Wednesday October 19. In San Diego

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 19th, 2016

I arrived here at sun up. This 175 odd nautical miles, two day trip had a little bit of everything you could encounter in a year’s sailing around the world. From 30 knots to nada wind, nasty rough confused seas to smooth seas sailing in ideal conditions. And I have about as much confidence in the marine weather forecasts as the current state of the American democracy.

I did not get much sleep last night, and I will leave it at the few words I put down while under way:

Tuesday, October 18 sixty miles from San Diego and having one of the best sailing conditions ever. Running downwind with the prevalent N-Westerly about 10 knots of wind in smooth seas. T-shirt weather. What a difference since yesterday. I left Monday morning at 10 from Santa Barbara. The forecasts were for light winds. But the seas were rough, left over from strong Northerlies and Westerlies in the last couple days. I started out with just my 140% Dacron genoa. The westerly kept building and I ended up sailing with just the storm jib, then the wind dropped and the genoa went back up but it soon had to be changed again for the storm jib. The seas were nasty and I had to be very careful holding on for dear life both on and under deck. The still near full moon came up in a red fireball and then lit up the sea all night. In the morning the wind died again, just as I was approaching Catalina Island. Then the wind came up from the South East. And within an hour the wind clocked from SE to West and later to the NW. And the ocean surface was smooth which makes for a perfect sail.

But the wind died in the evening and at 9 pm the engine was cranked on. I may have just got very lucky after all with the weather. The weather forecast for last night for the Channel Islands and the Santa Barbara area put the fear of God into me. Gale force. And I must have arrived just in time. Very strong Santa Anna winds are blowing here since I docked. Keep up your prayers for me, they are obviously working.

I am moored in the Police/Custom guest dock on Shelter Island until Thursday, then I hope to have found another arrangement. My oldest son, John and my favorite daughter in law Jennifer and her two daughters live here in San Diego. I plan to head for Mexico right after the Baja Ha-Ha has cleared out of here on October 31st. Don’t let them read this blog because they may want to sail close to me under my lucky star.

I pushed the wrong button on my de Lorme satellite tracker. I meant to re-start it on leaving Santa Barbara. But I skipped that part until I discovered my error yesterday morning. I have a small video camera on board and started with it yesterday. I need to practice more but I expect that this will give more depth to my story. Particularly the moving visuals, like dolphins putting up their shows.

Leaving Santa Barbara October 17, 2016

Leaving Santa Barbara October 17, 2016


leaving Santa Barbara, April 23rd 2005 for Hiva Oa





Sunday, October 16. On a Mission.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 16th, 2016

Just came back from 9 a.m. mass at the Santa Barbara Mission. This is always a real treat for me. Many good memories. Lisa, our oldest daughter was baptized in the mission in 1964, when we lived here. It has the best acoustics, I can hear myself sing. Superb choir. My picture taken without flash, came out a bit grainy.

dsc_0038Yesterday I was treated to breakfast at the Santa Barbara YC, by Judy and Judith who I had met last June when I gave a presentation at the club.

view from the SBYC

view from the SBYC.

And for dinner I was treated by Kelvin and  his wife, new sailor friends. Yesterday was the annual S.B. Harbor and Seafood Festival. Hordes came out in the beautiful weather and consumed volumes of lobster, crab and fish from many of the take out stalls. This picture shows what Carotene can do to your hair, just like in Flamingoes and Scarlet Ibis, of a steady crustacean diet.dsc_0021





Saturday October 15. Another glorious day in S.B.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 15th, 2016

There is no wi-fi in the marina and I have been making it a routine to bicycle to the Santa Barbara Roasting Co., off State Street for my internet business. They roast right in the coffee shop. And then for my lunch I stop around the corner at Lily’s Taqueria to have two or three tacitos, at $1.80 each, with my favorites Lengua (Beef tongue) and Labios (Beef lips). dsc_0001-3



This afternoon I stopped by the travelling Vietnam Wall, after I did my shopping at Traders Joe, for the sail to San Diego.

