...now browsing by category


Saturday evening post. January 19. Progress and Plans.

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Advent and Christmas were a special time for me here among my Cape Charles friends. One of the highlights was being able to be part of the Messiah performance. Here is a link to the second performance in the historical Hungars church.

Progress on the boat repair slowed down during the holidays. I took some pictures to day. The orange formica has been replaced. I cannibalized the heavy mahogany lee-board rails for trim and a hatch that floated away and replaced the lee boards with plywood. Instead of replacing the formica on the chart table top, I refinished it. And the door to the head is now also clear varnished after removing the white paint. Compare the before and after pictures.

right after the shipwreck     



chart table


Next project is replacing the settee cushions, galley stove, making new cockpit floor grates and a new companion way hatch, which all floated away from the wreck. The wiring is nearly complete. I need to go up the mast again to replace the Tri-Color light. The forecast for early Monday morning is that the temperature will drop  far below freezing. Fortunately, I have been able to stay with friends here since before Christmas.

This week I found out the date for the centennial celebration of the “De Schinkel”, the yacht club and marina in Amsterdam, where I had my initiation in to sailing when I was 12 years old and where I spent time aboard “Fleetwood” from 2009 until 2013. The date is October 5th. On the 6th of September it will be 75 years since our mother in a group of 650 women political prisoners were pressed into 8 cattle cars in the Nazi concentration camp Vught, in Holland, on their way to the hell of Ravensbrück, in Germany. I plan to attend the commemoration. If I can replace the life raft, install new electronic navigation equipment and single side band radio, I may just travel to Europe on a third Atlantic crossing. Stay tuned.

Tuesday November 20. Giving Thanks

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

After Easter, Thanksgiving is my most favorite holi(y)day, though I did not grow up with it. The Pilgrims sailed here from Holland on the “Mayflower”, I flew in on a prop driven Lockheed Constellation in January 1957, also from Holland.

I have much to be thankful for again on this special holiday. Once more in the aftermath of an apparent setback, this time last year’s shipwreck. I wrote in my previous blogs of the friendships I found here and the activities I enjoy here in this best kept secret hide away. Many of the new friendships were made in the church I attend here, Saint Charles, but the others are also mostly Christians from a variety of denominations. And it is an added dimension to be among, just like the Pilgrims, others who know where we can send our thank-you cards.

Last Thursday I met the cruising family Sefan and Keri Topjian of the “Aghavni”. https://www.sailblogs.com/member/aghavni/382528/





Van, the son is the oldest, at ten. We soon discovered a common thread, the importance of our faith. They grew up in Armenia and are Eastern Orthodox Christians.  Keri is home schooling the children and I noticed the same observation I made in my blog last year when I wrote about the Cruising Brats at the Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, Panama.  https://cometosea.us/?p=6224 They can talk with adults. They are going to have a fabulous experience. Be sure to check their blog regularly. This picture was taken on Friday on their departure for the Caribbean, Panama Canal, the South Pacific and beyond. On parting, Sefan prayed a blessing. What a heartwarming experience holding hands with this family. Another lasting long distance friendship.

Jeannine, daughter #3, will come tomorrow with my, visiting from Texas, oldest grandson Mark Leon and his wife and their two sons, to pick me up and spend the holiday with them in Chesapeake, Va.

To all my family and friends: “Happy Thanksgiving!”  

For the local friends, a reminder: I will sing in concert, choir and orchestra, the first part of the Messiah and the Hallelujah chorus.  Sat. Dec. 8 –  at Cokesbury- 2pm, Sun. Dec. 9 – at Hungars church— 4pm.

November 2 Dia de Los Muertos. And another Cape Charles Art-in-Fact.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018
In my previous blog I extolled the virtues of Cape Charles as a “Small town big art”. This is about one of the locals who support the artists and enjoy decorating their lives with it. Robert, a good friend of Susan Kovacs, who I introduced in my August 18 blog, served a birthday dinner for Susan this week. Robert has been collecting paintings and prints from contemporary abstract and impressionists masters and artifacts from the countries he has lived and visited. This picture shows the birthday girl right front and a sample of three well known early 20th century artists. The birthday party and L.R.: Joan Miro, Kazimir Malevich and Alex Calder.

The birthday party and L.R.: Joan Miro, Kazimir Malevich and Alex Calder.

      One of Robert’s artist friends, for fun, “paint-shopped” him into a well known Edgar Degas frame.

