May, 2010

...now browsing by month

 

Sunday May 30 in Monnickendam

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

It was another outstanding weekend, just like the same event the last weekend of September, with the Schinkelers on the island of Marken. The midnight trek throught the Amsterdam canals, Thursday night, was rougher than the previous ones. We were three boats from the club and another 8 boats from everywhere. The first bridge opened at midnight and the last one, the Central Station rail road bridge, should have opened around 1.30 a.m. but stayed
shut till 3.30 and the two hour wait was unnerving because the 11 boats were packed in a small area between two bridges. I slept little between 4 a.m. and daylight and was dead tired all Friday. Once we, three boats, were through the locks into the old Zuiderzee we had a fast sail to Marken. The wind blew about 25 knots.
Thirteen club boats raced on Saturday  an about 10 mile race on the Gouwzee. Conditions were perfect, blowing a good 15 knots. My same crew from the club who helped me last year, Judtith Hotke, drove “Fleetwood”. And once again I should have listened to her suggestions to tack to the weather mark sooner. I ended up overstanding it by a mile or so. But it still was one of the finest sails I have had for a long time. We were just able to carry the full main and the 142 % Mylar jib and were keeping up very nicely with the bigger boats. The weather was perfect and it warmed up to short sleeve weather for the Saturday evening in the harbor.
Before we all went to dinner we gathered on Heino de Jong’s boat with the club choir and sang sea shanties accompanied by three “trekzakken”, small accordions.
We sang three old French songs,”Le Forban”, L’eau Vive” and “Mon Amant de Saint Jean” and Dutch songs “Over de Zoute Zee” and “West Zuid West van Ameland”.
The rain stayed away till just after the cocktail hour and the sea shanties. Fortunately the restaurant where we sat outside last September had raised a large tent for our group. The rain came down in buckets and the race results and speeches were nearly drowned out by the noise of the down pour.
I had a chance to tell all my friends of “de Schinkel” farewell at this last club event for me. But I’ll never forget the good times I shared with them. I have very fond memories of the receptions I had in places like Arue on Tahiti, the yacht club in Honiara in the Solomon Islands, in Durban, South Africa, but the Schinkelers treated me like I had never left since I first sailed out of the “Schinkel” with my uncle Fred, sixty years ago.

Sunday morning it was still raining, stormy and cold. What I read from my Northwest friends on Facebook sounds like the Northwest is still waiting for Spring as well. We just got real lucky yesterday here on Marken. It was a short rough crossing from Marken to Monnickendam and I am now tucked away here very nicely in this picturesque old sea town for the next two months. It turned out that my friend, from the street we both grew up on, Flip Brommet, had made arrangements for me in a different marina here than the one I announced in my previous blog. This is a much better spot. So, please note the location:

Jachthaven Waterland, Galgeriet 5a, 1141 GA Monnickendam.   Berth -B-35

and cometosea us…. here.

Marken does not have but a Christian Reformed church and a Dutch Reformed church. The picture below was taken in the beautiful old Dutch Reformed church. I went to the 10 a.m. service at the Christian Reformed church. In the Land of the Blind, which is for me mostly the case in the American churches, One Eye reigns, but here in the Dutch protestant churches my singing voice just barely blends in with the rest of the male voices. These men and women can be heard from miles away. The Lord does not need an amplifier for the Netherlands, Polynesia and Vietnam.

 

Thursday May 27 last day at “de Schinkel”

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Tonight I’ll be making another mid night trip through the city of Amsterdam on the “standing mast” route. The main highway bridge and the one rail road bridge into Amsterdam’s Central Station are opened just one time in the middle of the night.  We will be in a convoy of about 8 boats here from the club on our way to the island of Marken for the traditional bi-yearly cruise and club race. I participated in the same Schinkel cruise the last weekend of September. That was a lot of fun and I a looking forward to it again. Last year the race was a drifter.

Yesterday I made the arrangements to moor in Monnickendam, which is right across from Marken and about 10 miles North of Amsterdam. I plan to stay there till the end of July and then continue my adventure across central Europe to Turkey. So, as of this Monday you can find me at

Berth F-50 – Jachthaven Hemmeland, Postus 14, 1140 AA Monnickendam. Street address Hemmeland 1, 1141 LA Monnickendam.