I found the one name, James D.  McAndrew, a friend who lost his life on January 11, 1962 in a helicopter crash. This is what I write about Mac in my book “Soloman”:

A week after the battle of Ap Bac, on January 11, one of our 57th CH-21’s, returned from Soc Trang, the home of the 93rd Transportation Company, to Saigon. All five aboard perished in a mechanical failure. Two of our pilots and two of the 93rd who hitched a ride on their way to ship home out of Saigon. The fifth was James (Mac) McAndrew, the crew chief. We had become friends on the “Core”. He would find me on the flight deck, where I would be in a shady spot out of the trade wind. This is where I was studying the USAFI accounting correspondence courses I had ordered ahead when we were told of our deployment. He was nine years older than me.Mac also came from Southern California. He had extended his service in Vietnam by six months, because he had fallen in love here with a Vietnamese lady and the country.I will never forget the service that was held at the airport, the five aluminum caskets draped in the Stars and Stripes, with the honor guard. I still see his fiancée, off to the side, with two of her friends, dressed in white, áo dais, the color of mourning.

This is the Associated Press picture taken of the hodsc_0026nor guard at the Tan Son Nhut airport.



Thursday, October 13. A cool day in Santa Barbara.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 13th, 2016

It is overcast and in the sixties, a change from Tuesday when it was in the high seventies, shorts and t-shirts. I replaced the sea lion attack collision damaged starboard running light. A big cruise ship was in yesterday surrounded by the Wednesday evening SB YC sailboat racers.

Today the bi-weekly column in the on-line “Zeilen” of the “Anna Caroline” came out with the report of the sail from Washington State, down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco. I reported here earlier how we happened to enter the Pacific at the same time on Monday morning, September 12th. It is in Dutch but you will get a good idea of their experience with a translator.

In the meantime the sun has broken through and it will be another endless summer day in Santa Barbara.

I just received a picture from Gordon Sichi, taken last Tuesday morning at the Anacapa School of Willy and her daughter Wilja. See my last Tuesday’s blog for more details.

With the same Willy at a school outing of the Borsenburgplein school CUS classes 3 and 4 in 1953.....

With the same Willy at a school outing of the Borsenburgplein school CUS classes 3 and 4 in 1953…..




Tuesday, October 11. I wished I’d never left.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 11th, 2016

Don’t jump too fast to conclusions. I mean Santa Barbara in  1964. A restaurant near the marina is called “Endless Summer”, says it all. I was lucky to catch up with Willy, my high school class mate,  before her departure this morning. I saw her last at my going away party in Amsterdam the last days of August 2013. Her daughter runs an impressive flower growing farm in Carpinteria. There are a number of other similar operations run by Dutch immigrants all around her. Many of the growers have converted part of their crop to medical Marijuana.  It is more lucrative to import the flowers from Mexico. California does not yet allow recreational Cannabis, like Oregon and Washington state. Willy made a pot of “groentesoep”, nothing equals a good Dutch vegetable soup. Dinner was Nasi Goreng, we ate outside with Willy’s oldest granddaughter and her husband and two of her grandsons. The large ranch home is set in a beautiful setting looking over the Pacific Ocean. The ladies brought me back to the marina with an enormous bag of Dutch delicacies, licorice, stroopwafels, speculaas, shrimp crackers, Conimex spices, hagelslag, enzovoort….

Wilja had arranged for me to be the speaker at a regular early morning program for the 44 students at the Anacapa School , a private prep school for grades 7 through 12. Wilja’s youngest son is a student at the school. I very much enjoyed the interaction with the students. They were very interested in my adventure and experiences and had good questions. I wished more young people could have an opportunity like these youngster have here. Check out the school’s web site. Afterwards I had a very rewarding conversation at the Handlebar Coffee Roasters  with the founder and principal of the school, Gordon Sichi, a new friend. This was my old neighborhood. The school is on the corner of De La Guerra Street where we lived in 1963/1964.