Robert with the “shopped” Degas

The impersonator

the real Degas

                          My friends Clint and Patty returned from their three week visit to the Northwest last Saturday. I took advantage of the use of their vehicle to visit the Barrier Island Center  http://www.barrierislandscenter.org/read-me/    on Friday. This had been on my list since I first heard of it. “Fleetwood” left her marks on the beach of Godwin island right next to Mink island with my fateful shipwreck on June 23rd, last year. The center holds a treasure of  the rich history of these remote islands before they started being abandoned by their inhabitants after steady erosion. The initiator of this museum is my dear friend Thelma Jarvis Peterson, who I also described among the artists of my previous blog.


    I have joined a small choir directed by Lou Negretti. Lou is the machine shop operator who managed to straighten the wreck damaged rudder shaft and has done several other metal repairs for me. He is an outstanding director and accomplished musician and singer. We practice every Thursday evening and I sing occasionally at the Sunday service of this gorgeous old Hungars Episcopalian church. Last Sunday we sang at Hungars first and then, later in the morning, at the Christ Church in Eastville. The pastor,  Daniel Lee Crockett, is also an outstanding musician and singer. He is the base player in the video taken at our get together at Susan Kovacs’ home last August. Here is a link to the first time I sang in the Hungars Church. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYoUdyHndHU I will also sing in concert, choir and orchestra, the first part of the Messiah and the Halleluiah chorus. For my local friends this is the schedule: Sat. Dec. 8 –  at Cokesbury- 2pm, Sun. Dec. 9 – at Hungars church— 4pm. This evening we celebrated with the Latin American parishioners and their musicians the mass of Dia de Los Muertos (All souls), with a potluck dinner afterwards. So, with all these activities here in what, at first in a bird’s eye view, looked like a desolate wind swept coastal stretch, is happening to my sailing plans? June came and went, this week hundreds of sailors are heading out of the Chesapeake Bay to the tropical waters after waiting for their insurance coverage to allow them after the November 1st official end of the hurricane season. I waved good bye to a number of sailor friends. I hate to even make any more time predictions. It will be after Thanksgiving and Christmas. The wiring puzzle has really slowed me down. It is a very slow learning process. I ended up making a climb up the mast, last week, in vain because of the main battery switch malfunctioning during the effort.

Fleetwood’s Penthouse

If a professional carpenter would have made my cockpit hatch cover replacement with the time I put into it, it would have cost me a thousand dollars. Ahead of me is still the formica work, upholstery, cabinet trim, a new cockpit grate and companion way door, etc. God must have a plan for me, unless this is a conspiracy to keep me here. I take every day as a blessing and leaving here will be “partir c’est mourir un peu”.

Saturday, August 18. Meet my Cape Charles friends.

Friday, August 17th, 2018

But first a report on my North West visit from July 26th through August 8th. I travelled on  a buddy pass from my second wife, Laura. I had listed for the direct flight from Baltimore to Seattle-Tacoma. But it looked doubtful and I switched to an earlier departure to Portland with a connection to Seattle. We sat on the runway waiting for the sudden thunderstorm to subside. After two hours, by regulation, we had to return to the Baltimore terminal. Waited some more in the terminal then arrived after midnight in Portland, missing the last flight to Seattle. Slept, or tried, in the Portland airport with another part of the inbound flight who also missed their connections. Boarded at 5 a.m. for Seattle. Not a good experience. The return flight had a one hour delay at the gate because of some passengers unauthorized carry-on. One of the reasons for the trip was to attend the 80th birthday party for my longest continuous American friendship with Sid Nesbit. With the exception of my offshore sailings and their Maui period, I have hardly missed any of his birthdays since 1972. We met that year on a PNSA ski charter flight from Seattle to Zurich. Last November when I visited Sid, we drank the 1971 bottle of wine that I gave Sid for his 60th birthday, see: https://cometosea.us/?p=6504. It was another great party on their beach on the Lummi reservation near Bellingham.    

Sid’s eighty candles

  On Sunday I visited friends in Vancouver B.C. and on Monday I met with Dennis Minor in Bellingham again. He has been working on working up a documentary about my life’s experiences, since 2015.  On Saturday, August 4th, I took the Amtrak train from Tacoma to Portland to see my youngest (1980) son Seth. His mother, Laura, boarded the train in Centralia, halfway to Portland.  The occasion was for his birthday, a week later. But that always falls in the Defcon conference period, when he meets with his hacker buddies in Las Vegas. The Friday before Lisa showed me around in her current work environment at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Very impressive the extend and impact of this organisation. Lisa started a few years ago to head the travel desk and since has been given three more department responsibilities. Seems like my two West Coast daughters are in some sort of a contest in their career successes. They like their work and I am very proud of their accomplishments. From Sunday the 5th I spent three days in Gig Harbor to catch up with friends in my home port. The one sad note from the trip is that I lost my Nikon D-3200 DSLR camera, which I bought new in November last year. There is an outside chance that it might still turn up. So, I am back to using my small short range wide angle lens Go Pro (immitation) video camera. 