The morage is higher than the very reasonable rate I am paying now at the “Schinkel”  but the attractive part of the Monnickendam fee system is that I can buy a 30 day or longer ticket at a daily rate based on their monthly rates, which in my case is 9 Euros per day (about $12), but for every overnight away I can apply this as a credit. Since I am planning to use Monnickendam as my base to explore the many old harbor towns along the old Zuiderzee coast line, Friesland and a crossing to the English East Coast, this will be good arrangement.

Besides my visit to Monnickendam, yesterday, I had to pick up my repaired mainsail and 140% genoa jib in Volendam and I dropped off the infamous laptop for another try in recovering my Vietnam photos. I think I found a good address there in the town of Hoorn. Hoorn is one of the “must see” by boat in the next months. Many of the earliest Dutch discoverers set out from this Zuiderzee port. Cape Horn was named after it. I had not been in Hoorn since the fall of 1956. Just before I left for the U.S.A., in January1957. My twin brother had this rickety old sail boat laying in Hoorn that we sailed that weekend to Durgerdam. Memories came back. Like going to see “Black Board Jungle” and the town’s teenagers going wild with “Rock Around the Clock”.

Tuesday afternoon there was this racket outside, it sounded like a helicopter landing. Turned out to be a Mute Swan trying to chase a Grebe and her Grebelings from its territory.

I leave my many friends here at “de Schinkel” with a heavy hart. They have treated me here as a visiting royalty and I could not have dreamed in my wildest imagination to find a spot like this for my stay in Amsterdam.  

The next blog shall have pictures of the Marken meet. It promises to be lots of fun. I have been drafted into the sea chanties club choir. We practiced last night for a performance in the old Marken harbour. I hope the weather cooperates, I might even forget about being in Victoria for the Swiftsure race. Wishing every one in America a great Memorial day weekend. 

May 23rd Pentecost

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

We celebrated my sister’s May 22nd birthday today. Her son Dirk Jan and his wife Fransje and their two sons and Marieken his oldest sister with her daughter all came to the house in  Badhoevedorp. I went to 10 o’clock Pentecost service in Badhoevedorp. Vaas, an 8 year old gave a spirited organ intermezzo of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D- Minor. Flawless. When he turned around on the organ stool, on the loft, to acknowledge the applause, his short legs were dangling a foot from the floor. They must have had extensions on the pedals.

I worked all afternoon and evening in putting the boat back together. This weekend the club has their bi-annual cruise to the island of Marken Just like the last weekend of September. There will again be a club race on the Gouwzee. We will do the usual mid night convoy through the Amsterdam canals, the so called Standing Mast Route. Then I plan to stay near Marken in Monnickendam on the old Zuiderzee from where I’ll have better access to open water for sailing to the picturesque and historic fishing towns.

The Saga of my well travelled lap top continues, it broke down in Vietnam in early March. I tried, in vain, to have it fixed and the data recovered in Saigon, San Francisco and Tacoma and finally a shop in Florida assured me they could fix it within two weeks. They received it April 1st , it finally arrived back to Tacoma on May 5th. A week after I had left for Amnsterdam. It arrved here last Thursday and I had to refuse it since Dutch customs had slapped $115 duty on it. So, I’ll be trying to get this reversed on Tuesday when the long Penecost weekend ends.

May 22nd Saturday Evening Post

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

There are 4 birthdays on my calendar today. My sister Karolien, my longtime friend Judy Burcar, my son in law Sean and my grandson David. ´´Fleetwood´´ is back at the `Schinkel`with a fresh anti fouling coat. The harbor master sold me a gallon of anti fouling paint out of his 5 gallon drum. It was supposed to be red, like I had applied last year in Florida, it turned out to be dark brown, which matches the color scheme very well. But I have this fear of getting too close to the color of a whale. Dirk Jan suggested I apply yellow polka dots.

I wrote a story for ´´Zeilen´´, the most read sailing monthly in Holland, about the January-February 2008 trek south through the Intra Coastal Waterway. It was published in their last January issue. They sent me a PDF copy of it this week and you can read it at: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/Intra Coastal Waterway.pdf   I think that they did an excellent job in the lay out. Even if you do not read Dutch you should take a look.  This is a beautiful part of the United States in the winter time. There is slide show of this trip at: http://www.cometosea.us/albums/albums/ICW.pdf  One of the many birds I photographed on that trip is the Blue Heron. The below picture is another Heron I spotted riding the bike to the boat along the Nieuwe Meer.

