January, 2013

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Tuesday January 29. A great big thanks!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Many of you responded to my announcement on the availability of “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”. Thank you very much. The Dutch sales reports from the publisher shows the reader’s names. But Create Space/Amazon only shows numbers. So, it will be difficult to respond individually or start an  “I do care where Jack is” list.

I want to make a plug for a project that I believe in and I still get occasional requests if the kit for my boat is still available. My NAJA came as a kit in a container from Whisstocks Boat yard in Woodbridge England. Very few 30 foot plywood designs could ever claim the distances “Fleetwood” has taken me in comfort and sailing pleasure. Much of the credit goes to Sylvestre Langevin the French naval architect. But also to George Whisstock who worked out the construction details. His instructions were so thorough that if you were done with the kit construction you had also completed a course in wood boat building. I still consult the manual regularly when a particular system needs maintenance. George Whisstock moved to Rockland, Maine and has been consulting and providing boat plans for the amateur boat builder. And he has come up with a new system to have the parts made up at your nearby CNC (Computer Numerical Control) shop. This is ideally suited to plywood construction and saves many hours compared to the traditional cutting methods and transportation. Check it out at :http://www.indiegogo.com/easybuild


one of the examples

I plan to make a nostalgic trip up the Deben River to Woodbridge this June. The last time I sailed on the Deben it was with George Whisstock, in the spring of 1980 on their NAJA prototype.

That was the same year Holland got their new Queen Beatrix. Last night she announced her abdication and on April 30 Holland will have a new King. His great grandmother, Wilhelmina and grandmother Juliana were my queens before I pledged allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. Beatrix is 11 months newer than yours truly was launched, this Thursday is her 75th birthday.

Sunday, January 27. Meltdown.

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Yesterday, Saturday, we had another thin coat of snow, to wipe out the tracks in the week old snow. But a warmer wind blew in from the SW. And the snow is one in most places. The long hoped for Eld Stedentocht is back on the shelf. A few skating races and tours were held on Friday and Saturday. But much can still happen between now and early March. My granddaughter Corrine and her boyfriend Euan came by train to Rhenen (about 30 KM west of Arnhem). I went to mass in Rhenen in the Gedachteniskerk. Father Henri ten Have gave a wonderful sermon on the epistle and gospel. I always appreciate a scholarly historical background of the time the scriptures were written. Father Henri did this well. But as I am now getting accustomed to, most of his parish members missed this opportunity. He preached to the (10 men Gregorian) choir and another 50 of the faithful in a church set up for 20 fold of that number. As you can see from the below picture, father ten Have had a choice to play for the Chigago Bulls.  A Brazilian priest father Aristóteles, it’s Greek to me, co-celebrated. He is part of a (Brazilian originated) movement Communidade Catolica Shalom. I would have liked to learn more from the rest of his Brazilian group who were at mass, but Corrine and Euan were waiting at the r.r. station. Rhenen has a gorgeous 11th century church, the Cunera church. It has been used by the protestant church since the Reformation. We took a quick look inside. The organist, for the last 28 years in the Cunera church, Gert van der  Vliet talked to us about his concert tours with the choir in England and America. We moved on to Amerongen, one of my favorite well preserved historical jewels, and took the ferry across the Lek to Eck and Wiel. The weather was not what I had hoped for, wet and cold.  I had hoped that we could go for a bicycle tour along the river. The same Lek river I had come up on to get on the Rhine, in 2010. After I had dropped them back to the station the skies cleared.

Friday Jan 25 In Eck en Wiel.

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Arthur took me from Soest by car to the ferry accross the Lek river, yesterday. Ankie picked me up on the south shore of the river. It was a beautiful sunny cold winter day. I was given the lay of the land, the facts of the farm, rules of the roost and the poop on the Peugot (cabriolet). Karel and Ankie left before the full moon set. The fog has roled in and I’m glad I did not wait another day to take the below pictures.

I rode one of the many bikes from the stable to the village do shop for the next few days. I am all set.

