March, 2012 browsing by month


Sunday March 25 In Amsterdam

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Western Europe changed to day light saving time this morning. My cousin Carol’s wife, Tineke, had peaked my curiosity in describing her church community on earlier visits.  Losing an hour, it was still cold early in the morning when I borrowed my cousin’s bicycle to ride to the train station to catch the train to Amsterdam.

The 125 year old St.Domenicus church building was used as a R.C. church till the seventies and is now the home of an ecumenical community, many of them former members of the R.C. parish. In Amsterdam, as most know, you can run into the strangest forms of expressions and forms of entertainment but it still startled me when I walked out of the church and see a prostitue setting up her display in less than Victoria’s Secrets in her window facing the church.

The below picture shows the location, my grandfather, the Mastmaker, moved his business to in 1928 and where my cousin still lives as the 6th generation mastmaker and shipchandler.

Saturday Morning Post March 24

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Holland at it’s very best. It is a repeat of my last year’s visit in this same early spring period. The trees are still bare and the Tulips are still a couple weeks away but it won’t be long. Yesterday it warmed up into the low seventies. I drove the scenic road from Spakenburg to Ermelo and back through the Flevoland Polder.

I needed a few more questions answered at the Nieuwboer yard for the article that is in the works about the yard and Botters. In Ermelo I met Beatrice, the daughter of Clary who was also led into a trap by Sonja van Hesteren in the spring of 1944. Around the same period that my mother’s resistance boss became her victim. For the details be sure to keep tuned to the publication of  “The Mastmakers Daughters”. Beatrice is also one of my volunteer editors of the Dutch version.

I stopped for an Uitsmijter in the town of Putten and took the below picture of an American Oak. This is the kind of tree boat builders are always searching for, with their crooked branches to saw the bend frames from. 

Tuesday Mar 20. Spring has Sprung.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Holland is at it’s very best on a Sunny early Spring day. Yesterday I had visits to the East of Amsterdam and today just North of Amsterdam. The nights are still close to freezing but by mid day it warms up to the low sixties.

The corrections are starting to come in for both the Dutch and the English version of the “The Mastmakers Daughters”. With a little luck I will have both corrected before I leave for Greece on April 11.

I am putting the below pictures in for the benefit of some of my family members and their partners to show that there is a life beyond computer games and  Facebook. The below sculpture is the art work of my business friend, since 1973, Arthur Wijnans, I visited yesterday.



Saturday March 16. Holland

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

I am getting over the jet lag. Yesterday were the birthdays for my oldest nephew and youngest (and also my oldest) brother in law.

Herman 87th and Dirk Jan’s 54th birthdays

As of this morning I have a Dutch cell phone number again, my old number : 0031-0639884848

Now I can start making my appointments for the stay in Holland till April 11. I had left my cell phone on the boat in Greece, last November. When I tried to get a replacement the T-Mobile shop in Amsterdam told me that it was impossible without having the SIM card for my number. But this morning at a T-Mobile shop in Haarlem it posed no problem at all.

The crocusses are just starting to show up but the Tulip fields are still bare.

My appeal on this blog for assistance in editing “The Mastmakers Daughters” and the “De Mastmakers Dochters” was a success. I really appreciate the help. Both manuscripts were split into 6 sections and are being worked on at both sides of the Atlantic.


March 15 Holland. I was abUSAed in Boston.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Jetlagged and losing 5 hours of the day I was dead tired on arrival. I should not have opened my luggage before  I went to bed at 8 p.m. local time. When I woke at midnight I could not get back to sleep. I was angry. When I had opened the back pack I found a handwritten note from an inspector of the Transportation Security Administration: “Your Marine Sealant was punctured upon arrival to our screening location…..”.

It felt just like the one time when the house had been broken into. Why would anyone want to search the backpack of a 75 year old leaving the country? How could this possibly have been punctured the way I packed it? I lay awake for another 4 hours. Then I had to take a better look. As it turned out both tubes of MMM5200 had opened up from the stowage in the unpressurized baggage department of the JetBlue flight from Richmond, Va, to Boston. I had bought two separate tickets and had to check the bag in again in Boston, where I had a 4 hour wait between the departure to Heathrow. Most likely the intrusion into my luggage would not have happened if I had checked it closer to the departure time.  I should have packed the two tubes in a zip-lock bag. But why did they get the black mess on my only pair of dress shoes I own? The shoes were on the very top of the bag far from the tubes in the bottom of the bag. 5200 is nasty stuff, once it sets up it forms a permanent bond. I use it to recaulk my teak deck joints. They wrapped the tubes in their (used and smeared with the sealant) blue surgical gloves. We may need to take up a collection for the TSA to keep a few zip lock bags on hand. There were a few smears and smudges from their gloves on other items, ironically on the new USA ensign I had bought for the boat, but other than the ruined shoes, the damage appears minor. And I managed to get to sleep. But the discouragement with this system remains. You can blame 9-11 or what ever. But the political administrative solutions imposed on us are a farce for the most part. On this 4 months trip to the USA I went through at least a dozen security checks at different airports and border crossings and every one had a different procedure. With all the effort and money spent on it we’d be better of buying the love of the people who want to harm the USA and provide jobs for the illegal immigrants in their own country. 

Tomorrow I’ll feel better, I promise.