Sunday May 16

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

It is Sunday and, you guessed it, I must report that I went to 10.30 a.m. mass. This blog is to keep you posted on the sailing adventure but once in a while I will abuse my privilege to share with you what I believe in and what is the source of my joy. This one hour is the best part of the week and I would not miss it for anything. I need it because I am not a saint.  It has never ever cramped my lifestyle, on the contrary. But few Dutchmen agree with me any longer. I remember when I grew up a  loose blind horse could not do any damage on a Sunday morning in Holland because everyone was in church. The priest today preached to the choir and a church filled to about 25% capacity. Last Sunday´s collection netted 584 Euros and 124 Euros on Ascension Day. But the sermon and the choir were outstanding, as always. It is fashionable to criticise religion here in Holland. “Parool“ , a popular daily newspaper interviewed Theodor Holman an author and a columnist for the same newspaper. I quote: “ Yes, that is what I have said. I still consider every Christian Dog a criminal. I still think so. I despise every form of religion. The people who profess a religion are inferior people. I look down on them. He who believes in fairy tales cannot be taken seriously“. 

In all fairness this pronouncement probably manages to shock even the most irreverent Dutch but 25 years ago this news paper would have lost half of its subscribers with this kind of statement.  What a contrast to today´s gospel, John 17 where Jesus prays to his Father for the world and the disciples before his Ascension.

4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Now, if Theodor Holman, or any one else, can explain or give me a date what Jesus refers to as “before the world began“ and explain where eternity ends then I´d consider changing my fairy tale life in the meantime I am a believer.

The cold spell has been broken. Yesterday was a beautiful Spring day. Today was cooler. Tomorrow `Fleetwood`goes on the hard. I have been working hard on maintenance and getting ready for a quick anti fouling job. The club has a great work shop. I used the band saw and drill press to replace 4 of my locker covers that were supplied with interior glue that have come apart. About 30 club members enjoyed a great barbecue this evening. It reminded me of the outstanding South African yacht club “Braais“ in 2006-2007.

Cor and Theo grilling at the ``Schinkel``

Ascension May 13

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

I am at the “Schinkel”. The “Vrijheids”” are racing their Thursday evening regular. My winter gear is stored away, so I passed on crewing or rescuing. There is little to no wind. It is to drop to a degree above freezing tonight. The swans and their cygnets (or flappers or swanlings, take your pick…) appear out of season. Global warming? I had expected to sail back to the N.W. through the N.W. passage at this rate I may need an icebreaker to get to the Caribbean.

Ascension is a holiday here and usually few Europeans work on the Friday, like our Thanksgiving. I went to 10 a.m. mass in Badhoevedorp. Lene Lohman and her brother Ted stopped by here. I met Lene and her late husband Frans Nooij in 2005 on the small French island Wallis in the Pacific Ocean.  

May 12 Back in the Schinkel

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Winter has returned. For the last 4 days the temperature has stayed between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius. In the low forties Fahrenheit. It is supposed to slowly improve. It had better when I haul out next week. A lot of unhappy “”campers”” (lit. and fig.) here in their Spring vacation. It is cold on the boat but warm and cozy in the club house.

I made a stop in Bremen on the way back from Hamburg. The main reason was to meet with Hinrich and Inge Stoll who have been longtime friends of the Wydras. Hinrich did an apprenticeship in 1954 at Heidner in Tacoma where Roman then had just started his career in the lumber exporting business. Hinrich and I have many acquaintances in common through the fact that I started my lumber career in Amsterdam with one of the 5 largest European hardwood importing companies, Fijnhout. Hinrich’s company, Feldmeyer, was another one of those. The three hours we spent together turned out to be too few and look forward to another opportunity. Hinrich’s own life story and that of his family history are fascinating. By touching the paws of the “”Stadt Muzikanten”” donkey I am guaranteed to make it back to Bremen. You must read this story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_Musicians_of_Bremen

I had my second dentist visit. My friends in Hamburg, Matthias and Regina gave me the right pain killers. I have one more dentist visit,  next Wednesday.

The below picture was taken from the fast moving train. Rape Seed fields in bloom all through Westfalia.