Cape Charles: I have started the sanding of the boat interior. The hardest part, sanding the cabin ceiling is done. I have to shovel my belongings around from cabin to forepeak and back, to avoid getting the dust to penetrate. It is like an indian sweat lodge inside with temperatures in the nineties. I removed a bucket full of fasteners from the coach roof and windows. 

Last Sunday I had my third SoloMan presentation at the Lemon Tree Gallery, a good crowd and encouraging sales of my two books and the slideshow DVD to accompany the SoloMan book.

The slogan of the Lemon Tree Gallery is “Small Town Big Art”. That is a very accurate description of Cape Charles. And besides being an exceptional good art gallery, with a number of permanent local artist exhibits, it is also a center for meeting friends and cultural activities, this evening is the monthly “open mic” where anyone can display their musical and literary/poetic talents. Check their web site and Facebook for some of the other events. Cape Charles was a busy maritime and agricultural center on the lower Virginia Eastern shore and until the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel was inaugurated in the sixties it was the terminal for the railroad ferry to the Hampton Roads mainland. From then on the town lost its importance and employment. Now the town has been discovered by a particular background of retirees and wireless commuters, artists and craftsmen and -women. The retirees come mostly from urban areas in Virginia and the Northern Atlantic Coast.  But they are not the typical retirees you find in places like Florida and Arizona. My first plan was to try and get the boat floating and get “Fleetwood” back to the mainland to finish the repairs. But even once the summer tourists were gone, I discovered that there was lot going on here. And the circle of friends keeps growing. It started with Jeanette and Ralph I met coming out of the Coach House Inn on the Bay Creek country club. Turned out they attend the same Saint Charles of Borromeo church, a small but very diverse congregation with a wonderful pastor. Jeanette introduced me to a number of her friends. Through my sailing adventure presentations and people I meet in the Cape Charles Yacht Center  the friendships keep growing. I will describe four of my new friends in particular with these “big talents”. 

Bruce (Brewster) Brinkley: I met Bruce and his wife Audrey on Easter Sunday. They were in the pew behind me with his oldest son and daughter in law. If it were not for my donated shipwreck Ibiza wardrobe (see details: https://cometosea.us/?p=4265 ) we may have never become friends. Bruce has a fetish for outlandish garments. Now before I describe his qualifications for a sample of the “small town big art”, I am going to get a little personal; what has attracted me so much to Bruce and Audrey are their interactions as a couple. Audrey retired last year as a high school Spanish language teacher. Bruce worked for the state of Virginia. He has always been involved in music, as a rock band leader. Harp/Harmonica Jazz is his current instrument of choice. And it was his choice for the subject of one of the best summer reads I have ever enjoyed. “The Be-Bop-A-Luba Kid” Check it out and the reviews. It plays in cape Charles and Bruce showed me the houses where both of the main characters, supposedly, had lived. Besides this book he makes angel statues from old porch posts. You judge from the picture of one of his sample, I guess you could call it folk art and that he knows. He has an incredible collection of it displayed in their three story condominium just off the Chesapeake beach in Cape Charles. 


In this link you can watch and hear Bruce play his harmonica at last Wednesday’s gathering of a group of amateur musicians at Susan Kovac’s home. And in this You Tube.

Thelma Jarvis Peterson: Has turned her hobbies and passion into  a living and her fame is spreading beyond the Eastern Shores. She is a songwriter, musician and water color painter. And she has also undertaken the designs and commissioning of some impressive monuments.  All for the most part inspired by her love for the Virginia Eastern landscape and the Chesapeake and Atlantic seashores.  A lot more on her web site. 

On enlistment into Thelma’s Fan Club at her appearance at the Lemon Tree Gallery on July 22nd.




Tomorrow, Sunday the 19th, at 11.00 Eastern time, she will be speaking about her songwriting on the NPR program “Writers Block” at station WHRO on FM 89.5 for our Eastern Shore. You can watch the podcast at  https://mediaplayer.whro.org/station/whrv This program was recorded in the Barrier Islands Reef Center in Machipongo, a history museum which came about through Thelma’s energy and knowledge of the Barrier Islands. And if it had not been for the Barrier Islands, on June 23rd 2017, I would have never made this special friendship.

