December, 2013 browsing by month


December 30 Benissalem, Mallorca

Monday, December 30th, 2013

I could not have asked for a better day to make the short train trip into the country side. A very bright sunny but crisp day. Perfect for pictures. The commuter train turned out to be one of the nicest and cleanest European trains I have been in. Derry and Steve, Charlottte’s friends, live a ways out in the country from Benissalem. Derry came to pick me up in town. Some of Spain’s best wines grapes are grown in this region. Carob, Almond, Citrus and Olive groves. Derry keeps a number of Arabian horses. Beautiful animals. A nice old chocolate lab named Benny, just like the one that greeted me when I invaded the custodians of Tagomago right after my shipwreck.

Steve sailed from England  to the Caribbean in the seventies on his 46 foot gaff rigged ketch. He sailed with charter guests from St. Lucia for several years and then did deliveries back and forth between the West Indies and the Mediterranean. Later he and his wife Derry became the skipper and cook on the classic 102 foot Top Sail Schooner “Puritan”, designed by John Alden and launched in 1929. They have led a rich and colorful life in this very special circle. The American skipper of the schooner “America” also has settled near by. The Balearic Islands are a perfect location to keep a “pied a terre” and raise the children for parents like Steve and Derry, since it is right on the route from the West Indies to the eastern Mediterranean.  Steve also was able to explain me the question I posed yesterday about the need for annual reduction tables and almanacs for celestial navigation. Apparently you can use the same table in all non-leap year years and another one for the leap years. That would then make sense.

I’m having better luck now with manual focus:

Sunday December 29. The Palma cathedral.

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I had wondered how it is possible that the spectacle of the light from the rosette on the East side of the cathedral is always projected on the opposite end of the church on February 2nd and November 11th of each year and at the same time, around 8.30 a.m. I could not find any answers on the internet, but I think I figured it out. Since our calendar and time is based on the rotation of the earth, the sun should project fairly close to the calendar and time. Both dates are exactly 42 days from the December 22 winter solstice. And then I wonder if the story that the architects for this 13th century construction really had this figured out for those dates. As long as the window is reasonably square to the sun at a particular time of the day would it not follow then that it would project twice a year in the same spot?  And there must be a lot more buildings with the same effect. I show a picture that I just happened to take last year in France where the reflection is also lined up perfectly vertically. Just luck? But now I am asking my self if the location of the sun is smack on the same time of the calendar then why do we need almanacs and reduction tables for every year for our celestial navigation? I may have conveniently wiped this off my memory with GPS. Any body out there with the answer?

Today is the feast of the Holy Family. After three shipwrecked marriages I am an expert on the subject.  I envy and admire the couples who followed the example of Mary and Joseph. The boys choir must have the week off and there was a very good group of university students. The liturgy was sung in Latin the mass was said in Mallorquin and the sermon and announcements in Castilian.  I got to sing part of a Christmas song after all. We sung the refrain with the choir of Venite Adoremus Dominum.

Saturday, December 28. Palma

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

As the sun rise promised it turned out to be a nice sunny balmy day. A moderate wind from the S.E.

There is supposed to be a flea market in town on Saturday. When I finally found the location there was no sign of a market, it might be seasonal or was already closed. Most locals have no clues of street names, just the major squares. I discovered afterwards that I was on the corner of the street I was searching for but when I asked for it by name to an emergency vehicle driver he sent me in the opposite direction…..

Monday I will take a trip out of the big city to the countryside by way of an old commuter train, the Inca train, to Binissalem. Charlotte, my artist friend from Ibiza, made the introduction for me with an English couple who live there.

I wrote before about having a problem with my automatic focusing on my Ikon D-50 camera. I have now started to manually focus. But now I discovered a new problem with the MS picture manager software, it blurs the picture when I rotate the pictures to get it straight. And there seems to be no solution to this, when googling this problem. My Adobe Photo Shop keeps the picture sharp but the process takes a lot more time than the MS Picture manager. Nearly 1 out of 4 pictures I take needs to be rotated upright. Most people don’t bother but to me it is a fetish like going through someone’s home and quickly adjusting their out of plumb wall decorations.  Any one else found a solution to this problem with MS Picture Manager? While working on my  book for the 9 year voyage I am going back through all my older pictures, before I bothered to straighten my pictures, and I have already squared many till I discovered today that it seriously affects the sharpness.

There is no radio in the apartment here, so I have been listening to NPR from the lap top. Tomorrow I am going to treat my self to the Prairie Home Companion, which comes in here at 6 p.m. my time. But then I discovered that there are several radio programs on the t.v., including an English language program. What more could I ask for???  So, if you do not see me come out of the arrival gate on January 8, I will have forfeited my $ 20.00 airfare and taunted the Mallorca Guardia Civil for a jail cell for overstaying my visa.

Friday December 27 Palma

Friday, December 27th, 2013

I took the background picture on August 25, 2012 in Seurre, France, on the Saone.

