 31st, just south of Cape Henry, I received another short gale force storm whipping. My daughter, Jeannine, her husband, three of my grand children and my two great granddaughters saw me sail past, from the beach, in Virginia Beach. But a nasty northerly sprung up at Cape Henry and adverse tide made me turn back to  seek refuge in the Rudee inlet. I sailed back and close to the inlet the wind died. I cranked the motor on and, once again the shaft spun. I ended up dropping the anchor with 5 ft under the keel and a 150 ft from the surf. Tow boat US came to the rescue at dusk and towed me into Little Creek. My daughter and family came to get me on Monday morning and I had three great days visiting with them. My second oldest grandson had been released from a 5 1/2 year prison term. His older brother and his dad had come from Texas. It was a great reunion.

I managed to make it into Cape Charles from Little Creek, a 22 mile distance, on Thursday morning the 4th.  This time the repair held it for the motoring out and into Cape Charles. But a permanent solution is in the works now. Most likely it is the result of having over-tightened the stuffing I replaced in Green Cove Springs.

My plans are to sail north for a summer sail in New England in July. I have a berth in the Cape Charles municipal Town Dock, B-2 right at the foot of the Shanties restaurant. The welcoming committee was present, Thelma Peterson made the sign “Jack came Back, to the port of Gold” as in her song:  “Jack come Back”


I have posted a You Tube 6 minute video of the sail from St. Barth back to Cape Charles at:     





Easter 2020 off the coast of Haiti.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 19th, 2020

On my way from Saint Thomas to Florida, at sunrise on Easter Sunday, I turn on the FM radio and I listen to a program from Radio Ginen on Haiti.

While listening, I filmed the early sunrise.

Sunrise Easter 2020

A French parochial high school choir sings: Il est vivant le Seigneur ressuscité. (He is alive the resurrected Lord.) I had hoped to be able to, at least, be able to hear a service this morning. French happens to be my favorite language for this. When we lived in Belgium, we were members of the local churches, first in Foret a suburb of Brussels and later when we lived in the country, in Ittre. On this winter cruise, I spent longest in the French speaking part of the French West Indies. I could listen to a daily program of Radio Chrétienne France (RCF). I just found this same program here. Poetic, intellectual, only the French can find a new angle on an ancient wisdom. This one interprets the seasonal aspect of the short three years of Jesus presence on this earth from Christmas to Ascension with the cosmos and the lunar signs.

Here I am, all I see is the circle of the ocean surface around me to the edge of the sky and the risen sun and at night the stars and the waning moon, full just a day after my departure on Tuesday.

It is also Jeannine’s 51st birthday, my youngest daughter. She was born when we were living in Ittre, south of Brussels. I never forget the connection I still make when I hear the Latin part of the liturgy: “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini”. Blessed is (s)he who comes in the name of the Lord. Just before Jeannine was born, I sang Mozart’s Requiem in a large choir at Easter in Nivelles, in the beautiful old cathedral. And I interpreted this part as the welcome to Jeannine. She must have sensed it. We have been very blessed with her. She is a woman with a strong faith. As part of the concert, we also sang some traditional Easter hymns. One of them was what the young girls are singing in the video I recorded of the Sunrise.  Il est vivant le Seigneur resscucité.

I’m on last row left, with glasses.


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Against the good advice of many of my friends, who figured that being in the US Virgin Islands was a much better place than coming home to the USA, I pulled the anchor on Monday afternoon, the 8th. On the way out, I stopped at Crown Marina in Charlotte Amalie, to top of my diesel tank and fill the water bladder. I tanked 4,8 gallons of diesel and 6 gallons of drinking water. The previous time I filled up the diesel tank and my empty 5-gallon spare can, was on January 30th., in Beaufort, N.C. Right after the Heineken Regatta, I filled my spare water canister with 5 gallons at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. Last Monday’s stop was also the first time, since January 30, that “Fleetwood” was connected to terra firma. I cannot recall that I ever came close to these 70 days of transit and anchorages in my 15 years of this world cruise. But at felt so good and having saved all those berthing fees, I decided to treat my self to a night in the marina. This meant my first shower since the hospitality of Joni Dennis, in Beaufort, on departure February 3rd. And I could also do some extra provisioning in the nearby “Pueblo” super market, without having to lug my backpack and using the dinghy. It has been a very slow sail, until late yesterday afternoon, within a half hour the wind went from zero to about 15 knots. I had been motoring over a millpond until just beyond Puerto Plata on the Santo Domingo shore. The compass on my tiller pilot is not working after all; this means that all I can use it for to set the tiller in a fixed position, on smooth water this gives me as much as a few minutes to dive down into the cabin. At times there is just enough wind, while motoring, that the wind vane can keep the boat on course. As long as there is enough wind to keep the boat moving on a light breeze and the wind vane, I take that option. The first day I totaled 106 miles in 24 hours, next day 90, next 76, next 79, yesterday 105. Today, Easter Sunday’ will be the best, a steady 15 plus easterly, tonight it is supposed to get even stronger. The one week Predict Wind forecast proves to be quite accurate, since I have no other way than the radio from the boat, I am fortunate to be able to hear Chris Parker’s forecast every morning at 6.30 a.m. on the short-wave receiver. In a way, I was not in a hurry, since the stronger winds predicted for this evening and tomorrow are nasty further north from here. A cold front, coming down from the Great Lakes.

