Saturday July 23rd. Progress report.

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 23rd, 2016

September 12 departure from Port Townsend is quickly approaching. But I am making progress. The “to do” list is shrinking and so are my “Shopping List” and my savings.  Please, take a look at what is left to scrounge or purchase.

The choices on the navigation and communication hard- and software have been made. My youngest son Seth, who is an ace in electronics, came up from Portland to help me install the Vesper AIS transponder. This is an amazing simple system to watch for traffic. I am now cooking on a two burner propane stove instead of the one burner with the small camping stove canisters. The below photo shows the enclosure I made for the 5 gallon aluminum propane tank. This tank is half the size of the 10 gallon steel tanks I carried on the old “Fleetwood”. But I shall no longer make the long ocean crossings.  The new regulations required me to enclose the tank and the anticipated one day project extended into a much bigger undertaking. Measure twice and cut once could have saved me precious hours. But in the end I managed with the half sheet of 1/2″ 4 x 8′ BC DougFir plywood.

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This coming Saturday, July 30, at 6.30 pm., I will give a presentation and book signing of my SoloMan adventure at the Lummi Island Library. Walk on the 6.10 pm ferry from Goose Berry Point or anchor to the south of the ferry landing and walk up to the library above the ferry landing. I may try to sail up myself.

Tuesday September 6th. at 6 pm. is my official farewell party here at the net shed of the Arabella’s Landing Marina in Gig Harbor. We’ll have tacos and refreshments on the deck. I’ll sail up to Port Townsend on Wednesday.

Wooden Boat Festival: September 8th through 11th. I give a presentation on the traditional Dutch shallow draft sailing barges on Friday the 8th at 2.30 p.m. and Saturday at 3.45 pm on my SoloMan adventure. During the weekend I will have a spot in the Authors tent where I will be selling and signing “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” and SoloMan”. After the Saturday presentation there will be another farewell party with my daughters and family and friends on the beach before my Monday, or possibly Sunday departure down the Pacific Coast. In an upcoming blog I will have a link on this web site to show my track updated on a 10 minute interval  through the De Lorme Reach software.

The San Francisco St. Francis YC has me on the schedule for a dinner presentation on Thursday October 6th. I plan to make just a few stops in Oregon and Northern California and then spend time in the San Francisco Bay area in late September early October before heading into Mexico in November, with stops in Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach and San Diego.

A favor, please: I have asked this before, so far I have received one review on “SoloMan”. This will boost my sales, as it does on the reviews a number of you wrote for The Mastmakers’ Daughters. I need the money for my depleted cruising kitty. Can you write something on the Amazon review section?  Ook heel graag voor de Nederlandse uitgave.


Wednesday, June 22nd. Back from the California visit.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 22nd, 2016

When you get to be my advanced age there is a milepost every other day. Today could have been my 57th first wedding anniversary. But the good thing is that I had to prove my age to the security screeners at the airport. I am allowed to keep my shoes on since I am over 75. This reminds me of the warning I received from my twin brother when I informed him from Durban in 2007, on his 70th birthday, that when he turned 75 I’d be 65 because I would be going back one year for every year I spend at sea. He told me that I’d be needing him to buy my drinks if I dropped back below 21.

To follow up on the previous departure announcement: I will be giving a presentation, on the Dutch shallow draft sailing barges, on Friday Sept. 9 from 2.30 until 3.30 and on Saturday the 10th, on my SoloMan adventure, from 3.450 until 4.45 pm. Besides my two daughters and family there are a number of friends who plan to come and see me off on Saturday. I plan to give a “Bon Voyage” party after the presentation. “Fleetwood” is still on the waiting list for moorage in the Cap Sante Marina. Tentatively, I plan to also have a get together here at the Arabella’s landing Marina on Tuesday evening the 6th of September. I have updated the “Fleetwood” Wish list, for the equipment I need to outfit for the long voyage. Several of the major items have been purchased/donated.  But as you will see there are quite a few still to be procured. Take a good look, please. Also I really appreciate any counsel on the choices of navigation and communication questions I have on this list from my fellow off-shore cruising readers.

California was a (hot) blast. I made new friends and enjoyed very much being among sailing friends in familiar places. Alameda where I spent about three weeks preparing “Fleetwood” in March 2005. And in Santa Barbara from where I left for the Marquesas at the end of April 2005.  The “SailStice” fun for all at the Encinal YC was an exciting place to be.

Several Master Mariner classics attending and El Torros demonstration.

Several Master Mariner classics attending and El Torros demonstration.