 I posted a You-tube video of her performance with two other songwriters on July the 22nd at the Lemon Tree Gallery. One of the songs she plays in this video is called “Sailing Blind”. One of my favorites. The Go-Pro video camera lends itself better to a larger space like the one taken at Susan’s home last Wednesday. 

Susan Kovacs: I met Susan at church. I was intrigued by this English accented lady doing the announcements to the Latin members in Spanish. Turns out she taught herself from CD’s on her way to and from work. One of the reasons to learn Spanish was because of her frequent visits to her older brother Neil Rock who lived on Ibiza. (http://www.rockhistory.co.uk/how-neil-rock-went-from-gonks-to-beatles/) Neil passed away shortly after her visit to Ibiza in July. She will attend his celebration of life this September. Susan presented “SoloMan” to Maria de los Angeles Peña Milla, the woman who was a big help in getting me settled on Ibiza after my November 16, 2013 shipwreck. Susan’s “Big Art” is in acting. Their big hit was last year with “The Clam-Digger’s Daughter”. Bruce Brinkley and Thelma were also in the act. She makes beautiful beaded jewelry. And she has a great singing voice. Last Wednesday evening she sang for me “Leaving Liverpool” a ballad of the sailing vessel “David Crockett” setting sail from Liverpool in 1893 for California. Listen and watch in this link

Susan Kovacs



Giuseppe Dovis: Born in Italy and lived the best part of his life in Argentina. His specialty is terracotta sculptures on old red brick. He lives and works in a lovely spot on a saltwater slough on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore. We have a lot in common in languages and places we lived. It became an instant friendship. 

Giuseppe Dovis at the Lemon Tree Gallery




Sunday July 8th. Travel plans to the North West.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

I mentioned briefly in my previous blog of June 15 that I was considering making a short visit to attend the 80th birthday party of Sid Nesbit. Laura sprung me buddy tickets for the flight on Alaska. I have booked my standby ticket from Baltimore to SEATAC on the 25th. And plan to return on the 8th or 9th of August.

The birthday party is on the Nesbit beach on the Lummi Rez near, Bellingham. Full moon is on the day before and with the Western exposure towards the San Juan Islands, it should be extra festive. I met Sid and his wife Leslie on a KLM PNSA ski charter flight to Zurich, in February 1972. We skied together at the Arlberg in Lech-Zuers and have been friends ever since. The only other commitment I have, so-far, is to celebrate my youngest son, Seth, 38th birthday near Portland, Oregon on August 4th. I will be staying, first with Lisa in Fife and later with Rose Marie and Donovan in Federal Way. I hope to attend the 8.30 mass at St. Nicholas in Gig Harbor on August 5th, to catch up with my Gig Harbor friends. 

I had another setback on the re-launch of “Fleetwood”. The access to the water has been, in my opinion arbitrarily, blocked by a huge motor catamaran. I was blocked earlier in the meantime I finished rewiring the mast and make repairs to it. The one item that was keeping the mast from being re-stepped was the installation of reinforcing rods from the keel bolts near the mast-step to the cabin roof through the bulkhead roof beam. I had a very difficult time to thread the holes I had drilled into the nuts on the keel bolts. But, presto!, Joe Darzey of the 48 foot catamaran “Presto” came to the rescue this afternoon. Joe helped remove the nuts and this will make it possible to weld the nuts for the rods to them. Be sure to read Joe and Sue’s “Presto-Log” at:   https://www.sailblogs.com/member/presto/392048     Joe and Sue are from the Northwest, Kingston-Poulsbo, he has fished commercially up and down the Pacific west coast to Alaska. I met them here in Cape Charles last fall when they were preparing to join the “Salty Dawgs” rally to the Caribbean. They came back here recently to repair one of their broken rudders. Joe also questioned my theory that I could not bottom paint from just a few days before launching, I double checked the label and, again Presto!, it is good for 60 days before splashing. So, I have some work to do on the exterior. It has been just too hot to work inside the boat. That will be a lot easier and cooler in the water. Hopefully I will have a picture of “Fleetwood” back where she belongs in the next blog. 

I just posted a short video on you tube of this weeks’s 4th of July celebration: https://youtu.be/MslSBfInLe0 and one of a very entertaining event last Friday evening at the Palace theater. https://youtu.be/JHl_W9dtp10

I was with my friends Bruce and Audrey Brinkley. Bruce used to have his own band and knows several of the musicians of the “Raw Beets” that played Friday evening. I even got to dance with another friend, Thelma, who is also a musician, song writer and painter and a great dance partner. I am fairly certain that the last time that I danced was in 2005 at the Honiara Yacht Club on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands and there is a picture of me crashing a Saigon wedding in 2006.  It continues to amaze me the talent and diversity of the people I meet here. It will be very sad to hear the “bon voyages” once I am ready to move on. The people and the landscape have become very dear to me. For sure a good place to look forward to revisiting. 