There are at least three fish swimming around with a hook through their mouth and trailing part of a broken line, instead of having nurtured my sashimi desires. The line I have is too weak.

I am doing close to 5 knots and losing the Haiti stations, next it will be the propaganda from Cuba and good Meringue. I noticed that I can understand much more of the Sto. Dominicanos than the Puerto Riquenos’ Spanish.

It is now Thursday the 16th. On Monday morning I had covered 106 miles for the 24 hours prior. And I could have been at least another 100 miles closer to my Florida destination, but I have slowed the boat down to about half the possible speed, keeping just under 3 knots per hour. This evening a cold front is coming down from the north with N.E. winds (right against the direction I am going) of 15/25 knots with gusts between 30 and 40 knots. Fortunately, so far, slowing the boat down has worked with a very mild S.E. breeze.  I am now at around 23̊N and 78̊W. I still do not know for sure how far south this storm will stall. There are really no places close enough to hide at anchor. The Bahama reefs offer little protection from a strong N.E. wind. It is supposed to peter out on Friday. I am reading a good book that Griffith Brinkley loaned me: “A Jesuit off-Broadway”. Great writing and insights behind the theater scenes. But most of all an outstanding lesson on theology and commons sense. But, thank God that I am blessed with a “poor in Spirit”. So much energy is spent on trying to explain God. Miracles remain abstract, I just accept his mercy. It is so still that I can hear the sound of a windvane sheave, that needs a squirt of WD-40, reminds me of “On Golden Pond”; the distant sound of a Loon.

I hear one AM station from the Bahamas and a couple Cuban FM programs with good Meringues and lots of experts on Covid-19. It sounds like our good President gets blamed for the embargo that limits the Cuban access to medical equipment. Looks like this 1100-mile trip is going to take me as long as the two-week 1,400-mile trip from Beaufort, N.C. to Saint Martin.

A coast guard cutter suddenly appeared right on my starboard, yesterday. They do not transmit on AIS. It was quite windy and that probably spared them a trip in their inflatable.

So, we had a very nice courteous conversation over the VHF radio, to identify myself and the boat. I have just passed through the Old Bahamas Channel. Quite a bit of commercial shipping. But I like these narrow channels with traffic lanes for the freighters. No surprises, as long as I stay outside of them.


Sunday April 19th. Back “home?” in Fort Lauderdale, Fl.

I arrived early this morning. I am tied to a mooring buoy across from the Bahia Mar Marina. I got lucky since without a smart phone and an internet subscription I rely on free wi-fi, usually at restaurants or bars. But they are all shut. In 2017, I stayed one night in this very luxe marina and they let me use their free wi-fi in the shade on a dock chair. You would not know that recreational boating is supposed to be

Verbo(a)ten. A steady stream came plowing into the Atlantic, throwing their inconsiderate waves for the rag sailor to dodge.  Last night I got caught in a huge thunderstorm, lots of rain and a quick dousing of all my light wind sails. I was just entering the Gulf Stream. This gorgeous little song bird hitched a ride. It must have been thirsty, it kept picking up the rain drops from the life lines. It left at dusk.

My hitchhiker

Nov 2016 off the coast of Mexico

The I had a very unpleasant encounter with one of those sunset cruise boats. I really do not understand that they are allowed to bunch a people of boozers into one of those germ machines. I guess they are beyond the laws out on the water. But I cannot figure how they get them aboard in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. But this particular monster comes right at me. Because I can only see his bow and the green and red bow lights, I have no idea what I am looking at. A freighter? A huge fishing boat? So, I check to see if he registers on my AIS. Nothing. Next, I call him on the VHF and ask him what his intentions are. What was so unusual that he is coming at me from the east where there is nothing to go to other than wreck your ship on the Florida Keys. All the other traffic is going either north or south.

And he is aiming right for me. No answer to my VHF call on the mandatory monitoring Channel 16.

So, I jibe the boat to change from a North direction to North West. But there is so little wind that I have to get the engine going. In the meantime, he keeps coming. Then he starts shining search lights on me.

And calls me on the VHF. And then he has now turned on his AIS and I see just a number no name, like the commercial ships do. When I first called him, I asked if he might be a Coast Guard Cutter, because they like to be able to sneak up on you and do not transmit their AIS position.

Then this snotty young Latino with broken, English tells me that he never heard my VHF call. He just did not have it on like his AIS. I’m really pissed when he started telling me that I should not have altered my course. I should have just let him run me down? I’m planning to report him to the Coast Guard he did not want to give me his name, the vessel was “Explorer”. Later that night I saw him wander some more all over the busy shipping lanes. Some of you must have wondered, watching the tracker zig-zag all over the map, if I were sailing an opium den. So much of the wind was dead behind and then the only way to keep some speed is to sail 5 t 10 degrees off the wind, to keep the sails filled. And there were some sudden wind changes. This passage had some of the best and some of the worst sailing I’ve ever encountered on one passage. Mostly too little wind and the handicap of not being able to run the engine without the tiller pilot. Here is a picture of how you can sail dead down wind. But you need some room to be able to take a complicated set up down when a squall shows up.

sailing wing on wing

Two different sail numbers. Jack the Rag-Tag sailor


Plans:   I got word back from Green Cove Springs, that they are open. So, I will sail from here coast hopping and using the ICW in case of bad weather on the outside, to Jacksonville and go up the St. Johns River. This will then be the 4th time I have hauled out there. You remember the “Porch”? My good friend Randy Register has just written a book about the Porch People. Free on Kindle!!

