May, 2014

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Friday May 30. Running into old Tacoma and Gig Harbor friends.

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Work is progressing well on the “Fleetwood” successor. The hull finish was in excellent shape and only needed sanding. The iron keel turned out to add a few days of work I had not anticipated. The original epoxy coating came right off the iron. And there has been an electrolysis problem. I have never had anything of that order on the old “Fleetwood”. Every piece of metal is bonded, including the bronze through hulls to the main grounding system. Years ago I had done the same on the old boat and then decided to cut the wires to the through hulls and engine. And I will do the same on the new boat. There are also areas around the thru hulls where the electrolysis has affected the anti fouling finish. The below picture shows a trick I use to take the  weight off the heavy sander, I hang it with a shock cord from the main halyard. The rub rail I sanded by hanging the sander from the upper life line.

I am scheduled to go back in the water and to my new home at Arabella Landing in Gig Harbor this Wednesday morning, June 4th. That is also the day of my presentation at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. ( see my below blog). There is going to be a good turnout from the responses I am getting.

Last night Pete Clement, of “Shinola” a fast Benneteau 36 (?), invited me to crew for the last of the May in the harbor races. The criteria for this race was to have a crew member over 70 on board. We had a bad start but made up later. We finished third but with all “bullets” in the three earlier races Pete won the May series  in the big boat class. With the fluky  winds of the harbor and a strong incoming tide it is always a challenge. We went from barely moving to screaming. I had a blast and am looking forward to participating in the next Thursday evening series wit the new boat. In the after race get together at Spiros I ran into a number of familiar faces I had not seen in the last 10 years. I believe I have come home, at least for a while.

Yesterday morning I ran into three of the regular crew members of Roger Rue’s “Grand Central” with whom we used to go out for a Wednesday evening sail on Commencement Bay. Bruce Ellingson is bottom painting his Ericson 41 and Keith Jangard is doing the same on “Rival” a Cal 40 in the yard where I am working. Tom Saddler also stopped by.

 

Pete Clement, skipper and Tom on the head sail trim

Pete Clement, skipper and Tom on the head sail trim

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A freighter is towed out with a load of scrap metal.

My sanding trick.

My sanding trick.

 

Sunday May 18, 2014. An invitation for June 4th.

Monday, May 19th, 2014

I have sent the invitation by mail to my family and friends in the North West but just in case I missed someone and/or you are travelling this way.

I have been invited to give a presentation on June 4 at 7 p.m. at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, 8209 Stinson Ave, Gig Harbor, WA 98332

You can read the details at the GHYC web site at: http://www.membermanager.net/Gigharboryc/index.php?dt=VED&eid=15714&d=2014-6-4
If you wish you can make a reservation for a $5 pasta dinner that is being served at 6 p.m., details are found on the above link.

For those of you who have not kept up with my blog, I was very fortunate to find an identical replacement for my “Fleetwood”, lost in the November 16 shipwreck; at a cost that I could afford.
I am hauling her out for bottom and top side painting this coming Wednesday, in Tacoma. I expect to have her back in Gig Harbor by June 8 th. for the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Gig Harbor and I expect that deacon John of the St. Nicholas Church will be blessing the new “Fleetwood” just like he did before my departure in June 2004. I would not leave home without it.

Deacon John Jun 2004

Deacon John June 2004

After the haul out there will still be weeks of work above the waterline and to prepare the boat for my plans to sail south once more.

Just after the shipwreck I received a number of offers to help me. The boat only had liability insurance. I stepped off the wreck with the clothes I wore, my small backpack with my laptop, camera, passport and wallet. were all my earthly possession, till the purchase of the replacement boat. When I left Santa Barbara for my first long crossing in 2005 I had $150 in my bank account, with the promise of a $1,450 Social Security check at the end of the month. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what laid ahead of me. Crossing 4 oceans, visiting 50 countries. I have been richly blessed with unbelievable experiences, new friends, etc.

In an earlier e-mail I listed a number of items that I am looking for. Besides a very generous check from a long time Tacoma friend I was given a folding bike (On this trip I lost my first bike in Bora Bora, 2nd bike was stolen in Borneo, third was stolen in Durban, 4th was stolen in Puerto Rico, 5th went down with the wreck) another friend is donating his inflatable dinghy, the Monitor Windvane is under control with the help of the ScanMar crew. Yesterday, Richard Spindler, owner of Latitude-38 asked me to give him a list of items  I still need and he plans to put this to his readership.