For my Cape Charles friends: I will give a presentation on my sailing adventure on August 12th at 11 a.m. at the “Lemon Tree Gallery” http://lemontree.gallery/ I will also have my books “SoloMan” and “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” available for purchase and signing. 

I finally have a working cell phone again, with my old number 253-441-7204. Jeannine, my daughter here in Chesapeake, came to the rescue after I got a 6 week run around by TracFone. 

(The internet connection here is awful right now, I will add a few pictures when the connection improves)

June 15. Still alive and well in Cape Charles.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

This is probably the longest lapse in my blogging since I started this in 2009. I kept postponing for a major piece of news to report on the progress of the “Fleetwood” repair.  I had expected to be back in the water by the end of April. It came and went. The engine installation took much more time than I had anticipated. Now I have another excuse: The access to the boat by the travel-lift is blocked by another boat with a transmission breakdown. There is little left to do than the anti-fouling, but in order to not lose its toxicity it needs to be done within 48 hours before the launching.  Once in the water it will be much easier to redo the interior. It gets very hot inside on land. And the handicap of constantly climbing the ladder. In the meantime I shall start work on the mast, rewiring and maintenance and step it again on land rather than after the launch. I figure that the interior will take all of July and possibly August, repainting, varnish, rewiring, new formica, upholstery, etc. The engine is down but it is slightly longer than I had counted on and I need to modify the companion way steps.

So, my summer plans have been scaled back from the plan to make the loop up to St. Lawrence and back down the Mississippi. I will probably be a short cruise to Nantucket and back to Cape Charles by the end of the hurricane season in October November, then south to the Caribbean and South America. I am contemplating flying to the Northwest for Sid Nesbit’s 80th birthday on July 27th. I have hardly missed Sid’s birthdays since we met in 1972, except for the circumnavigation.

Part of the slow progress on the boat is due to hours of back and forth e-mails and phone calls on my telephone service transfer. I initiated the transfer a month ago and I am still waiting for Tracfone to release my number to the new provider. In January I transferred four of my five web sites to Go Daddy. In the process most of the external links point back to the home page of www.ComeToSea.us It is taking me many hours to reconnect all of them and hundreds of phone calls to Go Daddy. I’m not done yet. I reported earlier that my e-book version of SoloMan was not published correctly. I still do not have answers from Amazon to my complaints of their lack of service. Today I finally received an answer to a problem on the pricing and royalties on the print version of SoloMan that I reported six weeks ago. The process starts with their call center in Asia, answered with long winded text messages, slowly working their way up through the experience level. Frustrating.

The consolation to the disappointment of my shortened summer season is the pleasure of being here in Cape Charles. The location and the population have put a spell on me. Seldom have I made so many wonderful friendships in such a short period in one location, ever. Many of them through the parish of St. Charles of Borromeo, which has a unique mix of members from locals to transplants from everywhere with many artistic and professional talents. Plus a significant contribution from the Latin American members. This morning a mature dough was grazing near the boat. A North Carolina Wren whistles its distinctive call on top of the solar panel. An oasis in a troubled world.

I had a sold out house on April 28th for my presentation and book signing of my sailing adventure. Last month I did another presentation at the parish hall. And I expect to do one more at the Lemon Tree Gallery, in a regular program they put on for Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. I should have more details shortly. “SoloMan” and “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” are well received here.

Guiseppe. Dovis. www.DovisArt.com at the Lemon Tree Gallery.

Trumpet Vines


Saturday March 24. Palm Sunday Eve.

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

In the process of transferring the hosting for my SoloMan Dutch and English websites, from Holland to Go-Daddy, the Dutch web vanished in a puff of smoke. It took me yesterday and today to get it back up. But I made a few improvements and added links in the side bar, of this  site as well, for a quick way to find all my slide and video albums as well as my YouTube videos. The latter is indexed by popularity. The first one uploaded on Christmas eve 2016 has nearly 9,000 views. So, maybe, you might like it as well. I am still learning, started out with the Go Pro and now also have a good video set up on my new Nikon camera. 