I will probably make a quick visit to the Chesapeake, once the boat is on the hard there and then be back on the boat by late May. Lets hope and pray that the Covid-19 will have been wrestled into a choke hold soon.


Saturday April 4, Easter in Confinement

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 4th, 2020

Since I started my sailing adventure in 2005 I have celebrated the feast of Christ’s Resurrection until 2014 in a different church and mostly a different country, with the exception of 2011 and 2012 which were in the same church, in Holland. This year it will be a surprise how and where I will be in the Corona confinement.

75 years ago, on April 1st 1945, our mother celebrated Easter in confinement, as a political prisoner in the AGFA Commando satellite Dachau concentration camp. Officially religious gatherings were not allowed in the SS run concentration camps. In this satellite camp the 200 Dutch women were housed in a partially bombed apartment complex, surrounded with barbed wire and watchtowers, but the guards left them alone in their quarters. Our mother had the only new testament and the German civilian workers in the factory had lent the ladies an old testament which they translated and wrote out longhand on discarded correspondence they recovered from the factory trash cans. They also made up a hymnal from the collective memories of the women.


Here is what mother recorded and is part of my book :

Easter in Dachau

April 1s, 1945. Easter Sunday.

It was Joukje Grandia-Smits’[1] turn to lead our Easter service.

The entrance song was Hymn 221 verses 1 and 2.

Hail to You first of the days

Dawn of the Resurrection

Through Whose light the power of hell has been conquered

And death has been eliminated

The text for the sermon was taken from Matthew 25, 1-22, the story of the Resurrection. Our recessional song was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

Later in the day, we all joined the Roman Catholic women at their Easter Service. They used my New Testament. We appropriately sang together “The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord”.

The song book made by the prisoners.

# 24 is the third verse of the hymn “Diep, o God, in’t stof gebogen” sung in America as “Comfort, comfort oh my people” On Right is the front of the correspondence out of the factory trashcan. Note the “Heil Hitler”. The letter is dated May 1, 1940, just days before the Fascists invaded Holland.

On the preceding Good Friday, it was our mother who gave the homily, which she ended with:

“The risen Lord Jesus Christ was first seen by women,

by women who had knelt at the foot of the Cross”.

[1] Joukje Grandia-Smit known under her code name “Clara” is known as the very first courier for the Dutch Resistance, the LO-LKP.


Wishing everyone a Blessed and Happy Easter, under the circumstances.


30 maart. 75 Jaar geleden in de “Hongerwinter” van 1944-45.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 1st, 2020

30 maart 2020. 75 jaar geleden. De Hongerwinter van 1944-1945.

Dit is uit het dagboek van mijn vader Dick van Ommen dat hij bijhield tijdens de gevangenschap van onze moeder van april 1944 tot haar thuiskomst van Dachau op 22 mei 1945. Gedeeltes van het dagboek zijn overgenomen in mijn boek “De Mastmakersdochters” (

Dominee Kunst van de Waalkerk, had tijdelijke onderdak gevonden voor 150 kinderen van zijn kerkgemeenschap bij families in de Wieringermeer. Mijn tweelingbroer Jan en ik (Jaap/Jacob/Jack) waren met onze vader bij onze opa en oma in de Watergraafsmeer eon onze drie jaar oudere zus, Karolien, was bij haar oom en tante in Alphen a/d Rijn.

29 maart 1945:

Vanmorgen kwam Saakje[1] bij me aan kantoor met de mededeling dat Jan en Jaap gisteravond om half 12 bij hun door een politieagent werden afgeleverd. Er waren bij die boer andere kinderen gekomen en nu hebben ze de jongens weggestuurd, een rare manier van doen.

Hoe het precies zit weet ik niet, ze hadden geen brief bij zich, er is wel door iemand die bij hun in de auto zat een brief aan Ds. Kunst meegegeven, morgenochtend ga ik direct daarheen. De jongens zagen er wel goed uit, echter wel onverzorgd, ze kwamen huilende op de Singel aan, hun dekens sleepten over de straat, een koffer bij zich plus hun nette waschgoed. Die auto heeft hun aan het politiebureau Adelaarsweg afgeleverd en zijn toen door een agent naar Amsterdam gebracht en deze wilde ze naar het bureau Centraal Station brengen. Maar Jaap zei, mijn oom woont hier, op Singel 2A, breng ons daar maar heen. We vinden het allen geen handelwijze[2].

30 Maart

Goede Vrijdag, naar Ds. Kunst gegaan, hij had wel een brief gekregen, maar die ter behandeling aan Mej. Grosheide gegeven, hij was ook niet te spreken over zoo’n wijze van doen. Hij had meer minder prettige ervaringen opgedaan over de menschen in de Wieringermeer.


Ik ga nu weer terug naar het begin van het verhaal uit het dagboek:


6 Februari 1945

Vanmorgen op weg naar kantoor sprak ik Ds. Kunst die ging naar de schipper, hij kon 150 kinderen naar de Wieringermeer plaatsen, ik zei dat wij de jongens ook wel daarheen wilde hebben, dit ging wel, dan moesten ze morgenochtend daar zijn (stijger). Ik heb Mieke[3] me laten opbellen en gezegd dat ze weg konden, zij moest dan naar de Waalkerk gaan daar was Juffrouw Grosheide die ze inschreef. Ze moesten ieder een deken, stam en bonkaart meenemen. Het is wel een werk geweest alles voor elkaar te krijgen, ik heb ‘s middags vast een koffer naar de Singel gebracht, om 7 uur ben ik met de jongens vertrokken en hebben op de Singel overnacht.

