Weekend Sept 13 and 14. The “Jack and Jill” sailboat race.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 15th, 2014

Twenty seven years ago, in 1987 I suggested to the Gig Harbor Yacht Club that they should have a Jack and Jill race. They gave me their blessing if I would organize it. We opened it to club and non club members. For the benefit of my readers beyond our border: Jack and Jill is an old nursery rhyme.

Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water.Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after. 

Already for the first race about 20 boats turned out.  My boat went on the hard in 1993 and did not get back in the water till 2004, while I tried, in vain, to turn my business setbacks around. But the J&J tradition survived. This weekend it was organized by long time members Jaime and Joan Storkman. We had a smaller turnout than usual, just 9 sailboats, in part due to the fact that the Sea Hawks were playing on Sunday afternoon. The weather was glorious and warm. The 10 mile course was from Gig Harbor to Des Moines. And back on Sunday. My oldest daughter Lisa was my Jill. The last time she sailed with me was exactly 10 years ago in Gig Harbor. But she still has her helmsperson touch. We had every imaginable wind condition, light, nothing at all, and the last 3 miles we had a good 15 knots close hauled with gusts to just over 20 knots. We should have reduced sail but there was really no time for it and I found out how much this boat takes with a full main and 150% genoa. We finished third.  Lisa had prior commitments for Sunday. She stayed for the potluck dinner on the dock and Seth, my 34 year old son, also arrived before dinner fro Portland. He slept on the boat and sailed the return portion on Sunday with me.  Since it was Sunday Jack hiked up the hill (I did not break my crown and Jill did not come tumbling after), to attend 6.30 a.m. mass at St. Philomena church. A stiff 18 block hike. It was still dark on the way up. This was a Spanish service. The winds on Sunday were lighter yet and because of the football game the decision was made to finish about 3 miles short of Gig Harbor. We worked ourselves to first place and held this for quite a while but just in the last few minutes the two Thunderbrds caught up to us and we ended up finishing in second place. Not bad for a having to sail with all my belongings on board that most homeowners keep at home.

It was a very special weekend for me and so glad I had Lisa and Seth to share this experience. It was the first time on this boat for both of them. They got to meet the great company I keep here with my sailing friends.

The fuel flow problems came back once again. We could not start the engine after the race. Terry and Janet James on “Spirit” towed us into the Des Moines Marina. It happened again right before the start on Sunday. And after we finished I had to bleed the system a couple more times. We moored the boat in its slip without the use of the engine. Seth is smart (brains skipped a generation….) he figured that the air may be coming in through the original mechanical fuel pump. This was confirmed by a diesel mechanic this morning who happened to be working on a neighbor’s boat. So, I went into Tacoma and had a banjo fitting made up to lead the electrical fuel pump directly to the ignition instead of through the old (defunct) mechanical pump. Keep our fingers crossed.

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill

Going Fast taken by Lisa

Going Fast taken by Lisa




Monday September 8, back in Gig Harbor.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 9th, 2014

I hiked up on the steep chairs to “uptown” to attend the 8.15 a.m. mass at Our Lady Star of the Seas. Very appropriate. I have been to a number of them in my travels, in Georgetown, Bermuda, in the Chesapeake Bay on Solomons Island in Maryland. The Latin version Stella Maris is a popular boat name.