The America’s Cup Trophy on exhibit at the Encinal YC








I flew to San Francisco on a buddy pass from ex-second wife Laura and rented a car for the drive to and from Santa Barbara. I had planned to spend a few more days visiting old and new friends in the Los Angeles area but the timing and the heat cut that to just Monday afternoon. “Sixt” rentals, where I have had very good prices and service from in Holland earlier this year and last year, turned out to cater to the muscle car affecionados. But when I was ready to go back to the airport the manager made me a deal on a Chevy Equinox with 500 miles on it. What a sweet car to drive and the a/c performed well on Monday afternoon when the thermometer for the outside temperature climbed to 115 Fahrenheit. Santa Barbara is where I became a father when Lisa was born there on April 18, 1964. She was baptized in the Franciscan old mission church, where all the fathers were applauded at the 9 a.m. mass on Sunday. Perfect place and time. I had the best lunch ever for $1.80 per Taquito at Lily’s Taqueria on Chapalla street. The below pictures were taken at sunset on Sunday with the unusual colors because of the forest fire. I turned 180° to take the moon rise.

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Sunday June 12. I have a departure date.

Written by Jack van Ommen on June 13th, 2016

Exactly three months from now. Monday, September 12. This will be right after the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. I will give a few presentations that weekend at the festival.  From there I will move down the Pacific Coast to the San Francisco Bay area and make stops along the way for a November departure, after the hurricane season ends, into Mexico and further to the Panama Canal.

There is still much to be done and acquired. But I thrive on deadlines. I have composed a list of items I wish/need, in case you might have some sitting around or have them for sale. Please, check the list at Fleetwood Shopping List I also solicit your advise on several questions on navigation and communication installations in this list.

Last week I hauled the boat out for antifouling and maintenance. I did not get done in time to have “Fleetwood” blessed in the annual Gig Harbor “Blessing of the Fleet”on Sunday June 5th. I was the guest on the m/y “Last Dance” of my friends Terry and Janet James in the Gig Harbor YC raft up. I did get sprinkled and “Fleetwood” will have to make do with what she received in 2014.

Fr.Mark Guzman and Deacon Dale Fickes of St. Nicholas church with the B&B Lopez twins as servers.

Fr.Mark Guzman and Deacon Dale Fickes of St. Nicholas church with the B&B Lopez twins as servers.





I am flying down to the Bay Area for my presentation at the “Summer Sailstice” festival at the Encinal YC in Alameda on this Saturday the 18th. And will do another presentation at the Santa Barbara YC on Monday the 20th at their luncheon meeting. I plan to look up a few old and new California friends in Southern California and the Bay Area.



Thursday May 19th. A Dutch road trip.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 20th, 2016

I received a photo taken at the May 6th OCC rally to prove my membership in the Ocean Cruising Club:

picture taken by Eva.

picture taken by Eva.

Tomorrow I turn my one week rental car back in. After visiting friends and family in the provinces of Utrecht and Gelderland, I am heading for at least three visits into the countryside north of Amsterdam. Holland at its best. New green foliage, tulip fields, new born lambs and calves, etc.

After my presentation at Tiel Maritiem I headed to Barneveld to visit my friends at De Bondgenoot with the Boonzaaijers, who I met in French Polynesia in 2005. On the way back to Amsterdam I stopped at the Nieuwboer botter yard to check on the botter yacht “Groote Beer” the so-called “Herman Goering” yacht, with which I have had an association over the  last thirty years. Last year she was still on the ways at the yard for repairs to the 2011 mishap. There is still some work to be done while she is afloat again.

Groote Beer in Spakenburg

Groote Beer in Spakenburg


The Nieuwboer yard in Spakenburg







and a few more road side attractions:


Gristmill in Ingen, Gelderland

Pumping stations to keep the reclaimed polders dry

Pumping stations to keep the reclaimed polders dry near Hoorn in West Friesland









Tuesday May 17th. Recordings and Photos of the May 4th Concert

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 17th, 2016

Just six more days before I fly back to the Northwest on May 24th. The five weeks flew by. The attempts to promote “SoloMan” in presentations did not work out. Too little advance notice and too late in the season. Many friends and relatives here are reading “SoloMan” now.

But I would not have wanted to miss the rest of the visit with friends and family in Holland, Belgium and England. The high light remains the memorial concert on May 4th. The pictures speak for themselves. These were taken by Vimala Tummers, the sister of Jessica Tummers, choir soprano and the current choir president. For the details on the roll my mother’s story played in the theme of the concert “Abide with me”, see my earlier blog s of May 5th and May 1st. The concert started with the reading of the chapter “From Vught into the unknown” , the text can be found in my March 17th posting. The soprano soloist sung the first verse of “Abide with me” acapella from the organ loft. Followed by the continuation of the “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” story where the women sang for the male prisoners when they reached their destination in Oranienburg. Then the women sang the next verse. The last verse was sung by the entire choir, listen at:

You can listen to the entire concert, inclusief de Nederlandse teksten, at: May 4th Concert  The sound was recorded by: Theo Teunenbroek.


