Sunday/Monday April 25/26. King’s Day.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 27th, 2015

Sunday morning was high mass at the Augustinus church where I used to attend regularly. The choir “Cantate Dominum” in which I sang in 2012 and 2013 sang at the mass. What a treat and privilege. The envy of many churches in the United States, yet apparently taken for granted here judging by the sparse church attendance. Most of the liturgical songs were from Missa Princeps Pacis by Lloyd Webber, Communion song: O Saluaris Hostia from Edward Elgar and the recessional hymn “King of all ages” from Paul Isom. After the service I visited in the Parish Hall for coffee with the choir members who I have dearly missed since I returned to Gig Harbor. I will see them again next Saturday when they are having the general rehearsal for the May 4th concert on Memorial Day. I will not be ale to attend the concert because of the “Names instead of Number” presentation that evening.

Pastor Tom Buitendijk wih choir in background.

Pastor Tom Buitendijk wih choir in background.

In the afternoon I visited with my longtime elementary school class mate Jeannette and her husband Henk in Bosch en Duin.

Today is the national holiday in honor of the new King’s birthday. This is the second time that I got a chance to be here on this day, you might recall the report and the crazy pictures in the same week in 2013.  This time it was a lot cooler but sunny and festive.

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Saturday April 25. 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of C.C. Dachau.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 26th, 2015

Every year, on the Saturday on or before April 29, this day is commemorated at the National Dachau Monument in Amsterdam. On May 29th., 1945 the Rainbow Division of the 42nd Infantry Brigade of the U.S. 7th Army entered the gates of Dachau. This ended 12 years of Nazi terror in the first SS concentration  camp, “home” to roughly 200,000 prisoners, of which 41,566 lost their lives in Dachau. 550 of the 2,000 Dutch political prisoners died in Dachau. Our mother Rennie de Vries-van Ommen survived as part of a group of 200 Dutch prisoners in the AGFA Commando, a Dachau satellite camp. See

The very first time that I had an opportunity to attend the annual commemoration was in 2013, see   where I met Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff. She is now 96 years old and the last ambulant survivor of the Dutch political Dachau women prisoners. She gave a moving speech in which she emphasized the lessons she has for all of us. They were forced into survival by becoming a very close unit. In Ravensbrück they slept in bunk rows three high, two women per bunk under one thin blanket. They had to wash together, five naked women shared one water bucket. No privacy, no shame, no intolerance of each other. Willemijn was dragged, with high fever, by two of her friends, into the box cars that brought the 200 women out of the hell of Ravensbrück to Dachau, where, as it turned out, her chance of survival increased ten fold. She told us of how she only began sharing her war experiences in the last five years and how this has set her free. The two high school students who set her name in the project “Names instead of Numbers” ,  Job Bruin en Jelle Braaksma, were again with her. Next week, on May 4th, the national annual 2nd WW commemoration, our mother will also be remembered in this same program by a German student, Henriette Schulze. This is one of the main reasons I am in Holland until May 8th. The Dutch king opened the special exhibit on this program in the Dutch National Resistance Museum in Amsterdam on Wednesday. I went to see it yesterday right after a program given by the Dutch Dachau Committee in which Jos Sinnema was honored for his work in bringing the program into the Dutch schools, from where it started in Dachau. The biographies of the individual prisoners are also making a tour through the United States, see above link.

For those who have missed it: The only complete published story of the 200 AGFA Commando prisoners is incorporated in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”

Jos Sinnema receiving prize from the International Dachau committee

Willemijn sticking flower in the monument, with Job Bruin

Willemijn sticking flower in the monument, with Job Bruin


Mrs. Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff address at Dachau Monument

John Wilcock, U.S. Consul General laying wreath with local elementary school students.

John Wilcock, U.S. Consul General laying wreath with local elementary school students.