Stella Maris above the altar

Stella Maris above the altar

Father John Topel wit on left Deacon Bill Swanson

Father John Topel wit on left Deacon Bill Swanson

The couple behind me Vincent and Mary Anne gave me a ride back to the Wooden Boat Show. I shook hands with well known world sailor Larry Pardey and ran into Jim Whittaker the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. I had met him once before in Port Townsend. He is also an avid blue water sailor. He is 88 but he still walks faster than most people run. I used to see his twin brother Lou on occasions since his wife and my (last) ex wife are long time friends. I also managed to meet up with Jim Ferris popularly known as “Kiwi”. I had met Jim in 1980. He responded to an ad I had placed for race crew. He had just delivered a large schooner built in New Zealand. He got into wooden boat building in Port Townsend and started with a Mighty Might portable sawmill and now owns one of the largest hardwood distribution businesses in the North West.  I left Port Townsend at noon and had a favorable flood current most of the way. Sailed a good part of it. The wind came and went, as is power for the course in the N.W. summers here. I anchored for the night at Blake Island and got back into Gig Harbor in the afternoon. I discovered half way through Colvos passage that my exhaust was steaming and just a trickle of water was coming through. The first thing I did was to clean the seagrass from the intake filter. But that did not do the trick. So, it had to be a broken impeller. There are not many places to anchor in Colvos Passage and the current was swift. I tried motor sailing against the wind and throttle the ;power back. Then the wind died. I slowly made my way to an anchorage. Taking the impeller out is a major operation. The flywheel has to come off. There was nothing wrong with the impeller. I attached a hose to the inlet valve and blew hard and it did break open. I thought. Still just a trickle more water. I was only two miles form the marina. I slowly made it to my berth. I then used the pump to blow up the inflatable and that finally did the trick. Obviously a better tool than my lungs. Another trick learned. I hope that Robert Redford reads my blogs, for his sequel to “All is Lost”. Shoot!, I should have asked Larry Pardey what he thinks of the movie, he was used as an expert on the subject by the producer…..

sunrise over Glacier Peaks

sunrise over Glacier Peaks

sunset over Olympics

sunset over Olympics

Moon rise over Seattle

Moon rise over Seattle



Saturday September 6. Roche Harbor and Port Townsend

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 7th, 2014

First thing, Friday morning, after brewing my coffee in my once cupper espresso pot, I pulled the crab trap. See below picture. Six Dungenes crabs, 3 females and one male just under 6 1/4 inch limit. But the two remaining males made a delicious meal. DSC_0039 I hiked up to the San Juan Islands Yacht Club to check and see if my name was still on the Shaw Island Classic trophy. This is a race held every year at the end of the summer. You can choose which way to circle the island, clock or counter clock wise. The island lays just north of Friday Harbor. I tried it in 1979, the last year I sailed my Ranger 29, “Gemini”. My second wife to be Laura came along and Mike St. John Smith (who I saw last Tuesday in Vancouver) and Brian a friend of Mike. I studied the current charts the night before and decided to round the island clockwise. But it was obvious that I had not done my homework because every one, but a handful of boats, went counter clockwise. But I was too far into it to change my directions. When we finally made it back to Friday Harbor, we did not see any other boats so I figured the rest of the fleet was already done and had put their boats back in their stalls. But as it turned out they were to arrive a few hours later and I won that race. That is the only sailboat race where I have ever had a bullet. Robert Horsley was the one to bring me the news. He had won the previous year’s race in a Santa Cruz 27, the name of his boat “Poisson Soluble” is misspelled on the trophy.DSC_0048

I sailed around the north tip of San Juan Island to get to Roche Harbor. The 165 foot yacht that the Clarks work on was anchored in the bay and I anchored nearby. It is a different world. I had been on a similar yacht “The Casino Royal” in  Fort Lauderdale that Greg skippered in 2009. This yacht was built by Christensen in Vancouver, Washington. everything shines. The decor is very modern but also very warm and attractive. Gorgeous woodwork, American Black Walnut, Maple and teak floors, decks. Marlys worked for me for nine years in Gig Harbor. Afterwards we went to dinner at the old hotel in Roche Harbor to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, in the exact same location where they got married. The Decorator Carol from Portland and Christian the broker, who sold this boat to the St. Louis owners, joined us at dinner. We drank the traditional “Fluffy Duck” drinks the hotel serves. (Vodka, rum, orange juice and fresh cream. Finished with whipped cream and a cherry).