Om 4 uur opgestaan naar het Damrak, daar lag het schip, het was erg donker, een groote tjalk, stroo in het ruim, de kinderen plat op de vloer. Zuster Goede, Ds. Kunst en nog twee heren gingen mee. Ik kende ze allen, zoodat ze wel in goede handen zijn. Ze gaan naar Middenmeer en Slootdorp, de stemming was best, de jongens vonden het ook leuk. Jan zat er wel wat over in dat hij op zijn verjaardag niet thuis was. Een kind zag nog kans in het water te vallen, de vader sprong er ook in doch beiden waren spoedig op het droge. Mevr. Leibbrandt bracht Jan en Gottfried.

Van Vlaanderen[4] stond ook op de lijst maar was niet present, ze hebben het daar anders erg noodig. Om halfzeven vertrokken ze, getrokken door een sleepboot. Het is wel akelig dat ze nu weg zijn, maar voor de voeding is het wel noodzakelijk, ook werd het voor Pa en Moe wel te druk, het is hier vreemd stil.

 13 Februarie

 Er is een brief bezorgd van de pleegouders van de jongens uit Middenmeer, de familie Dekens, ze schrijven zoo aardig, het is een boerderij, 5 kinderen 18-4 jaar, ze zijn erg op schik, ik mag gerust op hun verjaardag komen, ze krijgen nog wel 2 baby’s uit Haarlem, maar het kan wel. Jan en Jaap schreven ook een brief, Jan kort, Jaap zeer uitvoerig, de reis viel niet mee van 6-5 uur in het ruim, toen ze aankwamen zijn ze die nacht in een hotel in Middenmeer ondergebracht. Ze brengen het paard weg, er zijn kippen, varkens en konijnen.

We zijn zoo dankbaar dat het zoo goed is gegaan. Ze mogen tot na de oorlog blijven ze hebben ook al spek gegeten. Ze hadden nogal veel brood mee op reis, Jaap schreef dat hij gedeeld had met kinderen die niets hadden.

Gisteren trof ik in een portiek een ventje van ongeveer 9 jaar dat huilde, ik vroeg: “wat scheelt er aan vent”. “Ik heb zoon honger” antwoordde hij, dat gaat je door alles heen. Langs de huizen komen ze vragen om brood of ander eten. In de krant las ik het sterftecijfer. Was in 1944 van 26 Januari tot 4 Februari 169 pers. Dit jaar was dit 506.

De jongens Leibbrandt zijn wegens plaatsgebrek[5] naar Andijk moeten gaan.

Hannie Broers[6] is bij een boerenarbeider, Catharina Geel[7] is ook in Middenmeer.

27 Februari

Vanmorgen om 7.30 gestart naar Middenmeer. Ik heb Sieb’s fiets te leen gehad, de mijne is bezweken. Het was goed weer, vrij veel wind. Over Zaandam, Purmerend, Oosthuizen, even bij van de Wal zijn dochter aangeweest. Kop koffie gedronken, was 12 uur in Hoorn, daar boterham opgegeten, 1 uur verder gegaan, was om 3.30 in Middenmeer. Een prachtige nieuwe moderne boerderij[8].

De jongens waren met de wagen naar Kolhorn, tegen 6 uur kwamen ze thuis, ze zagen er best uit, wat hebben ze het daar uitstekend, lieve menschen, Groningers, de kinderen zijn ook erg lief voor ze, ze eten brood zooveel ze lusten, pap met volle melk, vleesch enz. Jan is de heele dag met de knechten in het land, kent alle beesten bij naam, hebben op het veulen gezeten. De eerste week waren ze 1 pond afgevallen, na 2 weken Jaap 4 pond aangekomen. Ik heb die klacht van de boer bevredigend kunnen oplossen.

Jaap schepte op dat ze de indruk hadden dat ze niet ondervoed waren en dan waren er velen die eerder in aanmerking kwamen, ik zei dat ze wel niet ondervoed waren maar toch al veel te kort waren gekomen en we voor het te laat was tot deze maatregel waren overgegaan, vet en boter krijgen ze al lang niet meer en brood is hier gerantsoeneerd. Voorts hadden ze de indruk dat het Opa en Oma te druk werd, (volgens Jaap zijn uitlating) en hij voelde er niets voor om kindermeisje te spelen, toen ik dit weerlegd heb zei hij dat verandert de zaak.

Het zijn aardige jongens, gelukkig dat het weer in orde is. Ik heb Jaap op zijn hart gedrukt dat hij erg dankbaar moest wezen dat hij hier mocht zijn. Ze aten een keer Jan in de zak, dat lustte Jaap niet maar hij kreeg ‘s avonds weer, opgebakken, toen lustte hij het wel.

Des avonds aten wij brood en ik kreeg gebakken aardappels met een stukje spek, pap na, heerlijk. Ik sliep op een 2 persoons bed in de logeerkamer, keurig.

De volgende dag hun verjaardag, ze hadden hun Zondagse pak aan, melk bij het ontbijt, ‘s middags aten we aardappels met een flink stuk vleesch, spercieboonen, een groot bord vla na, ‘s avonds groote sneden tarwebrood en pap, voor de verjaardag had de vrouw een cake gebakken, de jongens kregen voor het naar bed gaan een stuk, wij bij de koffie. Die dag Catherien Geel bezocht en Hannie Broers[9] in Slootdorp, hebben het ook goed, zijn bij gewone dorpsbewoners. Schaafsma bezocht, daar is ook een Meisje uit de wijk in huis en 2 Meisjes van Kuyken.

