Tomek, Luka..and Wacek
Tomasz Lewandowski comes from Ilawa, Poland. He grew up in the atmosphere of the nautical club “Waterside resident”, contemporary PTTK in Ilawa and “port pub” "Under Omega".
During this time only spring and summer existed for him: Spring - preparation of the boat for the season, summer - trailing about the Jeziorak. His desire to sail the world alone was as old as he was.
He wasn’t yet 20 years old when he came to own his first LUKA, a 7.5 -meter long sinuate yacht built from straw. After a year of work the old, neglected boat changed into a princess of Jeziorak – at least in Tomek’s eyes...
In the middle of the 1980’s he bought the project for the 12-meter long yacht RUDY, and part of the materials for its construction, however marriage – as it usually happens in such circumstances - drowned the dreams about the sea-worthy yacht in the house he built as a responsible father. However after some years when the “hurricane" passed over his life, it became apparent that dreams were the only thing that he still really had. The marriage and the home vanished somewhere in the mist and fell apart, while the old desire was revived with a double force. In 1990 he left for the USA . He worked in New Bedford (MA) fishing for scallops, later on the island Kodiak (Alaska), and the Bering Sea. Next he was the owner of a small building company in Seattle (WA) and Mammoth Lakes (CA).
One of these days he met Beata, “On the first day I met Tomek I heard: “One day I’m going to sail the world alone and then I’ll tell you all about it.” He said this with such confidence and strength in his voice that even though I knew him for only a few moments, I did not dare doubt him”. Through the following years of our long-distance relationship (Tomek in California, me in Florida), when we met, be it in CA, or in FL, we spent much of our time together in marinas looking at yachts. Tomek would say, "Close your eyes and imagine, that’s my Luka standing there.” She was not here yet, but she already had a name.
There was also the period, when Tomek decided to "fashion" Luka from his dreams with his own two hands, the introductory plans (Bruce Roberts), the countless phone calls... searching for suitable steel... In the meantime, however, he still roamed the internet sites and looked for his one and only – the Luka of his dreams. When he sometimes happened to live with me in Florida , we would go to its most distant recesses to look at yachts ..
At the end of June 2003 I went for a weekend to New York to meet with my family. When I returned, Tomek was gone... without a word he left me for another… for Luka :) (But that’s another story...) Anyway, he went to Santa Barbara, CA. to see Mikado 56'... And he fell in love at first sight…
A week later Tomek called... He missed me or maybe he wanted to show off his new fiancé ... :-) Who knows...? Of course I went to CA right away, to see my rival ;-)
On July 4, 2003 after ending the formalities connected with the purchase of the yacht, it looked like we would not be able to get to her (then named Katmandu ). She stood on anchor about a kilometer away from the shore. Because of Independence Day all boats were rented, none of the water taxis would take us there because everybody were waiting for the fireworks.
We finally managed to rent a kayak… me, two-meter tall Tomek, and a box of beer between us in the little kayak. Our first night on the Luka...
I had to try very hard in order to win the rivalry with the new "woman” in this sailor's life ...so he would not forget about my existence that night... He looked at her as if bewitched, he would put his paws everywhere and look under her "dress ”. :)))
Tomek took LUKA to the nearest port where the price of pulling the yacht onto the shore was not a suicidal act - the prices in California can "kill." He placed and registered Luka in Port San Luis, CA. And so begin the two and a half years of work to repair Luka.
In the meantime, in November 2005, we decided that we would legalize Tomek’s status in the States as the husband of an American citizen;-)), so that after finishing his cruise he could comeback to States legally ... A quick “drive-thru" marriage in Vegas, I took care of the immigration formalities and Tomek, as before, tirelessly worked on the yacht.
February 2006: Luka is almost ready, only the finishing details remain, cleaning, organizing and the purchase of food for a one year's cruise.
I waited for the day when Tomek would call: "come, we’re putting Luka in the water”...this day was near ... And in March 2006 Tomek was supposed to leave on the cruise of his dreams ...
It’s 10 in the evening... telephone. It was a doctor from a hospital in Atascadero CA: "Your husband broke his arm, it’s an open break of the elbow of the left hand, it’s about 16 pieces, worse than after a shot from a shotgun, we don’t know if we’ll be able to save his arm... If we can, it may not be fully functional"
The next morning I landed in San Luis Obispo...a few minutes later I was with Tomek in the hospital.
