Nikumaroro. Not just Amelia Earhart.

One of the great mysteries of the 20th century is apparently solved.  Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan died on a small atoll in the Pacific, lost and out of fuel.The evidence seems pretty convincing  (THIGAR website),  but it is simply a to good story to really die, so I am sure, the ‘Truth’ will still be discussed for a long time somewhere on the internet….

But I did not want to discuss the quircks of internetfora here. I want to focus on something that is probably going to be overlooked  in all this: how interesting; Nikumaroro or Gardner Island, like it was previously called actally is as an Island!

Agreed, you should have some love for history, and a soft spot for remote ilands helps, but it manageds to be interesting in so many ways! It is not just the last resting place (probably) of one of the first great female aviators. In the modest history of the Island, we find US colonialism, the last attempts of British Emperialism, and shipwrecks. All the good stuff.


On Google maps it’s not very impressive, an Atoll like there are thousand s in the Pacific. Sort of an ellipse with a hole in the middle. You could shoot a pretty decent Bounty commercial on it probably. Or something with shampoo’s. Or Rum.

It has a first documented sighting, by white Europeans of course, in 1824. It is very likely that humans set foot on the island in the migration that send the first humans all over the Pacific islands, like Tuvalu (which is close, in Pacific distance terms), but since they neglected to document this fact, the island was officially discovered by  Capt. C. Kemiss (or Kemin, Kemish. Documentation was still an issue in those times.) from the British whaling ship Eliza Ann.

Later visitors named it Gardner’s Island, but did not try to colonize it. That was left to the USA, after the introduction of the Guano Island Act of  1856. Which, for those who are not familiar with it, declared that any island, anywhere in the world, that did not belong to another country yet, and had any commercially interesting amounts of bird shit on it, was part of the USA. Or as the official phrasing was:

Whenever any citizen of the United States discovers a deposit of guano on any island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other Government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other Government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.

— Section 1 of the Guano Islands Act

Bird droppings contain saltpeter, very useful when you want to make gunpowder or fertilizer, so Guano was a hot ticket in the 19th century. The USA created the Act to seize good Gauno islands, but without adding them officially to the USA. Instead, they had the status of ‘Insular Area’s’. Sounds better than ‘colony’ any way.

In 1856, Nikumaroro was claimed as “Kemins Island” by CA Williams & Co. of New London, Connecticut, but there are no records of any actual mining taking place. The island stays empty and pretty much ignored until on 8 May 1892, the island was claimed by the United Kingdom during a  visit at the island by HMS Curacoa. A London businessman called John T. Arundel gets a concession to plant coconuts, and he sends workers to the island. But it all fails within a year because of a shortage of water on the island. Proving that Pacific islands are not by definition tropical paradises. Nikumaroro, or Gardner Island as it is called at that time, is a harsh, dry place. There will be no other attempts to populate the island until 1938.

In the meantime, the Island is empty again, except for the short stay on it by the survivors of shipwreck of the SS Norwich City, a British freighter with a crew of 35 men, that was caught on the reef at the island’s northwest corner  on 29 November 1929. And Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in 1937, apparently.

The 24 survivors of the crew of the Norwich City were saved after several days of camping in the ruins of the old coconut plantation. If Amelia Earhart  also stayed there is not known at this moment.

The island was inhabited a little over a year after the disappearance of Earhart, so if she had flown one year later, she could have been saved theoretically! On 20 December 1938, British officials arrived with 20 settlers  from the Gilbert Islands in the last colonial expansion of the British Empire . Digging wells and planting coconuts, they managed to scrape a meager existence from the atoll, but it can not have been a rich existence. A sign of the changing times, that he last colony of the English Empire at once rules the world, was postage stamp in the Pacific, that must have costed more than it even could produce…

There was a radio transmitter, and the island had a post office. That must mean there are somewhere still, maybe, British stamps with a ‘Gardner Island’ postmark…I am not a collector in any way, but I’d buy that stamp if I ever see it!

The war did reach the nearby Gilbert Islands, that were occupied by the Japanese army, but Gardner island was never invaded, although a United States Coast Guard  LORAN radar station with 25 crewmen was located on the southeastern tip of the island.

