August 22nd. Never leave on a Friday.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 23rd, 2014

I made it as far as the Tides Tavern and the engine quit again after an early morning start. I sculled the boat back. Ric Holl, a mechanic, had a hard time figuring out where the air was coming in but got the engine running again. It ran well for a bout 2 1/2 hours. I was motor sailing against the Northerly and was near the north end of Colvos Pass. A jerk in a dive boat passed a few feet from me at high speed, I was on the starboard side of the pass and he was going south. He threw a mean wake and water came over the deck and into the open forward hatch. The right after the engine quit. Most likely something got dislodged in the tank, filter or fuel lines. I could not restart the engine by bleeding the lines as I had been able to do the week before. I sailed back south on the stiff Northerly but it petered out near Gig Harbor, I inched close to the harbor entrance but the ebb was starting to push me backwards. I hailed a sport fisher who towed me into the harbor where there is always wind when there is none outside and I sailed the rest of the way into my slip.

So, I’ll ave to start the whole process over again. I should have been born 200 years earlier before engines spoiled the fun of a good sail.


Thursday August 21. Engine runs again.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 22nd, 2014

The pump promised for Tuesday showed up today. And all is back to normal. I plan take off for places North via Bellingham in the morning (Friday).

In my previous blog I wrote how my world has shrunk in size, but I do not lack company and friends here. Jim the wood products salesman on my float just took me up to the supermarket for my last minute provisions. Pete and Diane stopped by in their runabout with two of their granddaughters. Pete grew up on Wollochet bay, near here. While we are visiting Christine walks by with her sister in law Jan, both grew up with Pete on W-Bay.  Jan and her husband spend the summer here on their boat and the winter in Mexico. Last night  Terry and Janet invited me over for a barbecue at their house with another couple I have known since the eighties, Tom and Doris. Last Sunday I went to drop off a “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”  for Patty who bought one at coffee after the 8.30 mass. She lives in the condos on the bay where I temporarily moored my boat in May, on Joan’s dock. This was right after lunch. I did not get back here till dinnertime. After Patty I visited with her neighbors Bob and Gayle. They operated the “Harbor Inn” restaurant here for about 30 years and are sailing friends. And last stop was with Joan who gave me tour of her condo and I met her son and his family. Another Eugene sailing couple arrived here last night on their tri-maran and, of course, they also know my good Eugene friend Evert Slijper. They are Terry and Janice and also sail Thistles.




Monday August 18. I like living in this Fish bowl.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 19th, 2014

Without a car and so-so public transportation beyond the town limits, my world has shrunk to a 3 mile radius. The nearest grocery market is about 4 miles up a steep incline. I take my bike on the on the every half hourly trolley up the hill and ride the bike back down hill. I found out that I can still make it up the hill on the bicycle, when I was now willing to wait 25 minutes when I missed the bus. The bus stops at the park and ride at the top of the hill for 10 minutes and, instead of waiting for the bus to get going again, I then take the Cushman trail for a mile to the Shopping Mall. The trail is lined with ripe black berries.  For the first time in my life I have started wearing a bicycle helmet because the descent on Sound View Drive is steep and fast.. There is a toll bridge between Gig Harbor and Tacoma and I have not crossed it since June 20th.

But there is no dull moment here in the Harbor as the below pictures show. There is a constant coming and going of visiting yachts, often a group of them from the different yacht clubs in the Puget Sound. Practically every boat has some kind of dog aboard.

I will have a new electric fuel pump ordered to arrive tomorrow. The one I installed in May is shot and cannot be fixed. But I also plan to buy the proper mechanical pump for the boat they are less likely to break, but will keep the electric one as a back up. Both cost about a $100 each. The mechanical one comes out of Eastern Canada and will take a while to get here.

I received the below pictures from Mike and Roxanne. The triplets showed up in the marina with their grandfather Mike and his friend Roxanne a few Tuesdays back. Later that afternoon I came upon them again and one of the three princesses had dropped her flip flop in the bay. Not her, but her sister stood there sobbing. I rushed down to the marina, grabbed the first boat hook from two sweet lesbian sailors and saved the flip flop which was just about to disappear under the dock in the current.

