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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Joanne Bergan

Joanne Bergan and her husband Carl were sailing friends of ours from Seattle. They cruised with us in Mexico on their Cal 39 Far Niente, and when we set out to cross the Pacific they went south, to Central America and beyond, further south, to Ecuador.

One day in Ecuador Joanne got sick from food she ate at a local restaurant. It immediately became serious and she was hospitalized. Within 10 hours she was dead.

It was that sudden.

To write about Joanne Bergan I guess I really should know more about her. I don’t know that much, I just have a bunch of memories of a smart, wonderful, irrepressible, great, loving person, who was also a sailor, and a partner for Carl, and a mother of Dalton, and

I, we, all of us that knew her…miss her.

So if my memories are wrong, or incomplete, I apologize.

Carl and Joanne were from California, and they had been together forever, from before they came to Seattle. They were sailors. They had a string of boats in the 80’s, including a Yamaha 36, then a J36, and a number of other boats. I think it was Carl who was behind this parade of boats, he seemed to be constantly interested in some new boat or the other, but Joanne went along, and she shared his enthusiasm with what ever new boat he came up with. They were happy, they had fun, they did well on the race course.

Carl was pretty easy going, but Joanne; she was hot. She drove around in a Mazda Miata with the top down, and I think she drove Carl too. Joanne was restless, ready to go, needing to go, always needing to do something, anything. That was Joanne.

Carl went along. He adored her.

And Joanne had a sharp wit; and a sharp tongue. I can hear her voice, a little loud, sometimes a bit of sarcasm, sometimes a bit annoying, and always with a ready laugh.

Their son Dalton was learning to sail when we met the family, through sailing, and Joanne was so proud of Dalton. She made sure he had all the support any young sailor could ask for, and he improved quickly. They were happy.

Then job things got in the way. Maybe it was corporate downsizing, I don’t know, but all of a sudden the Bergan’s lives had some options. Maybe they just decided that fast track careers just weren’t that important. Whatever it was, they decided to go cruising.

It was just a few months before Judy and I were about to depart on our cruise when they called up and invited us to see their newest boat. It was a Pearson 40, and they were bubbling with excitement as they showed us all the cruising features they were putting into it. Joanne declared that maybe they would come cruising with us. I was skeptical because it had taken Judy and me two years to get our boat ready, and here was Joanne saying they could do it in a few months. That was Joanne, anything was possible.

Unfortunately the Pearson’s sailing characteristics turned out to be unsuitable for cruising, or at least that was Carl’s view. They didn’t leave when we did in July of 1996. They sold the boat.

The next thing we heard was that they were looking for another boat. Then they found one called Far Niente. That was all we knew. We were in California, headed south.

So it was a surprise when we heard a hail outside of our boat while anchored in Mag Bay in Mexico that December.

“Hey Wings”

It was Carl and Joanne.

They caught up with us.

From then on we cruised together, loosely that is, like we do on Wings when we are with another boat. It isn’t lock step, more like: “Maybe we’ll go over to San Carlos”

“Well, we think we’ll take a look at Sante Rosalia before we cross to San Carlos.”

“Ok, we’ll see you later then.”

That’s how we sailed together in Mexico: loosely.

But wherever we went, Far Niente, and Carl and Joanne, weren’t too far away.

And wherever they showed up it was Joanne that spurred us on to some crazy adventure or the other; she was never happy sitting still.

We last saw them in Huatulco, after Acapulco, and when we headed back to Acapulco, they went on south.

Joanne wanted to hit Panama and the Galapagos.

Now Joanne is gone, and Carl, who had a rough time for a few years after her death, is moving on.

But we know he misses Joanne.

And so do we.

Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Mexico



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