November, 2009 browsing by month


November 27, day after Thanksgiving

Friday, November 27th, 2009

There were 16 of us at the Thanksgiving dinner table at Rose Marie and Donnovan’s home. Of my 5 children, Jeannine and family had their celebration at home in Virginia, John his in Portland, Oregon. Both Rose Marie and Donnovan are professional chefs. We had the traditional turkeyand a ham. Harry made his pheasant on horseback appetizers. Even though I did not grow up with this American tradition it is for me the most important family gathering. I have much to be thankful for this year. The birth of my first great granddaughter, Madison. Everyone has survived the worst of the recession with only minor scratches. And I achieved my second major goal of the circmnavigation, visiting Holland on “Fleetwood”. The effort has surpassed my wildest imagination; old friendships and family ties rekindled a ton of new friendships made.

Yesterday morning we received the sad news that Paul Alexander, the yard manager at Green Cove Springs Marina, on the Saint John’s River, in Florida passed away during the night preceding Thanksgiving. I spent 4 months in the yard last Spring and again last April and May. Where can you haul out, work your butt off and look forward to come back for the next treat? Only in Green Cove Springs. And Paul Alexander has a lot to do with it. His spot on the “Porch”, sitting on the high swivel chair, playing his gameboy but not missing anything, will always stay reserved for Paul and preserved in our memories.  So long, Paul.

Saturday I take the train to Portland to visit with Seth and Carly then on Sunday I get a ride with the Slijpers to Eugene, visit with them and Joan Rippe and Frank, return Tuesday to Portland and Wednesday back to Tacoma with a possible stop in Centralia.

Tuesday Nov 24 Missing solo sailor

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

In case you had not heard the news yet, a 68 year old French Canadian solo sailor is presumed lost on his voyage from Halifax to Bermuda. Details are still sketchy. Did he have a liferaft, why did the EPIRB not go off, did he have one, was he able to send a distress signal from his SSB radio?  There should have been plenty warning of the possible track/influence of the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm “IDA” which commenced November 5. “Mon Pays” departed Halifax November 9.

Update: I just received the following from a weather radio operator asked to help in the search, my question to him was if this could have been prevented:  

” Skipper only had VHF and no life raft, no EPIRP.  I made an analysis and suggested that by the 12th he would have hit easterly storm force conditions near the Gulf stream which continued for 5 days, thus unable to make any way towards Bermuda, and suggested that they should start a search. They and USCG Norfolk did with 3 aircrafts, found nothing. For an “experienced” sailor, it is incredible that he had no HF or satphone, no means to obtain WX info, no EPIRB, no life raft. So could it have been prevented ? Yes, 1000% ”

Here are a few links: 

The above information gives a radio call sign for the skipper which would indicate that he did have a HF license but apparently had no radio or no way to broadcast. I grieve for a fellow solo sailor and his familybut I have a real difficult time understanding how someone can leave a safe harbor with plenty of warnings at his disposal from internet etc., and set off without the minimal investment of liferaft, EPIRB, SSH-HF radio on a $200,000 plus boat.

It is exactly a year ago, today that I said goodbye to Lynne, just before attempting to cross the Gulf Stream from Beaufort, N.C. on my way to the Caribbean winter vacation. After checking with Herb Hilgenberg of the South Bound II weather net, he urged me to turn back and wait for better conditions.

Last Sunday I saw several of my Gig Harbor friends at St.Nicholas. The choir for the Christmas eve mass conscripted me to tenor with them. Great program and good voices.

Sunday Nov. 22nd

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

It’s been a week of visiting with old friends and family. Last Sunday I attended my usual 8.30 mass at St.Nicholas in Gig Harbor where I have been a member since the mid eighties. Lots of familiar faces and hands to shake. I drove up to Bellingham to see the Nesbits and then the three of us drove across the Canadian border to have dinner with Paul de Leeuw ( nee, niet “de” Paul de Leeuw…) who was on his way to Amsterdam from New Zealand. I had not seen Paul since before I took off from the West Coast. Monday I had lunch with Brenda in Kirkland. Tuesday evening 10 couples got together to have their “Taco Tuesday” ritual at the Hesters in Gig Harbor. Most of them are sailors and have known each other for the last 30 plus years. For this reason it was suggested to bring an item to the potluck reflecting the sixties era. I brought Lucky Lager beer which whent the way of the bell bottoms but is still brewed in Canada.  But as you will see in the below picture I did not impress anyone else with the effort.