Marguerite Schiekelmann reading from "The Mastmakers' Daughters

Marguerite Schiekelmann reading from “The Mastmakers’ Daughters

Madeleine van Tooren reading the second chapter

Madeleine van Tooren reading the second chapter


full house

Yours tenor truly in the rear swinging his flowers for the effort.

Yours tenor truly in the rear swinging his flowers for the effort.


Pentecost. May 15

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 15th, 2016

Just to show you how small Amsterdam is: On Friday I am crossing the street at 7.30 A.M. across from the Central Station. I hear a woman’s voice behind me: “Sir, the light is not on green yet!” I turn around, it is my niece Marieken on her way to work, her work and her home are not even close to this location.

The presentation at “De Schinkel” was a disappointment. The projector and the person I had made the arrangement with, two weeks earlier, were not there and contrary to the promise none of the members had been made aware of it. There was a small crowd for the weekly “Freedom” races and I managed to put on a show using the wide screen TV with the help of one of the members.  Friday and Saturday I visited friends in Bosch en Duin, Baarn and Soest. I attended the Pentecost service in Soest, with an impressive choir, which accounted for a quarter of the mass attendance. Why is it that in Holland we have many empty pews but good size choirs whereas my church in Gig Harbor has very few empty seats but cannot generate more than a handful of women to act as a choir?

Petrus and Paulus church Soest

Petrus and Paulus church Soest






I am back visiting my cousin Karel and his wife Ankie in their old farmhouse in Eck en Wiel on the Lek River. The Storks are back and they now have a one year old Peacock.

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May 9th. On the train from Bath to London

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 9th, 2016

The luxury of wi-fi on the train. I forgot my camera in Amsterdam. My hosts, Sonia and Scott, took a few pictures of my visit with them and at the OOC (Ocean Cruising Club) rally on the Beaulieu river, near Southampton. I shall post them when I receive them. We had a lot to catch up on since I last saw them on my escape into through West Passage out of Fiji in August 2005. I received my OCC  burgee and I am very pleased now that I joined this group of salty dawgs. Friday morning the Dutch commodore, Peter Paternotte, of the OCC in The Netherlands came to visit me in Amsterdam and then dropped at the airport for my flight to Gatwick airport. It was a glorious warm sunny Spring day riding on the train from Gatwick to Fareham near Southampton. The yellow fields of Rape Seed in full bloom, new born lambs and quaint villages. I last enjoyed this part of England in the late sixties.

Saturday morning I took a train to Bath where my niece Anna van Ommen and her husband Andy and their nearly six year old twins live. I had a delightful visit in a beautiful part of England. I was able to make a few pictures with their Nikon D-90. Bath is known for it Roman baths and the Abbey church. Anna was born in England in 1971 when, her father, my twin brother was working in London; she grew up in Germany and after her studies met her English husband here. Both Andy and Anna work at home. On Sunday we all went for a long walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, which runs from Reading on the Thames to the Bristol Channel.

View from my guestroom towards Browne's Folly.

View from my guestroom towards Browne’s Folly.

Rape Seed

Rape Seed







Narrow Boats near Bradford on Avon

Narrow Boats near Bradford on Avon

caption of left upper corner of L.R.: Anna, Lucas on bike, Anna on Andy's shoulders

caption of left upper corner of previous picture,  L.R.: Anna, Lucas on bike, Anna on Andy’s shoulders







In the meantime I have arrived in London, after visiting the very impressive Bath Abbey. The Vicar gave me a short private tour. He showed me where he had shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 when she came for the millennium commemoration of the crowning in 973 here in this abbey of King Edgar the very first king of all of England. I was greeted at the station by Melina who I met finally after the part this blog played in her finding her father after a 41 year search. See:  and Melina was born in the S.F. Bay area and lived in Tacoma before moving to London. She is born in February 1971, my niece Anna in July ’71 and my oldest son John in September ’71. So, she fits right into the family and I have proposed an informal adoption into the van Ommen family. We’ll have to plan a family reunion now.


May 4th the Memorial Day concert.

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 5th, 2016

All the hard work and preparation resulted in an other very well received presentation by the LPK (Latin Parish choir) Cantemus Dominum.

I expect to have photos and audio to show here in one of the upcoming blogs. The church was filled to the last of the 650 seats capacity. It was a great honor and privilege to have a part of my book “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” read in the first act of the concert. It was a total coincidence that my mother’s story fit the theme “Abide wit me” so well. And a privilege to add my voice to the choir, because I was still familiar with the two Gabriël Fauré compositions. It became another opportunity to draw attention to, the until now, little known story of these brave women.

This morning I complimented the three men choir in the same church for the Ascension service. I took this photo this Thursday morning in the church sacristy.