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A wedding Shower

A wedding Shower

Blue Heron at low tide

Blue Heron at low tide

After getting up courage she cocked her neck and swallowed the starfish whole

After getting up courage she cocked her neck and swallowed the starfish whole

A treat for the dog and the eye....

A treat for the dog and the eye….



Saturday August 16. A false start of my cruise North.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 17th, 2014

About an hour into Colvos Passage the engine quit once again. Sputtered to a halt. The current was running North and I needed to get back south to my berth. Fortunately the engine started up again after I bled the fuel line and ran till I got back into my marina spot. I spent the rest of the day trying to find the leak. Took the Racor fuel filter apart, renewed the fuel line ends and hose clamps. The motor seemed to run fine after all this but then stopped after 5 minutes running. I am trying to find a diesel mechanic to sort this out for me.

I have gone ahead and ordered a GPS USB antenna that is supposed to work on Windows-8 and this means that my departure is delayed towards the end of the week anyway.

There is a comment on my previous blog from “Captain Andy” of about Navigatrix. This appears to be an interesting free Sailing software but is best copied from someone who already has this on a USB memory stick or on their hard drive since it is apparently complicated to download from a web site. Is there any one in my vicinity who could show me this software and have me copy it?



Friday August 15. Off on a sailing trip.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 15th, 2014

It has been a raining for most of the night but it is supposed to clear but little wind is in the forecast I plan to try make it to Port Townsend, Bellingham Sunday evening and I will be in Vancouver Tuesday,Wednesday possibly longer then cross through the Canadian San Juan islands to the Chemainus area of Vancouver Island. I may go further north and end up in Roche Harbor for the Labor day weekend, then head for home again.

This week did a lot of chores on the boat. Yesterday was winched up the mast, by my dock neighbor John Alskog, to the lower spreaders to install a burgee flag halyard for the Canadian courtesy flag. Put in the harness lines,  so I can get from the cockpit to the bow with the harness clipped on to it. Received my replacement zoom lens, just in time. An EnGenius wi-fi booster also came just in time. The only item I wished I had is a GPS USB antenna. The one I purchased on Amazon from Prolific does not work on Windows 8. It works on my old Acer laptop but the laptop only works when it feels like it. The keyboard and mouse mostly wish to be left undisturbed.  I tried every trick to roll the driver back to Windows 7 on the new lap top, to no avail.

Picture is of last nights dinner, a delicious piece of Salmon, John Alskog’s friend caught on a fishing trip in Alaska. I am being well taken care off.



Thursday August 7. “Fleetwood” under sail. And another tale of our small world.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 8th, 2014

I’m no longer a stranger in Jerusalem. The town folks recognize me from yesterday’s front page article.

I tagged along in the Thursday evening race series, held from May through September in the harbor. Sheila Schultz, the shutterbug of the GHYC and local events, took a couple good shots of FW under sail and one from Ken Emmes who, with his wife Christine, were visitors for the last two nights at the Arabella Landing Marina, on “Moonlight”. They are from Eugene,Oregon. My first question to them was: “Do you know Evert Slijper?” They sure do. Ken went through UPS here with Evert. I met Evert in Eugene in 1972. You might remember that I spent the first three months of this year house-sitting the home he grew up in, in Haarlem. Ken mentioned that a few years ago they were at Evert’s home and a friend of Evert showed a slide show of his trip through the European waterways. “You are looking at him” I said. Blame it on our summer tans and uniforms that neither recognized the other at first. Just to show you how small the world is and how much Evert gets around. Evert and the Emmeses are active Thistle sailors and there are a number of families in Gig Harbor and Tacoma sailing Thistles and frequently met each other here and in Eugene and they will never forget their first experience meeting Evert at a meet in Port Townsend. Evert went missing for the first race day. He went out early in the morning for a practice run and, fresh from Holland, still unfamiliar with the strong currents in Admirality Inlet, he was swept out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.  Shortly after I had been welcomed to the “De Schinkel” yacht club in Amsterdam in 2009, Evert came to look me up. And I was surprised to find out that he was a familiar face there as well. He and his brother Dirk regularly show the “Schinkelaars” their sailing skills in the 17 foot “Vrijheid” class, of which there is a 12 to 15 boat fleet in this club. Another link that Evert has with Gig Harbor is that he studied with Pete Stanley, the owner of the landmark Tides Tavern here, at Nijenrode in Holland and at UPS in Tacoma.

