Good Bye Jan-Kees and 120 birthday of my mother. August 30th., 2021.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 30th, 2021

Yesterday, at this time, the skies were black, the seas were wild and frequent heavy rain showers were pelting on “Fleetwood”. Right now, it is nearly 10.30 after leaving my anchorage in Cape May at 08.00.

A light breeze from the WSW and sunny skies. The sizzling 90-100 degrees heat made place for pleasant 70 plus. Since the wind is on the nose, the iron horse is being steered by the tiller pilot and I have a long stretch ahead here on the Delaware Bay to write this blog.

Since my previous blog, in the shade of the Statue of Liberty, where I reported the lightning storm on Friday evening, I made two attempts to get on my way for that short North Wind window to get south.

The first attempt, around noon, made me run back for the protection in the lee of the Liberated Lady.

I had one heck of a work out to hand-snap the anchor loose, because that Friday night storm had dug in my anchor down to our antipodes. Just an aside to my contemporaries: you might be surprised what those dormant muscles can do when you are desperate….worth a try to boost your sense of virility.  I exited the Verrazano bridge in the company of at least three container ships. I had my full main sail up and the tiny storm jib. But once outside, I had to put two reefs in the main and further down, I dropped the main. Just on that tiny orange colored storm jib, reaching in the N-Easterly. By nightfall I was following the lights on the New Jersey Atlantic Coast. Predict Wind had shown the wind strength at 24 knots. It had to be at least 30-35. I was showing steady speed of around 6 knots and at times, running down the wave, sevens and even eights. No way to sleep following the coast line. The Monitor was in charge of the boat to stay on the right wind angle. I was down below, mostly with the companion way shuttered in the rain storms. Noisy, with all the storage lockers banging and sliding their contents and the wind howling through the rigging. The thick dark clouds hid the moon but an occasional peek showed the white crests of the rolling waves.

The wind calmed down some on Sunday morning but the skies were still black. So, the solar panel was not charging the batteries and the laptop had to stay charged for my navigation and AIS. I kept the starter battery isolated. And when I checked if that #2 battery would start the engine, close to the entry into Cape May, it was not able to start. Fortunately, the sun had come out by then and it managed to recharge for the start while continuing under sail to the Cape May entrance.

On the way north, I anchored off the most common anchorage here in Cape May, in front of the enormous Coast Guard station. I could not get to shore from there. No dinghies were allowed to land there. This time I anchored further in just off the channel in front of the Cape May YC. I had enough time, from 16.30, to row to shore with my folding bike and get groceries and the ingredients for the concoction that helps me hang on. From the first visit, from the water, I had no idea of the beauty this town holds. First of all, the typical military base housing adjacent to the Coat Guard station made me realize how big this station is. Obviously, a training facility, until late in the evening I listened to their recruits’ macho cadence chants. And this morning the reveille and the playing of Stars and Stripes at 08.00, just when I raised the hook. But the old part of the residential section is one of the finest American examples. Beautiful architecture from the 19th and early 20th century. Some impressive mansions. Thick tree shaded sidewalks, well kept green lawns in the upper class and middle-class sections. Truly worth a stop when you are near Cape May. Back in 1965, when Joan, Lisa and I were living in West Chester, near Philadelphia, we took a road trip through Baltimore and up to the Hampton Roads, crossed the brand-new Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the ferry from the Maryland Eastern Shores to Cape May. But do not recall seeing the town.

It is 11.30 in the meantime, my boat speed has jumped a knot since entering the Delaware Bay, the main is now up because the wind has gone further south and the flood is starting to push me up the river. Perfect timing because with a little luck I might be able to ride this flood to the Chesapeake Bay, through the canal. Half hour later, the wind died.


20.00 hour- I just put the hook in the bottom of the bay in Chesapeake City, at the S.W. end (or beginning) of the C&D (Chesapeake-Delaware) Canal. So, from 8 am to 8 pm a 12-hour ride with the current pushing me. About 60 nautical knots. Not bad averaging 5 knautical miles. Not enough wind to sail, but did some motor sailing. So, I am back in Maryland with my South Eastern friends.

The bridge from Maryland to Delaware at Chesapeake City, Md

I plan to continue further North toward Kilsale, current is good from 06.00.


I loved being for the month or more with the North Eastern Jan-Kees (Yan-kees). Not sure how many realize that Yankees is an aberration of the Dutch popular first names Jan and Kees.

Jan, is my twin brother’s first name and also of my Swedish American friend Jan Arthur Stroem. This picture is a selfie taken last week at the wild life refuge on Block Island at the Hotel 66 with Jan Arthur and his partner Valerie.

with Jan Arthur Stroem and Valerie on Bllock Island




Rinsje (Rennie) de Vries was born on August 30, 1901 in Heeg, Friesland. Besides my father, she has had the strongest influence on my life. Her faith, defense of hers’ and others’ rights, compassion, inquisitee, lack of fear, and generosity is what I was blessed with and inspired by. She joined the women’s suffrage movement at age 18 and saw emancipation in the Netherlands come true in 1922, when she earned the right to vote at age 21.

Cover of

Here is the chapter of the book, The Mastmakers’ Daughters, I wrote based on her memoires:

8     Born in Heeg


My parents moved into the house with the mastmaker shop in Heeg right after their marriage. I was born there on August 30, 1901, a Friday evening. My maternal grandmother Gezina van Anken was with us to help her daughter and she had quietly hoped that I would be named after her. But on Monday evening, when Pa (father) returned from De Lemmer, Moe (mother) was told that I had been registered in Sneek as Rinsje, on the specific directions of Pa’s mother.

Pa’s older sister had named her second daughter Rinsje a year earlier and the first born of Pa’s brother obediently followed the strong-willed grandmother’s directions. My three aunts did not have daughters. None of her grandchildren named their daughters after Rinsje but there are lots of Siebolds and Jans, named after my father, among my siblings’ son and grandsons.

That same Monday after I was born my parents received a notice from the Reformed Church in Heeg demanding an explanation why I had not been baptized the Sunday before. Pa explained that he had promised his wife that she’d be present at the christening, whereupon he was told that Moe (mother) was not allowed to respond to the question as to the responsibilities of the parents.

My parents reluctantly went along with this. But shortly afterwards their doctor, de Wit, forced the issue before the church commission when his wife was due to have her baby. As a result, they relented this local abuse.

At the same time, when I was being baptized, there was a baby whose father was committed to a mental institution and in order to prevent the mother opening her mouth, when she might feel prompted, they rephrased the question for the parents: “And what is the answer from the one who is holding the child for baptism?” In any event, Moe has never neglected her obligations to raise us as Christians. Her way of teaching us religion was in singing her repertoire of hymns and psalms.

We did not stay in Heeg for more than a couple years. The three of us moved back to de Lemmer in 1902.


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