If you have been contemplating splurging on the color  version of SoloMan you have until March 31st to take advantage of the temporary, once in a Blue Moon, price reduction. On April 1 Amazon reduces my royalty on this version. I have redone all the Kindle versions of SoloMan and The Mastmakers’ Daughters and as I reported in the previous blogs they look a 100% better than the previous versions. I have also updated, all the paperback books at the same time. I am still expecting answers from Amazon to have them replace the worst problems with the Kindle version in the period between November 2016 and April 2017, when I was underway. Amazon has a good system to catch the errors on the print versions but not on the e-book/kindle. But I have this under control now. 

Repair progress: The weather remains cold and windy but I have had a few days with the sun warming the boat up enough to epoxy the engine well. I have lowered the engine mount bases, 2 inch thick Iroko which had to be lowered nearly 4 inches. It is going to be a very tight squeeze, lengthwise. I am holding my breath, looks like the 4″ exposed shaft from transmission to the packing gland may end up with as little as one inch. My next big expense is going to be the replacement of the Harken rudder bearing. I may have to bite the bullet at close to $800. I had hoped to replace just the inner part of the bearing, the rest is still in good shape. If the engine placement goes without a hitch then I hope to be able to float for the April 27th Blessing of the Fleet. 

I have been walking the stations of the cross on Friday evening here at the Saint Charles of Borromeo church with my Latin hermanos y hermanas. Last Saturday the Knights of Columbus cooked up a great St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Most of the small congregation knows me by now by name. I have made many wonderful friendships with them and others here. I am looking forward to celebrate Easter with them.

There are a few coincidences on the calendar this week which make for a special Passover and Easter. March 31st is another Blue Moon. It is also Jewish Passover/Pesach and Purim was last January 31st which was also a Blue Moon. Easter is on April Fools day. If you you are born after after April 1 1956 this will be the first year for you to celebrate Easter on April 1, Mardi Gras on March 13 and Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on March 14. This will be the third time for me. It happened in 1956 and 1945. I have searched when Passover might have been on a Blue Moon day before but most likely that will be a once in a life time/blue moon occasion. 

 I wish all my Jewish friends a Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach חַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ and my Christian friends a Blessed and Happy Easter. 

Our mother gave the homily on Good Friday, just before the 1945 April 1 Easter Sunday with the Dutch women prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp. Her theme was: “The risen Lord Jesus Christ was first seen by women, by women who had knelt at the foot of the Cross”. 

“View from the Cross”

James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum of Art

Tuesday March 13. Winter again.

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

We had a few teasers of warm spring like weather but it snowed last night and a cold stinging north easterly makes it difficult to get any work done on “Fleetwood”. I have used the time inside to finish the updates on “SoloMan”. By accident I discovered a way to resolve the recurring lay out problems and moving pictures in the Kindle books. I can now recommend the revised electronic versions with complete confidence. The paperback versions of both the Dutch and English color and black and white books have also been updated. If you have wanted to read the color versions you have until the end of this month before I will raise the price again, when the temporary higher royalty runs out. See details on the previous blog.

The way Amazon calculates their royalties is a very confusing act of smoke and mirrors. Before they took over the function of their subsidiary printing company, Create Space, the royalty was 80% and now will be 60%. This sounds like a really good deal still, until I ran the numbers. The royalty is not calculated on the Sales Price but on the sales price, less production cost ( on which Amazon has a mark up) and the shipping costs and taxes.  As an example on my black and white SoloMan print book, with an Amazon sales price of $19.50 I end up with $ 7.19 or 35% under their 60% royalty. So, read the small print…….before you sell your soul to the Amazon store.  

Here is a good excuse for you to come visit me and discover this wonderful corner of the world. I have come to feel very much at home here and it will be difficult to depart from here.


Come join the Friends of Cape Charles Memorial Library for lunch at the Cape Charles Civic Center on Saturday, April 28, at noon, and learn about Dutch-American author Jack van Ommen’s journeys around the world. Jack was eight when the war ended, and when he was nineteen he immigrated to the United States. In 2005 he left California on a solo sailing voyage on his 30-foot sloop “Fleetwood”. He has crossed every ocean, visited sixty countries and six continents, so far. His articles appear regularly in U.S. and Dutch papers and magazines. Enjoy lunch as he describes his experiences, shows slides of his journey, and tells you how he landed in Cape Charles.

$10 cost includes the presentation, and a lunch, including of your choice of sandwich, chips, fruit, cookie, and water.

Call 757-695-4192 for reservations and to make your sandwich choice, or book online at foccml-aloneatsea.Eventbrite.com


Sat, April 28, 2018

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EDT


Cape Charles Civic Center

500 Tazewell Avenue

Cape Charles, VA 23310


Progress. Thursday, March 1st.