De volgende morgen 8.30 vertrokken, hartelijk afscheid genomen, mocht nog wel eens komen, kreeg mee 12 besmeerde boterhammen met kaas, 2 mooie peren, die ik bewaard heb voor hier, 1 voor Rien en 1 voor Moe, bovendien een zak tarwe van 17 pond. Ik heb er een paar aangename dagen gehad. Er stond veel wind, veel regen gehad, was 4.30 weer hier. Even voor Hoorn Duitse controle, maar ik ben er aardig doorgeglipt.

Miep de Wit is met 2 Meisjes bij een boer in Wieringerwerf weduwnaar, zal wel trouwen worden. In de Alblasstraat is bijna geen kind meer, alleen Lientje Swart, Peter Biemond en Anton Jansen zijn nog over.

De kinderen van Zemmelink[10]  gaan naar Texel. Kees Vlaanderen is naar Friesland geloopen, Wim[11] is naar Gramsbergen. Hans Alberts[12] is naar Nes, ook Mevr. Verhagen[13] met de kinderen.

[1] Schoonzuster

[2] De tweeling had een ontsnappingstunnel voor de ondergedoken knechten ontdekt en een verstopte ambulance in de hooiberg. Ze waren te ondernemend.

[3] schoonzuster

[4] Onze buren op Alblasstraat 39 II

[5] In de Wieringermeer

[6] Ablasstraat 44 I

[7] Alblasstraat 52 II (tante van de TV evangeliste Jacobina Geel)

[8] Famile Klaas Dekens, Schagerweg 25. Middenmeer. Klaas jr. emigreerde naar Canada.

[9] Alblasstraat

[10] Alblasstraat 57 I

[11] Vlaanderen Alblasstraat 39 II, buren, Wim 1931 Kees 1928?

[12] Griftstraat 46 II

[13] Alblasstraat 46 of 48 Mijnheer Verhage was de Luchtbescherming man.


75 years ago In the “Hunger winter” of World War II

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 31st, 2020

Seventy-five years ago, March 30 1945 was Good Friday. Near midnight on Holy Thursday eve, two dripping wet crying boys rang the doorbell at their aunt and uncle’s home in the old center of Amsterdam. One of those little boys was me. (Plagiarizing Kamala Harris…  ). My twin brother and I had just turned 8, a month ago.

The winter in Holland in 1944-’45 is still reverted to as “The Hunger Winter”. Particularly in the major cities there was little food. Our father and my brother and I had been staying with our grandparents in Amsterdam. Our three year older sister was living with an uncle and aunt in Alphen at this time. The pastor of our Christian Reformed church had arranged for temporary lodging with families in the countryside for a group of 150 children from our neighborhood and the Christian elementary school.

These are excerpts from my father’s diary he kept ever since our mother had been arrested the end of April 1944.

March 29. Early this morning, Saakje (sister in law) showed up at my office to tell me that Jan and Jaap had been dropped off at their house on the Singel at 11.30 p.m. by a police man. The farmer had received other children and then sent our boys away.

I thought that their concerns about the twins’ behavior had been addressed during my recent visit on the twins’ birthday.

It seems like a very strange way of doing things. Apparently, the driver, who took them back to Amsterdam, had a letter on him for Pastor Kunst. The boys looked o.k. but unkempt. They arrived in tears on the Singel, dragging their blankets over the wet streets. They had one piece of luggage with them. The farmer had put them under a tarp in the back of an open pick-up truck but the boys had not had enough cover from the rain and the cold night. They had left in the evening in a hurry. The driver had dropped them off at the Police Station on the Adelaarsweg in Amsterdam North. One of the Policemen had accompanied them to the Police Station near the Koepelkerk where the twins recognized that they were near the Singel and then had the policeman ring the bell at nearly midnight at their aunt and uncle on the Singel.

March 30. Good Friday. Went to see Pastor Kunst. He had received the letter from Wieringermeer and was not very happy with the way this was handled. He had already had other unpleasant experiences with his contacts in the Wieringermeer. Kunst has given them a piece of his mind and accused them of committing an unpatriotic act towards the van Ommen family.

This is the part from father’s diary where our story begins:

February 6. This morning on my way to work, I ran into Pastor Kunst. He was on his way to talk to a barge skipper. Kunst had found a way to place 150 children from the church families on farms in the Wieringermeer[1]. I told him that I would like our boys to go there as well. He would look into that. They needed to be on the dock the next morning at 5 a.m. I had quite a job making the arrangements on such a short notice. Jaap and Jan had to be picked up from their grandparents and then I brought them to Siebold on the Singel, for the night, which was just a short walk to the dock. They had to get up at 4 a.m. In the Damrak, near the Central Station, lay a large Tjalk[2]. Straw had been spread on the cargo hold floor. The children were all stretched out on the straw.

The children are in good hands. They are headed for the towns of Middenmeer and Slootdorp. The mood was good and our boys enjoyed the adventure as well. They recognized many of their Dr. de Moorschool friends who they had not seen since July. Jan was a bit concerned that he would not be home for his 8th birthday. One of the children managed to fall into the ice-cold water while trying to board. The father jumped right in and both of them stood soaking wet back on the quay.

