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Looking for an Inspirational Speaker?

You might consider Jack van Ommen, one of Latitude’s heroes. Readers might remember that after going bankrupt in his early 60s, van Ommen had almost nothing left to his name but Fleetwood, a Nadja 29 he completed from a kit and had sailed in the Singlehanded TransPac many years before. She was sitting on a trailer and in need of much work.

At that point a lot of people would have given up on the rest of their lives. Not Jack. Driven by faith, he got his boat ready and provisioned for sea. When he left Alameda bound for Vietnam, he had but $150 to his name and the promise of a moderate Social Security check. A couple of days later he had to be rescued by the Coast Guard in extremely adverse conditions off Monterey.

Even in this old file photo you can sense Jack’s upbeat attitude. It’s hard to keep a good man down — or shorebound — for long. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Despite the inauspicious beginning, Jack and his modest boat and modest monthly income managed to cover 48,000 miles and visit 51 counties in nine years before his journey came to an abrupt end during a November storm near Mallorca. His beloved Fleetwood ended up in a million pieces.

While it might seem contradictory, Jack’s voyage was far richer for the fact that he had so little money, as it resulted in his developing countless deep friendships.

As Jack will confirm, one incident of bad luck can lead to disaster. The original Fleetwood met a very sad end.

© 2016 Jack van Ommen

He now has a sistership, also named Fleetwood, with which he plans to complete his ‘around the world in 80 years’ voyage.

In late August, Jack will set sail again to complete his circumnavigation. Until then, he’s looking for (unpaid) speaking engagements to tell about his travels and promote his recently published book, SoloMan. He’s available between now and April 15, and then again from late May until late August. He can be contacted by email.

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Sailing or motorsailing up the Napa River is always fun — unless, of course, you get stuck on a sandbar for hours waiting for the tide to rise.