Reid de Jong

“A handshake like a vice and a hug like a bear”,
about Reid, the spiritual father of the “Strontrace”.

At the end of the long dike from Workum to the IJsselmeer Reid(70) lives in the former light house. Reid is the inspiration and organiser of the “Strontrace” , “regular barge service” and the “fishing days”. More than thirty years ago Reid wanted to breathe new life into professional sailing with these sailing exercises. These exercises were successful and many a skûtsje, tjalk, clipper and other ancient sailing vessels pass his lighthouse nowadays.

IMG 8401In the lighthouse lives the former architect and engineer without electricity and running water. He grows his own vegetables, slaughters his own animals, makes his own tools, is almost self-supporting; one with nature. Reid puts small scale industry and keeping up old crafts against the consumer society. For 50 years on Reid has committed himself to preserve sailing ships and the trades involved. Singing about the sea is one of them. He is very happy with the Shanty Festival. Every year he is part of it and he never fails to leave an unforgettable impression behind on the festival visitors and the skippers. Two foreign guests will tell about their encounter with Reid.

Danny McLeod, shanty singer in several groups in Newcastle (Great Britain) and regular guest at the “Shanty Festival”: When you see Reid for the first time he is immediately impressive. He is like an icon. He is big with his sweater and hat in hand spun wool very striking. You expect a booming voice with such a person but he is very friendly indeed. He is quiet and silent and he absolutely does not come to the fore, but you always know he is there. He has a poor eyesight, but he always recognises you and knows who you are; even if he only met you once last year. Reid greets you with a handshake like a vice and a hug like a bear; strong and long.
His warm personality appears from the personal contacts he has with the festival visitors and the warm friendships that often develop. Alison Kelley, a shanty singer from New York, got a tour in the picturesque light house on the dyke. “After seeing the kitchen , the living room and the cellar we went upstairs on top of the tower to watch the race. We had to climb a narrow ladder to get there, but the sight was terrific. We sang a few songs and our photo was made. He looked great. Like an old captain watching a naval review. He just belonged to that place and in the windy and rainy weather.
klompenWhen the last ships were gone and we were safely downstairs again, Reid’s wife Cornelie looked at my shoes and asked if I had ever worn wooden shoes. I had to put off my shoes and Reid gave me a pair of rough and unpainted wooden shoes. I put them on and walked on them for a while. They looked funny with my glittering trousers. Reid and Cornelie had to laugh about their new York visitor. Reid handed me the wooden shoes and said that I could keep them. He made them for his wife but he could make another pair for her. I felt honoured. This wasn’t just a bought present but a very personal gift.”

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