The barge took off at 6.30. A tugboat took the sailing barge in tow. I miss them but they’ll have much better chances to get the food that has become so scarce here in the city. It also became a bit too busy for their grandparents. It has become eerily quiet around here now. February 13. We have received a letter from the temporary foster parents of the boys. They are staying with a farmer family Dekens. There are five children on the farm in ages from four to eighteen. They are very happy there. I may come and visit on their birthday.

Jan and Jaap also added their letters. From Jan a very short message, Jaap wrote in more detail. They were locked in the hold for five to six hours. On arrival that night, the children were all quartered in a hotel in Middenmeer. They get to walk one of the horses, there are chickens, pigs and rabbits. They can stay until the end of the war.  The boys had brought each a couple of sandwiches for the trip and since several of the children had nothing to eat, they shared them. Jaap wrote that this prompted one of the older Mulder boys to conclude that our parents were NSB members (the Dutch Nazi party) because they were the only ones who would have access to bread. There were eleven hungry mouths to feed at the Mulder family who live about five doors up the street from us.

Yesterday, I came upon a young boy, I guessed him to be about nine years old, who stood there crying. I asked him: “What’s the matter, young man?” He replied: “I am hungry!” That just breaks your heart. People are coming through the neighborhood begging for bread or something to eat. I read in the newspaper that the death count for the week from January 26 to February 4th is 506. The same week last year was 169.

February 19. I helped unload a barge with a load of tulip bulbs[3], I received a little extra for my efforts and came home with 50 kilos.

February 21. Mrs. Heringa (Anna Heringa-Jongbloed) has died in Ravensbrück. One of the women in Ravensbrück has been released.[4] I hope to be able to get in touch with her.

February 23. I am busy cleaning the tulip bulbs; the flower stem has to be removed otherwise they continue sprouting. It is a good starch substitute, mashed like potatoes with a few carrots; tastes o.k.

Pastor Kunst brought me a letter he had received from the church commission in Middenmeer. In this letter, they point out that the twins did not have it all that bad with their grandparents in Amsterdam and did not lack anything. I am going to see the farmer family this Thursday for Jaap and Jan’s birthday and I will try to clear this up. It is really too bad that this had to happen.

February 27. I left at 7.30 a.m. for Middenmeer. Siebold lent me his bicycle. Mine has given up the ghost. The weather was good, a stiff breeze, via Zaandam, Purmerend. I reached Hoorn at noon where I ate a sandwich. At 3.30 p.m. I arrived in Middenmeer. It is a beautiful modern farm. The boys had gone to Kolhoorn with the horse-drawn wagon. They came home at 6 p.m. They looked fine.

They have found a very good home. Very kind people, they came to the Wieringermeer from Groningen. The children also treat the boys very well. Jan spends the whole day with the farm hands on the land. He has learned the names of all the animals.

I managed to clear up the farmer’s complaint, that had been reported in the letter to Pastor Kunst, to his satisfaction. The next day was their birthday. The boys had dressed in their Sunday clothes. Mrs. Dekens had baked a cake for their birthday.

March 1st. I took off again at 8.30 a.m. The whole farm crew waved me farewell and told me that I could come back any time. Mrs. Dekens gave me six ham and cheese sandwiches for the road and two pears, which I have saved for Rientje[5] and Moe. They also gave me a seventeen-pound sack of wheat. I enjoyed the couple of days I had with them. The wind was strong on the way back, rain showers; I made it back home by 4.30 p.m. Just before Hoorn there was a German road block, but I managed to find a way around it. There is hardly a child left in the Alblasstraat after the transport to the Wieringermeer.

The letter:

R.J. Ridder Accountants

Middenmeer, February 22, 1945 

The very reverend Mr. Dr. P.G. Kunst,

 Dear Dr. Kunst, 

As spokesperson for the church commission, I wish to advise you of the following incident with the van Ommen children, Jan and Jacob, who have been given a home with Mr. K. Dekens, Schagerweg, Middenmeer. These two children were living with their grandparents before they were assigned a home here. From their remarks, it has been clearly established that both boys did not lack anything, but instead were accustomed to what, we would call in these times, festive meals; at their grandmother white bread was regularly served, they had vegetables with every dinner. When they are served potatoes with ham, they insist on having vegetables with it, because that is what they are used to at their grandmother. This is their general attitude and the reason that their foster parents do not wish to keep them any longer. 

As a matter of fact, this sort of boys should never have been sent to us. There are thousands of children who have better reasons to be sent here. No doubt, you will share our conclusions. The Dekens family will shortly be receiving other children from Haarlem in the place of the van Ommens so that fortunately no children will become the victims of this problem.

Would you, please, get in touch with the parents or grandmother to have them send someone to come and get Jan and Jacob?

Fortunately, we have not had any other similar cases to report. 

In anticipation that you will look after this matter, I am, with kind regards, 

Your dv.

Later on, I heard from the boys that they had been a little too inquisitive. With the aid of the five-year-old son, Klaas, they had, for instance, discovered a secret tunnel from the farm that led underneath the road the farm fronted on to the canal that ran parallel with the road. This way the farm workers, who were hiding on the farm from the German forced labor service, could escape to a rowboat that was moored at the end of the tunnel in the canal. They also found an ambulance that was buried in the hay stack to keep it out of the hands of the Nazis.

This story is also part of my books: and 

[1] Wieringermeer was one of the very first “polders”, reclaimed land from the Zuider Zee. About 30 miles north of Amsterdam.