I have decided to stay here through the weekend to meet up with a few more friends here and treat myself to my favorite Sunday service at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Now I am going to  do some name dropping and report on one of those many “small world” encounters. These names will in particular ring a bell among my European friends. I was folding my Genoa sail when a part time crew member of the crab/lobster boat next to me stopped by. Christan de Coster. He turned out to be the son of Roger de Coster who is a household word in Europe when it comes to Moto Cross. He is a five time world champion. He was born in 1944 in Uccle, the same part of Brussels where our (still Belgian) daughter Rose Marie was born. Christian’s Godfather is Eddy Merckx an even better known Belgian bicycle racer who still holds the most, eleven, victories in “Grand Tour”, the combination of the three biggest road races, including four victories in the Tour de France. Christian’s father was very instrumental in introducing Moto Cross into the United States.

Gerberas and the new green.

Gerberas and the new green.


Monday, October 10. Santa Barbara

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 10th, 2016

I am sitting at the kitchen table of Wilja Happé, the daughter of my Dutch high school class mate Willy Happé-Kerkhoven, who is visiting here and leaving tomorrow for more visits of her grandchildren in Texas and North Carolina.

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Yesterday started out with a thick fog but turned into a much nicer sailing day than Saturday. I managed to cross the designated ship traffic lanes in the Santa Barbara Channel at Point Concepcion at Dusk. Just after a long parade of vessels passed through. This picture of my digital charts with the AIS positions shows the rush hour traffic. “Fleetwood” is the red boat and the red route. The green and yellow are the commuters. AIS is just the best thing since GPS. It is incredibly useful for me to stay out of their way. It shows me the direction speed and the time and distance they are closing in on me. I just have to do some guess work as to which direction they will go after they leave their ddsc_0086esignated lane, going north or peeling off to Asia. My zig-zag course is due to jibing when sailing down wind to get better speed and fill the  sails at less than 180 degree to the wind. This is the second time, the first was in 2005, that I rounded Point Conception. It can howl around this cape. But it was a very pleasant sail, with a half moon, until the wind died and I turned on the iron horse at 2 a.m. I heard the deep breathing of a porpoise. Saturday night I got as much as eight hours of sleep but not last night, dodging the oil platforms. Actually, I wished the wind would have died before the presidential debate, when the engine runs it is impossible to hear the radio. It would have spared me the embarrassment.

Here are reports I wrote on board from my Friday morning departure from the Saint Francis Yacht Club.

October 8, 2016

Somewhere off the California Coast between Monterey and Santa Barbara. It is 11.30 a.m., the fog is starting to lift. It was a rough night, with several sail adjustments. I did not get much sleep. On Thursday morning I found out that I could have a slip at the St. Francis YC after all. It was a beautiful ride across the bay from Alameda. I could not figure out what all the Coast Guard, Police, Fire department and Sheriff boats were doing on the bay. But then I found out that they were keeping the middle of the bay blocked off from traffic for the Blue Angels fly over. This is all part of the annual Fleetweek. Quite a show from my vantage point on the boat and later in the moorage. Car alarms were going off all over the place when they came roaring over.

The St. Francis Club Flag

The St. Francis Club Flag


“Fleetwood” at the St. Francis YC


The dinner alone, scallops, was worth the presentation on Thursday evening. This is one of, if not the, most prestigious yacht club on the West Coast. But I found this group very down to earth and very welcoming. But just like the presentations in Port Townsend, it is not a place to sell my books. I do best in a one on one situation. The visitors at the Arabella’s Landing Marine were my best customers. I figure that in a crowd they feel self-conscious. The club has a fabulous view of the bay and the Golden Gate. A kite surfing race was going on in front of us. When I did my last minute provisioning, at the Safeway near pier 39, I observed many European tourists along the waterfront. The grocery prices are about 30 to 40% higher than in Gig Harbor, at least in this one market in the tourist area. I left at 5.30 a.m. to get the benefit of the ebb. I motored the first three hours until I caught the NW wind. It started out very well.

