Sunday September 29 Europe Visit.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 30th, 2019

This blog is done in reverse chronological order, working back to the 4 September take off from New York.

Sunday evening in the train returning from Brussels to Kerkdriel, where I have been staying with my cousin Gido van Ommen and his wife Riet since Monday 23rd. I trained to Brussels for the day to spread a small amount of Rose Marie’s ashes at the church where she was baptized 51 years ago. On the way down, I missed the one transfer in Breda because there was a delay in den Bosch. I missed the 11 o’clock mass at St. Pie X where I had planned to meet Yvette, Rose Marie’s god-mother, and her sister Colette. I met them after the service and to my surprise Rose Marie’s godfather, Claude Claeys, joined us as well. He had made the trip from his home in Cordoba, Argentina. As you can see from the picture the Roses in front of St. Pie X were still blooming and waiting to watch over the memories of their namesake. We stopped by at our mutual residences, near the church, where we lived at the time of Rose Marie’s birth in 1968.

L.R. Colette, Yvette and Claude

Reunited with Rose’s baptismal ground where she received the seal of everlasting life.

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, moi and Colette




























There are more pictures of the baptism and yesterday’s reunion at:!AsL0JlhDwXCLli20nBnVyUAmAGlN?e=mwvWau

On Friday my (distant) cousin Karel van den Berg (no relation, as far as we know, to Jennifer van den Berg, my daughter in law) came to pick me up in Kerdriel. You might remember reading my blogs of my chicken/cat/farm sitting in Eck & Wiel, where Karel and Ankie live, in 2013 and earlier. Karel drove me to Barneveld to visit Maria and Stephen Boonzaaijer.

Ankie v/d Berg with their decoy Holstein.


Black sheep of the family




They are the sailing couple I met in Papeete in 2005. Maria is a prolific author and one of the editors who helped me with my Dutch versions of my books. Stephen is a Dutch Reformed pastor and leader of the ‘commune’ “De Bondgenoot”. Friday evening is their weekly communal evening meal with a program. I was privileged to share with the members my experiences since I last attended a similar meeting, in 2014, right after my first shipwreck. Kerkdriel, where I have been since the 23rd, is a small town, near the southern banks of the Waal river, near where the Meuse river joins the Waal from its origin in Northern France. The Waal, Rhine and Meuse were the borders where the Allied Forces were held back in the fall of 1944 in their liberation of the Nazi occupied North Western European countries. There was some heavy fighting here in these southern Dutch provinces. There are commemorations all over the area to celebrate the 75 years since the liberation. Gido took me on a bicycle tour of the wide vistas across the rivers and levies to the medieval city of Zaltbommel, with its distinctive church steeple. There is a well-known poem, written in 1934 about the bridge here across the Waal river, by the poet Martinus Nijhof. Titled “Moeder de Vrouw” (Mother the Woman) It ends with:

Het was een vrouw. Het schip dat zij bevoer, kwam langzaam stroomaf door de brug gevaren.

Zij was alleen aan dek, zij stond bij ’t roer, en wat zij zong hoorde ik dat psalmen waren.

O, dacht ik, o, dat daar mijn moeder voer. Prijs God, zong zij, Zijn hand zal u bewaren.

This always brings back emotions, reminding me of our mother. The poet is resting in the deep grass on the river bank of the Waal River near the bridge and a sailing barge is slowly approaching from under the bridge. A rough translation of the above:

“It was a woman. The ship she steered came slowly downstream through the bridge. She was the only one on deck, she held the helm, and then I recognized that what she sang were hymns. I thought this could be my mother. Praise God, she sang, His hand shall always save you.”

Zalt Bommel, taken from “Glissando” April 20, 2011

Please, check my blog of April 20, 2011 at   where I passed Zaltbommel, from the barge “Glissando” which towed “Fleetwood” upstream on the Rhine in August 2010 on my way to the Black Sea.

Interior of the St. Maarten church in Zaltbommel.


Last weekend, from the 20th., I travelled to Reinbek, near Hamburg, to see my twin brother and his family. On Sunday there were nine of us at the lunch Jan treated us to. It was a glorious late summer warm sunny weekend. His two sons, Jacob, my namesake, came with his wife Maren from Berlin, Carl with Steffi and their daughter Sita from Hamburg, Anna from Bath, England. Jan and I attended Sunday service and communion at his Lutheran church. The readings are the same as in all R.C. and Episcopalian churches, so you might remember, one of the readings was about Jacob (my baptismal name) cheating his brother out of his inheritance. On the subject of brothers, I have always told you that Jan and I are fraternal twins. But most of you have never seen us together. This has now been corrected by an expert, our gynecologist neighbor who has known us from birth. We are now identical twins.

Jan and Jack


L.R. from end Jacob, Maren, Jan, Steffi, Sita, Carl, Jack, Catharina, Anna













The weekend of the 13th my cousin Carol de Vries took me up to de Lemmer, in Friesland. It was the yearly “End of Summer” festivity. Boat parades and a race on the former Zuiderzee of the of traditional sailing fishing boats, etc. We stopped in at the mastmakers shop where my mother grew up. It has been turned into a hotel with the exterior left in its original state since it was built in 1906. A 2 1/2 minute video of the visit:

Replicas of the traditional Lemster Aak fishing vessel.

smoking eel.

The Dutch Reformed church, where my Grandfather was a member until he married the Christian Reformed pastor’s daughter on the island of Urk in 1900



The boeier “Friso” the “showboat” of the province of Friesland



Earlier from September 5 onwards, I visited friends at the Choir I sang in during my 2012-2014 stay and 2015 and 2016 visits, stopped by “De Schinkel”, saw family and friends in and near Amersfoort, Soest, Arnhem, and Nijmwegen.

There is another busy schedule the rest of the week. On Saturday is the centennial celebration of the yacht club “De Schinkel” where I learned to sail from my uncle, Fred van Ommen the father of my current host Gido. I was berthed at the club marina and attended their 90th anniversary in 2009. I was a member from late 2012 until my departure in September 2013.

In Sloten, south of Amsterdam is this old windmill, once used to maintain the water level in the reclaimed “polder”. At times they crank her up under the right conditions. Here is a short video of it:

Die Mooie Molen van Sloten





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