Sunday January 16, 2022 in Havana

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 16th, 2022

Maybe that $ 20 bargain I could not refuse, in yesterday’s blog, might not have been after all. Though I enjoyed riding in a long-ago memory of my first, very similar, Chevy. The sound of the original engine, the 3-shift, no turn signals, no seatbelts.

But I had a pretty decent ride back, after a lot of asking and getting contradictory directions, for the grand sum of 15 pesos= sixty dollar cents. Now I know my directions for the next visit to Havana. But it is not door to door, from the highway to the boat is a 10 minute walk. I am part way, but I sure hope, the storm will calm down. A huge downpour started while I was having coffee and a long chat with Bernard Nielsen an ex-pat Dane. He pointed me in the right directions to the “wawa” bus.

Havana once had to be a magnificent city. And much of it is left. A beautiful setting on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. It has a lot in common with San Juan P.R. and Santo Domingo, but is much larger. It does not have the elevations and vistas that San Juan has.

I have made a You Tube of the visit, most of it is the mass at the Cathedral.

I am sure I’ll be visiting the city again before I depart, the vists to Hemmingway’s Finca Vigía.


Havana, Jan 15, 2022 Damage update and rubbing elbows with the spirits of Ernie and El Comandante

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 15th, 2022

Buenas Tardes. I had a diver check the damage to Thursday’s Reef Rocking. He took a video. I was afraid that there might be some damage to the hull. None, just the keel. There is a slight crack between the keel and the deadwood. This has happened before. The port forward keel bolt is weeping some water. I managed to crank it a ¾ turn tighter. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

The internet access is a whole lot easier than the 16 km round trip to Santa Lucia from Pto. de Vita. It is an a.c. lobby of the nearby hotel with my name on it, “El Viejo del Mar”. I can use my Etecsa prepaid cards there. Since I prewrote this on the boat, to save on the Internet time, I ended up, this evening, at the Club Nautico Internacional Hemmingway de Cuba. These pictures on the facade of the club say it all. Fidel is encouraging the youth to appreciate the connection with my favorite hangout, the salt water. Ernie must have had some influence on the young rebel.  The other pictures show Ernie and Fidel and Che Guevera on a Marlin fishing trip, the rod they used is displayed here above the pictures. So, what is the lesson? This ass hole, who dumped Cuba into a 3/4 century of misery can’t be all bad.

Castro preaching the sea to the Cuban youth





The fishing trip. Che in the lower row 2nd from left. The rod on top of tableau.    

blow up from tableau. Ernie with Fidel










I hope to visit Ernie’s digs in Havana tomorrow; the legend of the tumultuous times from the year I was born and when I started my life in the New World. My old friend, Howard Richardson, claims to have rubbed elbows with Ernie in Havana.

The driver of the 1949 Chevy Fleetline made me a deal, I could not refuse, for a ride into Havana, tomorrow morning. I am very much looking forward to spend the day in Havana and go to mass at the cathedral of San Cristobal.

Check this real Traditional Salty yacht out, the “Monara” from Antwerp, Belgium. She caught my eyes on sailing into Beaufort, N.C. on December 9, I wanted to know more about this gorgeous lady. Belgium, where Rose Marie was born in 1968 and Jeannine in 1969. But they were gone a couple days before I left Beaufort on December 13. Now I got my chance. She was right here a few boats ahead in the Hemmingway marina. She was built in Delft, Holland. Based on a traditional Dutch fishing trawler. Jan, the owner, sailed it with his wife and daughter, in July from Antwerp by way of the New Hebrides, Iceland, Newfoundland, down the Atlantic Coast to Beaufort and Havana. They left this morning at 7 am, for Varedero. I am sure that many of the sea-going condo yacht owners look with envy at this “real” salty version.










This picture is dinner on January 10. I bought this Butternut Squash before I left Beaufort, N.C. on December 13. Today it is still good for three dinners.

Ode to Squasha choice between tasteless canned vegetables.


Last night, I had my first tasty meal on Cuba. I had spent too much time taking care of entertaining you in publishing yesterday’s blog and the government store was closed. I was told I could buy my adult beverage at the Chinese restaurant, a stone throw from “Fleetwood”. No menu, no prices. I was aghast when I got the bill $60. The bottle of Santiago de Cuba rum was half of it. In the government store it is about $5 for a lesser quality.  But my meal could have fed 3 people and was as good as you can get in a decent US Chinese restaurant. I took part to the boat and donated part to the man who watched my bicycle.

Hasta manana de Habana, with more news about this historic city. Wishing all a good Sunday.



vO On the Rocks again. December 14, Havana.

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 14th, 2022

Well, I did it again. But what appeared to be my third shipwreck, to be, was not to happen. Thank God, for the intervention of my prayer circle.

I managed to reach my handheld VHF and sent out a Mayday and I set off the alarm on the Garmin “In Reach”, the surf was slamming the boat and I was hitting the reef hard. I tried to back off on the engine but I could not get off, against the strong wind, but then, suddenly I am floating free. It must have been a big wave in the outgoing tide that set me free.

After clearing in and getting moored at the Hemmingway Marina, I checked for any leaks. Nothing.

This morning, I took a closer look. There is some damage but that can be fixed again. There has to be some scratches and nicks on the bottom of the cast iron keel. But I had already planned my annual spring haul out in Northern Florida. It will be a bit earlier this year.

How did it happen? I left Puerto de Vita on Saturday the 8th, had some of my best sailing that day, just using the 90% Jib reaching in a 15 knot North-Easterly. The mainsail cover did not come off until the next afternoon. Monday nigh was nasty, the wind went further north and strengthened, thunder storm on early Tuesday morning. By the time I got to the narrow entrance to the canal into the Darsena Marina at Valedero, it turned out that I was no longer in a storm squall, but in the predicted cold front from the North. The 75 ft entrance did not look good with huge surf battering the beaches on both sides of the entry. It was still early in the morning and I decided to skip the Varedero and keep going to Havana. I got there by late Wednesday morning. But when I came close, I realized that I may have to make an other plan. I could not raise the marina on the radio. There appears to be a problem with my reception. They can hear me but I cannot hear them.

The only safe/deep enough anchorage is Bahia de Hunda, 38 miles further west. That turned out to a very nice sail. I arrived in the dark, but the moon as had good instruction in the Cuba Waterway Guide.

I had a good rest after the three nights constantly waking up to check the track and traffic.

Since it was also a reach back in the North wind, I tried Havana anew. The wind was less than on Wednesday and also more from the N.W. than the North. But it turned still out to be a rough entry, with the strong wind on the stern, I had a heck of a time steering a straight line. And suddenly, my worst nightmare, had me on that reef. The instructions in the guide are very specific but the channel markers are very misleading and I must have a strong set to the starboard side of the channel. Now that is history and another lease on my vagabondery.

I sent Lisa an e-mail on the Garmin In-Reach satellite tracker. Most likely she would have been the first to be contacted by the emergency services.


After the hundred signatures in the Customs/Health/Border Security and the Marina office I went searching for a bottle of rum, with Rubin am employee at the Marina, at the Yacht Club and ended up at the “El Viejo de Mar (Old Man and the Sea) Hotel”. There I ran into Rigo and Gino from my next-door neighbors, “Shalom”, a 30 ft Catalina, the pair had sailed from Tampa loaded to 1 foot below the waterline with gifts for the locals here. Rigo is an American-Cuban from here. Apparently, this was his third attempt. This time he managed to pay off the right people. He does this for a church group, but there appears to be more to the enterprise. His younger brother and sister-in-law joined us later, they still live here, as is the rest of is family. A handsome dude with a fabulous attitude and does not take no for answers. He treated the entire table of seven, it was their farewell dinner. They left this morning for Key West at 4 a.m.

Gino, in his forties, also a real fine dude, is living a very full and busy life. I tried to determine his origins, he speaks flawless Spanish, he lived in Bogota and Medellin and his next destination is Bali. He told me that he is a Hebrew, we tried real hard to convert each other. He did his home- work.

There was a second couple at the table who live nearby and are good friends of Rigo. He is a wood worker artist. I saw fabulous pictures of his art and plan to visit their home and work shop. His stepfather, a Colombian-American, is the largest diesel engine dealer in Ft. Lauderdale. I suspect that he is also his beneficiary to be able to practice his art, since there is a very limited access to customers at this time. We were the only dinner guests at the hotel. There are only a couple visiting boats here and a couple more regulars in this 600m plus berths marina. I learned much from my new friends about the street savvy and how to exchange your Euros and Dollars. Apparently, the 24.50 pesos the bank pays for my Dollar gets as much as 65 on the street and Euros a much as 90 instead of the bank 27.50

So, I wished I had brought more cash. I figured that with my Dutch ATM card I was all set. That was the way in 2017.


I am going to try get an inspection of the underwater damage. There is a very slight weeping through the port forward keel bolt and some flexing of the back bone and an old crack opened slightly. Nothing in the main repair of the hull I did for the 2017 for the hull opening. The starboard rod of the two steel pressure rods I added between the mast step and bulkhead cabin roof top has flexed. I will consult with the previous owner/builder and George Whisstock the creator of the NAJA kit.


I just had to get this picture of the 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline. My 1951 two door Fleetline was the first car I ever owned. I was not 21 yet in 1957 and I needed to be an emancipated minor because I had no parents or family in California to co-sign the registration and insurance. So, I got a jump on growing up over my little twin brothers…

1949 Chevy at emmingway Marina

1957 in Yoshemite

1949 Chevy was the current owner’s grandpa’s vehicle.


Tuesday January 4th. Frustrations with the backward communist sysyem.

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 5th, 2022


I have been here in Puerto de Vito for a week. And it will be a few more days until I can use my Euro credit card. Today the bank and the prepaid internet facilities re-opened since the 29th of December. There were long lines for both. I needed to buy 5 more one-hour cards for the internet. Yesterday I had a little over a half hour left but the Dutch Bank left me on hold until the card ran out. Back at it today. I barely made it because with all the waiting for the cards I ran almost into their siesta from 11 am until 1.30 pm. And by that time the Dutch bank service would have closed with the 6-hour time difference. Thank God, that I have become such a patient person in this totally relaxed world.

