Leaving and Coming Home

Or is it the other way around? According to the home port on Fleetwood’s transom, home is Gig Harbor, Washington, USA. But since Ash Wednesday 2005 my home has not been there but for two and a half years. She has spent more time in the Netherlands where her skipper was raised.

In my last blog I reported the major project to repair “Fleetwood III”. The replacement of most of the bottom is nearly done. I had hoped to have it completed by now because the temperature has dropped below the desired temperature for a proper cure of the epoxy. I had expected to have her back from the nearby “Amsterdam YC” to “de Schinkel” yacht club, floating. But now the boat will remain on the hard here for the winter.

I booked my return flight to Seattle-Tacoma yesterday, arriving on November 14th, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll be staying with my oldest daughter, Lisa, for part of the winter and intend to visit B.C., California and Virginia before returning to finish the boat in the early spring. That is, if I will be let back-in to my native homeland. I have exceeded my allowable Schengen 90 days. My application for a residence permit, so far, has not received a response from the authorities.

Part of the bottom removed

Keel being rehung. New bottom and rot, moisture readings in next panel








starboard panel mounting.






The interior backing strip







Since late September, I have had the assistance in the repairs from Robert Scagen, a veteran amateur wooden boat builder. The one part of the repair that gave me sleepless hours was how to join the lower plywood panel strakes above the bottom panel. This “Waarschip” multi chined construction is clinker-built (overnaads), just like roof tiles. So, the next panel up from the bottom, fits underneath the next panel above it and then the two panels are fastened together onto the chine (leger). This is particularly difficult to do from the bottom up. Robert came up with a way to keep the top 4” of the panel above the bottom (the main deterioration is just above the lowest chine) and to join the replacement with a two and a half inch backing plate. The backing plate is made up from 12 mm (1/2 inch) plywood and stiffened with a 15 mm mahogany solid wood strip on top of it. Another new challenge was how to make the scarf joint (las) to join the ends of the remaining strakes to the new plywood ends. I was able to use a ten-foot 5/8-inch panel for the bottom but the strakes above it required longer replacements and were scarfed from eight-foot panels. It is relatively simple with the right equipment to make the scarf joints in the shop but making these on the remaining parts in the boat was time consuming and tricky. The ¾ x 8” mahogany keel plate also had to be scarfed-in once we had removed the bottom panel and the keel. Luckily, Robert also has all the skills to operate the fork lift, travel lift and crane at this yacht club, where he is a member for more than 30-years, and run the shop equipment. Without him I would not have had access to the many clamps we needed to glue the joints.

My next challenge will be to recover my expenses from the seller. If it comes to a court case, the judge might not have much compassion for the fact that I could have sailed away and gotten into serious distress, possibly fatal. I have plenty of pictures, samples and the ad which states that the boat was epoxied; but there is none to be found. This was the main reason of the rot from long standing water on the inside.

There will still be plenty to do after the boat is relaunched. I had expected to sail this boat back to the Americas. But that might be too much to ask of her. Before I invest in solarpanel, windvane, AIS, life raft, etc. I’ll need to test her in the North Sea. It sure all turned out against my expectations of a summer saling in a ready to go replacement. But I have enjoyed the kindness and help from the members here and who knows I may set up shop repairing wooden boats as my next career.

I am giving a presentation of my sailing adventure at “De Schinkel” YC on October 22nd.  I will visit my twin brother and his family near Hamburg from the 10th of November and fly from Hamburg on the 14th. I also expect to make a short visit to Brussels to meet up with Rose Marie’s godparents on the weekend prior.

I’d invite any interested parties in the Tacoma-Seattle area to make an appointment for one of my presentations and SoloMan book sales. I have an 18-minute slide show video of the best pictures of the 64 countries I have visited. There is an updated version of SoloMan for sale on the internet. The usual accumulated corrections and the updated Epilogue to include the February Cuban shipwreck and my current visit to the Netherlands.

Looking forward to seeing old friends again without masks and fears.


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