October, 2009

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Monday Oct 26

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Here is another fall scene at the Schinkel marina. The smallest European owl, the ” Little Owl” (Athene noctua) in Dutch “Steen Uil”, has been sitting in this Birch tree all afternoon, right over the club house door.  About the size of  a Starling (except for it’s wingspan).

I enjoyed another musical treat at the Sunday service of Saint Augustinus. This time it was the “Cantemus Dominum” choir, 10 men and about 30 women. They performed the liturgy from Mozart’s Missa Breva KV 49.  And they also sang  several hymns in English: ‘The Gaelic Blessing (J.Rutter) “Deep peace, etc…” The “Magnificat” (Stanford) and “Rejoice in the Lord” (Rathbone). Goose Bumps… The “padre” cranked out another masterpiece sermon that would have instantly converted my protestant predecessors into pre-reformation Christians.

I spent a couple hours with my oldest, 83 year old kissen cousin, Age Tjalma. His grandmother was the oldest sister of my grandfather. She, great aunt Gepke Tjalma-de Vries, was the very last one to wear the traditional Frisian dress. A lace cap over a gold skull cap.She is the one left front, picture taken on the occasion of my grandparents’ 45th wedding anniversary in 1945. Her three younger sisters, Jansje, Dukke and Trein ( the three on far right front) never wore the traditional dress. My mom is in back row, fifth standing female from the left, straight dark hair, our dad fifth male standing from the left. 


Then I had dinner at Arthur and Marrianne Wijnans’ home in Soesterberg. We have known each other since 1973, through the timber business at first and then continued the friendship forever.  

This coming Saturday’s Circumnavigation slide show promises to be well attended. Nearly 80% of the 50 odd  invitees have confirmed. We’ll have a good time.

Sunday Oct 25. Falling Leaves

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

The ground and the boats in the Schinkel marina are covered with Oak, Birch and Chestnut leaves. A fire was crackling in the clubhouse saturday afternoon. Exactly a year ago I was with Lynne in Boston, enjoying the New England fall colors, see www.cometosea.us/albums/albums/Boston.pdf

The slideshow of the circumnavigation was well received, last Thursday, by the club members. Next Saturday the same show will be given here for about 40 or more friends and family members. It’s time to get ready for my 10.30 church service, next coffee at Evelyn, then an afternoon visit with my most senior cousin, Age Tjalma,  in Amersfoort then dinner with my long time friends the Wijnans in Soesterberg.

Wednesday October 21 Recollecting with the old neighborhood

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009


First of all my favorite travel agent, Judy, has made the arrangements for me and I am off (space available) to Seattle on November 10. Then on the 29th of December I’ll go standby to Saigon and return to Seattle the end of March and then back to Amsterdam by April 28.

It’s been a busy week with visits and re-unions. Saturday evening I re-invited myself for another cooking sessions for my sister and brother in law. She is still crutching around after her hip replacement, but making bigger strides.   Sunday morning to 10.30 mass, then coffee around the corner with Evelyn. Early afternoon I had coffee with Anneke Hooijer the widow of our longtime friend Dick. Last time I saw them was in 1991 on my mother’s 90th birthday. Then a visit to Ellen, Evelyn’s daughter for her birthday celebration and I finished the Sunday schedule with a terrific dinner and memor-ies/able visit at Joke Brancart’s home.  

Yesterday evening 9 of us, all from the old neighborhood, of which 6 from the same, Alblasstraat, street, got together at “Bella Vista” an Italian restaurant not far from here. We all agree that we had a unique era and neighborhood where we grew up. On the edge of the city, with room to roam into the fields and streams, swimming ,ice skating. The one lasting memory is the liberation at the end of the 2nd World War when we were just old enough to understand the significance. We could have sat and remenisced for a few more hours.

To-morrow I give the circumnavigation slide show to the Schinkelers here and the same show for the friends/family on October 31.

For more of the pictures of the “Bella Vista” Social Club go to : www.cometosea.us/albums/BellaVista

Thursday 15 October. Brrrrrr, winter is here.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Last night the temperature hovered above freezing. Quite an adjustment from sailing near the equator in the last 4 years.

