March, 2023 browsing by month


March 20, 2023. Back home with “Fleetwood III” in Amsterdam.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Ten days ago, I said goodbye to my friends in and near Cape Charles, Virginia with whom I spent a month. My home by accident after my June 24 2017 shipwreck on the nearby Barrier Islands.

“Torn between two lovers (Pacific and Atlantic) Feeling like a Fool….”.

February 28th, I celebrated, with friends, my twin brothers’ 86th birthday. Lunch in Machipongo with Thelma and Laila and dinner at the Orzos. Jeannette and Ralph Orzo were the first friendships I made in Cape Charles and they became my introduction in the Saint Charles of Borromeo parish and their extended local circle and sailor friends.



My second oldest grandson David Leon came to Visit me from Portsmouth, Va. with his daughters Madison (nearly 14) and Lily (12) on March 5th.

V(an) O(mmen) Madison @ Lily Leon







Chris Johnson, who I met in the Cape Charles Marina in early 2021, was my host for the March 10 weekend in Kinsale, Va. We met because of my curiosity in Chris’ boat name “The Twin Brothers”. My very first boat name was “Gemini”. When I bought the boat in 1976, I happened to date another twin. Chris has a twin brother.

On my return from my summer 2021 cruise to the Block Island Sound, I visited Kinsale see:

On Saturday Chris had organized another get together with the Northern Neck YC. I gave another presentation. On my previous visit the local parish was still meeting in a temporary mission building and this Sunday we went to mass in the beautiful brand new church. For me this was an exciting event. The need for new churches is rare in America and even worse in the Netherlands. The growth in this rural farming area is due in part to the younger growing Spanish speaking immigration and retirees from the urban areas. As you will note in the pictures Father Heintz still faces the altar. Communion is still done on a kneeler and the host placed on the tongue, like in pre-Vatican Council 2 in 1965.

St. Paul’s Church in Hague, Va.

Father Heintz

And while on the subject of retro-worship, on the way from our service I took the picture of an Amish couple off to their Sunday meeting.

Amish buggy








Kinsale has a long history and I stayed in the RB&B above the country store overlooking the “The Slips” marina both operated by Annie the 6th generation of the founding Arnest generation.

Kinsale “The Slips” RB@B

On the subject of history, again, I am writing this from the apartment of my cousin Carol de Vries. In one of the oldest Amsterdam buildings, built between 1605 and 1610. The old painting shows where it once stood on the very edge of the saltwater Zuiderzee. The Central Station is built on a manmade island. Our grandfather and his family and mastmaker business moved here from Friesland in 1928.

Spanish Gable


Singel 2A 1948









The black and white photo dates from around 1948, when I was 11 and still clear in my memory. The gas pump on the left was hand operated. Note the pre 1953 V.W. beetle, with split rear window. The window washer’s ladder handcar. The access to the upper floors on the steep narrow stairs is precarious and an American liability lawyer’s dream. From the second story upward, the merchandise was always hoisted with block and tackle through the large floor level double doors. The Amsterdam firemen are prepared with special lift equipment.

A basket case

This picture shows my cousin being lowered when, last year, the stairs or the block and tackle were not an option. I did not have as many spectators when the coast guard evacuated me in a basket in the opposite directions, in 2017.


From where the black and white photo is taken, while I am writing this, the police is removing bicycles. Amsterdam is running out of bike parking. The next picture was taken om March 29 nine years ago. But this prized tourist shot, right outside the Central Station, has been sanitized this year. A new underground bike park for 7,000 bikes has just opened and another one for 4,000 bicycles on the harbor side of the station.

More bikes than Dutchmen

Underground parking

Spring Cleaning

Enlarged. In rear the St. Nicholas Basilica

I landed in Amsterdam on the 14th. The boat has survived the mild winter. But it is still in the forties and little sunshine so far. I have no prediction yet on the expected completion of the above the waterline repairs until I remove part of the deck. Once the winter on shore storage is back in the water, around mid-April, I will be allowed to stay on the boat on the hard.

Wednesday I had my first rehearsal with the large church choir for the Easter and most importantly the May 4th 2nd WW Memorial Day concert. We are singing with about 40 choir members and 20 guest singers Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Mass and like in 2013 and 2016 (, “Abide with me” and the English version of Mendelssohn’s Hör Mein Bitten-Hear my Prayer.

On Saturday evening, I attended the High Mass here, across from the Central Station, in the Saint Nicholas basilica. This was on the occasion of the annual procession, the “Stille Ommegang”. In 1345 a miracle took place in the neighborhood and believers come from far and wide to make this pilgrimage to reflect in a solemn quiet procession. The church was packed and the two bishops in the photograph are from the Utrecht and Haarlem diocese. Amsterdam falls under the Haarlem diocese.

Yesterday was my oldest nephew’s 65th birthday, my sister’s son, Dirk Jan de Ruiter. His youngest sister arrived from West Australia on the same day as I did. She is an expectant grandmother. My three-year older sister’s first great grandchild. I have a 15-year jump on my sister and twin brother and expecting number 5 in august. It is all a question of diet and fresh air.

Dirk Jan de Ruiter and yougest son Lukas


Wishing all a reinvigorating Spring and continued blessings in Lent culminating in the celebration of the feast of the Resurrection.