In the below uncropped picture that Ken Emmes took you’ll see the same Dog Paddeler who appears in the last picture of the previous blog. I wonder if he ever went home after Tuesday night. Both he and his dog are still wearing the same uniforms.

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Wednesday August 6. Propaganda

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 6th, 2014

I can use all the help I can get to spread the word that that the best things in life are a free gift from God.  And a pitch for my upcoming book “Soloman”. So, I was very pleased to make the headlines today in the local daily news paper, the Peninsula Gateway. 

The reporter, 25 year old Karen Miller is fresh out of grad school. There is one minor correction NAJA is the type of boat both the old and the new “Fleetwood” were/are.

The engine problem, on Sunday, was an air leak in the fuel supply. Last night was Taco Tuesday, four of the regulars showed up at “El Pueblito”. It was also the weekly free summer concert at Jersich Park. See below pictures. People come by any type of floating device, bring a picnic. I feel like I am on a never ending summer vacation in a sea side resort. There is constant coming an going of visiting yachts in the marina and I meet the most interesting people. On my way back from the concert I met Tom from Portland who worked as a naval architect for American President Lines and worked on the revolution into the container age in which APL was a pioneer with the Panamax Intermodal system. He supervised building of their ships in yards all over the globe. He served in Vietnam on patrol boats on the south coast between CaMau and Cambodia. We could have talked for a few more hours. His wife Sheila was raised in…..Fleetwood, England. I have also managed to sell a few of the “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” to the visitors.

I have to send my brand new zoom lens in for repair/exchange. It is broken.

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Sunday August 3rd. An interrupted two day cruise.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 4th, 2014

I am getting to the point that most of my projects are done. Installed the AM/FM Radio with MP-3 player, got he software installed for the new GPS antenna, improved the wind vane set up, screened the enlarged cockpit scuppers, etc.  My next major item will be the solar panel. I am shopping for the fabrication of the arch on the transom, similar to what I had on the “old FW”.

I left late this morning after the 8.30 mass. Since the only favorable current back was till 17.30 or late at night I had planned to spend the night at Lake Bay.I missed the slack current by an hour through the Tacoma Narrows but managed to get through hugging the point Evans shore, there was no wind. When I turned the s.e. Corner of Fox Island to head for Lake Bay a yellow San Juan 24? caught up with me. He hailed me on channel-16. He was Derk from Hannover living on Bainbridge Island. While I talked to him (in German) my engine sputtered to a halt. A tiny breeze had come up. I hoisted the main but the ebb was already pushing me back. Derk came along side to help but it was very difficult to stay together in the current. I decided to go back to Gig Harbor on the ebb. Just before the bridge, at Day Island, a fairly strong NW set in. I tried using the wind vane but the current and the changing wind direction forced me to hand steer. It turned out to be another amazing performance. A dark blue, black carbon  sails go fast 36 or so footer had passed me before the wind set in, he had to be a 1/4 mile ahead of me but I caught up with him before I turned left into Gig Harbor and he turned right to Tacoma. Then near the GH entrance the wind died. Now I found out how well I can scull (wrik) the boat with the big rudder. Inside the entrance and  the harbor was some wind again. I had brought the anchor on deck, just in case I was unable to get into my slip without the use of the engine. I normally back into the slip. I tried to back into my berth by backing the main, it almost worked but the current swept me sideways. I quickly raised the genoa and managed to make a perfect landing by making a 180 into the wind and the help of waiting dockside neighbors.  Not many ocean sailing boats can be managed this way, because of size and weight.