 Lisa, daughter #1, organized a tour of a chocolate factory in Seattle.  The only organic, fair trade chocolate maker in the U.S. There were 11 of us, the 4 West Coast grandchildren. Both daughters and partners, plus Corrine’s class mate and Donnovan’s mom.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, we expect to sit with 9 of the above, myself, John and Seth and their partners at the dinner table at Rose Marie and Donovan’s home in Federal Way. Then I plan to ride back to Portland, Oregon with Seth or John and spend a few days with them and take a train trip to Eugene to see Evert and Judy Slijper and Joanie Rippe and her friend Mark.

Saturday Morning Nov 14, Sunrise over the Cascades

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

There was frost on the ground and a beautiful sunrise. Lisa and Harry and family here have a beautiful view of the Cascades and Mount Rianier.

I am staying with Lisa and catching up on the N.W. family events, since my last visit in September of last year. This evening I will be with, daughter #2 , Rose Marie and family. Sunday morning I’ll be attending service with my old friends at Saint Nicholas in Gig Harbor and then drive up to Bellingham to meet the Nesbits and Paul de Leeuw who is making a shortstop in Vancouver on his way from N.Z. to Holland. I have been busy lining up a schedule for visits for the rest of my stay.

Wednesday Nov 11 Good News!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I just received very encouraging news from Bobbe Voelkel. In my November 1st blog I asked you for your prayers. The tumor had not spread and no chemo will be required, just a few weeks of radiation. Thank you all!  

I quote Bobbe : “Your group of blogreaders are a mighty force to be reckonned with”

Tuesday November 10, On the road again.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

At 14.45 hours Greenwhich time I am at 74.11 N 61.04 W with 4,900 miles to go to Seattle.

The below photo was taken from UAL 909 over Greenland. I am not particularly fond of flying but this is one of the best flights I have had in years, thanks to my favorite travel agent in Gig Harbor. Upgraded to 1st class… 


For those of you who have not been checking this blog regularly, my plan is to stay with Lisa and Rose Marie in the Tacoma area till December 29 then fly to Saigon, I will explore and rest from my vacation in Indo China till March 25 and return again to the N.W. till April 28 and then fly back to “Fleetwood” in Amsterdam. My children and families and friends are  planning to visit and sail with me this summer. In the fall it will be time to move on again up the Rhine and down the Danube to the Black Sea and to spend next winter in Turkey.

These 6 months will be the longest separation ever between me and my faithful companion, for the last 30 years. I winterized “Fleetwood” and said goodbye last night to my friends at the “de Schinkel” YC. She’ll stay in the water all winter and there is a good chance that the Hans Brinkers will skate right by her.

Saturday night I had a superb Thai dinner at Joke Brancart’s home. Sunday evening, in Haarlem, my nephew Dirk Jan and his better half, Fransje, had me over for an exotic Asian vegetarian dinner and then last night I ate with chopsticks again at my sister’s. I might get lucky and make friends in Vietnam who will cook me Boerenkool and Hutspot. Anyway I am not complaining. I am the luckiest person in the whole world. The Dutch have totally spoiled me since I arrived in mid August; I reconnected with old friends and renewed ties with cousins I had not seen in over 50 years.

