The year 2000 has been an eventful one for Juanita and I. We bought a 54-foot, Chris Craft boat in Newport California over the New Year Millenium. This being our second pleasure boat, we named it the Johnita II. After session ended in Juneau (May 11th), I went to Newport, California to begin the journey of bringing it to Alaska. What an adventure! I thought Mother Nature would treat me good. Much to my surprise Mother Nature decided that 12-foot seas would be a real test for Big John and crew. Talk about the "Perfect Storm" movie, I could have made my own. Besides the bad weather and rough seas off the west coast, the area is also known as "The grave yard of the Pacific." With a new crew, I again headed north. Off Vancouver Island we got in a sudden storm with 12 -14 foot seas at 6-second intervals. We headed for port but lost steering, with the rudder stuck at 30 degrees right. After trying to control with forward, reverse and lots of power we put on our survival suits and dropped anchor to keep from capsizing. We were about 2 miles from port. We contacted the Coast Guard and were towed in to a bay. Three other boats were lost in that storm. We luckily were retrieved safely. With waiting out storms, various crewmembers having to get back home, then finding new crew, it took over 5 weeks in total to get back to Alaska. Much longer then anyone ever imagined. Dry land never looked so good!
Upon my return I was asked by one of my staff members, Annette and her fiancé Mark to perform their wedding aboard the Johnita II. The wedding date was set for September 2nd, in the waters of Prince William Sound. We left Whittier the day before the wedding and went to Long Bay, in Culross passage, which is 25 miles out of Whittier. There were about 25 people aboard. Half of the guests were from out of state. Six of them took the two skiffs and went to the head of the bay and walked about a mile to a forestry cabin and spent the night. The rest of us spent the night aboard. After breakfast the next morning we headed to Blackstone Bay and anchored in front of the picturesque Blackstone Glacier. Annettes father Leonard had decorated the bow of the boat with hanging flower baskets, oil lanterns and string lights on the handrails. The front of the boat had been revamped into an outside chapel. It was truly a sight from a fairy tale. The weather was perfect and the water was smooth. Everyone got dressed in his or her formal wedding attire and the ceremony began.
After the guests were seated, the attendants were in place and the groom stood anxiously waiting, the music started with "Here comes the Bride". After a short pause, Annette approached from the upper salon. She was breathtakingly beautiful. As she slowly walked toward us, her father met her and she was escorted to her place beside the groom.
At that time Annette's father gave a very moving prayer. He talked about Annette and told a story about when she was a little girl of five. She had ask if she would ever marry and what her wedding would be like? He said he made a promise that her wedding would be very special and many people had put a lot of effort into keeping that promise. Mark and Annette shared a rose with each of their parents as a symbol of love for one another's relatives. Mark had lost his mother about six years ago. We had a moment of silence in honor of his mother. Mark had written a letter to her on this special day. He placed the letter in a bottle and cast it over board.
There were words spoken about marriage being somewhat like a rope, with each person being a strand of that rope. In order to make the rope strong there had to be three strands and that third strand had to be God. Mark and Annette had invited God to their wedding. God is the third strand with Mark and Annette. He is the one that strengthens the bond that they had created. When the occasional storm of everyday trials seems to unravel the precious knot, God will be the strand that holds the other two together. Mark and Annette then braided a rope and tied a knot as a symbol of this commitment to one another and keeping God in their marriage and lives.
The ceremony ended with these words… "By the powers vested in me by the great State of Alaska I now declare you husband and wife… Congratulations, Let me be the first to introduce Mark and Annette as Mr. and Mrs. Skibinski".
The middle deck was cleared and their favorite song was played. They had their first dance as husband and wife. The dance was followed by a large fireworks display. We then went to the main solon and had champagne and cake. We then headed to port where we were greeted with rice and good wishes. We were rapidly off to Seward, Alaska for a dinner reception. Guests stayed the night in Seward.
The bride and groom went to San Francisco, Paris, Corsica and Venice for their honeymoon.
Juanita and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June of 2001. We hope they are as much in love as we are, when they celebrate their 50th.
More highlights of our year ...
Our Granddaughter Tara is excelling in her artwork. She made her first porcelain doll. She won Grand Champion at the Alaska State Fair for her drawings. She really takes after Juanita. Afterall Juanita walked away with another handful of awards from the fair herself. Its wonderful seeing them work together.
Our Great Granddaughter Erin Nicole was born in January. Chuck and Stephanie are proud and wonderful new parents. Erin is our 2nd Great Grandaughter. Zoe was our first fifth generation Alaskan born. She is five now, and is she ever a clever one.
Another thing that happened was that I retired from the State House of Representatives and ran for the State Senate. Juanita is now married to a Senator. We are on our way back to Juneau in January.
This year so far we have no snow. We may not have a white Christmas, but Juanita and Florence have worked hard to get the house decorated.