The next blog shall have more details on my schedule for the stay in Holland till April 11. I have had a great response to my call for help with editing “The Mastmakers Daughters” en de “De Mastmakers Dochters” and it looks that for both books the 5 sections are covered. I will respond to the volunteers and work out the assignments and procedure. My Dutch cellphone is still hibernating on “Fleetwood” and at last call to it it still responds. I will try to get a Mobile number to use till April 11. In the meantime I have bought a very inexpensive subscription on Skype to make calls to landlines in Holland from my laptop. And  also still have the less than $ 9.00 for three month subscription for unlimited calls to landlines and cell phones in USA and Canada, so if you like to talk to me send me an e-mail or SMS/Text to jackvanommen on Skype and I’ll call you from Holland or from the Mediterranean.


Weekend March 11. Savannah, Georgia back from road trip in Chesapeake, Va.

Sunday, March 11th, 2012


The six day road trip was a great way to finish my four month visit to the USA. After all the countries visited on my travels there is something to say for “Oost West Thuis (home) Best”. I love my adopted country and still have many parts of it to explore.

Tybee Island sits at the mouth of the Savannah River. I had skirted the western edge twice on the way south from the Chesapeake to Florida on the Intra Coastal Waterway. I met the van Buul family at the campground. On the below picture you’ll meet most of the family.  We sat around the camp fire and caught up on experiences since we met four years ago in Savannah. I had had a luxurious 4 poster bed in Ponte Vedra the previous two nights, about the same distance from the ocean. Friday night I slept in their tent on an army cot lulled asleep by the sound of the surf on the Atlantic shore.

Next Saturday is Saint Patrick’s Day. Savannah and Tybee Island held their parades yesterday. I have been told that Savannah’s parade is only seconded by the one on Broadway. The room rates on Tybee Island were tripled for this weekend.

“The Mastmakers Daughters”: I sent an e-mail to day to a number of my friends who might be able to help me with the editing of the English version. I am starting to feel a certain amount of urgency. The oldest of my mother’s nephews and nieces turns 80 this year. The clock is ticking. I would very much like to publish it in Kindle format before I am back on the boat on April 11. I divided the Dutch book up into 5 sections of about 35/40 pages each, which should make it much easier for any one of you to edit that part. I have most of the Dutch version covered that way, but still like to hear from any one else. For the English translation I need another 4 to 5 volunteers. If you can help I will send you more details. Jeannine, daughter # 3, has turned out to be of great help in working on the first chapters. The Mastmakers Daughter and I will love you for ever and I’ll guarantee you that you will enjoy reading the story. The few Dutch friends who read the entire manuscript have encouraged me with their enthusiasm.


Friday March 9 Road Trip

Friday, March 9th, 2012

It was clear and cold the first two days of the road trip. But yesterday and today in Florida and Georgia the temperature climbed to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (30 C).

Monday night I stayed with John and Maureen in Washington N.C.. We met in the Waterland Marina in Monnickendam in June 2010. You might remember that I visited them almost exactly a year ago in N.C. They are re-born sailors, after a short stint on their Dutch power boat.

The short blooming period of the Gum trees was just starting last week in Virginia but is now in full bloom further south. I am writing this from Savannah and the Azeleas are breathtaking. Purple, Pink and White. Dogwood, Cherry blossoms, Magnolias. Tuesday I stayed with Norm and Betsy Riviere, friends since 1967, from the period we lived in Belgium. Jay Newbern was my host Wednesday and Thursday. Last night he had invited 6 couples to see some of my sailing slide shows. We watched the full moon rise from his back yard, about 200 yards from the Atlantic beach. I met him in Green Cove Springs on the Porch and caught up with several of the friends I met when I worked on “Fleetwood” in 2008 and 2009.

This evening I will be with Arjan van Buul and his young family at a campground on Tybee Island, near Savannah. We met a few blocks from where I am writing this in early February 2008. Tomorrow I drive back to Chesapeake, Virginia.


March 3rd. Saturday Evening Post. Sailing in Stradivarii. Road Trip to Florida

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

My friend Guus Bierman of Contender Sailcloth drew my attention to a fabulous set of photographs from Johan Granath of the 2008 centennial celebration regatta of the classic 30 SQ meter yachts. For those, like me, who enjoy sailing in, fast, light wooden sailboats you must take a look at:


The German 30 meter has the same spinaker as “Fleetwood” except, I bet his is not 32 years old and full of patches. I am still using it now.

I am driving Monday morning to Washington, N.C. to visit with John and Maureen, cruising friends I met in 2010 in Monnickendam. Next day to Wilmington N.C. to visit Norm and Betsy. I worked with Norm in Brussels in the late sixties, friends ever since. Then I am off to Green Cove Springs just across the Georgia/Florida border. Friday evening I meet Arjan a Dutch American friend and his family near Savannah.

There is progress in the editing of the Dutch and English version of “The Mastmakers Daughters”. I will probably begin in breaking it up in sections for my helpers to work on a section each. I discovered that Jeannine, daughter #3, has excellent editing skills and have been working with her corrections. I have been updating the changes daily and uploading them to the password protected web site directory. 



Thursday March 1st. Road Trip

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The plan has been made. I will leave here, from Chesapeake, Va, on Monday and stop in Washington and Wilmington N.C., to see friends, and end up in Green Cove Springs, Florida on Wednesday. That’s where I hauled “Fleetwood” out in the Spring of 2008 and 2009.  I plan to be back here on Saturday March 10.

The weather has been very unpredictable with incredible swings in temperature. It froze still two nights ago and today it was above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). The prediction for Monday is for snow showers….