January, 2024

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Off the Ice and On the Road again. January 16, 2024

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Since my previous blog, shortly after my 15 november arrival back in home port, I have had a great visit with my oldest daughter, Lisa. Her son Tyler and my youngest daughter Jeannine came up from Southern California to join us for Thanksgiving. Christmas was also a family and friends reunion. On New Year’s day I had my first “oliebollen” since 1986. And they were baked by a Nigerian friend where they are called Puff Puffs.


After a week of a deep freeze, rangingĀ  from minus 12 at night to minus 5 Centigrade by day, the thermometer rose above freezing today.
Since we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1970, I have never experienced an opportunity to ice skate in the open air in the N.W., with one exception in February 1972.
I made a few passes on the large pond at the Weyerhauser Co campus in Federal Way, where I had worked until 1971. A security guard chased me
off the ice. Lisa was then seven years old and Rose Marie had just turned four. Lisa turns 60 in April this year.

The same excitement as I experienced in the forties and fifties when the canals and lakes froze over in Holland, hit me on Saturday.
I tried on the same Frisian “doorloper” skates on which I had skated in February 1956, the year before I left for the USA.
That was on a 100 k.m. course called the 11 Village Tour. A poor men’s substitute for the famous 200 k.m. 11 Cities Tour ( 11 Stedentocht).
The most coveted skating accomplishment for a Dutch(wo)man. The event was started in 1909 and the fifteenth tour was held in 1997.
Since that year the conditions have not allowed another race and tour to be skated. My uncle Jan de Vries is one of the very few who managed
to get a gold medal, for the fifth completion. In his prime, 3 events were held in the first three years of the 2nd World War. My skates had been converted to a wall decoration by Lisa. The original ribbons were discarded and the old leather straps broke when
I tried tying the skates to my boots. So, I cannibalized an old pair of boat shoes for the leather straps and used the shoestrings.
Conditions were perfect, no snow on the ice and a cold bright sunny day. Panther Lake is just down the hill from where Lisa lives;
except for a couple dogs there was no one else on the ice. I was convinced that after 5 days of freezing it would be perfectly strong
but when carefully testing a few cracks appeared. I suspect that 70 years ago I skated on regular shoes. But when I tried this the laces
cut into my insteps, But the boots I now used did not fit the skates well. I took 11 steps onto the ice and you will see the rest of the
story on this you tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gTC5X4rlvI

As far as I got

Just before the cold spell, I took the PM-Trak to Portland on Friday the 4th and returned the next morning to Tacoma on the AM-Trak.
I gave a presentation at the Sauvie Island Yacht Club. Nice group of sailors. They broadcast their monthly meetings on Zoom so that their
diaspora of members in exotic places can participate. I spent the night on Gene Johnson’s Tayana-42, one of the members. Gene is fairly new
to sailing. He uses his car mostly for storing his bicycle and outdoor gear. Instead of using lifts, which are now no longer affordable in
the North West unless you are in the higher pay grades of Microsoft or Amazon, he hikes up to ski down. His plan is to sail the Northwest
Passage and ski the surrounding higher elevations.
The marina on Sauvie Island is 100% Rag Boats. I like that. The Island is just West of Portland adjoining the Columbia River.
From Tacoma, I rented a car and drove up north to visit friends north of Seattle and in Vancouver, B.C.

The third NAJA kit I imported in 1980 was purchased by my friend Michael St. John Smith in 1992. He sailed it in the Vancouver area for about
12 years as “Soul Fisher”.
I have been looking for it for a potential replacement. I visited Mike in Vancouver and he saw the boat a few years ago, somewhere
near Sechelt, in storage. Sofar I have not been able to find the owner. If any one reading has a lead, please, contact me jack(at)cometosea.us
For my next sailing challenge I’d prefer to start from the Atlantic Coast but I could be flexible for the perfect boat.

“Soul Fisher”

My travel schedule for February:

Feb 7-9 Eugene and Roseburg

Feb 10-15 Napa, Ca and S.F.Bay area

Feb 16-18 Las Vegas Feb

18-23 Southern California

Feb 23-29 Dallas area Tx.

Feb 29-March 27 Virginia

March 28 Amsterdam

Keep the light on on those days, love to see you again.