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

Sunday, July 23rd, 2023

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

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

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

one of the stanchion bases

starboard stern

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

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

Port stern corner




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

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

the 8 foot deck edge removal

the repairs scarfed in the hull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Bonofacius church

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

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

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


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

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


June 9 2023. Two weeks delay in departure for Zaandam

Friday, June 9th, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

The header of the article:

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


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

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

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

I sang with the large choir at the Pentecost service.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


For Sale my Retro Treasures retrieved from “Fleetwood III”

Friday, May 26th, 2023

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













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

Here are the details:

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

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


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

Monday, May 15th, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 4th by Veronica Tummers

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

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

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

The godmother, Yvette Claeys, assisted me again.

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

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

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

1421 get that chute up!

sailing Stradivarius

wild start

close up

March 20, 2023. Back home with “Fleetwood III” in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Ten days ago, I said goodbye to my friends in and near Cape Charles, Virginia with whom I spent a month. My home by accident after my June 24 2017 shipwreck on the nearby Barrier Islands.

“Torn between two lovers (Pacific and Atlantic) Feeling like a Fool….”.

February 28th, I celebrated, with friends, my twin brothers’ 86th birthday. Lunch in Machipongo with Thelma and Laila and dinner at the Orzos. Jeannette and Ralph Orzo were the first friendships I made in Cape Charles and they became my introduction in the Saint Charles of Borromeo parish and their extended local circle and sailor friends.



My second oldest grandson David Leon came to Visit me from Portsmouth, Va. with his daughters Madison (nearly 14) and Lily (12) on March 5th.

V(an) O(mmen) Madison @ Lily Leon







Chris Johnson, who I met in the Cape Charles Marina in early 2021, was my host for the March 10 weekend in Kinsale, Va. We met because of my curiosity in Chris’ boat name “The Twin Brothers”. My very first boat name was “Gemini”. When I bought the boat in 1976, I happened to date another twin. Chris has a twin brother.

On my return from my summer 2021 cruise to the Block Island Sound, I visited Kinsale see: https://cometosea.us/?p=7272

On Saturday Chris had organized another get together with the Northern Neck YC. I gave another presentation. On my previous visit the local parish was still meeting in a temporary mission building and this Sunday we went to mass in the beautiful brand new church. For me this was an exciting event. The need for new churches is rare in America and even worse in the Netherlands. The growth in this rural farming area is due in part to the younger growing Spanish speaking immigration and retirees from the urban areas. As you will note in the pictures Father Heintz still faces the altar. Communion is still done on a kneeler and the host placed on the tongue, like in pre-Vatican Council 2 in 1965.

St. Paul’s Church in Hague, Va.

Father Heintz

And while on the subject of retro-worship, on the way from our service I took the picture of an Amish couple off to their Sunday meeting.

Amish buggy








Kinsale has a long history and I stayed in the RB&B above the country store overlooking the “The Slips” marina both operated by Annie the 6th generation of the founding Arnest generation.

Kinsale “The Slips” RB@B

On the subject of history, again, I am writing this from the apartment of my cousin Carol de Vries. In one of the oldest Amsterdam buildings, built between 1605 and 1610. The old painting shows where it once stood on the very edge of the saltwater Zuiderzee. The Central Station is built on a manmade island. Our grandfather and his family and mastmaker business moved here from Friesland in 1928.

Spanish Gable


Singel 2A 1948









The black and white photo dates from around 1948, when I was 11 and still clear in my memory. The gas pump on the left was hand operated. Note the pre 1953 V.W. beetle, with split rear window. The window washer’s ladder handcar. The access to the upper floors on the steep narrow stairs is precarious and an American liability lawyer’s dream. From the second story upward, the merchandise was always hoisted with block and tackle through the large floor level double doors. The Amsterdam firemen are prepared with special lift equipment.

A basket case

This picture shows my cousin being lowered when, last year, the stairs or the block and tackle were not an option. I did not have as many spectators when the coast guard evacuated me in a basket in the opposite directions, in 2017.


From where the black and white photo is taken, while I am writing this, the police is removing bicycles. Amsterdam is running out of bike parking. The next picture was taken om March 29 nine years ago. But this prized tourist shot, right outside the Central Station, has been sanitized this year. A new underground bike park for 7,000 bikes has just opened and another one for 4,000 bicycles on the harbor side of the station.

More bikes than Dutchmen

Underground parking

Spring Cleaning

Enlarged. In rear the St. Nicholas Basilica

I landed in Amsterdam on the 14th. The boat has survived the mild winter. But it is still in the forties and little sunshine so far. I have no prediction yet on the expected completion of the above the waterline repairs until I remove part of the deck. Once the winter on shore storage is back in the water, around mid-April, I will be allowed to stay on the boat on the hard.

