May, 2022 browsing by month


Monday, May 16 ’20 Back in the Hood

Monday, May 16th, 2022

I laid my eyes on “Fleetwood III” on Wednesday the 11th. We have been getting acquainted and she’s a keeper. She’ll be a piece of work for a while. Cleaning the interior, sanding, revarnishing, etc.








The carved tree butt mooring post is the remains of the magnificent Horse Chestnut in my four seasons series of 2009/2013















She and my two ex-es, have lots in common, dimensions, model, material, her plusses are the Yamaha 2GM which runs great, smoother and quieter and more power than the previous four  diesels that propelled her two predecessors. A lot more storage and sleeping berths, a nice 3 burner gas galley stove, a Webasto heater, swim ladder and it even has a TV and masttop tv antenna. The first TV for me since I dumped my last one in 1998 when Jesus reminded me that dumping a TV is less painful than tearing an eye out when the flesh tempts. But so far it is part of a puzzle of wiring waiting to be tackled after the FM-AM radio, SSB receiver, VHF, GPS, AIS, etc.

On Friday, I got some help from the yard to figure out the switches for the nav lights. It was a great ride on Saturday to Amsterdam. I just barely made through the two fixed highway bridges. I had gone through these bridges in 2012 with a taller mast, so I felt no fear. But the next day I realized that the mast then down since I left the Mediterranean by way of the inland rivers and canals. The flexible VHF antenna went pinging at every joist. The architect for these bridges had miscalculated the height and the Dutch government had to compensate all the Botter fishermen to put a hinge on the mast heads, to lower and raise the tops from their now landlocked villages along the Old Zuider Zee shore to reach their fishing grounds. Last year, you may remember, I was not as lucky on the New York East River.

My highest priority was to show registration numbers to get underway to Amsterdam from Zeewolde, an eight-hour trip. I requested quotes ahead of time from my previous Gig Harbor source and two Dutch sign makers for the vinyl stick on boat name, home port and registration numbers. The Dutch quote was way over my budget and I had no reply yet from Gig Harbor. But a local sign maker in Zeewolde had me walk out the store in less than 15 minutes from my arrival on a borrowed bicycle, after I had e-mailed the details an hour prior. The whole detail cost less than $90 and much less than my previous expenses.

Moonrise at Schinkelbrug

In the meantime, I have arrived at my old spot in the yacht club “De Schinkel” where learned to sail when I was 12 and where I spent memorable visits from 2009 until 2013.

Feels like home.

We have one of the first rainy days since I arrived nearly a month ago.

The one good thing is, that against predictions, the US dollar has done well and is at a record high. We can’t put that blame on our illustrious leader. Europe has probably been hurt more by the Covid than the US.

I needed to replenish my euro account here with dollars from my US account. And I nearly had a heart attack when a very inexperienced young lady at my local bank told me that the rate was 79 euro cents for the dollar, but that I needed to purchase it on the bank’s app. That did not work and I must have spent another hour in many phone calls before I was able to make the transfer and rate turned out to be closer to 98 cents. When I was here in 2009 the Euro was much more like between $ 1.30 and $ 1.40.

A couple from the Gig Harbor YC is due to visit here this week, together with another friends of theirs’ couple.

My previous blog was sent on May 4th, just before the Memorial Day concert done by the choir, I joined back in 2012 and sang with in the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in 2013. It was a fabulous program, just wished I had been able to sing with them if I had been able to attend the rehearsals. There will probably be opportunities coming up soon.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a gorgeous day, in the seventies and half of Amsterdam was on the water. I was moored next to a lock waiting to cross the lake to where I am because they were having the 75 anniversary of the “Vrijheid” open class day sailers. My long-time friend Evert Slijper and his brother participated. Evert lives in Eugene, Oregon. I expect to see him in the next days. He is a very active contestant in the Eugene YC in Eugene in the “Thistle” class and knows a lot of my Puget Sound Thistle families. He met his first wife at the University of the Puget Sound.

Wednesday May 4th.  It is official, meet “Fleetwood III”

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

This is going to be a longer than usual blog. Much has happened since my previous blog on March 24. I arrived in the Netherlands on April 19th. My nephew, Dirk Jan de Ruiter, drove me to Zeewolde and it was love at nearly first sight.

Port View

taken before winter storage









She is very similar in size and performance to the 1st and 2nd NAJA. This is a Waarschip 9 mtr (30 ft) It was also sold as a kit, just like the Najas. But the hull construction is clinker built, like shiplap siding. This one was professionaly assembled by the Waarschip yard, in 1980, same year as my first Fleetwood. It has a 1990 2 cylinder 2 GM Yamaha diesel engine. The beam is 6″ wider. Because the hull is stiffer there are fewer chines/stringers and bulkheads and has more space. This will be my first experience with roller furling. Also means fewer head sails in the storage area. It has a new two part L.P. paint job, new pulpits, stanchions. It is not set up yet for single handed sailing, it has a decent 12 volt auto tiller pilot. It needs a good windvane, solar panel(s).