Thursday Evening January 24 “Special Edition”

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

“The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is now available in English, worldwide at:  


in print. This is the Self Publishing subsidiary of Amazon.com, where it will also be available, in a week or so, for the same $14.50 plus shipping. But I urge you to buy it from Create Space because the royalty is twice as much for me at Create Space. And I need the money, always, sothat I can continue to afford my vagabond life.

The KINDLE (E-Book version) will also be available on Amazon.com at $ 7.50 and I will give the link in the next day or so. The Print version is in Black and White only. It turned out that for the about 10 full color pictures the price would have gone to over $40 per book. The rest of the total 50 or so photos and illustrations were already Black and White or were converted from Sepia. In the Dutch print version there was very little difference between the full color and B&W version. In E-book you will have all in full color, since there is no cost difference.

The book will most likely not be widely available in book stores. I am not using a Publisher at all. This was a very tedious learning process. I was ready to throw my self to the many services that do this for a living, but I am happy with the result and it will most likely not be the last time that you’ll get a chance to make me come for your money.

The web site for the book www.TheMastmakersDaughters.us has additional information and is ready to visit, but will need further work. You will be able to watch a slide show of all the photographs and illustrations of the book in full color, and I will add some more for a bonus, with text. It will also be a platform to leave comments and add any useful information on the subject for future improvements.

A similar web site is in preparation for the Dutch version as www.DeMastmakersdochters.nl


About the author:
Jack van Ommen, Dutch-American, is the son of Rennie de Vries- van Ommen. He was eight when the war ended, 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 fifty countries and six continents, so far. His articles appear regularly in U.S. and Dutch papers and magazines.

The Mastmakers’ Daughters

Authored by Jack van Ommen

The Mastmakers’ Daughters are cousins. They have the same name: Rennie de Vries. Our main character grows up above her father’s mastmaker shop in a small seaport on the Zuiderzee. Her three year younger cousin grows up in Germany where her father started a mastmaker business. Rennie joins Hitler’s Nazi party. Our Rennie ends up in the 2nd World War Resistance. The young mother is arrested by the Germans. The story follows her through Dutch prisons and concentration camps Vught and Ravensbrück until the interception by the American 7th Army on her Death March out of Dachau. The author managed to reconstruct one of the first complete accounts of the 200 Dutch women of the “AGFA-Kommando”. These courageous women stood united to survive the horror. They prayed, sang, cried and laughed together. Rennie remembers their secret religious exercises with Corrie and Betsie ten Boom. Van Ommen discovered a number of misconceptions and some shocking facts about the heroes and villains in the Resistance. The book also follows the Nazi Rennie after she flees Holland when the Third Reich begins to collapse. Rennie’s husband kept a diary from the time of his arrest until Rennie’s safe return. He received one of the first issues of the “Diary of Anne Frank” from Otto Frank. The first part is based on Rennie’s memoirs. It is a very personal account of her experiences in a small seaport, when the fishing and commercial fleet moved by sail and muscle, before running water and electricity. Rennie embraces the emancipation and is one of the founding members of the Dutch equivalent of our YWCA. Most of all, this is Rennie’s affirmation of her gratitude to be a child of God.

Publication Date:
Jan 24 2013
1481129279 / 9781481129275
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6″ x 9″
Black and White
List Price: $14.50


Thursday January 24. From House&Dog sitting to a House&Hen assignment.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I’ll be crossing the Lek river this afternoon. I made a quick trip to Amsterdam for choir practice and to check on the boat. My sister had me over for dinner. I signed up for the four day choir trip to Rome on the Ascension Day weekend, in May. We will sing in the Saint Peter cathedral at one of the services.

My mussel dinner, I promised in the previous blog, turned out well. I’ll need to broaden my two varieties menu, stir fry and mussels, to earn an extended stay in a warm home.

Tuesday January 22nd. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

It is supposed to drop to -15 Centigrade ( 5 degrees F) tonight. We had another inch or two of snow Sunday night. But since this afternoon there is not a cloud left and we had our first clear sunset. I hung my Nikon D-50 around my neck while taking Blanda for her late afternoon walk. It was a spectecular sight.