Wednesday I had my first rehearsal with the large church choir for the Easter and most importantly the May 4th 2nd WW Memorial Day concert. We are singing with about 40 choir members and 20 guest singers Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Mass and like in 2013 and 2016 (https://cometosea.us/?p=5741), “Abide with me” and the English version of Mendelssohn’s Hör Mein Bitten-Hear my Prayer. https://www.augustinusparochie.nl/koren.html#LPK

On Saturday evening, I attended the High Mass here, across from the Central Station, in the Saint Nicholas basilica. This was on the occasion of the annual procession, the “Stille Ommegang”. In 1345 a miracle took place in the neighborhood and believers come from far and wide to make this pilgrimage to reflect in a solemn quiet procession. The church was packed and the two bishops in the photograph are from the Utrecht and Haarlem diocese. Amsterdam falls under the Haarlem diocese.

Yesterday was my oldest nephew’s 65th birthday, my sister’s son, Dirk Jan de Ruiter. His youngest sister arrived from West Australia on the same day as I did. She is an expectant grandmother. My three-year older sister’s first great grandchild. I have a 15-year jump on my sister and twin brother and expecting number 5 in august. It is all a question of diet and fresh air.

Dirk Jan de Ruiter and yougest son Lukas


Wishing all a reinvigorating Spring and continued blessings in Lent culminating in the celebration of the feast of the Resurrection.

Feb 21, ’23 Eighteen years to roam just to make this world my own.

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

Feb 15 2005 Hi-Way 101 Oregon


Headed for the Frisco Bay. On Highway 101, February 2005.


I’m “sittin” on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay visiting friends in Cape Charles on the Virginia Eastern Shore, watching the tides roll away. I left my oldest daughter Lisa’s home in the North West the last day of January and visited my youngest son Seth in Roseburg, Oregon, my youngest daughter Jeannine in Redlands, California and my oldest son John in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The winter storms brought green hills and snowcapped mountains back to California and revived good memories of my first years in America in the late fifties.

Green hills and Mt. Baldy upper right

Mt. Baldy








Before leaving the N.W., I made a trip up to Vancouver, B.C. and friends north of Seattle. One of the visits turned out to be a good bye to my 51 years longest continuous friendship with Sid Nesbit. Sid passed away last Sunday. We met on a ski charter flight to Zurich in February 1972. I was with my Canadian friend Paul Girard and Sid with his wife to be Leslie. Somehow, we managed to rearrange our seat assignments for Sid and Leslie to sit next to each other on the 11 hour flight and to ski together in Lech am Arlberg. Sid got me back into sailing and as architect designed the three housed I built between 1977 and 1993. He’d fly in his float plane from Bellingham to the construction sites in Gig Harbor. In those years, I made weekly trips to Vancouver to purchase my wood products and usually I would overnight with Sid and Leslie on that 300-mile roundtrip, in their home on the Lummi Reservation near Bellingham. We shared many ski trips and sailboat trips and regattas. Sid was my best man in the last wedding in 1993. We will miss him but continue to treasure the blessings he added to our lives.

Sid 1993










Last April, just after my February 3rd shipwreck on the Cuban coast, while visiting my dayghter Lisa, I made new friends at St. Theresa church I attended in Federal Way. A young couple, Gabriel and Cate Lichten, who had recently moved there from Seattle continued their involvement with feeding the homeless. I asked to join while I was visiting and through it made some valuable new friendships. If you ever qualify and are homeless in Seattle check it out. Cate prepares meals that could make the Michelin ratings.

At Operation Nightwatch, Seattle. Lisa on left







I’m still on schedule to be back in Amsterdam in the later part of March to continue the repair on “Fleetwood III”. It is hard to estimate the time it will take. Only after removing part of the teak deck will I be able to determine what lays hidden under the deck.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. The gift will be my fifth great-grand child expected in Scotland in early August. I’ve got a challenge now; it would be a great destination for a sea trial across the North Sea through the Caledonia Canal to Glasgow.

A sunset from the home of my hostess Susan Kovacs on Hungars Creek, Machipongo, Va.



December 5th 2022. Saint Nicholas Eve

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Merry Christmas


This is the day Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas goes around in Holland and makes sure all the good children receive a gift. The bad children get a spanking with the “gard”. Fortunately, I have always been good. You already knew that.

Today there was a package for me on the doorstep. A brand-new cellphone.

December 6th.  Well, yes finally after another day of long phone calls, I can be reached again by my old US phone number (ending in -7204). And I use Whatsapp on the same number.

It took exactly three weeks in the process of a zillion phone calls from Skype through inconvenient time zones and Asian call centers. Good thing robots are immune to my wishes for them. They’d screw up names, zip codes and I have to start the whole process all over. It took 10 days to establish that the phone I had bought in Amsterdam does not work in this country. Meanwhile there is no way, without a confirmation to my phone, to change dollars to euros in my Dutch account and I watch the dollar dropping, like the melting snow. (Meanwhile Dec 7. Insult on injury, after phone bouncing back an forth across the Atlantic, I find out that there never was any need for a phone. Ms. Kosten tells me how to do this online. Apparently the rest of her colleagues on the international desk are clueless of this. It would have saved me $ 100.12 in the exchange rate.)