[2] Tjalk is a traditional Dutch flat bottom, lee boards, sailing barge.

[3] Tulip bulbs became a sought-after substitute for potatoes.

[4] Most likely this was Corrie ten Boom, who was released on January 1st. Or Hebe Kohlbrugge released January 1945. At this time Dick van Ommen still does not know any better than that his wife is still in Ravensbrück instead of Dachau.

[5] Rientje is Rennie’s youngest sister and had chronic health problems in that period.


Monday March 30. St. Thomas USVI. End of the line?

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 30th, 2020

I left yesterday Sunday morning from Christiansted on Saint Croix heading for Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. A 37- miles fast sail, a reach with a little over 20 knots of trade wind from the east. One reef in the main and my little red storm jib. Averaging about 4 ½ knots. A little bumpy. Listening to salsa music. The Virgin Islands have a large Spanish American community, mainly from Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo.

Earlier in the morning I had a fitting Sunday morning religious program but it has faded in the distance on St. Croix.

The Covid-19 had me abandon my original plan to visit more of the French West Indies islands like Guadeloupe and also Antigua. They do not allow foreign boats to enter any longer. Until yesterday evening I had understood that Puerto Rico was accessible for US citizens. But that was questioned. I’ll have to verify this tomorrow morning on St. Thomas. Cuba, where I had hoped to stop and get dental work done, has also closed its borders.

Without internet here on the water, I am not sure where I left off in my previous blog. So, I’ll work back.

I left St. Barth on Wednesday morning, the 25th for the over 100-miles overnight sail to La Croix. A nice downwind sail during the day but the wind dropped and it was a frustrating slow night with slapping boom and sails. Without my tiller pilot, it is very difficult to steer the helm under engine power. Thursday morning the wind came back. When I got close to my planned anchorage, I dropped the main and when I tried start the engine for maneuvering to anchorage, the starter would not respond. What to do? I had a little room and time left. Checked the obvious, fuse, etc. And when I sailed closer, under the genoa jib, it looked like I would not have an escape route to sail back out against the wind. My call on the VHF channel 16 for local assistance went nowhere. A little later the US Coast Guard control center on Puerto Rico responded. They gave me the phone number for Boat US towing assistance. It was an answering machine on St. Thomas. I had no choice but plan A and do it right. It worked, I got the hook down reasonable clear to shore, so I could row to the world and a wi-fi connection. Because I had been holed up in a remote anchorage, Le Colombier, on Saint Barth since Wednesday the 18th of March.

Pictures of St. Croix: Chickens, roosters everywhere. I could not make myself pay $8.35 for a dozen of eggs. One could make a fortune if they could figure out where these stray chickens laid their eggs, instead of flying them in from the USA.


The chickens and the search for eggs

A flowering flame tree, rare sight in winter.

The Danish heritage





My Gig Harbor friends returned to the United States on the weekend of the 14th of March. I had promised Richard Spindler to bring a bottle of propane along to St. Barth. The gas merchant in Marigot gave me the run around and instead on having it ready on Friday the 13th, I ended up buying it on the Dutch side of the island and sailing it late Tuesday to St. Barth. I went ashore and could not believe what I saw. Hardly a car on the road and all stores and restaurants shuttered. I managed to get a cold beer and wi-fi at a takeout restaurant. Richard then told me that they were in Le Columbier and suggested I’d consider sitting out a blow predicted for Friday. That blow did not let up until Tuesday night. So, here I was for a week on a mooring buoy. It is the most protected anchorage on the island and the mooring buoys are free. As much as I trust my plow anchor there remains some apprehension when the wind comes up. No worries here. I rowed to shore that first Wednesday and took these pictures.

sunset from Le Colombier

the windy side of the Atlantic

my dinghy on beach “Fleetwood” in background





Someone came on to the VHF radio to warn the people on the beach that this was not allowed under the restrictions that went into effect the day before. It looked like I’d be able to leave for St. Croix on Saturday after the Friday strong winds, I deflated the dinghy, then found out that the strong winds were still to last a couple more days.

I could never have imagined that I would not go out of my mind tied to a mooring buoy for a week, but I managed to get much needed chores done. Backing up my laptop, editing a string of video projects. There was no socializing across the bay with other boats. Richard and Dona would stop by and keep the required distance from their dinghy. Once in a while I’d get a knock on the hull when Richard was doing his swimming routine.

I had my favorite radio programs. Mostly in French.

Meanwhile, Monday the 30th., anchored out on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, my previous blog left off just after the Heineken Regatta on Sint Maarten. The four Gig Harbor couples came back to the anchorage Grand Case on St. Martin and I joined them there from Marigot on March 11. Beautiful bay and protected anchorage. Good bathing beach with the shore line lined with restaurants and bars where one can rent beach chairs and sun shades. It is a short distance from Marigot and a favorite destination for tourists and locals to come out to dinner or lunch to some of the best restaurants there on the island.

The next morning the nine of us took of for a day cruise to Pinel Island on the Clark’s catamaran. This was my very first sail on a Catamaran, bigger than a Hobycat. Compared to “Fleetwood”, this is sailing in comfort and luxury while watching the shore line slide by from your large living room and deck.

At Pinel, Clark’s catamaran in front

Mothers don’t let your daughters to grow up to be slaves to their smart phones!!