I cooked my usual stir fry last night for my hosts and once I get this posted I am the Mussel Man for dinner, I take this as a compliment from my hosts that I was allowed another chance.

This will be my recipe

for solving the homeless problem. I’ll start a cooking school on Pershing Square and will franchise it for all the Skid Rows and under the Seine bridges.




Sunday January 20. Right Pew Wrong Church.

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

This was the annual week of church unity. There was an ecumenical service at 10 a.m. co-celebrated with a R.C.priest and a protestant minister. I followed a stream of faithful and asked if this was the ecumenical service. Yes, certainly. But after a half hour of singing and hand-waving with the synthesizer and rock guitar  I felt right at home. Just like going to church with my youngest daughter at her Pentecostal service.  It turned out to be the Evangelical Church in Soest. I was close but missed the church by a city block. The preacher, Arenda Haasnoot, had her 6 point sermon displayed on the screen. It was an inspiring lesson on the Sermon on the Mount. But I was getting nervous. It was after 11 and I had told Arthur and Marjan I would be out of church by shortly after 11 ( as usual a Catholic service is done in an hour) and the evangelist was not done with point three yet. I left the church at point four. A block further I passed the right church where the crowd, pastor and priest were filing out. Arthur and Marjan were arriving by taxi from the Amersfoort rail road station when I pulled into the driveway.  I wished I could have stayed for the entire sermon and met some more of the members. A refreshing experience to see so many young families with children.



Saturday Evening Post January 19

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Tomorrow the master and mistress of Blanda return. And I plan to head back for “Fleetwood” on Tuesday or early Wednesday. I’ll miss Blanda’s company and my friends will have to exxcuse  the bad habits I taught her. It is a little like grandparents/parents. I could not resist those big brown eyes when she was begging for a treat.

I just discovered that my photos did not load up on the previous blog. Take a look. It is supposed to snow again tomorrow. The mercury has never risen above freezing in the last week but the high expectations for an Elf Stedentocht, the 200 plus k.m. skating tour/race of the Frisian cities, do not look as good as they did a few days ago, any longer. I am working on my second cold this winter. Time to head south for warmer waters.

Dirk Jan, my nephew, took a few photos of “Fleetwood” under the snow and in the ice

Wednesday January 16. Den Soe(s)te(r) Inval

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

“Den Soeten Inval” translates into something like “The Sweet Welcome”. It is supposed to have been the name of a medieval hostel. It is now often used for candy stores and bakeries.  Well that’s what it has been the last couple days here in Soest where I am house/dog sitting. Yesterday I told you that Corrine and my sister and brother-in-law came to visit from Amsterdam, yesterday Dirk Jan came for dinner from Haarlem. Last Friday my elementary school friend Jeannette came for coffee with her husband Henk.

I just got back from Blanda’s morning walk. The pictures speak for themselves. Yes, Blanda is a vegetarian. She loves carrots, potato peels,  The sun came out. The temperature dropped to 10 below zero Centigrade during the night and does not get above zero during the day. Ice Skating from “Fleetwood” ‘s dock is a real possibility.

Tuesday January 15. Winter Wonderland in Holland

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

It started snowing last night. I had just come back from a visit to my distant cousins in Ek en Wiel. We are related through my maternal grandmother. I visited them for the first time in the spring of 2011 and you might remember the picture of the mating storks, see https://cometosea.us/?p=1833 on their farm. It was sunny and frosty and a beautiful ride through heather fields, old farms and the well preserved medieval town of Amerongen, just a ferry ride across the Lek river to my destination.  Karel and Ankie are going skiing for two weeks and they twisted my arm to house sit from next week Thursday. This gives me a couple days after I leave here from Soest to check on the boat and have a choir rehearsal. We will be singing Fauré’s Requiem mass for Easter. And I might join the choir for a four day trip around Ascension to go to Rome where we will be singing the liturgy for one of the Ascension Day services in the St. Peter Cathedral.

I wen to 10 a.m. mass. This time there was a priest, an excellent small choir and more of the faithful. Corrine came by train for a visit and my sister and her husband also came in the afternoon. It was a beautiful cold crisp day for a walk with Blanda in the woods.