On Thursday the 22nd I will give a slide show of my circumnavigation for the club members here at the “Schinkel” and I will send out an e-mail to the famliy and friends to host the, the earlier postponed evening, same showing on Saturday October 31.

I had the below picture taken for the benefit of the Fort Lauderdale “Chopper Zoo” . You might remember the picture of myself on a $45,000 custom built chopper, at the “Chopper Zoo”, last April 1st. This is a less expensive version, but as you can see certainly custom made for me. The hat is mine the bike is negotiable and an opportunity for my children to make good on their promises to replace the, last March 1st,  stolen klap-fiets.


Sat/SunOct 10/11. My 4 years of summer sailing days have come to a screetching halt

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The heater is barely keeping it above 60 degrees in “Fleetwood”‘s cabin. Three weeks ago we were having dinner outside, on Marken, in short sleeves. It feels like winter to me. A load of laundry I did at my sister’s is on the life lines. It might be there for a while, till the rain stops. My Dutch friends/family have washing machines but do not believe in mechanical dryers. Joke Brancart, a friend from the early fifties and with whom I had my very first sailing experiences, came to visit on Saturday. We had not seen each other for 55 years.  Karolien, my sister, is on crutches after her last week’s hip replacement.  I cooked my usual stir fry for her and Herman at their home, Saturday evening.  I was treated to another excellent service at St.Augustinus here near my moorage. The sermon was about the challenge of attaining salvation through the eye of a needle, a well known passage, but I particularly appreciated the first reading, which was brand new, to me in Wisdom :7-11. 7 “And so I prayed, and understanding was given me”  etc. It contains some very timely “Wisdom” . Look it up.

Sunday afternoon I was invited to a gathering with the Boosmans, whose mother Tiny Boosman was in the same resistance group as my mother and was imprisoned with my mother from May 44 till their liberation at Dachau.
The below pictures give a sense of the changing season. The Flag pole was lowered for revarnishing and winter storage. 

October 9 Back “Home”

Friday, October 9th, 2009

It was a cold night through the Amsterdam canals. It got down to near freezing this morning. What a difference two months make. The first trek through the canals, in mid August, was a warm summer evening. Four more boats showed up for the “standing mast” route, so we were six. I arrived at 2.30 in the morning on the Nieuwe Meer, near the “Schinkel” and decided to moor along the lake’s bank till daylight and get a few hours of sleep. There was just one boat that came the opposite direction on this midnight run through the city and it was “Skua”. I heard people yelling: “Fleetwood”!! and then I just noticed the boat’s name on the stern and the Canadian ensign. Just like I met Bart Boosman, crossing the Atlantic, on “Herb”‘s weather talk on the short wave radio. They are a Dutch Canadian couple who were sailing from Novia Scotia to Holland but had to divert south for a stop at the Azores for repairs. I hope I get to meet them somewhere along the way here in Holland. I f anyone knows their e-mail address, let me know.

The below pictures were taken in the same spot I took photos around August 17, in the Houtmankade, waiting for the once a night openeing of the railroad bridge.

Oct 8 So-Long D-dam and hello again A-dam

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

My brother in law, Herman,  stopped by to-day and he got the motor working again after adjusting the valves. I attempted to do this my self but it was a little more than my un-technical brain could follow. Yesterday the communications between me and Heino and the weather  short circuited and nothing was accomplished on the engine. But I did get to visit, in the evening with Marinus en Leni Hoogendoorn on their floating home, the “Glisando”. They were loading for Mannheim Germany in the Amsterdam harbor. The beam of their Rhine barge is 10 feet longer than the 30 ft length of “Fleetwood” and I forgot to ask the length but it is about the length of a football field. Their living room is bigger than most American homes in the 1 million range plus. I stood in awe. They run this enormous vessel just the two of them plus their 18 year old son. We talked about the way it might be possible to tow Fleetwood and it could work.  But I may need to reconsider the timing, I had planned to do this next year fall. But that is when the river level is at it’s lowest. I may need to look at the Spring early summer of 2011 or plan to leave already in early August 2010. The weather to-day made the trip from Durgerdam, through the locks into the Amnsterdam harbor very enjoyable. The engine runs well. It must have been mainly due to bad injector(s). I am laying again in the Houtmankade just like the way in last August. But now I am just with one other yacht. In August we were a convoy of 13 boats. The routine is the same, wait for the 2 a.m. main railway line bridge to open and then at the Schinkel end the main highway bridge in the Amsterdam the Hague expressway. The one boat next to me is from Gothenburg, a 52 foot Swedish ketch, “First Love”, Lars and Marrianne and as it turns out they are good friends of A.J. and Marita on “Acapella”. I spent a good time with them in South Africa, they were with me on my 70th birthday when I went on a tour of the S.A. wine country. They also made the best pickeled flying fish “Maatjes” with the accompanying Linien Aquavit, in Trinidad. Lars and Marianne are on their way to the Mediterranean. Small World, the international cruising fraternity…