Today’s second reading (in every RC, Lutheran, Episcopal churches all over the globe) was from Romans 8-35. Our mother had wanted this on her tomb stone and she writes in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” how this passage gave her strength and hope during her imprisonment in the concentration camps.  This message is so appropriate today, in Mosul, Iraq where Christians are persecuted by Islamic extremist, in China where religion is restricted by the illegitimate Communist rulers, etc.

I am like a kid in a candy store with my new Sigma 70-300 zoom lens. The 80-200 zoom lens that came with the Nikon D-50, that I bought in Saigon the first week of 2010, came apart and had not functioned in automatic focus for the last year. This is picture of the occasional resident Bald Eagle take from about 500 feet.



Thursday July 31. Sailing with the Monitor.

Written by Jack van Ommen on August 1st, 2014

There was a nice breeze, about 15 knots, outside of the harbor. And the wind-vane worked superb. This boat is better balanced than the old “Fleetwood”. Partly due to better and newer sails. Again, I was able to sail much closer to the wind than the previous version. I am experimenting with a different way to adjust the vane setting for the wind direction. See picture by wrapping a shock cord around the clutch and the tripod instead of having a continuous line from the clutch to the pulpit, because this pulpit is a long distance from the clutch. I have never been very impressed by the system. In a hard wind the clutch would slip and I had to continuously make corrections. The wind last night kept lifting to which the vane immediately responded which is a big advantage over a mechanical auto pilot. There was a strong current and tidal whirlpools which the vane also managed well. So, again another success in the progress towards the conversion for a long cruise off shore.

The growing crescent and end of Ramadan "Eid Mubarak" to my Muslim brothers and sisters.

The growing crescent and end of Ramadan “Eid Mubarak” to my Muslim brothers and sisters.


Beam reaching

well heeled

well heeled. hard on the wind

the adjustment experiment

the adjustment experiment



Wednesday July 30. My plans.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 30th, 2014

Bad News-Good News: My 80-200 zoom lens that came with the 2nd hand Nikon D-50, I bought in Saigon in the first days of 2010, finally broke. I had not been able to use it for auto-focus for some time. Today I received a new Sigma 70-300 zoom lens, bought on Amazon for $ 120. I think that you will see an improvement in the picture quality.

My Monitor windvane arrived last Monday and is now installed. I plan try it out today. And will have some pictures of it with the new lens. Bernd Graf, an Alameda Calif. sailor turned power boater,  took the below picture. So far this is one of the sunniest summers the N.W. has seen in many years. We had one good soaking rain day last Wednesday. As you can see in the windvane picture I am as tanned as I was in the tropics. Check my sandal tan lines….. I hope to have the sound system (am-fm radio with MP3 player) hooked up today. The food picture is a nine inch Dungeness crab that John Alskog, my dock neighbor, gave me; he caught right here in the bay. On Monday he brought me 5 rock crabs that he caught near Lakebay. So, I have been feasting on the local water harvest. I steamed the corn right on top of the crabs on my one burner stove.

I had planned to cruise North for a couple weeks but the installation of the vane took longer than I had expected, drilling holes through stainless steel. The installation is much better done than I did in 2005 in Monterey, California on the previous “Fleetwood”. Better lined up and firmer connections. I hope to put still many more miles on this fine piece of equipment. I now plan to cruise the last two weeks of August and return here right after labor day weekend. I plan to spend time in Vancouver to visit my Canadian friends.

My longer term plans are to remain here on the boat in Gig Harbor this winter and leave for the Panama Canal around this time, next year. There still is not enough in my saving left for the equipment I still need. The list is getting shorter and I will update it soon. Many friends have come up with equipment, galley stuff, clothing and tools. Bu there are some major items like life raft, EPIRB, sails, Solar Panel, etc that I will be able to save up for by next year. I also plan to study for my HAM operator license to enable me to use the SSB radio for e-mail, without the Pactor Modem and the $ 250 annual SailMail subscription. And last but not least an opportunity to hunker down and finish the two language versions of “Soloman”. I will try fly to Virginia this winter to visit my family and friends there.

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