Bride Marlys left with Carol and the "Fluffy Ducks"

Bride Marlys left with Carol and the “Fluffy Ducks”

I left at 6.30 a.m. to get the benefit of the ebb on the way into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and later was flushed on the flood through Admirality Inlet. Sailed some and motored most of the way, little wind but gorgeous hot summer weather. I anchored right off the board walk in Port Townsend. It is the annual Wooden Boat Festival. It has become a regular combination country fair, Disneyland and Maritime fest. Quite a difference from 1980 when brand new “Fleetwood (I)” was shown off here. I met up with Tom Jackson the senior editor for Wooden Boat magazine. He has worked with me on a few articles that WB published I submitted on traditional Dutch sailing vessels. I plan to attend mass here in the morning and then make another visit to the show and arrive back in Gig Harbor on Monday.DSC_0077




Thursday September 4 Friday Harbor. That Angel is still perched on my shoulder.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 5th, 2014

But first in chronological order. I met Mike St. John-Smith on Granville Island on Tuesday for lunch. We have been friends since he started crewing on “Gemini” in 1978, he was then living in La Conner, where I kept the boat. He bought the third NAJA that I had imported and sailed for about ten years in British Columbia as “Soul Fisher”.  It poured all day. There is not one single leak in this boat. I could not say that for the old “Fleetwood”. Later in the evening I met Martha Verazain and Al Loewen long time business friends. We had much to catch up on. Few businesses have changed as much as the wood products industry in the 10 years that I last worked in it. I got an early start on Wednesday and made it to Jones Island by 6.30 p.m. This island is just a short distance from Friday Harbor. I had some good sailing once I was in Strait of Georgia. I very much enjoyed my visit to Vancouver. The scenery, the world class architecture, the Asian Influence, being able to listen to the French language stations, etc. Yesterday and today turned out to be fabulous sunny and warm but the nights have become quite a bit cooler.

Now the story about my guardian angel. Since it is just a short distance to Friday Harbor I did not bother to put both sails up, just the main, but when the wind died I ran the engine as well. There was a strong flood current and I was being set towards a reef, then the engine stuttered and quit. My main worry was not to be driven onto the reef. I brought the light Genova on deck, hanked it on and now I was able to have better control. I quickly bled the fuel line, but that turned out not to be the problem.Fortunately there was enough wind to sail into the bay where the port of Friday Harbor is located. I sailed into a small bay next to it.It was relatively deep and how was I going to set the anchor? I had never done this yet under sail. When you are with two on board one can steer while the other backs the main against the wind to be able to reverse the boat. It did not seem to work till at last the boat came to a stop just a few feet from another anchored boat. I tried bleeding the fuel line again but there was no air in it. Then when I took the fuel line off the out side of the fuel pump there was no fuel coming out. Then when I started the pump there was no movement at all. This is the new pump that I installed just before leaving Gig Harbor.  Fortunately I still had the first pump on board because I had started to question if that had been the problem after all. Bingo! It worked. Before I had the pump hooked up I had to quickly put the hatch back in and get the anchor up and the sail raised because my anchor was dragging. Chinese fire drill. This time I was able to set the anchor by sailing sideways under the genoa away from the anchor. Without wind and the strong flood current I might have had an emergency again. If Robert Redford could just have had the company that I am privileged with not “All would be lost” for him.

I am planning to be with Marlys and Greg Clark tomorrow to help them celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in Roche Harbor, where they were married. And leave Saturday morning for Port Townsend. Back late Sunday or more likely Monday in Gig Harbor.


After sunset

After sunset

Jones Island

Jones IslandDSC_0017



Tuesday September 2nd. Granville Island

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 2nd, 2014

It is a typical N.W. late summer day, showers and dark skies. Good day to be drinking lates and cha while meeting long time friends in the Granville Public Market. Tomorrow I am promised some sunshine and a decent N.W. wind to sail down direction Roche Harbor. I met Paul de Leeuw here yesterday and just said good bye to Michael St. John-Smith. This evening I will see Al and Martha, friendships from my lumber business days up here.

I am anchored between the Granville and Cambie street bridge on the south side of Falls Creek, close to Granville Island. Lots of activity here, on the water, the boardwalk and the Market. The picture below of the cold beer is appropriate because the public schools have not opened yet. The teachers are still on a strike that commenced before the summer vacations.