Tuesday Evening

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Heino, Mr. Diesel, just left and he has solved the problem, I ran into on the engine last Saturday. Now I still have to put it together. With a little luck I might be on my way back to Amsterdam on the Wednesday night Standing Mast Route.

Monday V-dam, Tuesday 6 Oct still stuck in D-dam

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I got a break yesterday from staring at the broken down engine in Durgerdam. This evening Mr. Diesel is going to take a look at the problem.

This morning I have been sorting close to 400 pictures Marrie Nieuwboer-van Halteren copied for me of the entire restauration process of the “Groote Beer” ( see https://cometosea.us/albums/GrooteBeer.htm ) This in addtion of the ones I have taken/collected over the years. I met up with  an American lady, Christine, at the historic Nieuwboer Botter shipyard in Spakenburg, who remembers the G.B. from the time the G.B. came to New England in 1953. She was able to fill in many of the blanks, particularly about the first American owner, Charles Donnelly. We all went from the Spakenburg yard to see the G.B. at her moorage in Volendam. The owner, Jan Willem de la Porte, was away. I am going to beg him to be along on one of the next sailing opportunities. Henk van Halteren tells me that it’s an experience you will not forget once this lumbering giant gets going. Stick around for the pictures….

Sunday Oct 4 The “Schinkel” 90 year anniversary

Sunday, October 4th, 2009


The celebration was a great success. The members had worked on this for months. One of the boat storage sheds had been cleaned out, a stage built; and the building dressed out  in an old maritime decor. The “Schinkelers” showed me once more that they know how to party…  My cousin, Gido van Ommen, whose dad was a member here, came to the celebration and my long time friend ( since 1955), Evelyn, was my date. For the occasion there were many of the old timers who still remembered my uncle. There was a small video player set up running old videos where Gido and I could see clips that included Fred van Ommen. The Amsterdams Haven Koor (Amsterdam Harbor Choir) sang sea chanties. The club put me on the spot. Word has leaked that I like to sing and that I might still know a Dutch sea chanty. So, here I was on the stage lead singing “Op de Woelige Baren” (On the wild waves). This honor was never bestowed on me back home where I often felt as “One Eye” in the land of the blind. Here everyone knows how to sing well.

Two wannabee travastite entertainers put on a great show. I have never laughed so hard. The “Schinkelers” can count on me for the next anniversary, the 100 year one. I just remain in pure awe and extascy over how smooth and harmonious this club runs and how much pleasure, value and friendships they extend to eachother while pursuing their favorite sport and pasttime. I am starting to see the same picture here at the Durgerdam YC the “Y”. Wake up yachting folks elsewhereyou are missing the “boat”.  

This Sunday is the feast day of St.Francis of Assisi and for the parish I attend here, St. Franciscus, it’s a special feast. It was a family mass with the children Choir “Prima Voce”. I just love to hear these incredible clear and steady children voices. In an earlier posting I offered the opinion that, the likes of a,  N.Y. St.Patrick church would envy the adult choir that leads the half empty church here. This children’s choir also stands many notches above an average North American school choir. It’s a way of  life and a tradition and there are many very well trained and gifted teachers for them.

I’ll be in Spakenburg most of Monday and I hope to have an update on the engine saga in the next post.