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Yesterday was my 81st. birthday. Rob, the Harbor Master at the Cape Charles Yacht Center gave me ride in to Chesapeake to be with my daughter and her family until Monday morning. The weather has been hit and miss to try and get the hull damage repaired. The last coat on the port side topsides finish was rolled on yesterday. The starboard side, which suffered the most on the surface, still needs one more coat. I am using Awlgrip two part Linear Polyurethane. The keel was cleaned up and faired and has four coats of epoxy barrier coat. Louis, at L.C.N. Machine Shop in Exmore, Va., managed to straighten the rudder shaft, now I am shopping to replace the busted (now obsolete) Harken rudder bearing.                                                                                                                                     

port side without the gaping hole

port side without the gaping hole

starboard with new coat of topside paint

starboard with new coat of topside paint


“before” starboard

The new engine is sitting next to “Fleetwood”, my next project to install. My beer budget was for a used or rebuilt two cylinder diesel engine in the $4,000 range. I ended up with a brand spanking new Champagne taste sweet thing, shipped on a fast boat from China, for  $ 4,448.95 sitting next to “Fleetwood”.

Including spare belts, fuel and oil filters. This is nearly half of what a comparable engine is sold for in the US.  It seemed too good to be true. And then, after the engine shipped, I was confronted with the import clearance regulations, that it required EPA emission certification, which the Chinese manufacturer does not have. I held my breath, but somehow it sailed through. My legendary good luck? I availed myself of my vocabulary, left over from my fifty years in the international trading business, with “Ship’s Stores”, temporary import permit, and the like. This to caution anyone who might wish to follow my experiment, into the US.  The instruction manual is very thorough and written in understandable English. The communications with the exporter were very timely and businesslike. TheDSC_0022y gave me the option to have Alibaba cover this with a trade assurance. I had to telegraphically transfer the purchase cost prior to shipment. Martec has modified my folding propellor for the higher power and different gear ratio. I sent in my hub, with the old blades removed from it, about a $ 550 upgrade.

I have a deadline. April 27th. The Friday afternoon of the annual Cape Charles “Harbor Party” weekend, to get “Fleetwood” floating. On Friday is the Blessing of the Fleet. On Saturday the 28th. of April from noon to 1.30, I give a presentation of my circumnavigation and book signing at the Cape Charles Civic Center in the series “Lunch & Learn” of the Friends of the Cape Charles Memorial Library. I will post links for the details in an upcoming blog. 

There is still a lot of work on the interior, repainting, varnishing, wiring, replacement of the electronics, etc. I am still hoping to be sail ready by the middle of June to leave for Mystic Seaport the end of June. 

Cape Charles has grown on me and like a few more places along the way where I stayed for an extended period, like Zimnicea on the Romanian Danube and the “De Schinkel” yacht club in Amsterdam, the Arabella Landing Marina in Gig Harbor, Wa., I have made very valuable friendships here. It will be again: Partir c’est mourir un peu. But the next shores beckon. 

I discovered that there were problems for  a short period with the Kindle version of the Dutch version of SoloMan. There were three or four reviews on Amazon complaining that the pictures did not show. This has been corrected for the most part. But I am working to improve both the English and Dutch Kindle version. If anyone wishes a replacement, please, send me your e-mail address in the comment section of this web site or the book’s websites. Please, also be aware that the temporary price reduction, on the print edition of the English color version of “SoloMan”, ends March 31. The day of the Blue Moon. So, be sure to get your “once in a blue moon” discounted “SoloMan”. I need the royalties. On this subject: I was offered financial help from several of the readers of this blog. So far, so good. By stretching the repair period, I have been able to handle the costs from my monthly Social Security deposits. The engine was one of the major items. The uninsured portion of my back operation added to drawing my savings down. I am skating on thin ice but at 140 lbs and the help of God and all the good people I hope to continue to entertain you on this blog. 


December 28. “Happy New Year”

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

My new year resolution is to make up for the void in my blog regularity. I’m embarrassed to check back on my previous blog and realize the void. It will still be a while before I’ll be under sail again. It is bitterly cold here in Virginia, it dropped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. After flying back from the Northwest visit on December 12, I worked a week on the boat in Cape Charles and now enjoying the hospitality at my youngest daughter’s family home in Chesapeake, Va. I shall return to Cape Charles on January 2nd. 