Wednesday afternoon I rode my host’s bicycle to my old neighborhood where I attended a book presentation of Simon Hammelburg, also a former neighborhood resident, on his book “Broken on the inside” and met a number of members of the Facebook group “Herinneringen aan de Rivierenbuurt”, a group of the old neighborhood.

Left Ineke L. ,center Simon Hammelburg

Left Ineke L. ,center Simon Hammelburg (Photo Maria Boonzaaijer)






Carla, my hostess with the mostest, another taste of her artful food presentation, zucchini lasagna with roasted eggplant filled with yoghurt and topped with grenadine seeds. And as you see a skillful barber. I have been spoiled here by the van der Meers. Tomorrow I’m off to England.


L.R. Son in law Jan, daughter Ellen with Daniel, Theo and Carla

L.R. Son in law Jan, daughter Ellen with Daniel, Theo and Carla




Weekend May 1st in Brussels

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 2nd, 2016

I took the train from Amsterdam on Friday morning to Brussels. My former Weyerhaeuser colleague, Beer Hogestyn, treated me to a real Belgian lunch near the Grand Place. The godmother, Yvette, of my #2 daughter, Rose Marie, and her sister Collette took me on a sentimental journey through the neighborhood we used to live in the late sixties and to the church were Rose Marie was baptized, St.Pie X, in Forest.

We had a lot to catch up on since we last saw each other in 1970. The godfather, their brother Claude Claeys, had discovered our whereabouts on my blog, just after I visited Brussels last year. He lives in Argentina and I hope we get a chance to see one another when I make it to South America the end of the year.

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)

L.R. Claude, Joan with Rose Marie, Colette, Jack, Mme. Claeys at Baptismal Feb 1968 St. Pie-X Forest (Bruxelles)


Collete and Yvette in the same location at St. Pie X

Collete and Yvette in the same location at St. Pie X






They dropped me off at my Granddaughter Corrine and her husband Euan’s place. We walked over to Place Jourdan to have the best Pommes Frites at Maison Antoine, Worth the long line wait. Then you take your fries over to one of the surrounding cafés and order your favorite Belgian beer.

Corrine teaches at the International Montessori School. She took me to see where she works in this gorgeous setting in a farm house in Woluwe-St. Lambert. This must be a real privilege to be educated and to teach. This is one of six Montessori schools run by Rinze and Annie Hoekstra, Frisians at that. My mother’s Frisian name, Rinsje, originates from her grandfather’s name Rinze Ages.

Corrine with class picture

Corrine with class picture

class room in the farm loft

class room in the farm loft




Sunday morning I attended the 10 a.m. service at the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, near the Grand Place. Built in the early 13th century, a magnificent Gothic building. Similar to the Reims Cathedral and the Notre Dame de Paris. A quartet of four young ladies, all in black, sang and led the Gregorian chants, directed by a Japanese, Yuhmi Iwamoto. Beautiful organ, layed by Bart Jacobs all works by Pierre du Mage. Parts of the service was in Flemish and French and the homily was repeated from Flemish into French. My first two languages.












The weather has finally turned from the winter temperatures we had the last 10 days. Back in Amsterdam with my hosts the v/d Meers I had Carla’s home made Pommes Frites and they were at least as good as the famous fries I had Friday night in Brussels.

Updates on my schedule: I fly this Friday to England and return Tuesday the 10th. On Thursday the 12th I do a presentation and slide show at my former home on the Nieuw Meer, the yacht club “De Schinkel” at 7 p.m. and the only other presentation I have a commitment for is on the  16 th at the “Tiel Maritiem” festival, where “SoloMan” will be available.


Sunday May 1st. The May 4th WW-II Memorial Concert. Dodenherdenking

Written by Jack van Ommen on May 1st, 2016

I have the program now for the Concert as per the details of my April 10th blog. If you open the link:

you will get an idea, even though it is in Dutch, of what this means to me, my mother’s legacy and the attention bestowed on the 650 women political prisoners that were sent to Ravensbrück, one of the most horrible Nazi concentration camps where more than two third of the about 132,000 prison population perished or was murdered.

It was a total co-incidence that my mother’s story of the singing of the Dutch version of “Abide with me” fits this music and the purpose of the annual memorial for the 2nd WW victims. Very little has been written, in particular about the about 200 Dutch women that went from Ravensbrück to Dachau; the book I wrote “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” is about the only detailed published story of their attempt at survival and resistance to the Nazi repression.

Het boek “De Mastmakersdochters” is voor €20 verkrijgbaar en ik zal bij de afloop er bij zijn achterin bij de in-uitgang om het te signeren. Ik zing mee met de tenoren. Hopelijk maakt U gebruik van mijn uitnodiging.

4 Mei Concert Final2