I was in the cabin when I had a collision. A hard slam on the bow. It had to be a log or a container. I checked the bilge right away. When I looked behind me I saw about fifty Sea Lions, close together grinning through their whiskers at me. Apparently I sailed right through their orgy. I could not detect any damage to the bow. The boat was sailing at a little more than 6 knots. A little later I saw parts of black plastic and green glass on the deck, then I discovered that the starboard side of the pulpit was dented and the running light destroyed. The Sea Lion must have come up above the surface and slapped the pulpit with its tail. Probably a little sore today.  Scared the hell out of me. Never heard of anything like this.

even the 7/16" bolts were twisted like pretzels

even the 7/16″ bolts were twisted like pretzels

The wind kept picking up and I ended up, for a few hours during the night, again sailing on just the storm jib. Right now I am sailing with the full main, downwind, but the seas are extremely confused and it is an uncomfortable sail. I purposeful, after my 2005 experience and rescue by the Monterey Coast Guard, give Point Sur a 40 miles berth, but I still ran into a short rough patch again.

The "Nieuw Amsterdam" entering the Golden Gate

The “Nieuw Amsterdam” entering the Golden Gate on Friday morning.



Sunday October 2nd. 2nd edition: More new friends.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 4th, 2016

It has been a busy weekend. I went to 9.30 mass to St. Joseph, just like last Sunday. This time it was a family mass with lots of children. Grade school kids read the reading, very well, and sang in a thirty or so children’s choir. It just warms my heart to see a standing room only congregation made up of so many ethnic backgrounds. The parish priest Rev. George Alengadan is from Kerala, India, co-celebrated today with a Chinese priest and a blue eyed deacon Matthew Murray who gave a wonderful homily to the children. The church has a great organ and their music director is an awesome organist.
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Sunday afternoon Janneke Kuysters and her husband Wietze van der Laan came to Alameda to visit. I mentioned them briefly in my September 22nd blog. They are an amazing sailing couple. They are in their early/mid fifties. Gave up good careers to go sailing. They started out with a 31 foot steel multi chined boat. Did a circle tour of the North Atlantic and spent time in New York and down the ICW. Then in 2013 they purchased a Bruce Robert 44 foot boat in Spain and sailed from the Cape Verdes Islands to Salvador de Bahia in Central Brazil and followed the South American East Coast down and through the Beagle Channel and the southern tip of Argentina into Chile. Crossed to Easter Island, through the southern French Polynesian islands to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas upto Hawaii and Alaska, down to British Columbia into the Puget Sound. Then I crossed their track on September 12th off Cape Flattery. They sailed 13,000 miles this last year. In the Atlantic in their 31 footer, they encountered a force 11 storm….. In the southern latitudes they often encountered force 8 and more.  Janneke writes bi-weekly in the on line “Zeilen”, ( go to: the most recent one) the most read Dutch on line sailing magazine and frequent writes articles in the monthly issue about their adventure. They also like to explore the hinterlands. They will keep “Anna Caroline” in Emeryville for the winter and plan a camper trip down the coast and there is a good chance we will meet up once again in Santa Barbara. Janneke is planning to publish one of her upcoming slots about their new Dutch-American friend and “SoloMan”. You can follow them on their Face Book page.


Janneke and Wietze on "Fleetwood"

Janneke and Wietze on “Fleetwood”

On the subject of “SoloMan” and Holland, I have just published both the Color and Black and White print book with at the same pricing as I had with So, this gives the Dutch readers an other option than buying at or . You can now klick het winkelwagentje (shopping cart) directly on the web site.

I started the process with before my September 6th departure and now finally got it all done this morning.

