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.

IMG_0280 DSC_0001 DSC_0011


Weekend July 19. Sail and overnight anchorage.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 21st, 2014

My friend Maggie invited me for another barbecue at their home on Wollochet Bay for Saturday evening. And I decided to anchor out by their beach. To reach Wollochet Bay I have to go through the Tacoma Narrows where the current is too strong to go against the tide, you get your chance every 6 hours. I had to be through by 13.00h; this gave me time to try out the reefing system since the wind was gusting to between 15 and 20 knots. With two reefs and a 120% jib the boat performed very well, great acceleration in the gusts.  My long time friends Pete and DiAnne Sabin, live on the west end of W.Bay and it had been over 30 years since I had visited them by water.  I anchored at their beach. Another long time friend, Paul Hirsh, who lives nearby, saw “Fleetwood” sailing in and came along side in his racing kayak. I met Paul in 1973 around the same time as Pete. Both Paul and Pete used to race with me on the old “Fleetwood” in the seventies and eighties. The below picture was taken in the Hat Island race in 1980. Paul is far aft on starboard. His dad, Blake Hirsh, a retired PanAm pilot, was a sailing legend in the North West, he delivered sailboats all over the globe into his eighties.

Sunday I had planned to visit the new “Shipwreck Cafe” in Lake Bay. Figured I might just deserve a free lunch with my reputation. But I had been having too much fun sailing there that by the time I was close I had to turn around to catch the right tide through the Narrows. These are very familiar waters, I built a beautiful home in 1983 on the beach in Shaw’s Cove at Green Point which is due east of Lake Bay and North of the southern tip of Fox Island. And “Fleetwood” was moored at anchor buoy in front of the house.

Today the “Monitor” windvane arrives and I’ll be busy installing it for the next couple days.

Bald Eagle over Sabin's home

Bald Eagle over Sabin’s home

Hat Island 1980

Wind Indicator shows how close to the wind the new boat sails.

Wind Indicator shows how close to the wind the new boat sails.



Taco Tuesday July 15.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 16th, 2014

A tradition of a number of my Gig Harbor sailing friends. At “El Pueblito” for less than $10.00 a Taco and a Modelo Supremo and good company. The summer weather just keeps going, overcast cool mornings then the sun break through and it warms into the seventies. Yesterday I finally had enough wind to find out that I have an awesome replacement in my second “Fleetwood”. She is a better boat. Sails closer to the wind with great speed. Maybe that shipwreck was not God’s worst idea after all.

Sunday evening we had an unusual red sunset after the gorgeous Saturday evening Super Moon rise. Yesterday I had to go into Tacoma to get my senior transit pass, so that I can ride free on the local shuttle bus. Without  a car taking the bus to get to the place in Tacoma but it happens to be close to the Glass museum which has a public moorage. Lisa picked me up and we had a beer together on the terrace. And I had a terrific sail.

I am planning to sail north on or around July 24 to be able to be in Bellingham for Sid’s birthday on the 27th. Then go make my rounds in Vancouver to look up old friends. Weather permitting I’ll sail the Canadian and U.S. San Juan/Gulf Islands.

Look what this Seattle Yacht Club cat dragged in into Gig Harbor!

Look what this Seattle Yacht Club cat dragged in into Gig Harbor!

A daily clean out of the soot of an industrial plant in Tacoma...

A daily clean out of the soot of an industrial plant in Tacoma…

Sunday nights evening sky

Sunday nights evening sky

Just before the smoke routine. My soup pan on the aft port, dinner.

Just before the smoke routine. My soup pan on the aft port, dinner.



Saturday evening July 12 Full Super Moon

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 13th, 2014

A gorgeous  moon rise over Point Defiance.



Saturday July 12th Third consolation (troost) prize for Holland in the World Cup. Muito Obrigado Brezil. Até logo!

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 13th, 2014

So, now all we still need to do is see the Sunday’s final game of Germany defeating Argentina and then we can go back to our normal routine. But it has been an exciting spectacle of changing fortunes. I wonder if Brazil will ever offer to host the games again… In the end the best team won. The Germans are at their very best. But I expect that in 2018 the USA will move up higher again.

Last night I watched a free movie put on in one of the parks here in Gig Harbor.”The Help”, I had forgotten that I had seen it years ago, on an airplane. I watch very few movies and this must be the first one I have ever seen twice. But the advantage is, that since you already know the plot, that you pay more attention to the acting. And several of the players, in particular the main character, the black maid, Viola Davis, who won an Oscar, were awesome. A very moving story. Hard to imagine these abuses took place in our life time. But it also showed the good sides of some of the southern white folks.