The liturgy at Sunday’s mass at St. Augustinus was sung, acapella, by a Russian foursome. It was extraordinary.” Neva Ensemble”, director Vladimir Matygulin. A soprano, Mezzo Soprano,Baritone and Base. And the director, contra tenor, sang in some of the songs that were sung after the service. The acoustics at St. Augustinus are fabulous and the volume and quality that these two women and two men could reach, without any musical accompaniment, would be the envy of any large choir. The “Ave Maria”, by Caccini, sung solo by the mezzo soprano, Ekaterine Alabina, moved the stoic burghers into an applause these brick church walls seldom hear. If I get to heaven (slim chance according to Dionne Warwick)  I’ll be looking for the Neva Ensemble. You can listen to the “Ave Maria” at :

Friday Nov 6 Enkhuizen

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Last Sunday I was confronted with the reality that there most likely will never be a widow lighting a candle for me.  It was All Saints  Day but the service was more about the next day’s All Souls Day. In the pew ahead of me was a widow with her daughter and family. I could sense her loss and the support of her daughter and family. At the end of the service, she and the majority of the congregation filed forward to light a candle for their departed. There was a feeling of envy in me. But then to-day I celebrated my freedom and independence. It was a gorgeous sunny clear morning. I drove north of Amsterdam, first to drop off my mainsail in Volendam for repairs then to Enkhuizen to attend the Classic Boat Show. The sun was out after a week of dreary cold wet weather. The flat country. Green meadows with sheep and Holstein cows crisscrossed with  canals and drainage ditches, herons, swans, Kiewiets, the harbor in Volendam, old church steeples on the horizon. Recollections of the 65 mile “Dorpen Tocht” I skated with my brother and 4 friends in the winter of 1956/1957  just before leaving Holland, in this part of Holland.

The Classic Boat Show in Enkhuizen was very interesting but I liked the visit with Astrid Lurweg the most. I met Astrid in my very first port on my circumnavigation in Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. She was the First Mate on the “Soeren Larsen” a classic three masted Schooner Brig. See: Astrid hails from Cologne Germany and earned her first mate’s ticket in Enkhuizen. She lives in the smallest house in Enkhuizen, dating back  to the 16th century.  She has the best location next to the historic city hall and a view of the old harbor. Astrid invited me aboard just after I had concluded that single handed sailors were considered to be excluded from the social circuit of the crewed boats, on arrival at my first destination of my circumnavigation. We will be friends for ever.

To-night, I cooked Moules Marinieres (Mussels) at my sister’s house. One of my favorite dishes. Turned out well. A feast. Last Wednesday I was treated to dinner  by Magda and Kees Scholten. Magda is the sister of my good friend Gerrit Alberts. Gerrit grew up in the street next to ours and his parents were close friends of our father and mother. And his uncle married our aunt. Gerrit lives in Detroit, he came to last Saturday’s slide show with his son Jonathan. I have some photos of the evening at  

This weekend I will be busy getting the boat winterized and pack my bags for my Tuesday departure to Seattle.

November 2nd Full Moon

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

“Zie de maan schijnt door de Masten”  (Masts) a variation on “Zie de maan schijnt door de bomen”  An old Dutch Saint Nicholas song: “Look, the moon shines through the trees!” I promise I will not bug you with any more full moon shots till December 31. That’s when we have another “Blue Moon”.  I’ll be in Vietnam and I will try to capture the Blue Moon rising over Hon Tre Island from the beach at NhaTrang. The last Blue Moon I witnessed was the day of my departure from Trinidad to Virginia on May 31st 2007. The next one will be in 2012. “Once in a Blue Moon”. In 2010 my twin brother’s 73rd birthday will be a full moon on February 28, Universal Tme. But I will be in Vietnam where it will occurr on March 1st….


Sunday Nov 1st and a request

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Tomorrow, November 2nd, a dear friend of ours, Barbara Voelkel, will have a a breast cancer operation. Please, remember her in your prayers for a successful intervention and a complete recovery. Many of you joined me in 2006 when my Santa Cruz friend’s daughter made a complete recovery from a very serious fight with leukemia.  Thank you!

Last night’s digital slide show of my circumnavigation was well received. I sent out invitations to about 45 friends and family members. We ended up packing in 54 in the modest sized club hall. Ten days earlier the same show was done for about 40 club members. Three cousins attended, who I had not seen since I left Holland in 1957.  Els van Ommen, my last surviving aunt and former member of the Schinkel YC came as well. Four Dutch sailors came to see themselves on the screen, in pictures taken in the South Pacific in 2005.


Slide Show photo credit Carol de Vries