What I found out is that my Dutch debit card seldom is accepted but that they will take the credit cards. I remember that in 2017, when I was on the south side of Cuba, I had no problem with the debit card for paying and taking money out of the walls. I offered the marina to pay them by telegraphic transfer from my Dutch account. But they do not have that possibility.

So, the new plan is that the Credit Card company will mail a new code for my (never yet used card) to my sister and she will then e-mail me the instructions so that I can pay my marina bills and get some cash and be on my way further west.

The people here are very nice but it is difficult to spent nearly two hours per day on the rough roads here to get on the internet. There are no mosquitos but, boy, the no-seeums have no mercy. They have little respect for bug spray and I have to wrap myself from neck to toe. And even though this is supposed to be the cooler season, it gets blistering hot in the boat. Once I get to a more permanent spot, in or near Havana, I’ll put the cover over the boat and might invest in a 220-volt fan. I have a small 12 volt going now.


The other problem I have is with my Avionics Caribbean charts. I have another good set but it does not cover Cuba. It turns out that I cannot access the Charts I paid for on line. Garmin web site (owner of Avionics) has no connection to Cuba. I swear that it was all working before I left Beaufort. But then discovered, that it was not. This port of entry is very easy to enter from where my American charts stop and I have a very good Cruising guide. That gives the harbor chart for the Marina here. Now, I discovered that I do have a good Navionics chart for this part of Cuba. But Not for where I am going. So, what to do.

Here is a short you tube video of the potholed roads in Pto de Vita and Santa Lucia and the colorful traffic:


New Year’s Eve Traditions on Cuba. Friday December 31, 2021

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 1st, 2022

New Year’s Day 2022 in Puerto de Vita, Cuba

I slept right through it. But woke up to the sound of the roosting Egrets getting ready for the first day of the New Year.

Roosting Egrets

Yesterday I explored the opposite direction of Santa Lucia. I was told that I should find an internet connection in Mellia. None there. I went further down to the beach where the resort hotels are at Pesquero, no luck there. Next to the closer resort at Faro, same story. I got plenty of exercise. Uphill was mostly on foot because I only have one of the eight speeds of my derailleur working. The cables are all rusted again. Only front brake works. I hope to find a repair shop here. And with my luck I had the strong trade wind in the face on the way there and on the way back the wind had slowed into a whisper.

But I enjoyed the landscape of rolling hills and wide vistas.

But the human aspect is what keeps me on this unending discovery. I heard some music from below and saw smoke rising from a small farm house.

It happened to be a family gathering for the traditional New Year’s Eve pig roast. This was Tito’s place. I asked if I might take a few pictures. The immediately presented me with roasted potato and tomato chips and a taste of their home Rum.

It reminded me of the hospitality and generosity I encountered in the South Pacific. These people know how to be grateful with next to nothing. Look at the video.

A 5-year-old offered me a beautiful seashell and his little sister also presented me with her smaller version.

Sea shells







Check the You tube video with the colorful spectacle of this happy gathering:

I am sending this from Sta. Lucia. I still have to try and reach my Amsterdam bank and deblock my Euro account. This will now have to wait until Monday.

After I sent my previous blog from Sta. Lucia, I managed to find some vegetables and bread. The vegetable man spoke fluent German. And the baker had also worked in East Germany and lived in Genk, Belgium, he knew some Dutch. I remember on my first visit to Berlin after the wall had come down to meet Vietnamese who spoke perfect German. These were guest workers who were farmed out to the Russians in exchange for military assistance. And later in Vietnam I ran into more of these German speaking Vietnamese. It became dark on the way back. I was deadly afraid that my rechargeable headlamp might run out, which it seems to do at the most inappropriate occasions. There are no street lights and the potholes are deathtraps. The opposing traffic on the main highway blind me. Then I discovered that I had missed my turn off and had to go back two kms. But my praying guardian angels kept the light burning. I was totally exhausted, many of the hills have to be walked because of the high gear limit and then on the way down I must slow down with the one working brake, in the dark.

One difference I noticed in this part of Cuba, there are fewer African Latinos than I saw in 017 on the South Coast.

I just found this real restaurant here in Sta. Lucia, with cold beer and air conditioning. These Christmas decorations here in the restaurant are not meant for other than Chinese markets. So, very Lunar New Year like.

Christmas Chinese Style


63rd anniversary of the Cuban revolution

Written by Jack van Ommen on December 30th, 2021

It is Friday the 18th of December. I left Beaufort N.C. on Monday the 13th. Today is one of the finest passage sailing days I have ever enjoyed as much. Ideal conditions; a pleasant W.S.Westerly of about 10 knots. Full main and my largest genoa head sail. “Fleetwood” likes it as well, close hauled and moving right along on a gentle rolling sea, doing between four and a half to five knots. Until today I thought that I was dragging someone’s discarded mattress under the keel. I could not get much above three knots. The only threat I saw in the 7-day weather forecast on “Predict Wind” was a red area of 20 plus knots of wind above 30 degrees North for tomorrow. “Piece of Cake”, I thought, to make it below it by then. But I am now expected to pass the 30th Latitude in the early evening.

You can compare my route from Beaufort, that left on February 3rd last year, to this one, on my Garmin “In Reach” tracker. This time I had a prediction of the Gulf Stream that has a hole in it much further north than I crossed, in blessed ignorance, last year. I never got a particular sense of the Gulf Stream other than that the going was slow, if it was not the mattrass then it had to be fighting a current, far beyond its given location. There was little wind the first day and I motored until the wind came up at midnight.

Gannet near Cape Flattery

North American Gannet












Since this gorgeous day, I must have made 25 sail changes. At times I had the smaller jib hanked on when the wind dropped and I had to go back to the larger genoa. I reefed and un-reefed countless times. No, you still can’t talk me into furlers.

Having nothing better to do, today, I started wondering about the number of times “Fleetwood” has crossed that latitude. Turns out seventeen times. And Latitude 30 South twice, rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 2007. Seventeen times sounds like an impressive number, for an occasional ocean sailor. Eight of the seventeen are for having four of my Spring maintenance done in Green Cove Springs, Florida, which happens to be just a few degrees below the 30th North on the Saint John River. Anecdotally, this river is one of the few in Nort America that flows North.

Four of the crossing are part of the circumnavigation route. Today it will be the 5th time for a winter cruise to the Caribbean.

Wind picked up and passing the 5 knots of speed, regularly, but still a very comfortable ride.


Monday December 20th:

Well, the wind kept picking up and ended up in a huge rain squall. That full sail compliment was steadily reduced by reefing and just sailing under the 90% jib. The wind ended up nearly dead on the nose from the ESE. Yesterday, I replaced the 90% jib with the tiny storm jib and a double reefed main. This combination cannot sail tight to the wind and to chew through the waves, I have to ease the sheets some, which brings me further off my rhumb line course. It is a bumpy ride and difficult to get the needed sleep. I have no way to access the internet for the weather forecasts. I left Beaufort with a week’s worth of predictions and I cannot figure out what this strong South wind means. It should be

Closer to the nearby SE trade winds. I have sent a message from my Garmin In Reach tracker to my daughter Lisa and posted on Face Book, Lisa has already responded, but I’m not sure if the FB post has stuck. So, for now I am carrying on towards the Dominican Republic. This is the time of year that the trade wind is strongest and is called the Christmas Trades. But I assumed that it should be coming more from the east than this one from the south.

Friday, Christmas Eve.:

Lisa was able to get in touch with Richard van Appelen, Canadian sailing friend. We met in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic, in 2009. He had some bad news for me. I was to be caught in a gale from the S.S.W., sure enough. I tried to escape towards the East but it caught up with me and in the end, I had to lay by. The boat continued to move slowly, sideways, further east. My main concerns were for the rudder. I tied the helm. The noise is usually the worst part and the tossing, but I managed to get some sleep. It lasted for 36 hours, the next evening the wind dropped and eventually the swells dropped as well. Then the wind turned North and I had a decent sail yesterday. But by late evening I had to drop the last bit of sails and have been sailing under bare poles. Fortunately, the wind is from behind and I still manage just under 5 knots to the right direction.

Yesterday morning I had a chance to read more of the Cuba cruising guide and I decided that my expectations for my first stop, Santiago de Cuba, on the S.E. corner, are not what I had expected. Sounds like an interesting historical site but not to spend any time on a boat. The marina is far from the city, poor facility, no internet, etc. So, I changed my course and plan to just visit the popular destinations on the North coast in and near Havana. There are only about three ports on the north coast where I can check through customs. And it will need a daylight arrival.

December 25th, a sleigh ride on Christmas day.

The strong winds came slowly down towards the evening and I raised the genoa in the night. I added the full main to it this morning but the wind came up more and now I am sailing dead downwind with just the full main, sailors call this a sleigh ride. Good speed, around 5 knots.

So, my second good sailing day since departure on the 13th. By the time I get to my destination, I’ll have my travel agency’s complicity, in this one of the worst passages ever, forgiven.

The radio signals on Short Wave and AM are getting stronger. The clearest one is Radio Marti which broadcasts US democracy to the enslaved on Cuba. But there are some really strange voices on these stations, the Covid deniers, hocus-pocus interpretations of numbers in the Bible, etc. The CCP Chinese are doing their propaganda in the early morning hours.

My bow lights are flickering, probably a loose connection. I turned them off but already lost my last spare heavy breaker switch. I have a battery powered LED emergency two color bow lite. It was still in the original sealed package, but I cannot get it to work. So, both back-ups to the lost tri-color failed. Now that I dare to be on the bow again, after the previous three days of terror, I should be able to find the loose connection. (I did the next day, fixed)

I hope to be able to pick up the station on Haiti this evening, the one where I was able to record their   Easter service while I filmed the Sunrise, last Spring, on my way back from the West Indies. I shall be close to the same location.(Never happened).

Monday December 27th.

It is near noon and I should be making my first landfall around this time tomorrow. I chose for Puerto de Vita, which is the most eastern one of the three ports of entry, on the North Coast, before Havana.

Ever since Christmas day it has been a wonderful sleigh ride, mostly down wind. So, nice to be rid of that old mattress, off the keel. I have been streaming a trap line the last there days, but I do not have the right kind of lure. I wished I had the lures that Roger Rue gave me in 2005, the colorful plastic squids. I have not been able to find these on the Atlantic Coast. They were always good for Tuna and Mahi-Mahi. I shall have the last of the salted smoked pork shaving, that are vacuum packed, for my last dinner on board. I still have some cabbage and squash left and garlic and onions.

I had never counted on this long a passage, 13 days for 850 nautical miles, as the crow flies. I did about 1300 miles in that amount of time on my first passage from California to the Marquesas in 2005. The last 3 days make up for the frustrating majority of this voyage.

I forgot to top of my 13-1/2-gallon (55 liter) water tank when I filled my diesel tank and spare jerry cans on my day of departure from Beaufort. I have a spare 4 gallon can and collected some rain water. I filled the water tank on my November 20 departure from Cape Charles, and with the exception of the three-day Thanksgiving visit to Cape Charles, have lived off those 13 1/2 gallons. On that 2005 28-day passage to the Marquesas I still had not used up the main tank. For hydration, I mix water with a Tang like powdered fruit flavor and squeeze limes into it. This keeps the scurvy at bay and maintains my gorgeous teenage smooth skin.

Tuesday, December 28th.:

I am at anchor in a restful inlet surrounded by mangrove forest in Puerto de Vita. At sundown, yesterday, I saw land for the first time since Cape Hatteras disappeared in the distance on December 13. This was one of the most southern Cays in the Bahamas, Cayo Verde.

The wind was still from the north but slowed turned into the usual Eastern trad wind, the closer I approached Cuba.  Again, a night with many sail changes. I did not want to end up missing a daylight arrival and as soon as my speed dropped, I added sail. Usually, I would wait until daylight. I had to cross a very busy shipping route, the Old Bahama Channel and had to talk to the bridge for two of them. They tend to be most courteous and accommodating.

Now I am at anchor, I feel totally sapped and will have a great night sleep. I took a cockpit bath. There is a lot of cleaning up to do and a few repairs to make, resort/restow my summer and winter fineries.

The Guarda Frontera stopped by and the doctor from the health authority. They are going to have me take a Covid test. I’ll move to the dock tomorrow. There are some resort hotels nearby but nothing more than that. I plan be here a few days and then head west towards Havana and plan a stop for possibly a more extended visit at the Marina Darsena in the Varadero resort area. This is close enough to Havana and I will probably start my dental work from there.

Thursday December 30th.:

I passed the covid test and am now finally able to step on terra firma. I finished all the reams of paperwork with the Guarda Frontera, Customs and the Health department. I cannot pay the marina in cash, it has to be on debit or credit card and US Dollars are verboten. So, I figured all good with my Euro cards, but it would not accept my pin. Then I realized that I had sued it the last time in the Netherlands and I have to contact the bank that I am no longer there. So, my first piece of business to get set up with the government-controlled internet and buy my chip cards. So, after negotiating the potholed 8 km to the nearby pueblito, Santa Lucia, I had a nasty surprise. The bank had just closed a minute ago, at noon, and will not be back to work until January 4th. Today is a holiday and therefore they only opened from 8 until noon. Tomorrow is the last working day of the month and that is a monthly banking holiday, then the weekend and, I guess, the Godforsaken Communists get religious on the occasion of the Tres Reyes.

But, I got lucky again…. One of the bank employees changed a $100 bill into pesos and that got me to be able to pay for the Internet prepaid cards. Get some food for the next few days until I get to the more civilized parts of Cuba.

The people in the marina have been very helpful. Jeannine (spelling may be off) is the very business-like young lady at the marina capitaneria. I am the only visitor.  The facilities are absolutely immaculate. They have only recently re-opened after the covid restrictions. There is no service yet at the restaurant and the fueldock has no diesel. But I should have enough to spare to get to Varadero. I managed to squeeze a few gallons out of the dock spicket and then it stopped.

It has been a blessing to be at anchor for the two nights. It is so tranquil. There is little city light and a beautiful starlit sky. The roosters start early, but other than an occasional bird noise you can hear a pin drop. It is nearly windless during the night. No mosquitoes, but a few pesky no-see-ems in the morning.

The bare top of “Fleetwood”‘s mast, where once the Tri-Color stood

Marina Gaviota at Puerto de Vita, Cuba



Good start. Going South. Saturday November 20, 2021

Written by Jack van Ommen on November 21st, 2021

I am at anchor at Mile 8 of the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway). No worries of a tug and barge passing by in the middle of the night. The Great Northern Railway bridge, next to the Gilberton highway bridge just north of me, will be down to a 6’10” clearance until this Tuesday 11 a.m. for maintenance. I just made it.


It is nice and cozy in the cabin, after cooking my usual stir-fry. I opened the companion way stair to let the heat from the engine warm up the cabin. There was a weak wind from the NE, but I had to drop the main after trying to motor-sail. I left at 09.00 and dropped the hook at 18.00 for the 38 plus nautical miles.

Last year, I took the ICW section that goes through Coinjock to Beaufort, N.C. from where I set off for Saint Martin on Rose Marie’s birthday, February 3rd. This time I’ll take the Dismal Swamp route through Elizabeth City to Beaufort. I is supposed to be real nasty on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I might have a window to make into the trade winds from Beaufort on Thursday.

This is my 4th south bound ICW trip. And this will be the 2nd through the Dismal Swamp. The first was in November 2008, in the same period, before Thanksgiving. And if all had gone according to the plan you would have never read “SoloMan”. That summer I met the perfect sailing companion, but that lasted until the Monday before Thanksgiving, in Beaufort.

My plan is to spend some time in Cuba. I was on the South Central and SW Coast of Cuba in 2017, mostly in Cienfuegos. I most likely try Santiago de Cuba. And on the return Havana.

If all goes as well as today’s start, I might finally take a run at Cartagena, Colombia.



One of the projects I finished in the month I spent in the Cape Charles Marina, was to replace the heavy steel tiller arm with a three-ply laminated hardwood tiller with help from a three-some. Wayne Downey, the diesel mechanic who finally disentangled the rat’s nest of engine problems, I had last summer until January. Wayne cut the steel and he donated the wood which consisted of tropical hardwood fence pickets. Ralph Orzo and his friend Tom Bonadeo, sized the blank I had glued up. You might remember this two-some who made up my magnificent companion way door insert, two years ago, to replace the one that floated away in the 2017 shipwreck.

Ralph and Jeanette Orzo are the first permanent friends I made in Cape Charles. One of those happenstance encounters while I was getting on my bike after lunch at the Coach House restaurant, in 2017. The friendship was sealed when I ran into them, the following Sunday, at Saint Charles Church.

I was at their home, last night, for dinner. A treat. And met Ralph’s son Ralph, and his grandson Ralph and his mother, who recently moved here after Ralph II retired at age 55.


A few pictures of yesterday morning’s Lunar Eclipse. The Eagle pictures were taken on my way out of Cape Charles, the left turn at the concrete plant.


Moon eclipse

moon set

QUESTION: What am I seeing on the Chesapeake that I don’t see in the summer. A white bird with black tipped wings the size and look of a Booby, with a similar beak, it takes off clumsily like a Cormorant, furiously clapping the wings but once airborne a decent flyer. Anyone? No pictures yet.


I promise I will post regularly on this blog while on this winter migration. And I’ll have my Garmin In Reach turned on for you to follow my progress. The link is in the right upper corner of this blog.

Haad no wi-fi or hot spot last night. It is 10 am at the fueldock I’ll be going through the first Dismal Swamp canal lock at 11 and will try make it to near Elizabet City.


A Vendre/For Sale October 30, 2021

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 30th, 2021

I am looking for suggestions, from anyone et en particulier mes amis Francais, on selling “Patnic” a 26- foot sailboat, in Paris, inherited by a good friend of mine in Florida. I have advertised in “Annonces” and had a number of responses, but no sales, so far. I am looking for a buyer and any recommendations on other venues to advertise, or possibly donate. The boat is structurally in good shape but the interior needs some attention. The marina management in Paris has not been very cooperative and an old friend of the deceased owner, who gave us a hand, has now disappeared.

The owner has reduced the price. Similar models in good condition were advertised earlier in the year for € 7,000. She wishes to be relieved of the berthing fees and is offering it for US$ 3,000

This should be a decent investment for a young sailor. How about an inexpensive lodging while spending time near Paris? Or perfect to take up the French Canals and in to the Netherlands, Baltic. The mast is already down, to negotiate the bridges and locks.


Je suis à la recherche d’idées de la part de mes amis Français. Une amie de Floride a hérité d’un voilier de 26 pieds qui lui a été légué par son père. J’essaye de l’aider a vendre le bateau « Patnic ». Elle ressent une certaine urgence et a fait appel à mes connaissances en matière de voile. Elle est pressée de se débarrasser du bateau et le port de Paris insiste à ce qu’il y ait un nouveau responsable. La structure du bateau est en bon état. L’intérieur a besoin d’être remis. J’ai placé une annonce sur « » mais cela sans résultats. La capitainerie du port n’est pas trop serviable, et un ami de la famille qui essayait d’aider n’est plus disponible. Mon amie a réduit le prix de vente à €2.500  car elle veut arrêter les factures de la capitainerie. Ce bateau représente un bon achat pour une personne qui commence son périple de voile, ou bien s’intéresse à naviguer l’intérieur par canaux, peut-être même vers la mer Baltique, pourquoi pas. Le mât est déjà abaissé pour le transport ou la navigation par canal. Je vous remercie de m’indiquer des idées qui aideraient à vendre ce bateau.

Cormorant GT 26 (This is a picture of the shipbuilder, same production model as “Patnic”



Le voilier Cormorant GT 26 est un monocoque habitable de croisière, construit par le chantier Cormorant en France. Ce voilier Quille fixe, gréé en Sloop en tête, réalisé par l’architecte naval André Mauric. La production a démarré en 1977 et s’est terminée en 1980.




Caractéristiques :

Longueur de coque 7.80 m

Longueur à la flottaison 6.35 m

Largeur – Bau 2.50 m

Déplacement lège 1 300 kg

Masse du lest 580 kg

Nombre de couchettes 5 

Surface de voilure au près 23.50 m2

Moteur hors-bord Tohatsu 6 CV 

Prix avec voiles complets € 2.500,00

Adresse :  Port de plaisance – 2 quai Gabriel PERI – 94340 Joinville-le-Pont


Specifications :

Length overall : 25’6 “

Waterline         :  21’

Beam                 : 8’ 3”

Displacement   : 2900 lbs

Ballast keel       :  1200 lbs

Berths               :  5

Sail area     :  253 sq. ft.

Outboard motor : Tohatsu 6 HP

Price, complete sail set : $ 3,000

Location near Paris: see above

Pictures of “Patnic”:


Cruising with Captain John Smith on his 1608 discoveries in the Chesapeake. October 15, 2021

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 16th, 2021

I am writing this while crossing the Chesapeake from Tangier Island to the mouth of the Rappahannock River, on the Virginia mainland. The weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday changed my plans to stay on the island until Monday morning. And after arriving from Crisfield, Maryland, on the island in the early afternoon, I did not have much more to explore there. The weather was superb for these pictures.

I had wanted to attend the United Methodist church service on Sunday. But that will have to wait for another occasion. I found many similarities on both Smith Island and Tangier Island that remind me of the stories our mother told us about her visits to the island of Urk in the Zuiderzee. Our grandfather, Jan Siebold de Vries, found his bride on the island of Urk. He sold the fishermen the spars and rigging for their sailing fleet. The same tight communities that made their living harvesting the crops of the salt water estuaries and the deep sea. Both have a very close connection to their faith. Urk is still known world- wide for their men church choirs, I have been told that the fishermen on Tangier are also good singers.


Tangier looking East

Tangier from the North





Tangier and the War of 1812






I quote from the blog I wrote when I visited the island of Urk with my youngest daughter and granddaughter, on “Fleetwood” in 2010:

“It was another fast sail with a 20 plus knot breeze to Urk, right across the IJselmeer. Jeannine and I were just checking out the town and heard singing from the Bethel Christian Reformed Church. It turned out that the weekly communal church singing summer program had just started. The Urkers are known for their love of choir singing. They have several large men’s choirs who perform in Urker traditional costume all over the world. My mother has written about her recollections as a young girl on the island of Urk when the fishermen sang at a special occasion of a royal visit to the island. My grandfather met his wife on the island of Urk and was married here in 1900. The Bethel church was where my great grandfather, van Anken, was the Christian Reformed minister at that time. The church was full and Gabrielle could hear us 10 blocks away on the boat in the harbor. I joined with gusto as I was taught by my upbringing in the forties/fifties. There was a men’s choir from Elspeet who sang some beautiful religious works and a couple American songs like Amazing Grace and The Rose.”     

Milton Parks.    Milton, the owner of the only marina, is the very first Tangierian the boaters meet, for the last 50 plus year. He is 90 year old and still very alive and full of stories. He had a golf car crash two weeks ago and broke a couple of his ribs and bruised up. Parks, Crockett, Pruitt and Williams are the most common family names on Tangier. This Spring, a crab-boat from Tangier was moored next to me in the marina in Cape Charles. The season for crab harvesting opens earliest on the southern section of the Chesapeake Bay. One thing that struck me was that these men do not need profanities in their conversations. A rare delight in this country where a good part of fifty-year-old boys need this to prove their masculinity. In the first week of September, just after I came back into the Chesapeake through the C&D Canal, a crab-boat came alongside and exchanged greetings and that they had met me in Cape Charles. I wrote down the name of the boat as “Stephanie III”. I just assumed that they were my new friends from Tangier Island and one of the first things I inquired among the Tangierians was where I could find the crew of “Stephanie III”. I struck out, no such boat on this island. But, Halleluiah, the mystery was solved early this morning when Allen Parks and his crewmember Tyler stopped by at my moorage spot in their skiff. The “Stephanie III” turned out to be another waterman from the Baltimore, Md. Area, who was the next boat over from me and Allen Parks in Cape Charles. Allen’s boat is the “Elizabeth Marie”. Parks, Crockett and Pruitt are the most prolific settlers on Tangier Island.

Besides the church graveyards, many families buried their dead in the front yard. The only other place I have witnessed this was on American Samoa.

Burial in front yard Tangier







The history of Smith Island

The Smith Island Methodists










Moving right along, in reverse, to my earlier stop on Smith Island, just to the north of Tangier, also discovered in the same voyage of Captain John Smith. Captain Smith was commissioned by the British government to find a shorter way than by way of Cape Horn by water to the Pacific Ocean. He ran into dead ends on the many tributaries to the Chesapeake. The first settlers on Smith Island were a British farmer and carpenter, Tyler and Evans, who arrived in 1686. These last names are still prominent on the island. Both Tangier and Smith islands are dry (alcohol free) islands.

I left Kinsale on Monday morning the 11th. It was a rough fast sail down to the mouth of the Potomac and over to Smith Island. Wind was a strong tight reach. I had two reefs in the main and my tiny orange storm jib. I got to near the island in the late afternoon and did not dare to go up the narrow channel. I found a good protected anchorage and trekked into the town of Ewell in the early morning. Good thing I did not attempt this the late afternoon prior. I got hard stuck on some shallows in the channel. There was just one restaurant open. In the season this is a busy destination on the cruise boats from the mainland. The museum was a worthwhile stop and the only place where I could get wi-fi.

Just like other outposts, as an example Quebec, South Africa, their language has not evolved and local colloquial expressions developed. But I was not really able to distinguish it other than another southern version, unlike Afrikaans or Quebecois, or the way I speak a 1950 antique version of my native tongue.

Both Islands have lost land due to erosion, this was a week of extreme high tides and I had to go trade my soaked boat shoes for my rubber boat boots, many of the streets were flooded.

Great Egret in his temporary expanded territory on Smith Island

Oystermen lowering their tongs off Smith Island

I visited the museums on both islands. I am planning to write an article for a Dutch magazine about the Chesapeake and the Dutch foot prints from the colonial period.

In between the two islands, I visited Crisfield, Md. on October 13th. I heard on the radio that they were having their annual Crab and Clam Bake. It was staged on a large field right next to the marina. It was lunch time and my taste buds were already in high gear. But when I came to the gate and found out the entry fee was $60, I gagged and went on. I came back by the event with a few things I picked up at the Dollar Store. A gentleman was waving in cars to his parking lot. The event happened from noon until 4 pm. It was now about 2 o’clock and the man was waving a ticket for the event at me. Seriously, he gave me a free $60 ticket…..

I ran into Fred and Mary Beth from Ocean City, N.J., I knew they were around because I parked right next to them in the Crisfield marina. They were also right in front of me at the public dock on Smith Island. Another valuable new friendship. Turned out we have a lot of our important values in common. They are committed Christians. Fred sings in a choir and also cantors at his parish. I hope we will see one another again.

Mary Beth and Fred at the Crisfield Crab and Oyster Bake


Moving right along back to where I left off in Kinsale on my last blog.

The presentation of my sailing adventure was well received by the attendees of the event organized by the Great Neck Sailing Association at the The Slips marina in Kinsale, Va. It was also a worthwhile opportunity to fill the cruising kitty with $400 of book sales. And I made more good new friends, I plan to be back to Kinsale.

The Oct. 9 party in Kinsale









Back in Kinsale, Virginia October 6, 2020

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 6th, 2021

This has been a whirlwind tour from the Northwest down to Nevada via Oregon, by bicycle, local transit busses, Metro, Amtrak, rental car and LYFT.

There was 45-minute departure delay on the return flight from Seattle to Baltimore , apparently caused by the lack of personnel at the airport. I would not be surprised if the airlines will resort to offer free flights for volunteers to load baggage, clean toilets and do chores for the laid-off unvaccinated flight attendants. The Alaska Air flight from Las Vegas was also one hour later than scheduled, I missed an eye exam appointment.

I missed my train connection from Baltimore to Fredericksburg for which I would have had ample time. A mad rush from the airport to the station, I missed it by 5 minutes. Fortunately, I was able to catch the next train into D.C. and transfer and arrive only 10 minutes later than planned. Wil, another crew member on “The Twin Brothers”, collected me and brought me back to Kinsale.

On Tuesday the 28th of September, I took the Amtrak from Tacoma to Eugene, where I was the guest of Judy and Evert Slijper. You might remember them from my February blog when Evert took me on a memory lane trip to the Oregon Coast, through the territory I used to travel to purchase wood products, in the seventies and eighties.

On Wednesday I rented a car to drive down to Roseburg where my youngest son Seth and his fiancée bought their first home this year. A beautiful rural location as the pictures show. Seth has lots of big toys and hobbies and enjoys the large work shop that comes with the property.

The Umpqua River, close to my son’s home.

Seth’s home and the Noble Fir tree farm.








The next day, the 30th, I flew to Las Vegas to celebrate my oldest son, John’s, 50th birthday. He moved recently to Henderson, Nevada from San Diego. My daughter in law treated us to a fabulous feast at the  José Andrés restaurant.

with my oldest son, John

Part of the feast      (pictures by Jennifer van Ommen)








If, at His second coming, Jesus decides to go for a 40 day desert hike again, in the Nevada Desert, the Devil better not come tempting with a gift card from José Andrés.

2nd roof where the van Ommens live and part of the “Strip” in background


There are no direct flights from Las Vegas to the Washington D.C. area and I was able to lay over in Seattle, spend my last night with my daughter Lisa and collected the rest of my luggage.

It will take some getting used again of sleeping on a narrow bunk after being spoiled to the many comfortable beds and hospitality.

On September the 16th., I attended the funeral mass of Father Gary Weisenberger. He was our pastor from 1991 until 2004 at St. Nicholas Church in Gig Harbor, Wa. Our second oldest daughter Rose Marie was married in 1991 and my last marriage in 1993 was performed by father Gary. He became a dear friend. We had dinner together last at Christmas time 2019. I really think he scheduled his funeral for my short stay on the West Coast. It was a beautiful service. Coincidentally, he and I both have Frisian mothers. His mother’s root are in a Roman Catholic enclave in this Protestant Dutch province, in the town of Sint Nicolaasga, only 15 miles from where our mother was raised in de Lemmer.

This Saturday I give a presentation of my sailing adventure at “The Slips”. There is a change on the plans I have for the next three weeks, from my previous blog. My first VA doctor’s appointment in Cape Charles has been moved down from November 2nd to October 22nd. I’ll skip that in between trip from Onancock to Cape Charles prior to October 18 and instead cruise from here to Smith and Tangier Island before my October 20 event with my OCC members at the Mathews YC and sail from there on the 21st to Cape Charles where I will most likely stay for a month before my planned winter sail to the Caribbean.