I am showing a few pictures of wood boat building craftmanship right here in the marina I live. Last night Jeff and Julie Stang stopped by in this gorgeous Cosine Wherry. Made in strip plank 1/4″ thick W.R. and Alaska Yellow Cedar with some Ash and Purple Heart for accent. The oars are made from Sitka Spruce with Purple Heart tips. Jeff is a local boat builde and fine woodworker here i the harbor. The other picture is of a 1952 ChrisCraft runabout owned by Dan McDonough, parked next to his 55? foot Sparkman & Stephens designed yawl “Weatherly”; also from the fifties. The gorgeous varnish touch up on “Weatherly” is the work of my dock neighbor Ira Specter. When I grow up I want to be as good a re-finisher as Ira. The last picture is of the end result of painting the cockpit bulkhead on “Fleetwood” and re-varnishing the companion way trim and roof. And the replacement of the of the transom deck where the plywood had rotted out around the rudder. Slowly catching up with the years of neglect but fortunately most of the maintenance is cosmetic. I also enlarged the scupper holes, to be able to drain the cockpit faster when a good wave rolls into the cockpit.

"Fleetwood"'s new look

“Fleetwood”‘s new look

Jef and Julie Stang in their Cosine Wherry

Jef and Julie Stang in their Cosine Wherry

The ChrisCraft and "Weatherly"

The ChrisCraft and “Weatherly”

Three Bridgedeck Cruisers

Three Bridgedeck Cruisers

The “Marian II” was built in 1928 and the “El Mistico” 45 ft in 1927, the latter at Ballard Marine, the one on far right is the third of the visiting bridge deck cruisers, a Canadian owner.



Wednesday July 9 World Cup Soccer: Argentina defeats Holland in semi-final

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 10th, 2014

Memories of the last time that Holland lost from Argentina, in the final game, flash by. It was the World Cup held in Argentina in 1978. I was sailing on my Ranger 29 “Gemini” from Vancvouver, B.C. back to La Conner, Wa. On my way home from seeing my friend Susi Stern a Swiss Canadian, the #1 flight attendant of Ward Air.  It was another hot July day. I was listening to the game on FM radio. The Coast Guard three (or four?) masted sail training vessel the “Eagle” was passing me and a little later the Holland American line cruise ship the “New Amsterdam”. And today history was repeated in the semi-final game of the World Cup. Argentina won by the skin of their teeth, in the shoot out. All that is left now is for Holland and Brazil to play for the 3rd place. My money is on Holland. And for the Germans to crush Argentina. The Germans have never played as well as they are doing in this World Cup.

And then it’s all over for another 4 years and we can go back to enjoy the summer.I may never see another soccder game till then. But what a spectacle from my little country the size of Rhode Island.  They made it to the finals in 2010 and have won a number in the past. These men are true athletes, tacticians, sportsmen. Proud of you!!


Saturday July 5th. Orange wins and a memorable 4th of July

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 6th, 2014

The Costa Ricans are tough hombres. Eventhough the Dutch dominated the World Cup 1/4 final game against Costa Rica they just could not manage to score. Then the 30 minute extension, stil 0-0. But the men in Orange managed to win the shootout on goal by 4-3. By the skin of their teeth. So they are in the semi finals.
I put the boat back together, all the instrument panels had been pulled from the companion way bulkhead to be able to refinish the weathered surface, and temporarily put the rudder back in place before painting the replaced rotted out transom deck. Sothat I could join the fun of the fireworks for the Independence Celebration. There had to be over 250 boats anchored and rafted in Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon Island. The last time I ever went on my boat to watch the 4th of July fire works had to be before 1993; that was the year that I put the former “Fleetwood” on the hard for a thorough overhaul. The work on her was interrupted by my financial problems and she did not get back in the water till 2004. At that time it was just Tacoma that put on the great Fireworks display on at the old town waterfront. But now Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon island is in the competition. It was a fabulous show. I tied up to the power boat that Rose Marie (Daughter #2) and her husband Donovan were with at Dockton on Vashon Island for a short visit and a libation before joining the 12 plus Gig Harbor yachts rafted up in 1/4Master Harbor. A very memorable Independence Day celebration

The oldest existing GH home now part of the Arabella Landing Mafrina in Independence Day dress-up

The oldest existing GH home now part of the Arabella Landing Mafrina in Independence Day dress-up


QMaster firerworks

QMaster fireworks

Mt.Rainier, Pt.Defiance on right

Mt.Rainier, Pt.Defiance on right


Saturday June 28 follow up on yesterday’s blog

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 28th, 2014

I promised to give a link to the article that appeared in the current issue of “De Krant”, it is 

I just sent a mail to my Dutch speaking friends/family and in case you are not on my list here is the full text.

