Husband haunted by memory of wife washed overboard and lost at sea

Husband haunted by memory of wife washed overboard and lost at sea
From CBC - March 13, 2018

Charles and BarbaraTruaxof Toronto were avid sailors who planned to see the world from their boat. They sold their house, their cars, stored their belongings and sailed outthe St. Lawrence Seaway.

"Our plan was really to spend the next 20 or 30 years sailing around the world," said CharlesTruax.

But their retirement dream wassweptaway by a devastatingaccident off the south coast of Newfoundland.

Now, Charles Truax is haunted by a vivid imageof his wife outon the ocean.

"My last memory of her, that I go to bed with every night and wake up with every morning, is her floating face down in the water behind the boat."

It happened in July, 2017, as the couple struck out across the Atlantic Ocean, headedto the Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal.

'We got hit by a mammoth wave'

Three days out of Sydney, Nova Scotia, things started to go terribly wrong. A weather forecast calling for light rain turned out to be a much more intense system.

"We ran into 45-knot winds and it basically rained all day and it was torrential kind of rain and driven by the wind we were seeing 20-to-30-footwaves ... we got smacked by quite the storm," Truaxtold CBC Radio's The Broadcast.

'I did not have enough strength to pull her back in the boat.' - Charles Truax

They lost their jib sail and struggled to get it back. Then Truax noticed a major part of the rigging had come loose, which meant the mast could fail.

He headed up on deck to try and fix it. Despite his insistence that Barbara stay below, she came too.

"We got hit by a mammoth wave ...I did not see it coming. We just got slammed, I got thrown about in the cockpit, I hit my head and the lights went out momentarily and when I, sort of, woke back up again, I looked around and Barb was gone."

BarbaraTruaxwasswept over the side. Her PFDhad inflated and she was being pulled along by her lifeline.

"I was able to pull on it enough to get her up to the toerail of the boat ...but I did not have enough strength to pull her back in the boat and so I could not hold her there and I told her I was going to try and winch her in, so I had to let go."

Truax got her lifeline to one of the winches and was able to get her head and shoulders over the toerail when shebegansliding out of her PFDharness.

"She was just barely conscious at that point ... and the water was 10 degrees."

Truaxgot another rope, put it around her waist and tried again. Barbara's hands were so cold, she could not help him.

"She lost consciousness and she just slid out of the harness and the rope and disappeared behind the boat."

Mayday brings help from Burin Peninsula

A frantic Charles Truaxput out a mayday call. Fisherman Brent Adams was onthe Serge M.D. nearby and relayed the call to the coast guard.

It was about 7:30 pm when he and his crew steamed over to the sailboat in distress. Adams and the others spent the night scanningthe water while a coast guard helicopter and plane searched from the air.

"It was a poor ol' night, the wind going one way, the swell going the other so you bend around a lot on a boat," said Adams.

By lunchtime the next day, they were all exhausted.Charles Truaxwas cold and wet and there was little hope of finding his wife. Adams suggested Truaxmake his way into land. Another fishing boat offered to escort him into the Burin Peninsula.

'To leave her there was ...oh my heart broke at that point was like losing my heart.' - Charles Truax

So, Truax put his sailboat on auto pilot and headed for shore, reluctant to leave the ocean where he last saw his wife.

"To leave her there was ...oh my heart broke at that point was like losing my heart," he sobbed.

Not prepared for the journey


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