Saturday, February 2, 2013
POST 1054: FEBRUARY 02, 2013; BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON (CRI)
CRI and TICINO
The slight breeze caused hardly a ripple on the deep blue cold waters slipping beneath the keel of TICINO. Ghosting through Bellingham Bay under Jib alone, Cri was, as usual, cat-napping on top of the upturned dinghy tied down on the foredeck. Having sailed from knee high to a grasshopper, Christiane, indifferent, as usual, to the danger of lying up there, wore no life jacket.
The helm on autopilot, I lounged in the cockpit beside the big elk hide chrome wheel…gazing at distant Mt. Baker dominating the eastern skyline some 90 miles away. A puff of air on the back of my neck caused me to look back over my shoulder … shocked to see a deep black weather front bearing down on TICINO from astern…lightning flashing from within the clouds . Racing across the placid waters an unmistaken line of wind driven waves bore down on our 38 foot Sweden built yacht, not 100 yards away.
Christiane, I yelled…hold on … here comes some wind. Upside down, the AVON offered not a single hand hold or line to grab. The wind filled the Jib, heeling TICINO to Port. I watched in horror as Cri, without a sound, slid backwards across the rubber bottom, pitching over the lifeline and into the cold 53 degree waters of Puget Sound.
I threw two cockpit cushions as TICINO, now tipping to port under the wind pressure, sped past Cri…just coming to the surface. I threw off the Jib Sheet, letting the sail fly free…pushing the diesel start button. Then, over went the large life ring which is attached to the boat with a 100 foot line.
I disengaged the autopilot, spun TICINO through a 180 reversing turn, powering back toward the seat cushions.
The brunt of the wind had now reached us. Waves built in a flash to 2…then 3 feet high. I knew Cristiane was in deep trouble…survival in the 53 degree water is about 15 minutes without proper protective clothing.
Motoring back to the seat cushions…no Cri. Difficult to see a small head bobbing in flat water, it is nearly impossible to see anyone in growing seas. Slowly, I cut power and drifted alongside the cushions…no Cri. I walked along the deck, holding on to the life lines as TICINO, now rolling furiously, came to a stop. I walked completely around the 38 foot deck…CHRISTIANE…C R I S T I A N E… no Cri.
Back to the helm, I turned TICINO back towards the cushions…C R I S T I A N E…CRI …CRI…CRI
In the howling wind, I heard her call back…OVER HERE…I’M OVER HERE. Up wind from the yacht, I swung the bow into the wind, powered to her voice, cut the power and climbed back onto the foredeck…I’M OVER HERE, BRUCE….YOU CAME BACK FOR ME…YOU CAME BACK FOR ME…I’M OVER HERE…I CAN SEE YOU…AHEAD AND … …. …..
CRI…CRI…straining into the wind,… C H R I S T I A N E….. ……..
I woke drenched in sweat…my heart racing…I threw off the covers, sat up, head in my hands on my knees,
I Cried for a very long time
For those of you, our many friends and boating companions, I need say no more. I know you understand.
For those who never knew Christiane, she was, in January 1991, diagnosed with aggressive Cancer…given a few weeks…perhaps months, to live, I dedicated my every moment for the next five years at her side…messaging her body 5 hours every day …until one day in 1995…Cri said to me…Bruce, I don’t want to be married any more…I love you, but I want you to leave me…or I will move to my own apartment.
Cri lived five more years…restraining my presence by court order…. I followed her wishes by never again directly contacting her.
I received a telephone call one evening…Bruce, this is …….. I’m afraid Christiane is not going to make it this time. For a few minutes, I sat, stunned. I then dialed her phone at Ann’s, who had taken Cristiane in and looked after her since 1995. Hello, …. Hello Cri…Who Is This…this is Bruce, Christiane, …Who …. your Husband…Oh…Oh…yes, Bruce…well, good bye….CLICK.
Moments after my phone call, on January 12, 2001, Christiane Deckert Maynard, my wife, died.
I dedicated my walk around the World to Cri….Every Step I Take, Cristiane, I take for you…I have so written in my Blog.
Last night was the first time I dreamed of Cri…although I speak with her every day.
Perhaps Christiane has finally forgiven me….then again, perhaps………
I miss you, Christiane…and I am so very sorry.