The entire colony was abandoned in 1965, leaving it again uninhabited. When the Gilbert and Ellice Islands became independent from England in 1971, Nikumaroro became a part of the new state….with no local inhabitants, an almost comical and strictly administrative event, but it had to belong to someone after all.  In 1978, the Ellice Islands separated, and the Gilberts became the Gilbert Islands colony, which issued stamps under that name. In 1979, the Gilberts themselves gained independence, becoming the independent nation of Kiribati. The Ellice Islands became the independent nation of Tuvalu. If Nikumaroro  had any preference in this divorce regarding it’s destiny, is was not recorded.

Also in 1971, the US waived any claims on Gardner island, since it was not suitable for atomic testing.  Garnder island became Nikumaroro, and was left in peace. How exactly it would have played out if the US would have tried to hold on to the island using a pretty dodgy one sided treaty (Okay, the dodgy is more my opnion than maybe the best legal term for the treaty…)  from the 1900’s, let alone nuke it is a question that is fascinating, but will remain unknown!

The rough coast of Nikumaroro makes it difficult to land on it, so very few people visit it nowadays…if they get in the vicinity at all of course. This is an empty, lonely piece of the Pacific.

So, if Nikumaroro is indeed the place where Earhart crashed and died, then it is even more interesting than it already was. But even if it isn’t, I would still buy that postmark if I could afford it…because I started to feel for the island. But I do hope that there will be no big effort to find more bones of Amelia Earhart, or Fred Noonan (who always gets overlooked, the poor guy). If they are there, than that is marvelous place for explorers to be. Let them be. Let Nikumaroro be. It had an interesting history. It doesn’t need any more human interference. We need wild places like that on the planet.



Ach, Helgoland. Waarom zou je er eigelijk naar toe gaan? Het is niet makkelijk te bereiken, zit vol met kurende Duitsers, behalve strand en vogels is er niets…maar het is Helgoland. En ik moet er gewoon naar toe. Want eiland. Want omdat.

Het is geen standaard waddeneiland (voor zover dat bestaat). Het ligt niet in het snoertje van Texel, Terscheling, Borkum…Maar ik ben al eens opTerschelling geweest, en op Schier. Ik wil nog wel eens naar Wangerooge, maar dat is logisch, met zo’n naam.

Maar Helgoland, je mag er zelfs niet fietsen, de camping ligt zo te zien naast de startbaan van het mini-vliegveldje, en je moet kennelijk toegangskaartjes kopen om in de duinen te wandelen. Dus waarschijnlijk is het zo gereguleerd dat ik er gelijk van ga gillen als ik er ben. Maar toch wil ik. Rugzak inpakken, naar Bremerhaven of Cuxhaven, en de boot naar Helgoland. Want je kan er vanuit meerdere havens komen. Of eigelijk, je kan vanuit 1 haven vertrekken, en in een andere weer terugkomen. En omdat het kan, zal dat moeten.

Het is allemaal de schuld van Boudewijn Buch, die fantast, die boekenkabouter die wel erg creatief met de waarheid was, over zichzelf en z’n verleden, maar die met z’n onstuitbare enthousiasme me besmet heeft met z’n eilanden afwijking. Om over te lezen, om naar te staren op kaarten en het internet, om wilde plannen over te maken over hoe ik ze allemaal eens ga bezoeken. Waar natuurlijk te weinig van komt, maar Helgoland, het gaat gewoon gebeuren in 2017. Het kan niet  anders. Eilandgekte. Waarom?




Menthol hackings

I just found some very usefull and ingenious advice on how to use Vicks Vaporub in many ways on a website. Which is nice of course. I love those type of ‘Life-hack’ things.

Only in this case, it advises to put Vicks on your doorhinges when they squeek. Because it containts petroleum jelly. Now call me strange, but should I than not simply apply some Vaseline to my hinges? Somehow that seems more logical, and has the added benefit that my hinges do not smell like mentol. Which I personally prefer.
But of course, I might just decide that grabbing my can of WD40, or a bottle of bike-oil will be the best course of action here. Considering that they are also made of petroleum. And sort of designed for the job.
So like I said, I love life-hacks. But in this case, I have the feeling that it is more likely that somebody has Vaseline in the house, or WD40, than Vicks. And if they have Vicks, they will probably also have the other options available.

Basically, thise advise seems to me a bit unhinged…

In de heg

Het was een mooie koprol
Maar het applaus bleef uit
Want het was maar een renner
Niet iemand verkleed als een stuk fruit

Het was maar een renner
Een slaaf van de weg
Als de auto niet oplet
Gaat ie gewoon maar in de heg

Het was maar een wedstrijd
De sponsor bleef mooi in beeld
Wie geeft er nu nog om de renner
Z’n valpartij is wel al heel vaak gedeeld

Cut Cutler?