Tuesday April 21 Brussels. A sentimental visit.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 21st, 2015

Yesterday I drove early in the morning from Amsterdam to Bruges where I picked up my Gig Harbor friends Andy and Maggi. It was a perfect warm Spring day. The trees are just starting to bud, the bulbs and flowering fruit trees are in bloom. I showed my friends some of my favorite spots where  we used to live from 1965 until 1970. Tomorrow I will be picking them up in Antwerp and show them some of the sights along the way in Holland on the way back to Amsterdam. While having lunch in Halle, yesterday, the lady in the picture, sat down, as a blonde, two tables away from us. After the third glass of Kriek Lambic, a typical Belgian beer (see ), this is what happened to her hair. This is NOT photo-shopped.







Yesterday was my oldest granddaughter, Corrine,’s 25th Birthday. So, glad to be able to celebrate with her and her husband Euan. Today I went searching for the apartment we rented in Brussels from 1965 until we moved to a larger home in Ittre, when Rose Marie was born in February 1968. I paid a visit to the St. Pie X church where we went to church in Brussels and where Rose Marie was baptized. Walked by the office I worked in on Ave. Louise and to the Grand Place where the Guildhalls were freshly Gilded.








This evening Corrine and Euan took me on a long hike through the Cinquantenaire to Place Jourdan where the best ever Frites (French Fries) are made. Every Belgian daughter in law has to be able to pass the rigid test on frying frites before she is approved. The surrounding cafés allow you to eat the frites from the stand at their tables.


Corrine and Euan playing quatres mains.

Corrine and Euan playing quatres mains.


Sunday April 19. In Holland

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 19th, 2015

I flew yesterday from Seattle via Edmonton, Alberta, Reykjavik to Amsterdam. Reasonable good flights, except on the last leg I was squeezed in the center seat between a nice obese lady and a jerk guy in the window seat who stuck his left elbow and knee in my side and would not budge, agonizing 4 hour flight. On my way early Monday morning rental car drive to Brugges to meet Gig Harbor friends and celebrate the 25th birthday with Granddaughter Corrine in Brussels. Returning Wednesday to Amsterdam. Then a busy program next weekend around the 70th anniversary of the Dachau liberation.



Thursday April 16. An anniversary.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 16th, 2015

It is exactly one year ago today that I announced the purchase of the “Fleetwood” success(or).

May 17 1980- Nov. 16 2013

May 17 1980-until RIP  Nov. 16 2013


April 16 2014 to..???

I found my life raft a 2-4 person older model hard pack Beaufort raft, for $ 150. And a few other smaller items at last Saturday’s Fisheries Supplies swap-meet. My next major item will be the solar panel. Looking for a used 6 x 6 foot wide arch like the one on the old “Fleetwood” (see above picture). Your suggestions are appreciated.

I am packing my bag for Saturday’s flight to Amsterdam. Leaving the boat tomorrow and stay Friday night with Lisa, she’ll take me to SeaTac o Saturday morning. On her 51st Birthday….. I’ll be back May 8th.

SOLOMAN is done. The Dutch version. It is now being edited. 370 pages. And working on the cover.

Gorgeous day here in Gig Harbor. A few hardy teenagers were already diving off the Stanich dock, a while ago.






Monday April 6. A visit from a long time friend.

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 7th, 2015

There is a saying in Dutch: Een goede buurman is beter dan een verre vriend= A good neighbor is better than a distant friend. When I met Lies Bueninck in September 2009 ( see: ) she showed me what my mother had given to her. Lies and another 200 Dutch women in the Dachau AGFA Commando  had exchanged addresses with their fella-prisoners when their liberation was imminent.



They wrote their address and a short message/poem on the back of a 1 1/2 ” diameter carton that had been used in the AGFA factory to separate the timing devices, the women were forced to assemble. On that day, April 26, 1945, 200 x 200= 40,000 of these address cards were written….. Many of these survived. Some are exhibited in the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum. Lies Bueninck was 100 years old when I met her, she still remembered my mom. This collection of Lies Bueninck’s memorabilia will be a temporary  exhibit  in the Dutch Resistance Museum opening on April 24. I will be attending.

This is a long winded introduction to my very good friend Evert Slijper, who came to visit yesterday. He is the exception, unless Oregon can pass for the Neighbor.