The replacement engine will arrive sometime in February from China. My continuous search for a rebuilt or used engine turned up nada. This new 2 cylinder 15 HP with transmission and controls should end up installed to less than $4,000, about half of what a new similar engine would cost from a dealer.  The rudder finally came down and is set to go to the machine shop to straighten the shaft. With the main damage to the hull repaired, there is still much work left to rewire, repaint/varnish the interior, replace electronics. I am working towards being able to be on my way in June and take the same route, interrupted by the June 23rd shipwreck. The Wooden Boat show in Mystic Seaport in early June, the inland route to Quebec and the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi in late summer to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Lisa, my oldest daughter hosted, with Harry, the Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Fife, Wa., south of Seattle. My youngest son, Seth, came up from Oregon. So did my oldest granddaughter Corrine with her husband Euan. Seth moved last summer from west of Portland to Corbett, east of Portland high above the Columbia River gorge. I visited him on December 8 and 9, by Amtrak train. There is a 1 3/4 minute video of the train ride along the Puget Sound and over I-5, the same spot where ten days ago the same “Cascade” Amtrak derailed. 

With Seth at "Shirley's Tippy Canoe" Restaurant in Troutdale, Or.

With Seth at “Shirley’s Tippy Canoe” Restaurant in Troutdale, Or.

   The family here, my oldest grandson Mark flew in from Texas, granddaughter sailor girl Gabrielle, daughter Jeannine and son in law Sean totally spoiled me with gifts and love. New warm clothes, socks, a heavy wool blanket to replace the ones I lost in the second shipwreck, etc. The Northwest relatives also sent me away with early Christmas gifts.

I attended the 4th Advent Sunday service at Sainte-Thérèse church in Chesapeake.

Lighting the 4th advent candle

Lighting the 4th advent candle 

We crossed the river to Norfolk for Christmas eve mass at “Scared Heart” church, where Jeannine is a member. This is a beautiful turn of the century building with the 1927 Midmer-Losh pipe organ and Jim Gallatin as its music/choir director and superb organist. Read the article that appeared day before yesterday in the Virginia Pilot about Jim Gallatin’s 37 year career at this church. What a treat to worship here and especially on Christmas Eve. Earlier this year I happened to sit in on a church meeting where Jim’s choice of hymns in the services had been challenged by a few parishioners. And I wondered what my fellow parishioners back in Gig Harbor, with an attendance four times that of Sacred Heart and no organ and a tiny occasional choir,  would give to be so privileged. I suspect that father Mark, and a legion of pastors, would absolve a mortal sin or give their right arm for such a privilege. 

Jim Gallatin and his organ

Jim Gallatin and his organ

Father Paul Muyimbwa, Christmas Eve

Father Paul Muyimbwa, Christmas Eve

Temporary Price Reduction on “SoloMan”: The preferred option to purchase the USA printed version from Create Space has been taken over by Amazon. This means that my 80% royalties go down to 60%. But to soften the blow Amazon will allow me the 80% until April 1st on the Color English version. This allows me to reduce the price $45 from $60. The Black and White version remains at $19.50. I have made smaller reductions in the color versions of the Dutch printed versions in all Amazon US and international outlets. Please, check the updated web sites www.SoloMan.us and www.SoloMan.nl  

Just in case you contemplate to quit your job and become a successful author like me, when you fixate on this Amazon 80% royalty, let me bring you back to reality. I ran their smoke and mirrors percentages through Excel.  The below does not copy well. Amazon takes their 20% off the list price and then deducts all the costs (which include their printing profit…) and then what I end up with is the 25.53% off the same amount as they take their measly 20%…. And from April 1st forward with their 40% I end up with 17.22% even at the $10.00 higher List price.  


Amazon Royalties: Cost Royalty Amazon Royalty Amazon royalty calculation
Nbr Title List Price Currency Pages page per book Total 60% 40% 80% 12/11/17 80%
5915347 Sman US Color 45 US 338 0.07 0.85 $24.51 $12.29 $8.20 $16.39 $11.49 $11.49 25.53%
5960419 Sman NL Color 55 US 324 0.07 0.85 $23.53 $18.88 $12.59 $9.47 $9.47 17.22%
The last years, when visiting, away from the boat, I kept busy on the Dutch and English versions of my two books. This year I encountered boredom. I have a new project, I am digitizing our father’s Diary, he wrote while our mother was kept from subverting Hitler’s schemes. I am right now at today’s date in 1944 and should be at the end , when mother returned in late May 1945, from Dachau, before I leave here on January 2nd. The English translation will follow at my next point of boredom. Stay tuned.

I wish all a very happy, exciting, challenging and blessed New Year.