I repeat the list I sent him, just in case you have this sitting in your garage and are not planning to use it any longer:
Pactor or equivalent SSB modem
Foul Weather Gear,
handheld VHF
handheld GPS
handheld compass
EPIRB
Life Raft, valise, smallest possible in shore or off shore.
Solar Panel
Towed water Generator
Cruising manuals for U.S. West Coast to Panama and for the Caribbean, preferably digital.
Two burner propane gimbaled stove
Safety harness
Inflatable Life Vest
Bolt Cutter
Heavy duty Swaging tool
Storm Jib
Genaker
Radio Direction Finder
Sextant (the plastic type)
Boatswain’s chair
First Aid Kit
Marine AM/FM radio/DVD player and speakers
Survival kit/cannister

I have a number of copies of “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” (see www.TheMastmakersDaughters.us ) to sell for $14.50 that I will have available at the presentation and will autograph. My new book “Soloman” of the voyage has been on the back burner. I am still on the first part of the Dutch version but will get back to writing with new vigor once the boat is ship shape. I will also have a DVD available for $5 with all the slide shows of the entire 9 year journey and my 2009/2010 winter trek through Indochina.

I hope you all can make it, spread the word, and look forward to see you in Gig Harbor.

Friday May 16. California Impressions and more.

Monday, May 19th, 2014

I have a few impressions to share with you after the 10 day visit in Southern California. What struck me most this time is the gap between the very rich and the poor. I am not the first to observe this but I had not been confronted with it until this visit.

When I arrived from Holland as a 19 year old in 1957 the working people earned a decent wage, strong labor unions took much of the credit. The middle class had no complaints either. But the very rich are now much larger in numbers and so are the poor. And even though the wages of the poor may have kept up with the inflation they feel more disadvantaged in comparing themselves to the more advantaged in a great part by being bombarded by the media with what the rich can afford to spend.

The train ride from Long Beach to los Angeles, right after my arrival, was most depressing. Through Compton, Culver City, Watts. Tiny houses squeezed in rows, surrounded by asphalt and concrete, here and there a tiny lawn with dried out grass, trash, iron barred windows, no trees. Further east of Los Angeles the landscape becomes friendlier with more space, landscaping and trees. Downtown San Diego appears to have been designed by the same architect and built between 1990 and 2010, attractive but it is difficult to imagine what the town might have looked like prior to 1990. The suburbs also look alike and built in the same period. The harbor and coast are very inviting and I look forward to spend some time there on the Sail south.

The public transportation system has very much improved since my arrival and there is much less smog. But the freeways remain for ever clogged and I cannot understand how any body would wilfully punish himself to endure this on a daily basis. But Southern California is surrounded with great scenery in the desert, mountains and coast line. I very much enjoyed the visit to Santa Barbara and the Mohave desert and the San Bernardino mountains.

 

Wednesday, May 14th. Back in the Pacific N.W.

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
 

My friend Sjoerd took me for dinner on Sunday evening at the El Passeo in Santa Barbara. I had not been in there since we lived in Santa Barbara in 1963/64. His friend Uru came with us. Great company. One of the most beautiful women I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Uru is a Nigerian Ibo. The long legged Marathon champions. Her legs start 25 cms above my navel. She is a sought after model, a singer, poet, designer and more. Sjoerd records her music and acts as her council/manager. I told him that if he ever needs a break, I’ll be available.

I drove back to San Diego from Santa Barbara, by the scenic route from Ventura to Santa Monica on Highway One following the coast.  Very scenic but very slow. Then I got caught in the traffic jams of the Southern California freeways. I cannot figure out how these great fortunes are amassed in this part of the U.S.A. when you have to crawl from neighborhood to neighborhood at 5 miles per hour. I guess it is done over the telephone and internet at poolside and the peons/worker bees crawl along the freeways from pay check to paycheck stopping at McDonalds for their sustenance and Coca Cola fix.

I stayed with John and Jennifer again, turned the car in on Tuesday morning in San Diego. Marveled at all the new high rises built in San Diego. Took the 10.48 Amtrak to Annaheim and a taxi to the Long Beach airport. I would very much recommend my European friends to check this out. You can ride the Amtrak right to the Mexican border at Tijuana. And take the very scenic route to Disneyland at Annaheim or vice versa, by Amtrak. There is a local loop train at the San Diego station to give one a tour of the city. (see picture).

