1 - Setting the scene
Last week I told you the romantic tale of the first Tall Ships festival that came to my home port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The year was 1984 - I was 19, my sister was 16, and a trek down to the waterfront to see the huge Russian tall ship resulted in my sister and one of the Russian sailors falling for one another.
We met the Kruzenshtern again when it sailed into Sydney Harbour in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Michelle and Rashid spent every second together, as if it were the last they would ever see of each other.
Because it was.
After writing to each other for two years, Rashid was drafted into the Soviet army and presumably sent to Afghanistan. Though my sister and I had obtained travel visas and were planning a trip to see Rashid in his hometown, political reality crushed their plans - and we never heard from Rashid after that.
2 - Fast-forward 25 years to 2009.
After living in Toronto for over a decade, both my sister and I returned home to Halifax. I'm now married and my sister is in a long term relationship with a truly wonderful man.
When we heard that the Kruzenshtern was due to arrive in Halifax this summer for the 2009 Tall Ships event, we knew we would go aboard her together - for old times' sake.
3 - Last Thursday, July 16th, all the ships arrived in port and I went down to the harbour front on my own to see them.
It was a heart-swelling moment when I first laid eyes on the masts of the Kruzenshtern high above Pier 23. And definitely bittersweet.
The route for the tall ships event included stops in Hamilton, Bermuda and Charleston, South Carolina - and between those two ports the Kruzenshtern lost the top half of the foremast in nasty weather.
In this 1984 photo, you can see Rashid waving to my sister from the middle yard, just to the right of the mast.
The part of the mast where he stood is now missing.
The remains are now secured on deck.
4 - On Sunday, July 19th, my sister and I drove over to Halifax, parked in the south end and walked down to Pier 23. Though the configuration of the docks has altered in 25 years, the Kruzenshtern was moored in the same basic area as it was when we spent all those hours talking to him over the side of the ship. Its immense size means there's only one real place it can be accommodated - where the modern cruise ships now dock.
Rashid once stood where that Russian cadet stood, at the bottom of the gangplank. That's how we met him in the first place. We just started chatting with him. Imagine.
Of course there was a line-up to get aboard. We had to wait for a bit, until enough visitors disembarked.
This is my sister once again boarding the Kruzenshtern after all these years.
5 - Surreal!
Talk about Flash-back City.
Everything on deck was just as it was when we were last aboard. Except for our missing friends, of course. Especially Rashid.
6 - Some things were exactly the same, but so many things were magically different. See where Rashid was standing in 1984? During the time when the Iron Curtain was in place, most of the Kruzenshtern was off-limits to the public. Only the central section of the upper deck was allowed to visitors, including my sister and me - even when we got secretly waved aboard when Soviet officials were elsewhere.
On Sunday we were allowed to roam the entire length of the deck, from stem to stern. This shot was taken from the same location where Rashid stood in the picture above.
7 - The flag that flew from the stern of the ship in 1984 was of course the red hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union.
This time it was the restored flag of the Russian Federation.
The traditional Russian flag was first flown in the mid-1600's, and was restored to use in 1991. After a 70-year blip, Russia is Russia once more.
8 - In the some-things-don't-change category: apparently I'm a big fan of salmon pink.
This is me wearing salmon pink capris, standing beside Valery in 1984.
And this is me wearing a salmon pink t-shirt, standing beside one of the ship's wheels this past Sunday.
9 - But you can bet there weren't any tables selling souvenirs in 1984. The evils of capitalism, don't you know.
This year, however, I bought myself a lovely baseball cap with a picture of the Kruzenshtern embroidered on the front, along with the name in Cyrillic script.
10 - In the knock-me-over-with-a-feather category: When the Kruzenshtern was here in 1984, the Soviet state was officially atheist. Although when the universe kept smoothing the way for my sister and Rashid to spend time together - when everything was stacked against them - the Russian sailors often pointed to the sky and indicated they believed God was stepping in.
But who knew this magnificent chapel was hiding behind water-tight iron doors aboard ship?
11 - We'd never seen this beautiful carved bench before. But it looks old enough to have been already old in 1984.
It was up there on the aft section of the deck.
12 - The thing that touched us the most about this visit from the Kruzenshtern was seeing one or two Russian cadets free to roam around Halifax however they wanted.
In the Soviet era, they were barely allowed off the ship - and then, only in groups of a dozen or even twenty. Accompanied of course by official minders.
Before we left the ship, we talked to an extremely handsome crew member - I'm serious. He was model-gorgeous. We asked whether there was a Rashid Kamalov on board.
We didn't expect him to be there - and he wasn't. Rashid was a cadet from a marine college when we met him, and the sailors aboard the current Kruzenshtern are cadets from the same college. But there is regular crew, as well, so we had to ask. Just in case.
13 - The Parade of Sail took place Monday, beginning at 12:00. Lucky for me - yes, really really lucky! - I work right down on the waterfront. And my lunch is from 12:00 to 1:00. I enjoyed the Parade of Sail with tons of other people. I love hanging out with the masses.
However, the Kruzenshtern is the diva of the tall ships, and didn't head into the harbour until I was back at work. I was quite down about missing her, but my friend Tracy raced past me on her way to see the ships at 2:00, saying, "The Russian one's going now!"
I asked one of the women from my team to cover my position for five minutes while I raced out and caught the Kruzenshtern making her majestic way along the harbour.
I knew it would take awhile for the ship to make its way down to my building. I returned to work for a bit, then asked my manager if I could high tail it back to the waterfront to watch her depart. Of course he said yes!
Here the Kruzenshtern follows behind the Cisne Branco from Brazil.
Hope it's not too long before I see you again.
Here's a time lapse camera version of 2009's Parade of Sail.
The tall ships appear at the 1:20 mark.
When the fire boats turn on their spray at the 2:45 mark, the parade is officially underway.
The Kruzenshtern enters the harbour from the right at the 4:55 mark, and is seen best at the 5:12 mark.
Janet in Michigan says I am so happy to find one of you girls. Oh I can't believe how much you look like Aunt Sheila in the photo where I can only see your nose and eyes.
Hootin' Anni says Love the memories, and the time forward to today. Great idea.
Hazel says I must say my heart sank when I read - "Because it was." Can't help wondering where could Rashid be now.