It’s decision time in Chicago. Do they say goodbye to Jay Cutler end of the year, or in two years, or do they try to keep him ticking as long as they can? After all, 33 is not very old any more for a QB nowadays. It isn’t young of course, but with some carefull management, and good protection, you should be able to squeeze probably three or four more good productive years out of him.

The thing is only, after watching the Bears – Eagles game, I don’t think they will be able to protect their QB this year at all. He was assaulted and kicked around the field by the Eagles Defence like a ragdol. It is no miracle he is already out with a injury. The Bears O-line sucks.

So, you can point at Cutler, and his recent injuries, and say the team obviously needs a new QG, cause this one is broken. Can’t stay up. Useless. You could.

But any QB will be beaten into sickbay when he’s playing behind this protection. A younger QB might last a little longer, but not much. This is not a situation that you fix with changing one player.

But besides THAT. Pray tell me, who is this this hot QB they would plug in? Free agents in 2017 are probably Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Shaun Hill, EJ Manuel and Blaine Gabbert. So…in order of appearance…
Are you serious, Older than Jay(feels like that anyway), You must be joking, a Vikings 2nd stringer, a Cleveland bust, or Gabbert.
Let’s see that crowd on the stands for one of those guys. Oh…wait. How about trading for Gino Smith than, surely the Jets will be reasonable….
If you have to choose from these options, then Gabbert is playing surprisingly good at SF,  that is true. But I would not bet the farm on him, personally.
Gambling on snatching up Garopolo in one or two years because the Patriots wil never retire Brady? Master plan.

So you’re gonna bet on snatching up a hot Rookie QB next year, and send Jay out to pasture? Not with hat O-line you wonn’t. You could draft the next Andrew Luck next year, but stil be without a viable option at QB by week 4.

The Bears will just have to bite the bullet, and really invest in the position in my opnion.
Draft the best QB they can next year. (And not to put salt in a wound, they will draw high next year if things continue like this.) And the year after that, do it again. Or, draw a QB in the first AND second round next year. Don’t play them their first year. Keep Jay for three more years in the team as your no.1 QB. Start to put your young QB’s into rotation SLOWLY.

That takes two years at least. After three years, you will know which one to keep, and which one to trade. That gives you also three years to draft and buy an O-line that will be worthy of a franchise like the Bears. Because let’s not forget it’s the flippin BEARS we talk about here. This is a proud franchise with history, and a great city behind it. Teams should be worried when they play the Bears. They should be scared.

Now I am sure that loads of people will tell me this is idiotic. That you are waisting draft picks by choosing two QB’s. Well, given the amount of busts with first round picks…I don’t think so! It is very likely that one of those two guys will turn out to be no NFL material. You have to act according to that.
Yes but, all the other positions? The defence! Corners! Receivers!
Gimme a break. There are always quality players in these positions in the second and third round. Or the fourth. You might not get the HOT new corner. But does the hot young corner keep your QB upright? Is he getting you the winning throw in the last second?

I don’t think so.
True, you will not draft the next J.J. Watt this way. And that is a shame. Every team will get a massive upgrade by drafting a player like him. I totaly get that. No discussion possible.
But in football you are nothing without a franchise QB. And a franchise QB is uselesss if you don’t keep him healthy.



Ochtend trein

Ik ben een dichter
Het woord is mijn domijn
Zinnetjes in mijn hoofd
Staand in een volle trein

Dat meisje heeft echt foute schoenen
En die vent is ook wel raar
Gedwongen in een ruimte
Mij neus bijna in een vreemde z’n haar

Gelukkig slaap ik nog een beetje
Al die mensen wat moet ik er mee
Iemand kijkt James Bond op z’n laptop
Bah, het is Die another Day…


Het waren toch geen echte bergen
Waarom ging het dan zo hard?
Het waren toch geen echte bergen
Dat was zo zeker bij de start

Er zou geen strijd komen
Want het spel is pas net los
Maar als er bloed in het water is
Zien we de streken van de vos

Het was geen verschil etappe
Maar toch later over de lijn
Want zelfs hij kan niet elke dag
De grote kampioen zijn