I heard on the news that the strong Santa Anna winds had started forest fires at Carlsbad. I got lucky and got through there just in time before the fires started.

I wanted to haul the boat out tomorrow but the marina is booked up. I am scheduled now for next Wednesday. Bummer. That means fast work because I start paying rent from June 1 at my live aboard marina and I want to be back in Gig Harbor by June 8th for the Blessing of the Fleet.

Uru and Sjoerd

Uru and Sjoerd

The Carlsbad Marina from Amtrak train

The Carlsbad Marina from Amtrak train

Beach from train

Beach from train

 

Sunday May 11. 2nd edition. On a Mission. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

It is a coincidence that I am here with Sjoerd Koppert in Carpinteria on mothers’ day. We met in 1998 because of our mothers. They befriended each other in the war as political prisoners in the same three concentration camps. Sjoerd was the one who gave me the photograph of one of the first reunions these survivors had in 1947, when I left on my first long crossing from Santa Barbara in 2005. His mom was a life long friend of Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp, they went to school together. Willemijn is the last of the group of 200 AGFA-Kommando survivors who is still very much alive at 95. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting her last year, see : http://www.cometosea.us/?p=3793

Sjoerd is building a new audio/visual studio with the latest technology and equipment.

The mass at the mission was a treat for me. I lived a year in Santa Barbara from my return out of Vietnam in March 1963 till May 1964. Lisa, our first daughter, who just turned 50, was baptized in the Mission. The mission has great acoustics and I like to sing in it. There were 6 youngsters taking their first communion and the mothers were blessed and honored and received carnations. When I dated Brenda, just before the turn of the century, I would frequently visit her after she moved from Seattle to Santa Barbara. If I could afford to live here I’d be moving here in a heartbeat. The below picture of the preceding Sunday service was taken in St.Frances Xavier Cabrini church in Yucaipa. You can see that the R.C. church is going with the time, with the projection so that all three sections extending from the altar can follow the service. I went to the Spanish mass. The priest spoke good Spanish with a heavy American accent, instead of the other way around. He made frequent use of the word “Bueno” like we use “You know!” that made it more original and I think I will try to mix this in more often to improve my Spanish. The church had to hold at least 750 people and it was 3/4 filled. Lots of young families. Good music with guitars and also the texts projected on two screens.

The console of Sjoerd's studio

The console of Sjoerd’s studio

S.B. Mission built in 1786

S.B. Mission built in 1786

Santa Barbara the seafarers' saint.

Santa Barbara the seafarers’ saint.

St.Frances Xavier Cabrini church, Yucaipa on 5/4

St.Frances Xavier Cabrini church, Yucaipa on 5/4

Sunday May 11 Santa Barbara, California

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

I found my camera memory card wit the wedding pictures. So, go back two posts to May 3rd to see them. In case any one wishes to see more of the wedding I have posted 65 pictures at www.cometosea.us/albums/DoubleDutch/

I stopped to see my long time friend Brenda in Toluca Lake, near Hollywood. Her sister Cindy is visiting from Idaho. Can you believe that these two Arcadian Belles were born a combined 150 years ago in Pascalouga, Lousiana?  Brenda promised me that she will marry me when I make my second million from the sale of “Soloman”, so be sure to put in your orders.

L.R.: Cindy and Brenda

L.R.: Cindy and Brenda

I am off to 11 a.m. mass at the Santa Barbara Mission and I am taking my camera, as usual. So be sure to check in to see the interior of this Franciscan monument built in 1786.

Friday May 9 Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Friday, May 9th, 2014

I rode with Seth from Yucaipa on Sunday, after the wedding, to San Diego and stayed with John and Jennifer till Wednesday. Seth flew back to Portland on Monday. The last time I was in San Diego was 1996. Much has changed. New skyscrapers downtown and many new subdivisions spreading out from the center. The cool ocean breeze, the beach and sailing conditions make this a very desirable location to live, work and play. I enjoyed very much having a chance to spend time with both sons. On Wednesday I drove in my little Fiat rental car to 29 Palms to visit my friends Bob and Gail. We were in Simonstown, near Capetown in South Africa, in early 2007 and we met again in Green Cove Spring Marina in Florida in 2009. They sold their boat shortly after and now live here in the high desert not far from Palm Springs. I took the scenic route through the San Bernardino mountains, into Palm Desert and then through Joshua Tree National Park. I could get used to this nice dry heat and the cool nights. We had much to talk about, familiar places, common friends we met along the way. Bob and Gail started cruising as a young family with their two sons who Gail home schooled and were on their world voyage for 18 years. They published their experiences in “18 Endless Summers of Sailing” see: www.18Endles.com