Monday May 10 Hamburg

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Regina and Matthias outdid themselves as great hosts. Does’nt that Paella look fabulous? It tasted even better. They live about a 1 hour train ride from my brother´s home. They were all packed to leave early this morning for Singapore to sail from Batam island to Phuket via Langkawi. Their friend Gero, the owner of the boat, joined the feast as well. So did his wife Bettina who will fly later to Thailand. Matthias and Regina will fly back in June and then we will see each other again. They moved their boat from the Schinkel to Monnickendam last fall and I will be going to the same marina in June.

Jan and I took bikes on the train to Hamburg today. This weekend  were the annual harbor day festivities and a number of the visiting tall ships were still in port or just leaving. My nephew Carl has his work shop on the Elbe River near the Fish Harbor and he took us to a small fish restaurant adjoining the fish market.

The large structure under construction in the left upper corner of below picture is the new ”Elbe Philharmonie”, a structure meant to equal the visial aspect of arriving by cruise ship as the Sydney Playhouse. From the water, at it´s narrow angle, it will appear as a tall ship under sail.

Sunday May 10 Visiting in Reinbek

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers.

I´m just back from mass. It was first communion Sunday. Such an endearing sight, all those 2nd graders in their communion outfits.

Friday morning I had a root canal done on the moulder that has been recapped in Saigon, last January. Turns out that the Saigon repair might not have been the bargain I had planned on. Wednesday morning I will get a permanent filling and a new crown. I have been in pain since the root canal was done and little of the pain killers I have tried sofar are relieving the pain. So, I am not the best of company visiting my twin brother and family and scheduled visits for this afternoon and tomorrow with other friends. If the dentists in Saigon had not given me the wrong information, when I called them from Nhatrang, I would have had the root canal done in Vietnam and be done with it. They told me this tooth already had the root canal done in years prior. Tomorrow morning I will ask my sister in law´s dentist for a better pain reliever. Thank God this is not happening in the middle of an ocean crossing.

Thursday evening I did not end up crewing on the weekly Tursday evening club race. But I joined the rescue boat which gave me a good vantage point for some action shots. There was plenty of wind and the rescue boat saw action with one of the “Vrijheids“ capsizing. I plan to incorporate these pictures in a slide show together with more of last Wednesday regatta in the coming weeks. As soon as it has been uploaded to my website I´ll let you all know.

My twin brother, Jan, lives about 25 miles S.E. of Hamburg. He has a degree in shipbuilding engineering and still works part time from his home as a consultant (www.vanommen.de) . I took the 6 hour train ride from Amsterdam early Saturday morning. Jan´s wife, Catharina, is Swedish. We celebrated Catharina´s  May 5 birthday yesterday. Carl, their number two son came for the afternoon from Hamburg with Stephanie and 4 year old Sita.

May 5. 65th anniversary of the end of World War II

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Tuesday evening, on the eve of the liberation from the Nazi occupation, a 2 minute silence is observed at 8 p.m. all over the Netherlands. Most communities gather at their town centers or specific war memorials to pay tribute to the victims of the war. I walked over to such a site, with my sister Karolien and my brother in law, Herman, near their home in Badhoevedorp. This year the main theme of both the commemoration on the 4th and the celebration on the 5th has been on “”Freedom””.

And so it was very fitting that the sailors of the “Vrijheid”  (= “Freedom”) class celebrated the day in style. The boat was conceived in 1945, another 65th anniversary. The largest fleet of them happens to be at the yacht club “De Schinkel” where I am guest moored. I was aboard Heino de Jong’s little tugboat “Peer” towing 5 of the 17 “Schinkel”” boats through the city to the Amsterdam seaport.  There were a total of 24 “Vrijheid”” boats at the starting line. That is about half of the active Dutch racing fleet. The majority of the boats are still in the original Mahogany strip planked, plywood decks, version. With just a few fibreglass boats. Before the three around the buoy races the fleet held an “”Ädmiraal Zeilen” parade sail by. The Admiral was the oldest member of the class organization, who sailed one of the very first “Vrijheid””s.

This evening there will be the weekly club race on the lake here and I am crewing on one of the “Vrijheid”s. Saturday I take the train to Hamburg to stay a few days with my twin brother and his wife. I have made arrangements to haul out at another yacht club, nearby, to paint “”Fleetwood”””s bottom at the end of next week.

Be sure to pick up your free copy of this month’s issue of Latitude-38 and go to page 145, to read all about the interview done with Richard Spindler, last March. Or go to  http://www.latitude38.com/eBooks/2010/L38201005.pdf  The second part of the interview appears in the June issue.