245th Birthday of the United States of America

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 5th, 2021

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By the number of boats that are coming in, this late afternoon, I expect that I might be treated to a fireworks spectacle.

It was an outstanding sail here, yesterday, from Cape Charles. A fast hard reach near and over 6 knots. On entering the James River one of the nuclear aircraft carriers was coming in to home base at Norfolk and the Navy was clearing a path with their patrol boats.

My last blog was the disappointing announcement that I abandoned the plan to cross the Atlantic in June. It remains the disappointment, but there are new plans to look forward to. I have had some good sailing here, around the middle of the month of June, to Deltaville and Onancock for a long weekend. This trip also serves to scout out the anchorages here. I have an appointment on July 23rd with the VA (Veteran Administration), here in Hampton, to check out the medical care benefits that I have as a veteran U.S. army soldier. This all came about when the VA appeared to be my last option to get my Covid shots, last February.

I rowed into the nearby marina and unfolded my bicycle. It was early, a few joggers. Not a soul inside the moat and the heavy fortified walls of Fort Monroe. A platoon of Army recruits ran along the beach with a loud response to the sergeant’s phrases “You can’t ride in my little red wagon”. The fishing piers were already well attended. The large red brick officers’ quarters were all decked out in the national colors for today’s Independence Day.



Since June, the vaccinated are allowed to worship without masks and social distancing and, for me very meaningful, we are allowed to sing again. As you see in the picture, I did my Dominical duties with the Dominican sisters, staff of the parochial school of St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, right close to Fort Monroe. Appropriate for a wandering sailor. Since I started my long voyage, I have attended services in a number of St. Mary Star of the Sea or Stella Maris churches. The ones I remember, on the Salomon Islands in the Northern Chesapeake Bay in 2008, on Bermuda in 2009, Port Townsend, Wa. 2016, Ocean City, Md. 2019. This church has some dated, sixties/seventies, wood paneling behind the altar and wainscoting along the church walls. It is Clear California Redwood. A bit gaudy in a gothic church, with the bright sapwood. For a few more bucks the architect could have specified “Clear All Heart”.

Rev. Monsignor Walter C. Barrett, Jr., pastor with Deacon Mike Swisher.







My next stop was in the one street old town adjoining the Fort and Hampton, Phoebus. “Mango Mangeaux” looked like a good place for lunch. The locals were there for their Sunday brunch, all dolled up and decked out for the occasion. I whispered to the host: “Are whites allowed?” He sat me at the bar and I had the very best deep fried chicken ever. They have an incredible exotic drink selection and it was fascinating to watch the bar tender mix them. The picture shows a family gathering for three of them having their birthdays in July. I like to be with happy people and felt envious for their black privilege.


I plan to set sail on the 24th to the Nantucket Sound, depending on the wind direction, starting into the Atlantic or going up the Chesapeake and into the Delaware Bay. I have a presentation on my circumnavigation and sign books on August 20th at 10.30 am at the Wooden Boat show in Mystic Seaport, R.I. I hope that some of you can come and attend. I will be moored in Mystic Seaport from the 19th through the 22nd. You can follow my progress on the Garmin-In-Reach, from the link in the right upper corner.

Corrine and Euan will fly from Scotland in September to the North West and I hope to shake hands with their brand new Wheatly, my fourth great grandchild. My oldest son John, who moved recently with his wife and her two daughters to Las Vegas from San Diego, will celebrate his first ½ century on September 30th, and I hope that I and his brother and sisters can attend that milestone celebration. Then when the colder fall winds start blowing, I plan on spending most of the winter in warmer climes.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Russ Grimm says:

    We enjoyed sitting with you at church and listening to your fine singing voice.

    Happy Sails
    The Grimms

    some good local history on Old Point Comfort here


    and various military topics here


  2. Hello Russ, It was a privilege to meet you and your wife and mother. Thank you for the links, I will check them out. So far my US history knowledge is limited, I did read Michener’s “Chesapeake”…. I’m sending you an e-mail as well.

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