I met Evert in 1972, in Springfield, Oregon. He is 9 years my junior. He came from Holland to Tacoma in the seventies to study at the University of the Puget Sound in an exchange program with the only private Dutch University “Nijenrode”. He has lots of friends here in Gig Harbor and Tacoma through the Thistle sailor community. One of the Gig Harbor notables, the owner of the Tides Tavern, Pete Stanley, studied at Nijenrode on this same exchange programs. Evert still calls it “Three Fingered Jack” to show his age. When I sent out my “Fleetwood is Flotsam” blog on November 16, 2013, Evert came to the rescue with his cousin Victor van Liempt on Ibiza, who made me the best dressed shipwreck survivor. Then when I arrived back in Holland on January 8, 2014 he put me up in his parental home in Haarlem with a car and weekly maid service until I repatriated to Gig Harbor on April 3rd 2014. And in between he looked me up at the yacht club “De Schinkel” in Amsterdam where “Fleetwood” was berthed and where he and his brother are still “Kind in Huis” because of their association with the “Freedom” sailing fleet.

at the Shor(sic) Line in Tacoma with Evert

at the Shor(sic) Line in Tacoma with Evert



Easter Sunday April 5. Alleluia!

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 6th, 2015

It is Monday morning and I caught up on my sleep, after a rigorous choir program. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Saturday and then both the 8.30 and 11 Easter Sunday service. But it was worth the effort and a very satisfying experience again. Ann Wopat, the director, put together a great program for the four different services. My favorite Easter hymns and among others Mozart’s Ave Verum, Panis Angelicus, Cantate Domine, Regina Coeili (M.M. Cottone). I had sung the Ave Verum with my 2012/2013 Dutch choir members in Rome and Amsterdam. The rest was new for me but I was fortunate to have one more semi-pro tenor and a base to get me going.

On an earlier post I was offering myself for marriage, adoption or a favor, and a later retracted result to my search. Well, guess what? So, after I purchased my ticket for my three week visit to Amsterdam on April 18, I meet a new friend after yesterday’s service. Turns out he is a retired pilot for a carrier that flies to Amsterdam and he is good for my next buddy pass. God is good. And shows what you are missing if you are not a member yet of St. Nicholas.

Father Mark Guzman at the Holy Thursday service.

Father Mark Guzman at the Holy Thursday service.

I am house/dog sitting, until Wednesday, on the very same street I last owned a home, Goodman Ave in Gig Harbor. Just a few houses down the hill. This is the view from the house and the Google Earth picture.


circled top my home from 1993-1997. bottom my current hideout.

circled top my home from 1993-1997. bottom my current hideout.

This evening Evert Slijper, from Haarlem and Eugene, is visiting to have dinner at the Shor(e) Line. A year ago, on April 3rd, I closed the door in Haarlem of his parental home, where I had been house sitting since January 10 upon my return from Mallorca.

“Soloman”: I am putting the last touches on the Dutch manuscript. I expect to have the e-book version available during my Holland visit.






Sunday March 22nd. Rub a dub dub. Three old men in a tub.

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 22nd, 2015

But, on Saturday March 21st, these three old men felt again like a bunch of Spring Chickens. Paul de Leeuw, whose friendship I have enjoyed since 1976. half our life time, crewed with me since 1977. Paul is a Dutch-Canadian-Kiwi and was also a forest products exporter. Ken House became a friend in 1982 and has sailed many a race on “Fleetwood”.

The last crewed sail race I have done on the West Coast was 25 years ago. This was the last of a four race regatta sailed monthly from December in the Puget Sound. This one is called the Islands Race and is organized by my yacht club., the Gig Harbor YC. Sixty boats participated and the wind for most of the race was between 15 and 20 knots, with an occasional stronger gust. It was sailed up and down Colvos Passage from the mouth of Gig Harbor bay to a mark north of Blake Island. About 30 miles. With tacking and jibing more like 40 miles. It took us about 6 1/2 hours. We earned the Booby Prize. We got to the start 25 minutes after the starting gun. We had a few problems. One of the crew members could not find a parking spot and got on board after the starting gun. Then my engine quit again after I had put about 25 hours this week of work into trying to find the air leak. We sailed out and back into the slip. And our skills were a little rusty. But we had a great time and caught up on a lot of the years that we had not seen each other. I had not yet been in a good blow wit the boat, and found how well she handled and how much sail she can stand. It was a down wind sail to the mark with the current and tacking against the wind and current on the home stretch. We consistently sailed about 10 to 15 degrees closer to the wind than the other boats.