Latitude-38 has another article in the September issue that just came out. Be sure to pick up your free copy or go to the following link:http://issuu.com/latitude38/docs/l38201409?e=0

201409 DSC_0012 DSC_0013


Sunday August 31 Bowen Island and Vancouver

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 1st, 2014

On my walk through one of the many parks on Bowen island to 10.30 mass I came upon this Red Crested Woodpecker. It is hard to get the head sharp because this bird pecks at a ferocious rate of speed. Very nice small church, the priest comes from the mainland with the ferry. They wanted to keep me here because of my (loud) singing, I like this invitation much better than the one at Easter 2007 on St. Helena Island. Napoleon would have preferred Bowen Island as well. Particularly if he’d been able to take a ferry to Vancouver.

Dana Barton stopped by at noon and we talked for two hours. A very nice and interesting person. He had been a teacher in Eastern Oregon and when Donovan (my son in law) was 3 years old he moved to an island near the Northern end of Vancouver Island, taught school there and bought an abandoned 24 acre farm and farmed part time and lived off the land. When Donovan left home he and his second wife sailed on a Rawson 30 to Mexico and spent three years, mostly near La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. He also operated a purse seiner for a couple years in this area. His wife decided to go back to school and get a masters degree in psychology and Dana in turn spent five years to get his license as a naturopathic medical doctor. He has an office at his home on Bowen Island, and in Vancouver. He brought me produce from his large garden at his home on Bowen Island. So my daughter Rose Marie did well in choosing her second father in law. I have a new friend.

I am moored under the Oak Street Bridge at the False Creek YC. I came in after the office closed, but when I saw the rate, $60 per day, I choked. So, I plan to anchor out to morrow. I’ll be seeing Paul de Leeuw in the morning on Granville Island. I had a very pleasant sail here.

A Salmon Ladder

A Salmon Ladder

DSC_0007 DSC_0003


Saturday, August 30. Bowen Island.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 31st, 2014

I am staying here one more night and leave tomorrow for Vancouver. There is a 10.30 a.m. mass within a short walk from the marina. Rondy and Dorothy Dike, the owners of the marina let men be their guest for the second night. They are leaving themselves on their motor yacht for a two week vacation in the Desolation Sound. Their oldest daughter Oita and son in law have moved here as well from the States. I had not seen Oita since the seventies when we skied with them at Mt. Baker. She is the same age as our Rose Marie who is four years younger than Lisa. There was more sunshine today but also a few short light showers. No trace yet of Rose Marie’s father in law who I am supposed to meet here. Paul de Leeuw did not show up either. I think we crossed up our times and connections.

This is a lovely stop, excellent marina and very nice facilities. The restaurant and bar attract a lively crowd.

Today would have been our mother’s 113th birthday.

A towering dead Sitka Spruce, once above the tide line.

A towering dead Sitka Spruce, once above the tide line.

The Union Steamship Company marina on Bowen Island

The Union Steamship Company marina on Bowen Island

Howe Sound from Snug Cove on Bowen Island

Howe Sound from Snug Cove on Bowen Island



Friday August 29. Bowen Island, Canada

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 30th, 2014

I left Bellingham at 11 a.m. on Thursday. I had hoped to catch some of the Croatian fishermen on their coffee break at the Weblocker in the morning. But they all went to a funeral of one of their comrades. There was plenty of wind in Bellingham Bay and I had the ebb tide with me in Hales Pass between the mainland and Lummi Island. I made a nostalgic stop in Echo Bay of Sucia Island in the San Juan Islands. This was an easy weekend sail from where I used to have a weekend retreat in La Conner. My kids still remember when in 1978  both the Canadian and U.S. fireboats came too late to the rescue of a sailboat that burned down to the waterline a few boats anchored away from our boat. Today I made a 45 nautical mile sail to Bowen Island, to the N.W. of Vancouver. Sailed it in 10 hours, following and reaching winds. Slalomming through the gillnets set at the mouth of the Fraser River. The last time I was in the marina here was 20 years ago. My twin brother and sister in law came to visit from Germany. My boat sat on it’s trailer in Gig Harbor and I borrowed a friend’s boat, also a NAJA like “Fleetwood”, who kept his boat in Eagle Harbor, nearby Bowen Island. The owner of the marina here went to CalPoly architecture school with Sid, who I met on Wednesday in B’ham. I’m meeting my long time Canadian American friend Paul de Leeuw ( de echte) here and my son in law’s father who lives here on the Island. Then I sail to Vancouver tomorrow.

