July, 2013

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Wednesday July 31st. Progress report.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Another summer month gone and still weeks away from finishing the reconstruction on “Fleetwood”. My current estimate is that I’ll sail away the first week of September.

I installed the new cockpit coamings this morning and have the first section of the new rub rail installed. I keep running into unexpected complications. As an example, it turned out that there were uneven slopes of the deck where the coamings go. It took extra hours and sweat trying to make them fit. I am very pleased with the replacement of my Teak for the coamings and the rub rail. I am now using Sapeli, a Mahogany like West African species. The plywood of “Fleetwood’s hull and transom are also Sapeli. As you can see it has a very attractive grain and color and it is reasonably durable and strong. The rub rail is slightly stouter and taller than the old teak rail. I bought the Sapeli from Joep Huismans at v/d Stadt in Zaandam (Not the v/d Stadt boatbuilder in Zaandam). Joep and I have known each other for the last 40 years, he used to be a customer of mine for Douglas Fir sawn lumber.

Monday my sister drove me to Volendam to bring my main sail for repairs, only to find out that they are closed till August 13, for summer holidays. I had not read all the way down their web page and was not familiar with the European tradition that businesses just close the shop for three weeks.  When I started looking for alternatives I  found out that the other sail makers are also closed down. Try that in the USA….

There are still a number of chores before I am ready for the Atlantic. I need a new EPIRB, the life raft has to be inspected.

I’d like some input from my cruising friends for my navigation systems. I have never used a chart plotter, just the laptop. A few years ago I purchased a Horizon VHF with AIS reception, but I have never been able to make the AIS work on it and after trying to program it more than twice you have to send the whole radio back to Horizon. I understand that there are chart plotters that also have the AIS reception. Any one with suggestions? I also like to be able to watch my electronic charts in the cockpit. I often have to take a quick dive into the cabin to check my navigation, like in a crowded harbor. Then I have to readjust my eyes from bright sunlight in the cabin. Ideally I’d be able to take the plotter into the sunlight in the cockpit. I started out in 2005 with my electronic charts in Nobeltec and have used the Open CPN in the last couple years. But I want to start using Navionics, because their charts are far superior. I have not purchased the software (Fugawi?) yet, just the Western Europe chart. I am debating of investing in an I-pad because they have a free app for Navionics. Any suggestions?

The other question I have is about my e-mail and blog updates when off shore. I have used SailMail via my SB-radio and modem. The last time I used it, in 2009, it was  $250 per year subscription. I only use it for the long crossings and that will be for about a month in November/December. I tried getting a HAM license so that I could use their free e-mail service but that turned out to be way above my pea brain. Would it be cost effective/practical to use Satellite telephone? You need to bear in mind that my power generation is limited to my solar panel and if need be the engine. I hope you can help me.







July 22nd Full Moonday

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

I’d much rather be showing a picture of “Fleetwood” in the water, but putting her back together is a slow and frustrating process. With the different deck thickness I have to shop for new fasteners. Small things like trying to remove the old fasteners from the mooring cleats slow me down. The stainless machine screws have become corroded to the aluminum. I spent an hour on two cleats this morning.

It is in the high eighties but on the deck of “Fleetwood”, 10 foot from the ground, under the hot tin roof it is over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  I am trying to do the deck work early in the morning and the other work, later, on the ground. And there is no relief in sight for cooler weather.

Paul de Leeuw drove me to Vinkeveen, last Saturday, to shop for a few things at the used marine hardware store.

Holland and bicycles: You see them in all shapes, colors and conditions. Chained to light poles, fences. Some one had  a little fun with this one. At the finish of the Bosbaan the Olympic rowing course in the Amsterdamse Bos. There is a large free parking lot here and many people park here and then take their clunker bikes to work into town.

Tuesday July 9. Getting to the fun part.

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

After all the sanding and filling I have something to show for it. The hull has a fresh coat of paint. This is the first time I had a chance to paint inside. The last time was in 2011 on the banks of the Danube in Zimnicea, Romania and swarms of the little pesty flies committed hari-kiri in the fresh paint. I shall be putting the primer on the deck, house and cockpit, tomorrow. Then the finish coats and the anti slip on the deck and the cabin top. Next the bottom coat and then we are getting close to the re-launch. But lots of hours to re-install all the deck hardware and put the interior back together.  Nick, my port side neighbor reflected in the fresh paint job.

While I am writing the blog  a group of youngsters is practicing righting an Optimist dinghy after a capsize. Every summer the club here holds a sailing camp. I learned to sail here from my uncle Fred van Ommen in the early fifties.

Sunday July 7th: This was the last Sunday, till the fall, that the LPK choir of the Augustinus church sang at the 10.30 a.m. High Mass. The gospel was from Luke 10 where Jesus sends 72 disciples out into the world. They are to greet their potential hosts with “Peace be with you!” “Shalom”. They are to go barefoot and not carry any baggage. To me wishing someone “Peace” is nearly the same as “I love you!”.  The very first concert I ever sang in was Mozart’s Requiem mass in 1969 in Brussels. In my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is a passage about several of my mother’s co-prisoners being in the bunker prison of concentration camp Vught in the week before the entire camp population is evacuated to German concentration camps; the women sing the “Dona Nobis Pacem” part of Mozart’s Requiem mass for the male prisoners before they are led to their execution. Last Saturday during my interview Mona Liza asked me: “What about the singing”. And I lost it for a minute or so. The emotion of it is still too much for me. Singing was a major way for these women to support each other and was used in their religious secret meetings. My parents sang in choirs. I love to sing. Being part of the Augustinus church choir will remain one of the best memories of the 4 years spent in Europe. I officially said goodbye to the choir members after the service. They sang for me a beautiful sailors song in four voices and gave me a bag of gifts for the continuation of my journey. The director, Herman Paardekooper, said some very kind words. So, I left feeling very blessed.

I plan to have a farewell party here at the “Schinkel” when I am ready to cast off. Sometime in August. Stay tuned for the date.


Saturday July 6th. No fan of fiberglass.

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

I had never worked with fiberglass cloth other than sheathing an Optimist dinghy and my boat’s rudder. I hope that I’ll never have to use it again. The cloth was supplied folded instead of rolled. I used a  220 gram cloth. I had meant it to go up from the deck about 5 cms on the cabin sides and about the same down over the edge onto the hull. But that did not work. By squeezing it onto the hull or cabin sides it would lift up from the deck surface. I ended up having to sand these overlaps all off again. It was a messy time consuming exercise. I wished I had just not bothered with the cloth and given it a couple extra coats of epoxy. But it is done as of this morning with two extra coats on the already coated cloth. Now it should get easier with the primer and the final finish paint coat. But it has set me back again off my departure schedule. It has become unbearable hot under the roof shed high up working on the deck. If it is 70 on the floor it is 90 under the roof. This makes working with epoxy very difficult. I try get started by 7 a.m., take a long siesta and work late into the evening.

Today I had a new experience, being interviewed on camera for a documentary about my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and in particular about our mother’s experience in Dachau. It took most of the day.

I like my new shelter in Amstelveen. It is an about 20/25 minute bicycle ride along a very pretty bike path that follows the old train/tram track that starts at the Amstelveenseweg Prison, passes right by “De Schinkel” and ends up about 25 k.m. south of Amsterdam. It is like nothing has changed here in the last 100 years. I have a great place to sleep, shower and cook. Tomorrow I say good bye to the choir members of the Augustinus church.

The bike route along the rail/tram track