Mijn laatste rondschrijven was vanuit Haarlem. Net na mijn schipbreuk. Als je het verhaal, foto’s en uitleg nog niet in het “Zeilen” april nummer las kan je het vinden op:

Deze week verscheen in het meest gelezen immigranten maandblad hier in Noord Amerika, “De Krant”, een artikel dat ik schreef over mijn ervaringen op de boot in Nederland van 2009 tot september 2013. Geschreven van een uniek perspektief als een bezoeker in mijn oude buurt maar in mijn eigen huis. Dit kunt U lezen op
Mieke van den Berg, alto in mijn “Cantemus Dominum” koor, hielp mij met de correcties.

Ook nog iets voor tijdens de zomer vakantie te lezen “Op Zee”, van Toine Heijmans, dat ik deze week uitlas. Een geweldig goed en boeiend geschreven 135 bladzijden over een zeilavontuur van een echte zeiler. Dit is het tweede boek van deze veelbelovende schrijver.
“Zeilen” gaf mijn artikel de titel “Alles Kwijt” dus letterlijk vertaald van “All is Lost” de Robert Redford film over een schipbreuk, maar de script was geschreven door iemand die geen enkele moeite heeft gedaan om iets van zeezeilen te leren. Het boek is vertaald in het Frans “En Mer” en won een indrukwekkende literaire prijs, Prix Médicis Etranger. Ik was een beetje teleurgesteld in hoe het verhaal eindigde. Maar het neemt niets weg van het heel hartelijk aantebevelen.

“Soloman”, mijn boek over de 9 jaren wereldzeiltocht, ligt sinds mijn vertrek van Nederland te wachten tot dat ik mijn nieuwe boot zeeklaar heb. Voor degenen die mijn blog niet geregeld lezen: Ik vond hier een identieke boot voor zeven duizend dollar. Ik woon hier nu op de boot in Gig Harbor; geniet weer van dit mooie plekje op het water. Mijn plan is om eind van de zomer te vertrekken via Mexico en het Panama kanaal naar Cartagena, Colombia. Dus het plan dat door de schipbreuk onderbroken werd. De nieuwe boot is een kopie  van de vorige, heeft weer de zelfde naam en kleuren.
Foto’s staan op de blog.
Dus dit bericht is ook een waarschuwing voor de zwakhartigen. Stel je voor dat ik dit niet schreef en U komt “Fleetwood” weer tegen……

En last but not least ook een “De Mastmakersdochters” lezen. Ik heb de centjes hard nodig na de uitgaven voor de nieuwe boot.

Hartelijke groeten,


Friday June 27. Enjoying life on the water in Gig Harbor.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 28th, 2014

It’s been raining off and on. I cannot finish the transom deck project and refinishing the top edges of the toe rails. But there are plenty projects to do below decks. The official Thursday night races are in May and September but a group of boats still continue to race the rest of the summer and fall months. Four Thunderbirds came out. The below picture is of “Fandango,” Hull number 9,  built over 50 years ago. Owned by Jamie Storkman for more than half his lifetime. Jamie has won more sail boat races in the Puget Sound than most people would ever imagine possible. The successful design of the  chined plywood  Thunderbird was one of the main reasons that I wanted a NAJA and I have not been disappointed by her ever.  

If you read Dutch be sure to pick up the latest issue of “De Krant” It has an article I wrote about my four years in and out of Holland on “Fleetwood”. The paper is well read in Canada and USA by Dutch immigrant families. And it was written to give my impressions of living back in my old neighborhood after leaving in 1957. This is from a prospective of not just coming to visit and living with relatives but from my own home, shopping, playing and living again among the locals. And the changes I saw. I shall have a link to the article available in an upcoming blog. I also write about the discoveries I made in my digging through the National Archives for the part of the war experiences of my mother for “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”.

This evening I was invited by my longtime Peruvian friends Lency and Betty Vasquez, for dinner at their new restaurant “Taste of Peru” In the Point Fosdick shopping mall, just around the corner from Fred Meyer and Radio Shack. Check their menu. Great Ceviche and their home made Lucuma fruit ice cream. Try it out. You will be back for more.



L.R.: Rick, Don and Jen my neighbors

L.R.: Rick, Don and Jen my neighbors

Lency and Betty at "Taste of Peru"

Lency and Betty at “Taste of Peru”