But there were a few items that needed attention. The keel was dropped and resealed. I expect that I will move in next week, once the boat is launched and the mast has been set again.

I am very pleased that the “De Schinkel YC” in Amsterdam has found a spot for me again. During my 2009-2014 Europe visit, I spent a good part of it with this active boating community. This is where I had my first sailing lessons from my uncle Fred van Ommen in the fifties. I am looking forward to renew the many good friendships I made there.

Shortly after my planned arrival there will be a sailing regatta, on the adjoining lake, of the “Vrijheid” (Freedom) class 18-foot two crewed wooden day sailor.

This class was introduced in 1945, the end of the 2nd WW. I attended the competition in 2010 for their 65th anniversary. (see my blog, to get a look at these floating Stradivarii) This year it will be the Covid postponed 75th anniversary regatta.

Today is the 77th National Memorial Day for the victims of the 2nd WW. I will attend the evening choral-concert at the Saint Augustinuskerk. I was a member of it from 2012 until 2014, one of the highlights was performing in the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome on Ascension Day 2013. And singing during a visit in 2015 when the theme was based on the hymn “Abide with me” and a dialogue was read from my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” where our mother describes singing this hymn in the 8 cattle cars stuffed with 650 women political prisoners to the hell hole of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. (see blog

“Abide with me” is part of this evening’s concert. I hope to be able to rejoin this impressive 50 plus members choir again while I am back here.

But I am still working on a way to extend my time through the summer, beyond the 90 day Schengen limit.

My first sea trials are planned as a trip to Glasgow, across the North Sea and through the Caledonia Canal, for the first birthday on July 9th of Spencer Wheatly, my fourth Great Grand Child.

I have discontinued the service on my US cell phone (253-441-7204) my Dutch cell number is: 0031-649-676419.

You can reach me by voice/video/text also through WhatsApp at this number. I am 9 hours ahead to the Pacific Coast and 6 to the US East Coast.

I finally managed to catch up with an old friend, Ed van Kan, I last saw in 1961 in Saigon. We grew up in the same neighborhood, near where I will be moored again. Our elementary schools were right across the street. His with the Catholic brothers and I with the Protestant preachers. When I left for the U.S., Ed was starting his reporter career in the Belgian Congo. We totally lost contact.

When I arrived on the USNS “Core” from Oakland, Ca. to Saigon in the first days of December 1961, I immediately picked Ed from the crowd of reporters down on the quay from high up on the flight deck. He was filming this first escalation of the military assistance by sending two full company strength units with our helicopters to Vietnam. By yelling his name and then a back and forth in an un-understandable language, I caused some consternation among the 450 odd spectators. Our mission was “An overseas exercise in excess of 90 days” to an undisclosed destination. So, I became a marked man, I obviously had something to do with the organization of this exercise. Our orders were to take no civilian clothes with us. But then it turned out that our Vietnamese hosts did not wish to release a stampede of these olive drab dressed barbarians loose on their town and their gorgeous sensuous “oa dai” dressed maidens. Guess what, private van Ommen and just one helicopter pilot, happened to have stowed civies away in their duffel bags. It took weeks for the visits to the tailor shops to dress the rest. No ready- made, certainly not for these occidental proportions.

Ed stood at the gangplank and introduced me to this fairy tale Paris of the Orient and his press buddies. He had much to do with what became one of the most memorable parts of mine and my American wife’s lives. More details of my unusual 1 ½ year Vietnam period in a chapter in my book “SoloMan”, as a backdrop to the 2006 Vietnam visit with “Fleetwood”

We had much to catch up on and more to follow since Ed now lives very close to “de Schinkel” YC.

In Amstelveen, near Amsterdam.

USNS “Core” Dec 11 1961 AP (Associated Press)









Last Sunday, on May Day, I participated in the annual, May Month of the Virgin Mary, festive service at the Saint John’s Cathedral in Den Bosch. The mass is accompanied by the traditional Guilds in their colorful regalia, drummers and flag-wavers. The cathedral celebrates its 8th centennial this year. I made a short video/slide show at:

The annual royal birthday was on April 27th. The crowds and street scenes are colored orange. :

After inspecting my future shelter and long distance environmentally friendly vehicle, on April 22nd, I saw the exhibit in the Haarlem municipal archive of photographs of 137 women in the WW II resistance, from the province of North Holland. Our mother is one of them.

Many of you will be familiar with Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch evangelist, known best by her book and movie “The Hiding Place”. Her family clock shop and the hiding place are not far from this exhibit. Our mother, with the only complete bible available, which was smuggled to our dad in his cell by mother and then later by father to mother, participated in the secret religious encounters led by Corrie and her sister Nellie. Corrie’s picture is in the lower left.

Top center Rennie-de Vries-van Ommen, center left Tiny Boosman, Bottom center Kiky Heinsius, Lower left Corrie ten Boom

Tiny Boosman and Kiky Heinsius memoires, by permission, were incorporated in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”






Today’s Memorial Day is very different from the previous 76 years. A repeat is taking place less than a thousand miles from where I write this. May God help us to wake up and learn to love one another.