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by Queenie Jones

There could not be a more befitting place than the Dutch province of Zeeland (literal translation is Land of the Sea) to welcome our fleet of 50 Grand Banks into Kortgene, one of many small old fishing ports on the island of Noord-Beveland.

Zeeland is made up of a flotilla of low lying islands stretching to the Belgian border. Over the centuries the Dutch have fought a continual battle in order to win their land from the sea. Two of the battles were disastrous floods, one in 1944, and the other in 1953, in which nearly 2,000 lives were lost.

With our Grand Banks moored in this setting we flocked like homing pigeons towards the huge yellow and white stripped tent which was set up for the first evening supper. Animated conversation could be heard in Dutch, English, French, and German as we made our way to the tables. People mingled, renewed old friendships and met new members. Due to the force 6 and 7 winds, late comers kept trickling in, recounting their adventures enroute.

Our Chairman, Ruud Hummelman, welcomed us all and opened the meeting with a minute of silence in memory of two of our late GB members, Captains Antoine Philippon and Jan Menu. All were very sorry to hear Jack Verolyck, our commodore, had decided that at the end of the year he would be retiring as the commodore, a position he held for the last ten years.

Mr. Hummelman praised American Marine and Jean Colin of North Sea Marine for their financial support. Thanks also went to Bob Wouters for organizing the logistics of the rendezvous. A yearly report is now in the plans, designed to keep members informed as to the financial status of our club. The meeting ended with an interesting account of a trip to Tower Bridge in London, by a group of Grand Banks owners from our club.

The afternoon was spent either visiting aboard or walking around the tiny old village of Kortgene, which was first founded as a parish in the year 1247 and as a town in 1431. The church and many small houses have survived the fires and the floods through the centuries.

Some of the more daring members of our group climbed up hundreds of steps to the top of a silo towering above the harbor. From there they took breathtaking panoramic photographs of our rendezvous fleet.

In the evening, 174 people enjoyed a magnificent Indonesian "Ryst-Tafe" dinner served by boys and girls in native costumes. In between courses, they entertained us by performing Hawaiian and Tahitian dances. The girls dragged GB captains from the tables onto the dance floor and tried to teach them to wave their imaginary grass skirts.

During the evening, our chairman introduced the mayor of the village and presented him with a GB plaque on behalf of American Marine. The Mayor replied by welcoming us to his little municipality of 7000. Suddenly all the lights went out and flooded the tent in complete darkness. Then music slowly began and twelve enchanted Tahitian girls danced in carrying huge Baked Alaska desserts, which were lit up with vibrant sparklers. It was a beautiful and delicious ending to a perfect meal.

Finally, it was time for an exchange of prizes. The second place prize for the longest holiday trip of the season went to Van Anolel's GB 32 Houdoe for their trip to England. The First Prize, American Marine Wheel trophy went to Keith and Evelyn Baker of England. They cruised their 1972 GB36, Caradev, a total of 2,117 nautical miles (3958 Km) in 90 days. During the trip they traversed a total of 355 locks! The trip took them from England to France, through Dunkerque, Paris, Canal De La Loire, Canal Du Centre, continuing through Lyon and the Rhine/Rhone Canal. Finally through the Mulhouse Basle, Rhine River, Holland and on into Oostend and then back across the channel to Rochester in England.

In order to accommodate the low clearance of the canal systems, the Bakers had to take down the windscreen on the flybridge, the steering wheel, and the flybridge compass. Evelyn and Keith had to ease their boat, by their bare hands, under the Mulhouse-Basel Bridge. Well done!

The evening ended with dancing and a sing along led by Dutch performer Paula Koster. The next morning was filled with farewells and warm embraces as each of the Grand Banks detached itself from its neighbor and slowly made its way out of the harbor.

The last weekend of August 1996 is slated for the next Amicale Grand Banks West Europe Rendezvous. Anyone interested in attending, please refer to the Notes and News section of this issue of American Marine News.