The first operation lasted 3 hours... whole 3 hours of cleaning the wound from small grit, paint and sand. The next 3 days of waiting whether or not there would be an infection, if not – they can operate and set the arm....if there would be an infection ... I did not even want to think about it. Tomek, looking the doctor straight in the eyes, said "You will set my arm very well, everything will go smoothly, and you will be satisfied with what you did... This year I’m sailing around the world, and my arm has to be well." The doctor focused his eyes on him, looked at him for a long while and left without saying a word...
3 days of waiting, Tomek was full of morphine ..., even now I don’t know whether it was some brain injury :-) or the consequence of the morphine, because he kept saying that he would soon sail out.
I feared that falling from this ladder he not only broke his arm, but what’s worse gotten "cuckoo in the head”...:-)
The next operation lasted 9 hours. When Tomek woke up from the anesthesia, mumbling about some people that he would now have to hire to finish preparations of the yacht, the doctor came and with a broad smile announced that the operation went exceedingly well and if there won’t be an infection everything will be ok. ..
Screws, rails …the elbow looked horribly and still “only” (!) some six months of rehabilitation.
However, Tomek still affirmed that “I’m sailing out this year"
I was able to talk him into coming home to Florida for Easter...especially considering that he can’t work on the yacht …and somebody needed to take care of him... it didn’t make much sense for him to sit in California, when we could be together.
April 17, the day after Easter, about 6 am Immigration Officers took Tomek from the house. I’m going to avoid going into all the emotions connected with this event here (special thanks for all those who supported us in those moments)
We found out that Tomek has to wait for his green card another year or two…and he had two choices, wait for it in Deportation Center, Miami, or Poland, he decided: in Poland, sign up the paper for voluntary deportation, decided not to spend all his savings on immigration attorneys.
Up until June 1st he was held in the Deportation Center in Miami, eating rice with beans in the company of Mexicans,Cubans, and all the illegal immigrants ( like him), but still ready to sail the world.
On June 1 Tomek flew to Poland under escort, I followed on June 4 of my own free will ;-) For the time being, instead of the world, he sailed the Jeziorak (lake near his hometown) with me in his native Ilawa, at that time during affectionate moments he would tell me that I am his whole world (liar).
After a month of gorgeous vacation on Jeziorak and its neighborhoods I returned to the States and Tomek flew to Mexico.
Somehow I was able to talk Tomek out of his plan to illegally cross the border, especially since this was the period when Bush raised security on the Mexican-American border, he sent an additional 7 thousand soldiers there, and in the context of waiting for the Green Card it would not be a good idea...he would may never get one….if he cross the border illegally….
I have a pretty good imagination ...but somehow "I didn’t see" the 6.8 feet tall Tomek "slipping” through the border........ :-)
Tomek couldn’t imagine putting the boat on the water without him being there...The whole time he was saying that he has to be there to supervise...
I flew to California, rented a car and for two weeks I was shopping for Tomek’s year-long cruise. In the evenings I put the food away and I would photograph Luka, outside and inside, I put those pictures on the website, Tomek, being in Mexico, could see how Luka looked, what still needed to be done... He called many times daily and gave orders ... If something “did not go right" he would say that maybe he can risk it... and”slip through" the border. I remember how many times with the cell phone in one hand, I had to put the other one in various holes, and check if for example some screw is tightened, or he would call from Mexico and ask about some 'through-'holes' and ’zincs’ ...black despair ... it’s as if he spoke to me in some other language. I have no idea about sailing and boats. But as if by miracle, in some way "go to the right, bend down...it’s there, it’s a little metal thing... etc”
We made it :-)
Because I convinced Tomek not to take Filip ( Australian Cattle), who was getting old, on the trip with him, he left him with me in Florida , and I brought him a new crew member on the Luka, his name is Wacek (terrier, Jack Russell). Along with Tomek’s friends; Bruce and Chris from Port San Luis and big help of Marty ( the Port san Luis boatyard owner )we let the Luka down on the water, christened her and in the middle of August Luka left for her first cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, where Tomek already waited for us “with bells on.”
I would not even venture a guess as to which one of us he missed more at that moment…
On March 6, not 2006 but 2007 the sailor started the cruise of his dreams.
Tomek in Poland ( lake Jeziorak, Ilawa)