Kite surfing at Pinel




We sailed back from Grand Case on Friday the 13th. My friends returned home on Saturday and Sunday. Marlys restocked my provisions with the left overs from their two week cruise, which came in handy while sitting out my one week recluse in Le Colombier.

My free wi-fi options have become very tough to find, with all the restaurants and bars closed. I am sitting on the edge of a drainage ditch behind a hotel, with an open connection.  I have sent an e-mail to the marina in Havana, to see if i might be able to come in and sit through a quarantine. But most likely I’ll be on my way south in the next couple of days. I might try to get to Vero Beach before Easter and park the boat there on their inexpensive buoy moorage and rent a car to come to the Chesapeake. Then I will most likely do a haul out in Green Cove Springs, near Jacksonville. The bottom is getting raunchy. So, keep an eye on my tracker when I disappear from FB and internet.

I will choose my route east or west of the Bahamas depending on the internet predictions. I now have a decent connection to Chris Parker’s shortwave briefings. Which will help me decide when it is time to duck from the Atlantic on to the ICW, while I’m underway.

I don’t see much of a possibility to find the part I need for the tiller pilot on the internet.




Monday March 9 My 83rd birthday on St. Barth and Saint Martin and the 40th Heineken Regatta.

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 9th, 2020

I left Marigot on Monday February 24th, just a short 25 miles sail. The island, harbor and the town of Gustafia are a delight. Quite a contrast to St. Martin and Sint Maarten. Much cleaner and better run. It is the playground of the wealthy, particularly yacht owners. Every luxury brand store is represented here on the harbor front.

Gustavia harbor

From the Anse Public anchorage

Typical style from the Swedish colonial period




I met up with Richard and Dona Spindler and Jim and Jeannette Drake, who I had met with Richard’s catamaran “Ti Profligate” in Marigot. Richard treated me to a fabulous birthday dinner with the Drakes and several other sailor friends, at “Eddie’s” restaurant. Before dinner he introduced me to a group of local expat sailors from France and the USA at the “Select Bar” a longtime sailor hangout.

L.R. Richard Spindler, Steve Travis, longtime US sailor/adventurer on the island, Luc Poupon, Michel Corre a salty Breton sailor

Meeting the French sailing legend Luc Poupon, at the “Select”, was a treat. He started his trophy collection when I jumped into my new passion in the mid seventies and I remember reading about his and his older brother Philippe sailing accomplishments.  60 transatlantic crossings, with an impressive sailing record, like trans-Atlantic solo record, many others most on “Fleury Michou” see:…/avec-tabarly-on-ne-s-attachait-jam… He started Les Voiles de St. Barth regatta in 2010 which is now one of the most aspired yachting event in the Caribbean. On right is Michel Corre, Breton with several Atlantic crossings, solo and crewed.

I returned to Marigot on the 29th and was treated by three couples of my longtime Gig Harbor YC friends for another birthday dinner at the “O Plongeur” across from the Marina Fort Louis.

L.R. Marlys Clark, me, Janet James, Terry James, Doris Gordon, Tom Gordon, Greg Clark


Greg and Marlys Clark have their Bali Catamaran in a charter program out of the Grenadines and picked up a similar yacht here. Marlys used to work with me in Gig Harbor from 1988 until 1997. They were then living on “Oasis” a motor yacht, moored in Gig Harbor bay. She used to commute to our office on their tender. Greg became a captain on super ocean-going yachts. Marlys worked, until her recent retirement, as the stewardess. An exciting life that took them across the globe on different yachts. They plan to move onto their own catamaran when Greg retires in a few years. We have been together since the 5th on the Dutch side of the island, near the bridge into Simpson Bay, where all the action has been until yesterday. The 40th Heineken regatta. This you tube video

will give you an idea of the excitement.  This regatta is known for some of the world’s top competitors as well the cruising class. In this class, there are many participating with local charter boats. A fourth couple from Gig harbor, Kelly and Shawna Bussey, joined the Clarks party on the 4th.

Greg, Terry and Kelly helped me to the top of the mast on Friday to replace the lamp for the Tri-Color and to replace the windex that lew off in the strong winds on my way from Beaufort.

taken by Janet James from “Dominique”

They left on Saturday for St. Barth, I tried to follow them a couple hours later, but the wind had strengthened and I considered it to have to sail through the starting fleet in these conditions and not having a working tiller pilot. I went to work on the tiller pilot and got the motor running but the compass does not work any longer. I am going to try find a solution/parts today.

I attended the 8.30 mass in Philipsburg at the church of Saint Martin of Tours (same saint as the church I attended twice in Marigot), served by the order of Divine Word Missionaries. This was a very special experience. The congregation, majority the black locals and some tourist, is very much involved in the liturgy and an impressive list of church and social activities. They sing Happy Birthday for any who has a birthday that week, and they have a song for any first-time visitors. The associate pastor is from Indonesia, Yohanes Bally SVD. After a very meaningful sermon, he whipped out his guitar and sang this wonderful song:

Much of the liturgy was sung. With a voice and musical talent, he has to be the envy of many believers and his colleagues.

You hear very little Dutch on Sint Maarten. There is a rare radio program in Dutch. Many Americans and Canadians work here and have retired here. The Dollar is the most common payment method. They also still have their own currency, the guilder. And the Euro is also accepted but less so than with their French neighbors.

The Clarks are already on their way back from St. Barth. I will probably wait here to see them in the next couple of days when they return their catamaran to Marigot.


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  and you can find their videos at Frog Tour on You Tube.


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: