April, 2014

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Tuesday April 29. An invitation.

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

This  Sunday the choir I joined from November 2012 till July 2013 will again perform on the occasion of the annual memorial for the victims of  World War II.

Last year was the first time the nearly 100 voices of the combined two choirs performed Fauré’s Requiem. The Augustinus Church in Buitenveldert/Amstelveen was filled to the last seat, so, come early. It will remain an unforgettable highlight of my 4 year stay in Europe.

4 mei concert 2014


The soon to be re-christened “Fleetwood” is now in Gig Harbor, temporarily moored at the foot of Peacock Hill at the private dock of my friend Joan. After I get back from California she goes through her metamorphosis and then I shall be moored in Arabella Landing for the next months to prepare her for off shore sailing. Summer is giving us a sample this week. It is warming up to 80° F. I plan to go for a sail tomorrow afternoon. Saturday was a strong wind from the south I motor-sailed under the 120% jib from Olympia. Lots of memories came back. I had not sailed this route since I came back from a snow cancelled Toliva Shoal race in February 1988.

The Pink and White Dogwood are blooming. The fruit trees are just about done with their gorgeous spring display. I’ll try have some pictures of the Dogwoods and my new home under sail on tomorrow’s blog.



Friday April 25th. Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow.

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

I worked a good part of the day on the boat. It was the first time that I got a chance to familiarize myself with my new home. On the first short visits I tended to be preoccupied by missing the familiar layout I had become so attached to in the 33 years with “Fleetwood”. But today I kept finding features that are definitely better thought out. And the boat is structurally in better condition and has had a lot less wear and tear than my old boat. I am very pleased and I, and friends and family I expect, am going to have a lot of fun with my new friend.

It hailed, a double rainbow and sunshine between showers.

I intend to bring the boat tomorrow to Gig Harbor and then do the haul out in Tacoma right after I come back from California on May 13th.

Help is coming from several directions in response to the items I listed in my last “Resurrection” mailing. Windvane, inflatable dinghy, folding bike, life raft are already checked off. 

on right my youngest granddaughter Olivia playing La Crosse at Stadium Hi-School, Tacoma

on right my youngest granddaughter Olivia playing La Crosse at Stadium Hi-School, Tacoma

A double rainbow

A double rainbow

The new boat in Olympia at the end of the Rainbow.

The new boat in Olympia at the end of the Rainbow.

Wednesday April 16. An early resurrection.

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

I am just too excited to keep this under my hat till Easter. “Fleetwood” is resurrected. I have just purchased her twin. Coincidence, I am a twin and “Fleetwood”‘s predecessor a Ranger-29 was called “Gemini”. This NAJA is named “Mariah” but that does not fit my profile. “Phoenix” would work but that might ruffle my last wife’s feathers, her given name is May Fung 冯美华   beautiful Phoenix. So you just will have to be here for the re-launch and christening. The boat is sound but it has been a bit neglected and I will get to cleaning her up and a new coat of paint and varnish. The boat was built from one of the three kits that I imported from Whisstocks Boat Yard in England in 1980. Todd Dhabolt did an exceptional fine job on putting the boat together. It has a masthead rig instead of the fractional rig I had. The masthead rig is easier to handle. The mast is keel stepped instead of stepped on top of the cabin. This is also a structural advantage. Another plus is that my boat was the last to have the plywood planking (ringshank) nailed, from then on they have been screwed which is a much better way of fastening. I was continuously epoxying the recessed exposed nail surfaces. It has a decent sail inventory and a nearly new main. The engine is a 1 cylinder 10 HP discontinued Italian (Ducati?) diesel. Seems to work fine but might need something a little more powerful eventually. I will need a list of new gear for off shore use.

So, I am pleased. For the price I paid I could not have found a similar quality replacement on the Atlantic coast. I am totally sold on the chined plywood construction. I know this boat inside out. I checked into shipping the boat to Thunder Bay on lake Ontario from here. I would have loved to sail the Great Lakes and visit a number of Canadian friends I met along the way and then descend the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. But the cost is out of the question. I plan to get the boat ready to sail south from here to the Panama Canal this summer  and from there pick up where I left off in 2007 in the Eastern Caribbean and then spend time in Cartagena to land travel the South American Pacific Coast.

Here is a picture of her back in 1990 together with “Fleetwood”:

Mariah on left Fleetwood center

Mariah on left Fleetwood center

April 13 Palm Sunday.

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Today it is “Hosanna!”, followed on Friday with “Crucify Him!” and the glorious finale of this Holy Week with our “Alleluia!”.

Last night was Lisa’s 50th birthday party. You started hearing about this on this blog already a year ago. I had planned to fly from South America for the occasion. Lisa had organized this with the help of her younger sister Rose Marie and many of her friends. She rented a hall in Tacoma Old town overlooking the Puget Sound. It was a beautiful summer-like evening. The moon was nearly full. We played a bingo game and Lisa had set up 10 pictures of items we had to guess the prices for in 1964. Like first class postage 5 cents and interesting enough the price of a loaf of bread and a gallon of gasoline stayed just about the same. Then 38,5 cents now $3.50. I ran a 100 slides, of Lisa growing up, on an antique slide projector I borrowed from a friend. My oldest son John (1971) and his fiancee Jennifer (I don’t ask) flew up from San Diego, Seth (1980) drove up from Portland. Lisa’s youngest sister could not make it from Virginia. But she will complete the picture to be taken of the whole clan on John and Jennifer’s wedding in Yucaipa, Calif. on May 3rd.

Thursday was the 80th birthday of my long time friend Roger Rue. And I was able to be there and add to his collection of rail road memorabilia with a Dutch NS  conductor’s hat. His sailboats had names like “Union Depot”, “Grand Central”, etc.

I may have some exciting news to share with you  in the next week or so about a possible replacement of “Fleetwood”, here on this coast, after all. But I need to do a little more research on the consequences. As you might have read I was expected to look on the Atlantic side because I’d like to pick up again on my plans to spend more time in the Southern Caribbean and tour the West Coast of South America. But this opportunity appears too good to pass up. Stay tuned….

Lisa and Rose Marie

Lisa and Rose Marie


John and Seth

John and Seth


Wednesday April 9. Catching up with my U.S. family and friends

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

It was a little over two years ago when I visited here the last time. The biggest change is in the grand children. The two youngest were then 15 now they are 17 and 18 and driving their own cars. Cars have new license plates. But with the economic slowdown of the previous years the neighborhood has not changed much. The last time when I had been away for a similar period, between my 2005 departure from the West Coast and my 2007 arrival in Virginia, the changes were more pronounced. Much bigger homes, trash cans, more obesity and the culture shock coming from spending two years in the South Pacific, S.E. Asia, Indian Ocean and South America.

Last Sunday I attended the 8.30 mass at my parish in Gig Harbor and met a number of my old friends there. Saturday is the big party for Lisa’s 50th birthday. She has rented a hall in Tacoma for the evening. All her siblings will be there except her youngest sister Jeannine, who lives in Virginia. But she will complete my family on May 3rd for the wedding of my oldest son, John.

I booked my flight for the wedding, arriving in Long Beach on May 2nd and returning to Seattle on May 13. And in that period I intend to visit with friends in Palm Springs, the San Diego area, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Mt.Rainier from Lisa's home.

Mt.Rainier from Lisa’s home.

My new work area at my Daughter #2 in Federal Way.

My new work area at my Daughter #2 in Federal Way.


Friday April 4. Back home?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

I write home with a question mark because there appears to be some confusion on this in me. But, for sure, I am very happy to be greeted by two of my daughters, grandchildren and friends. As of January 9th I was an “illegal” in the Schengen countries since my 90 day plus a 30 day extension had expired and several versions of the penalties of my transgression were going through my mind: being led away in handcuffs at passport control, missing my flight, having to pay a hefty fine, etc. But when I had gone through security and mingled with the duty free shoppers I realized that there was no pass control at all at the Schiphol airport. But when I transferred to my connecting flight in Reykjavik, Iceland there was pass control. The police officer checked every 30 pages of my passport and I had visions of doing time in an Iceland jail. What if they’d find out that I knew how to knit? Instead of having to feed an old useless illegal they could make me knit these Iceland $500 sweaters I saw in the duty free shop. The officer questioned where I had been all the time since my last entry and I answered in my best Dutch accented English that I had visited family in Holland. Good thing the knitting never came up, then she solved our problem by saying: “Oh, then you must have used your Dutch passport…” I nodded, she stamped me out.

After I recover from jet lag and have my new Dutch cell phone number I’ll write more.


Tuesday, April 1st. Making the rounds to say my good byes.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

This morning I met Willy Kerkhoven, one of my former high school classmates, in Haarlem. We took a tour of the old St. Bavo church. As you can see from the below pictures it is no wonder that the organ made a big impression on Herman Melville when he visited here a century and a half ago. In “Moby Dick” describing the size of the mouth of a baleen (Fin?) whale Melville compares it as follows: ” Seeing all these colonnades of bone so methodically ranged about, would you not think you were inside of the great Haarlem organ, and gazing upon its thousand pipes?”

Melville wrote “Moby Dick” on the Marquesas island of Nuka Hiva in Comptrollers Bay, after he jumped a whaler ship. I anchored in the very same spot in May 2005. I had never been inside this church. I quote some more from the Wikepedia page: “Upon completion in 1738 it was the largest organ in the world with 60 voices and 32-feet pedal-towers.”

This afternoon I said goodbye to my oldest cousin, Willy, 82 years old. She and her husband Herbert live just 10 minutes by bicycle from here. Tomorrow I am scheduled for another 3 to 4 visits.

The old St. Bavo, Haarlem

The old St. Bavo, Haarlem

The St.Bavo organ

The St.Bavo organ