I leave this afternoon for Yucaipa to stay again for the night with the Van den Bergs. John and Jennifer and the daughters will be there as well. I hope that I will find my camera memory card back at Jennifer’s parents home, to recover the wedding pictures. Then I stop to see Brenda in Glendale on my way to Carpinteria to see Sjoerd Koppert. I return on Monday to San Diego to return the car and stay one night with J&J and fly back to Sea-Tac on Tuesday the 13th.

JUNE 4:  For all my N.W. friends put his on your calendar. I will give more details in an upcoming blog. I am invited to give a presentation of my 9 year circumnavigation at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club at 7 p.m. All my friends are welcome and I will also extend an invitation to my St. Nicholas parish members.

Gail and Bob

Gail and Bob

 

 

San Diego

San Diego

down into Palm Desert

down into Palm Desert

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a Joshua Tree

a Joshua Tree

Saturday May 3rd. A double Dutch wedding.

Monday, May 5th, 2014

 

wedding

 

Today my oldest son John (1971) and his longtime friend Jennifer van den Berg tied the knot. It is John’s first and Jennifer’s second marriage. Her daughters Tabitha and Elizabeth were her bridesmaids. The ceremony and the party were held at home of the bride’s parents high up at 3,500 feet elevation in the foot hills of the San Bernardino mountains.  The above picture was taken by Jennifer’s sister Barby. I took many photo’s but must have left my camera memory card at the parents’ home. We’ll search for it next weekend. Otherwise I’ll post some more pictures from the other guests, later. Jennifer’s father, Tony (Teunis) van den Berg arrived as a 6 year old with his parents Adrianus and mother Anna v/d Berg-Littooij in 1949 from Holland in the USA where the family settled, via North Carolina in Southern California; south of Los Angeles among the Dutch dairy farmers because this was one of the few areas where the family could worship in a Christian Reformed (Gereformeerde) Church.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, by coincidence, in 1829 my great-great grandfather Karel van den Berg married to Maria van Ommen (unrelated to my father). Karel paid for the theological education for his son in law to become a Christian Reformed minister.

My youngest son, Seth, was the best man. He did an outstanding job, he impressed and touched me and the family with his toast. I can highly recommend him in this function but I like weddings and I’d rather make a plug for an opportunity for John to return the favor.

I am (now Monday the 5th, in the meantime) renting a car tomorrow here in San Diego and then making the rounds to see friends here in Southern California and flying “home” the 13th.

additional pictures May 11: This was the first time since my 60th birthday in 1997 that all five of my children were with me in the same location.

The bride's parents home where the wedding was held

The bride’s parents home where the wedding was held

the five van Ommen siblings

the five van Ommen siblings

the van den Berg clan

the van den Berg clan

Seth,John,Jennifer,Tabitha,Elizabeth

Seth,John,Jennifer,Tabitha,Elizabeth

with Seth and John
with Seth and John

 

Wednesday April 30. Home Port.

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

The mercury rose to over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 C ). And Thursday it is supposed to be even warmer. Friday, when I leave for California, the weather goes back to normal.

I went for a sail in the afternoon. I had not tried out the main sail yet on my way down from Olympia. There was not much wind but enough to find that the main is brand new. Because this boat has a mast head rig instead of the fractional I had on my previous boat, the main is smaller and the headsails are larger. For performance I would rather have the fractional rig but this is much easier to handle because I do not need to switch the running back stays in every tack and gibe. I also like the fact that this boat has no head foil on the forestay but uses hanks to attach the head sails. For single handed sailing it makes folding the sails much easier and less of a drill on the fore deck after the sail is doused to keep the sail from washing overboard in a rough sea. So, I keep discovering, many improvements in comparison to the old “Fleetwood”.

After the sail I met  with my “Sacramentor” church group friends. And had dinner at the home of Tom and Doris in the company of my longtime sailing friends Terry and Janet. Great dinner and good company.

Good to be back in my home port.

Pink Dogwood

Pink Dogwood

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Mt. Rainier from Gig Harbor

Mt. Rainier from Gig Harbor