Be sureto check out the very nice plug for “SoloMan” I received in “Latitude-38”, in this month’s Sightings on page 70.

I expect to leave Alameda on Friday. The weatherman predicts that the new high pressure area will last through the weekend. I am going to try and get as far as possible south with the accompanying favorable North West wind. Be sure to check in at the above de Lorme satellite tracking link and use your favorite AIS ship tracking app.




Saturday October 1st, Le goût vient en mangeant.

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 2nd, 2016

An expression, which roughly translates that once you get going the apetite returns. And this is literally what is happening to me after having been tied to the dock for two years. This picture tells it all. The apertif at the home of my new sailor friends, Catherine and Gilles, in Alameda. They are members of the Encinal YC, Catherine is Parisienne and Gilles is a Breton from Rennes. I get to refresh my rusty French and listen to Jacques Brel and their interesting life’s experiences and places they lived.

Real French Champagne, Salmon Gravlax, Appenzeller, etc. I'm in Heaven!

Real French Champagne, Salmon Gravlax, Appenzeller, etc. I’m in Heaven!



Tuesday September 27. A new love affaire after mourning my previous lover.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 27th, 2016
at the Encinal YC, Alameda

at the Encinal YC, Alameda

In the setting son I admire her graceful lines, her broad hips, her inviting interior. I think I am in love again. She brought me here safe and sound in challenging conditions. Her predecessor, the 1980 “Fleetwood” will approve in her grave in a cove on the island of Tago Mago. I am looking forward to a great adventure after our honeymoon from Gig Harbor. I have just purchased my TIP (Temporary Import Permit) on line from the Mexican government site. I listed Ensenada as my first port in Mexico. This was the furthest destination on my “real” first honeymoon in June 1959, with Joan, my first wife. I have settled into my new phase of life as a re-born virgin and “Fleetwood” and I will have our sensuous affaire at sea.




Sunday September 25. A hot summer day in the first days of autumn.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 26th, 2016

It is 9.30 pm and it is still in the eighties, here in Alameda. I’m back in the Encinal YC after my three night stay at the Grand marina.  This  spot is a sailor’s dream. I cannot think of a a place where a sailor can avail himself of all the conveniences within a 5 mile radius, sail makers, yacht brokers, technicians, second hand consignment stores like the Blue Pelican, Svendsen Boat Yard and marine supply store., etc., etc., good restaurants, super markets. In Seattle it would take you two days to reach these conveniences that are here within a short walk or folding bike ride.

I stopped in at the Alameda Marina, yesterday. That is where I prepared “Fleetwood” in 2005 after it had been launched from the trailer in February at the Nelson Boat Yard in Alameda. This morning I attended 9.30 am mass at St. Joseph in Alameda, just like I did in 2005. What a lift for the week among the great ethnic mix, Filipinos and other Asians, Latinos, African Americans and whites. The basilica was nearly full. There are four services on Sunday/Saturday vigil. A good size choir and outstanding director and organist. The average age was in the forties. lots of children. The envy of many American parishes and a dream for European pastors. Only the underground persecuted church in China can better this.  The gospel Luke 16:19-31 was the familiar parable of the rich man and Lazarus. And I discovered something new in the gathering song: “God whose purpose is to Kindle, now ignite us with your Fire….”. So, is it possible that Jeff Bezos’ inspiration came from this hymn for “Kindle Fire”?

I have sold more “SoloMan” books here since my Thursday arrival than I did at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. The color and black and white print versions are now also available at the Blue Pelican in the Grand Marina. I will be keeping them stocked up from now on. Saturday evening Mark and Meg invited me over for shiskebab and wine on their boat in the Grand Marina and yesterday evening I dined on the club deck with Catherine and Gilles, a French couple members of the Encinal YC. The swimming pool below us was still crowded and a steady parade of sailboats returning under spinnaker from a beautiful weekend on the bay.dsc_0059