No pictures, yet. The weather has changed to normal N.W. summer weather, drizzle and grey.



August 27. Bellingham

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 28th, 2014

I am staying another night here at the Squalicum Marina. Doug brought me his extra Avon inflatable. I needed to go and shop for oars. Fortunately the pump Ron Ray had given me fits the inflatable. I also purchased the smallest anchor the store had, for a stern anchor when I compared it with my (main) bow anchor it turned out to be the same Danforth size and weight. I better not run into the Brit in Durban who was spreading the story that Jack has a bow anchor he can fit in his short pocket and the stern anchor fits in his breast pocket…. B’ham has a terrific used marine equipment store the N.W. Marine Exchange. Rows and rows of engine parts, hardware, you name it. I think I’ll have to come back there with a U-haul.

I am trying to make contact with some of the B’ham Dalmatian fishermen whose relatives I met in Croatia in 2012. I talked to one so far. Tomorrow morning I’m planning to  crash their coffee break at the Web Locker restaurant.

Their was big party Pow Wow like going on in the marina park. Something to do with the Seahawks football team. There is a large Indian reservation near B’ham, the Lummi tribe. There was strong westerly and the kite flyers were just as happy as the sailors for these conditions.

Below is a picture of my long time friend Sid and his son Doug. Sid designed all three of the houses that I had built between 1976 and 1993. We met on a KLM ski charter flight from Seattle to Zuerich in 1972. Doug and Sid were living on Maui when I vacationed there with Lisa and Rose Marie in 1973. They were then respectively 8 and 4 years old and Doug 11. He already then made a big impressions on my daughters.

Lummi island in background

Lummi island in background


Lummi kids grabbing the kite's tail

Lummi kids grabbing the kite’s tail

DSC_0070 DSC_0076


Tuesday August 26. It’s for real.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 27th, 2014

After three false starts, I finally made it out of Dodge. I’m in Bellingham having a cold beer and excellent fish and chips at Nicky’s. Its been a hot day again, in the 80-ties.

I made it Monday night to Oak Bay, just south of the canal that made Marrowstone an island, just south of Port Townsend. I anchored out just when the sun was setting. The other picture is of the sun rising over the Fir trees when I pulled the anchor to catch the ebb tide and current through the canal. The engine problems appear to be resolved. I held my breath in the first hours, particularly when I had to wrestle a steep wake. Yesterday the wind came mainly from the NW. Most of the time too little to sail but also some real power spurts. Today the wind came from every directions you can imagine. Some great sailing and then back to the iron man.

But one thing is for sure: this is one of the most beautiful natural beauties God created. I had to see 51 countries from “Fleetwood” to be convinced. Particularly from the water. People that have lived here all their lives tell me that this is the best summer they have ever had here.

The seal picture has a story. I could not determine what I was coming upon near Point No Point. I passed just a few feet from her and she was not going to move. It looks like she might have possibly be injured. Her eyes look sad. Do you notice what looks like a heart tattooed on her chest. I’m in love! Any marine biologists in the house? She was floating on this piece of styrofoam.

I put the spinnaker up for the first time. But soon after the wind quit again. Anyway, another piece of my inventory checked out. Looks good. Nearly the same colors as the one that went down with the Sloop Jack V. Just the additional light blue panel.

Doug, my longtime friend Sid’s son, is bringing me a inflatable dinghy that he has donated to the “causa”, here in B’ham tomorrow. Then I’m off to Canadian waters.

Yesterday, a sailboat overtook me and hailed me near Blake Island. It was “White Cap” of John Dixon. I met John and his wife Sarah in 1987 when they had a Catlina 34? “Sail  la Vie” when they participated in tje very first Jack and Jill Race I organized for the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. Sarah had MS. And I often wondered what happened to John and Sarah. He brought me the sad news that Sarah had passed away. He was on his way to Hood Canal with his new friend Susan. He knew all about my adventures as he regularly checks my blog.  September 13 and 14 the GHYC has their annual Jand J race. I am searching for a Jill to participate. I can give a few character references if necessary.

DSC_0038 DSC_0039 DSC_0035 DSC_0032 DSC_0020 DSC_0019