Unfortunately I had misunderstood the dates of the afternoon Christmas services. Christmas eve was a very stormy nasty night and I decided to forego the midnight mass and go to the Christmas day service in the afternoon. When I got to the Cathedral it turned out that the afternoon service had been celebrated on Christmas Eve.

The total miles for the 9 year voyage I gave on the 19 December blog were incorrect. The total is higher. I had left off the 2009 Atlantic crossing… I have corrected it I have also updated item 1) in the right hand corner under Photo galleries.

There you will find the page with all the details and a break down of the voyage into 5 sections with a world and a Europe route map.

Sunday December 22nd.Winter Equinox.

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

But it was a sunny warm summer like day here on Mallorca. I had been under the weather a bit with a cold or possibly a touch of the flue. And today was the first day since Tuesday that I ventured outside. I had not missed much because it has been rainy and stormy, till this morning. I went to the 10.30 mass at the Cathedral. This time I could follow most of the sermon because the priest spoke slow and clearly. Afterwards I strolled through the old part of the town and visited the  Arabian steam baths, dating back to the 10th century. There is much to see here, some unusual architecture like the one picture of the unusual ornate decorations on this early 20th century building. There are many good museums.

My cousin Gido van Ommen and his wife will be my hosts in Heemstede once again, upon my January 8 arrival. Later in the month I will be the guest of my distant relatives  in Eck en Wiel where I house/chicken sat last February.

Susan Jachimiec just wrote a review for “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” , hers makes the third review. I really appreciate this and if you have read the book and feel it worth a review I will be very grateful since this helps my sales of the book. It is slowly starting to spread to more readers beyond the original group of friends and acquaintances.

I shall most likely celebrate Christ’s Birth quietly and attend the midnight mass at the Cathedral.

Thursday December 19. Flying to Holland on January 8th

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

I booked my flight today on Ryan Air. I will arrive at 18.30 in Eindhoven on the 8th of January. The air fare was all of € 26.55….A taxi from here to the airport would probably be close to this air fare.

Being here in the apartment of Joakim and Victoria has turned out to be such a great help in getting on with my writing projects. I now have continuous access to the internet. I am still working on reconstructing my 9 years voyage. Without my log book I have to check dates from my pictures and my blogs since June 2009, and they can only be accessed with an internet connection.

This is what the 9 years voyage adds up to:

COUNTRIES visited:  50    LOCKS:   421   NAUTICAL MILES: 47,843 (of which 4,033 on European inland waterways and 1,500 on the I.C.W.)

This distance converts to 88.605 KM and 55,056 Statute Miles.

The circumference of the earth at the Equator is 21,600 Nautical Miles which means that “Fleetwood” covered a distance of nearly 2 ¼ times the earth’s circumference, or ¼ of the distance to the Moon. All was done single handed with the exception of the 1,750 miles between the Azores and Amsterdam, 120 miles on the I.C.W. in 2008 and 250 miles on the Meuse and IJssel in 2012.

I can probably claim a record distance for s/h navigating on the European inland water system.

I received a commission, yesterday, to write my story of the shipwreck for the most read Dutch sailing monthly, so, that is my priority.

Wednesday December 18. Six shopping days left.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

And I am not shopping. I have been excused. But I am looking forward to the 2014th celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Greatest Gift mankind ever received.

And some of you might say: “You are full of shit, Jack, I just lost my job!” and “Why does your God allow a Typhoon to devastate Mindanao?”  And frankly I do not have the answer for you. But I remember an incident when I was in Cebu, Philippines in 2006. The owner of the yard where I was hauled out for maintenance told me how he had lost his 10 year old grandson in a car accident. And he raised his finger and yelled “Fuck you God!”. I felt helpless. Then I asked him: “Did your daughter buy your grandson at a local store?” “Did you have to pay for the 10 years that you were a grandfather to him?” He raised his eye brows and I saw a change come over him.

And this year I am without an address to send me gifts but your love and friendship come to me without a street address. I have been overwhelmed with your encouragements and offers of/ and help after my November 16 shipwreck. I love you very much.

The below is my Christmas wish to you. I received this as a Christmas card from Leo Lewin an Argentinian customer and friend, in the eighties. Leo was a Jew and had managed to get out from a “Kindertransport”  into Switzerland out of occupied France during the 2nd WW. He knew the meaning of PEACE/Shalom You may have seen this before but it speaks such a crystal clear message that in order to promote a better world we need to start with our selves.

Si hay luz en el alma,

habrá belleza en persona.

Si hay belleza en persona,

habrá armonía en la casa.

Si hay armonía en la casa,

habrá orden en la nación.

Si hay orden en la nación,

habrá paz en el mundo

donde hay paz

hay Dios


If there is light in the soul,

there will be beauty in the person.

If there is beauty in the person,

there will be harmony in the house.

If there is harmony in the house,

there will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation,

there will be peace in the world

where there is Peace

there is God

Merry Christmas

Gelukkig/Zalig Kerstfeest

Tuesday December 17. Full Moon over Palma

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

I spent most of yesterday getting my camera to work again. It turned out that it had nothing to do with the battery charger but that the button for the flash was stuck. The new charger I had bought at Corte Ingles had to be brought back, then a long walk to a Nikon repair facility. They could not have it done till just before Christmas and the minimum charge was $50. Back at the apartment I borrowed Joakim’s tools and took the camera apart and managed to fix the problem.