Now I realize why I enjoyed the North West as much as I have in all those years. I had wondered why anyone would want to live in this rainy dreary dark winter. But being out on the water in March makes me realize what I have been missing.

Advance notice: I will give another slide show and presentation at the GHYC on June 3rd. of “Fleetwood”‘s travels.

L.R.: Jack, Paul, Ken

L.R.: Jack, Paul, Ken, picture taken by Sheila Schultz-Mordue



Saturday 3.14.15 The Day of bye, bye American (π or) Pi when the levee ran dry

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 14th, 2015

This mathematical formula, Π , or 3.1415 holds a certain significance for me. In the seventies and eighties it made me a lot of money. Though I have never had an education or inclination with anything that involved mathematics. In contrast to my twin brother who earned a degree in shipbuilding engineering and designed (cylindrical) storage tanks for most of his working life.

But knowing the correct way to calculate the content of a cylinder gave me an advantage over my competitors in the log export business.  Softwood Logs are purchased on the Pacific coast in Scribner Scale. The diameter of the log is measured at the top only and then the content is taken from pre-calculated scale books. It is a complicated, supposedly based on the expected yield of sawn lumber. But the shipping companies charge the ocean freight and the European buyers purchase based on the Brereton scale, where the average of the top and bottom of the log is used. No one in the industry seemed to know by what magic this Bernard Brereton had devised his tables, before the second world war. But every stevedore, shipping company, exporter and foreign buyer bought and used his Brereton Scale book. And because it would be impossible to show each diameter and lengths that trees produce, they were rounded of to the next even feet and inches. It turned out that it is the mathematical formula of a cylinder. Radius squared, in inches, x 3.1415 x length in feet to arrive at the content in Board Feet. Then it became obvious that the way to gain the biggest advantage in scale was to purchase logs with the most taper. The butt of a tree has the most taper and the longer the log the more taper.  And I did not need Mr. Brereton’s scale books any longer.

But the levee ran dry and it was: bye bye  American (& Tropical=A&T) Pi……

John van Ommen in 1977 or 1978, shipping logs to Valencia and Genoa.

John van Ommen in 1977 or 1978, shipping logs to Valencia and Genoa.

Other Business:

I am currently house, dog and cats sitting in the same home as I was last November, till March 19th. On Saturday the 21st I am signed up to sail the annual “Islands Race” from Gig Harbor. It will be a nostalgic encounter. The last time I sailed this race was before 1993. Ken House, long time friend and frequent crew in the eighties will be joining the crew and Paul de Leeuw expects to come down from B.C., he started crewing in the seventies on “Gemini”. I am hoping that Lisa can join us.

I am still looking for a good home for my friend’s Aqua Cat 14. Anyone with lake or sound beachfront in the Puget Sound area? All the owner is asking for is for me or you to teach him to sail it and use it  5 or 6 times a year. You have the use of it for the rest of the time. call me 253-441-7204



Monday March 2nd. My Holland trip in April/May.

Written by Jack van Ommen on March 2nd, 2015

I purchased a round trip ticket to/from Amsterdam. The offer that I expected no one could refuse, did not stand up. Laura, my second wife, helped me with a pass to Edmonton and back, which helped in comparison to flying from and to Seattle. I leave Sunday the 18th and return on May 8th. I will be staying with relatives near Amsterdam.  As soon as I arrive I will post my cellular phone number on this web site.

See previous two blogs for more details on the reasons for this short, unplanned, visit.  Today I received more information on the “Names instead of Numbers” planned events for the 70th annual commemoration of the liberation of  camp Dachau, see: