Several readers have inquired if there is any way they can provide financial aid to Jack van Ommen who, as reported in the November 20 ‘Lectronic, recently lost his Nada 30 Fleetwood on Tago Mago, in Spain’s Balearic Islands, after three days of storms in the Med. We at Latitude, who also want to contribute money to this inspirational sailor who happily cruised to 50 countries in eight years on what’s beneath the poverty level for the United States, wrote Jack and asked about it. This was his reply on November 25.
"I have received a number of offers for financial assistance. I love you all for this. But as of this moment I still am doing okay. I have roughly $7,500 in my bank account, and this Wednesday I receive another monthly Social Security deposit of $1,856. I draw a rather high SS benefit because, in my good years, I always ended up paying the maximum premiums. When I went bankrupt in 2000, there were months that I had to make the landlady wait for her rent. And when I left from Santa Barbara in April 2005, I had all of $150 in my bank account. Because of the recent reconstruction of the boat deck, liferaft service, new EPIRB, sail and autopilot repairs, new Samsung tablet, the $450 tow back into port three weeks ago, etc., I drew down my savings. The main difference now is that I no longer have my own roof over my head. But I believe that with the help of friends and family, housesitting, and so on, I’ll be just fine.
"If I end up drawing down my savings to a more critical level, then I might put my bank details on my website for small voluntary donations for the entertainment/schadenfreude the site offers. If my friend, Julien in Frontignan, can come back from Florida to Europe with a boat he bought for $2,050, then I should be able to find something suitable in Florida or the Caribbean. I would need a new set of tools, and then I might be looking for a loan and have the boat insured with at least a resale value. But for right now I am concentrating on getting my feet back on solid ground. There is a possibility that I may have a spot aboard a friend’s boat to cross from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in early January. And that might be my opportunity to look for another boat. But another option is to still do my land travel along the Pacific Coast of South America. At any rate, I plan to be back in the Pacific Northwest in April for my daughter’s 50th birthday, my St. Nicholas church’s first centennial and my friend Roger’s 80th.
"I have a few more short story projects here, and I started to reconstitute my log from the 2005 departure. I need a good route map of the 50 countries I visited for the web site and for my upcoming book. My nephew Carl in Hamburg, who is a graphic artist, has promised to help me with this. My current spot here on the beach of St. Vicente is temporary, and if I cannot find a more permanent spot, I might try my luck elsewhere, possibly back to Holland for awhile.
"The responses by mail, and in the comments on my blog and Facebook page have been overwhelming, and Richard Spindler’s report in ‘Lectronic Latitude, which emphasized my belief that people can do so much with so little, had me shedding happy tears. I am trying to answer everyone. Thank you all."