Now I can begin making plans for friend/family visits and VA appointments. I’d like to start and try schedule a trip north from here to the Vancouver area from the 12th of December onward. Later south as far as Southern California.

And a visit in late January/February to Virginia before flying back to Amsterdam. Lisa will fly to the French Alps on December 23rd to have Christmas with the Scottish branch, her daughter Corrine, husband Euan and my great-grandson Spencer Wheatly. Lisa hostesses an early Christmas dinner on the 22nd here. Her son/my youngest grandson Tyler will be with us after his graduation from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. We had a very nice small gathering with part of the local family for Thanksgiving Dinner.

“Fleetwood” has a new bottom and stands under a tarp on the hard at the W.V. “Amsterdam” in, you guessed it. My nephew Dirk Jan sent a picture yesterday showing all is well. I left Amsterdam on the 10th of November and flew from Hamburg via Frankfort to the North West, spending time with my twin brother and family near Hamburg. There is still much repair work hiding under the teak deck. With luck I’ll get some sailing in this summer. It is hard to imagine what prompted the seller to expect to get away with this kind of deception. I have a pile of bills to sort and evidence to arrange in a presentation.

In a warm home, visiting my daughter Lisa, I have been working on updating and improving my books. The E-books in Epub format have been a struggle to format compared to the Kindle Amazon format. This time the conditions allowed me to get them much easier to read. Check them out in both languages at Pumbo.nl and Lulu.com.  The print versions have also been updated.

Because I could not make the boat repairs within the maximum 90 days stay under the West European Schengen countries rule, I applied for a residence permit. There was some apprehension if there might be a hassle on leaving Frankfort with a passport that clearly showed that I had overstayed my welcome. But I did have a letter from the Dutch immigration that I had a pending application. In the meantime, there is some positive news that native born Dutch may be able to obtain dual citizenship. Holland is one of the few Schengen countries that does not have this option. That would solve my problems for my remaining 15/20 years.

I had wonderful bright cold fall weather in Northern Germany and also the first ten days in the Northwest, we had snow twice but it has not lasted. My twin brother treated me and his gang to a superb East Indian dinner in Hamburg on Saturday, November 12th.

L.R. Sita 2006 daughter of Carl and Steffi, my twin Jan, Maren partner of Jacob, Jacob v O (my name sake) 1964, Catharina wife of Jan, Me, Carl v O 1966, Steffi








A loaded Plum Tree






The Christmas cactus is full of buds for a full bloom on the 25th. Started in 1973 from a good friend’s cutting .







I expect to give a presentation and book sale in Gig Harbor organized by the Gig Harbor Boat Shop. I’m available for any other opportunities after Christmas.

Just in case you support the idea that our voting system is foolproof, let me tell you about my experiences. In 2020, while living on the boat in Virginia, I requested King County to mail me my absentee ballot to the address of my daughter in Chesapeake, Virginia. Shortly after, I was caught in badmouthing my son in law and (rightfully) exiled. When close to the election I had not received my ballot, assuming revenge, I discovered that I was able to register in Virginia. Since my vote goes nowhere in urban Washington state anyway. Shortly after, my daughter texted that she had received my King County ballot. So, what kept me from using both ballots? You guessed it, because I wanted to get my Saint Nicholas present. Yes, they are supposed to check multiple votes by your SSN. Really?  So, for this midterm 2022 election, I requested an absentee ballot from Northampton County, Virginia, by e-mail, from Amsterdam. It was bounced as spam. My dear friend Susan Kovacs, who is a voter aide volunteer, interceded and passed them my ballot request. I mailed them back even though the system allows to do it by e-mail, but I did not want to take my chances, even though the County Registrar assured me that the problem with their fire wall had been fixed. Then on voting day November 8 they opened my ballot and found that I had omitted to include the witnessed signature page. So, I get an e-mail to “cure” the problem by November 14. It just so happened that the power was cut and the internet was down on the 9th and I departed Holland on the 10th and I had no access to a printer. My twin brother in Germany witnessed my signature and I e-mailed the form to the voting registrar on November 11. And sure enough, same spam notice. In anticipatian, I had copied my friend Susan. She was unable to handcarry it to the registrar, she was in Sri-Lanka. So, after all this effort, I was not ready to give up and put out an S.O.S. on Facebook to anyone in the Cape Charles area to pass my e-mail to the registrar. Well, so much for FB friends. Just to test the possibility that the Fire Wall was bullet proof for out of country e-mails, I sent a mail from here in the States and took out my URL’s, which can be a problem. Result, same spam bounce. So, my question is: How many other e-mailed absentee ballots bounced in tis county. I reported this to the new Republican congress woman. I have not heard back yet. So the moral of this rant is that I have my doubts about the foolproofness of our voting system and which side might have been cheated this time? I was, but so might have Elaine Luria.

Leaving my home to come home

Thursday, 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.

Sunday, 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

Friday, 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.