Palma is a total change from Ibiza. The city counts about 400,000 souls and I guess that the entire permanent population of Ibiza island is less than 100,000. In the morning we dropped off the oldest, William 6, of the three boys (Cesar 2, Vincent 4) at the Swedish school. The school counts about 170 Swedish students. An experience to watch these blue eyed towheads** here, speaking Swedish and Spanish. Their parents, for the most part have jobs here or the father works in Sweden and commutes the weekends. The round trip airfare on services like Ryan Air is below $ 100 and takes about 1 1/2 hours. And a number work for Swedish firms by internet from their home here. The Swedes can live anywhere in the world because there is always an Ikea within driving distance where they can get their meatballs, Gravlax and the Svenska Dagbladet. I took my host family at 5 a.m. this morning to the airport. The three boys are a riot. Cesar the two year old is the entertainer, sings and tells long stories, the middle one 4 years old will be a rugby player, and William, 6, is the professor.

Yesterday was the first month since the shipwreck, also a full moon. So far my “third life” has already started with good experiences, beyond my expectations, with lots of help from many directions and new friendships.

Sad news reached me yesterday that Cor Ruijer passed away suddenly, last Saturday. He became a good friend as member of the yacht club, de Schinkel, where I was a guest and later member, since august of 2009. Cor had lived part of his live in Galicia and spoke perfect Castellano. He had his proper bar stool at the club and he would always joke and taunt me that I would never go back to the United States. I had hoped to impress him with my newly acquired Spanish on my return to Amsterdam, next month. We will miss him.

Here is what I want for Christmas from my sons. They are wealthy and since I am going to outlive them its just an early distribution of my inheritance. It s just perfect for my next mode of travel. I call it a “Cheater Chopper”. Battery assisted bicycle. It will do 50 km/hr. It is Joakim’s, my host here in Las Palmas, urban toy.

And a few more pictures of Palma:

** When I googled my spelling for Towheads I learned that the word comes from the Dutch “Touw” or rope, which was made from Flax, e.g. “Flaxen Haired”.

Sunday December 15. Palma de Mallorca

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

I took the 9.30 p.m. ferry from Ibiza to Palma and arrived at 1.30 this morning. Joakim (Jack) came to pick me up. Beatrice had taken my bags from Calla San Vicente to San Eularia. I met her there after I dropped off the bike that Denny from the Cycle Shop had let me use the month I spent on Ibiza. I took a bus to Ibiza.

What I have seen so far of Palma has been a very nice surprise. It is a very pleasant city built on the hills surrounding a deep bay. Lots of marinas with huge sail yachts. Joakim and Victoria live in an apartment building not far from the water, a steep stairs takes me down to the port in less than 10 minutes. I took the bus from there to the old city center to go to mass at the Cathedral. An impressive old 14th centurychurch, built on a hill overlooking the bay. It was a high mass with 7 priests con-celebrating the service. The liturgy was said in Mallorquin, instead of the official Castilian version, a local dialect very close to Catalan and slightly different from the Ibiza dialect.  A good size boys choir in their red and white choir robes with their gorgeous young soprano voices. The traditional Gothic structure has a very high vaulted ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows. Unfortunately my camera is not working. Apparently the charger that I had bought to replace the shipwrecked one is not the right output. I figure that there will be more opportunities and I expect to attend the cathedral for Christmas services. Twice a year, early in the morning, in early February and again in mid November the sun plays through the large stained glass rose window to reflect on the opposite wall at the church’s entrance. This was designed by the astrologers, architects for this special effect. My hosts are from the Island of Smögen, North of Gothenburg. The island is a vacation paradise in the summer months and my hosts then run their businesses and are this way able to spend most of the rest of the year, with their three young boys in a warmer part of the world. When I met them in March of 2009 they had a place in the Dominican Republic.


Wednesday, December 11 Saying my good bye’s in Ibiza

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

With a heavy hart. I would have liked to stay here longer and get the rest of the stories of so many very interesting people. I’d like to learn more of its historic past. I love the country side and the proximity, anywhere on the island, to the Mediterranean. I am starting to learn more Spanish but my other languages come in well because of the many different tongues of the people who have settled here from elsewhere in Western Europe.

Several of the below pictures are of a 17th century farm house in San Carlos, preserved as a museum.  I rode the bicycle up to San Carlos from the beach and collected another big bag of Boletus/Porcini/Cèpes. That was dinner and leftovers. I stopped later in the afternoon at “Le petit Marché” and met some of the usual crowd. Angeles and Hamid came later. So, I had a chance to say good bye. I will miss these new friends I made here. And as much as I hope to come back again I have to face the reality that at my age the chance becomes more and more unrealistic. And undiscovered territory still beckons.

The one picture with the two Madrileñas  is to proof my earlier blog as “The best dressed shipwreck survivor”.