It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic death of Christer Klingwall, owner and skipper of ‘Lady Jessie’.
Christer, originally from Sweden, had family and friends all over Europe, dividing his time between his home in France and aboard his Sweden yacht, ‘Lady Jessie’, based in Turkey. He remained very close with his ex-wife, Mayke, with whom he was married to for 27 years. ‘Lady Jessie’ was named after their Dalmatian dog, a framed picture of which took pride and place on the bulkhead of his beloved boat.
There is little one can say to make this untimely death any easier to comprehend but we can at least show our respect with this little tribute to a friend and sailing guru.
Christer was the most wonderful, gentle, intelligent, funny, sweet, caring, dearest man in the entire world. I loved him with all my heart and will do so for all eternity. To those of you I have met, and to those of you I haven’t, I send you all my love and gratitude. Please think of him often, send him the best of your love, and raise a glass to him sometimes when a sunset reminds you of him.
For my dearest, darling Pussycat:
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
And death shall be but a pause.
For the peace of the years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
With every last bit of my love now, forever and all eternity,
Although his working life was spent as an accountant many of us knew him as a sailor, and a damn good one at that. The day Liz and I first met him he had just won the Bodrum Regatta. Despite many of his sailing friends being experienced sailors themselves, it was impossible not to learn a thing or two about sail trim from this consummate seaman. He applied experience, intelligence and natural instinct when at sea, usually leaving everyone else playing catch-up.
He spent a lot of his summer enjoying a sundowner aboard ‘Lady Jesie’ with Mayke, his ex-wife, and other friends who would frequently come out to visit. One of his close sailing friends is a mutual friend of ours, Michelle, and frequently came out to sail ‘Lady Jessie’ with her friend Jenny.
I’ve got so many funny stories and good memories of Christer. Jenny and I went out to the Med a few times to visit Christer. In fact we had a thing for each trip we would pack an outfit that was completely impractical for sailing, and pick a random night to dress up & surprise Christer with our outfits, this is why you’ll see a pair of kitten heels in one of Christer’s Facebook albums. I’m still surprised he let us pose at the helm wearing them!
In March Jen/Christer & I reminisced about the various trips we had remembering great times, one of the best being a trip around the Saronic islands in ’04. During this trip we had a night in a bay on Dokos where over a few late post dinner drinks we decided to get up early, climb the mountain on the island & watch the sunrise. Despite just a few hours sleep we were all up early & ashore following goat tracks to the top, timing it perfectly so that within 5mins of sitting down the sun came up.
Pretty much all the trips I did aboard have stories like this and in March we spoke about aiming to do a trip around the Sporades (or the ‘Mama Mia’ trip, as we called it) as it was the one area in the Med Christer hadn’t done any sailing in.
Christer always made me feel a welcome guest aboard & was the perfect host making sure I (& anyone else aboard) was having a great time, this translated to land during the couple of times I visited him in Provence as well. I was just so lucky to have him as an mentor when I first started sailing as he helped build my now passion for it.
I am so very sad Christer is no longer with us. As you know Michelle and I visited Christer down in Provence in early March and as with all of our get togethers we had a great time. As a fellow Swede, I took great pride in, together with Michelle, getting Christer back on skis. The smile on his face was as bright as the sun on that glorious day in Souz, a small ski resort a couple of hours drive north of Salernes.
As I am sure you all are, I am still really struggling to take in the news. Christer was such a wonderful, kind, generous, thoughtful and intelligent man. I feel very lucky to have spent a few very special weeks onboard Lady Jessie together with Michelle. As a sailor, Christer was a fantastic teacher, especially for someone without much experience. He knew exactly when to try and get the best out of you and try and push you just that little bit further. I will never forget being at the helm of Lady Jessie with gusting 30’s and my two top sail trimmers, Christer and Michelle, at the ready. What a wonderful sailor, teacher and friend.
Christer, I hope you have found your peace.
My thoughts are with Mayke, your family, and all your friends, all over the world.
Gary, Jill and Ed of ‘Second Nature’ were also very close with Christer, who became a surrogate member of the family.
Christer was my friend and a friend to my family. We set out on our adventure on Second Nature from Portsmouth at almost the same time that Christer left Sweden. We criss crossed each others passage plans and finally met in the Ionian.
We became friends almost immediately, mostly because he loved wine, and food and sailing and so did we. He became a hero and surrogate uncle to my 10 year old son and we shared many adventures and ports on our way to Turkey.
Over the years our friendship has never wavered, it was always a special time when we met up and shared a meal and the inevitable bottle or two. Ed (my son) and I had the privilege of being crew on his first race on LJ and Ed was with him when he won the Bodrum Regatta, (a fact he never let me forget!)
This year Ed (now 16) has been studying for O levels, and Christer was as anxious and supportive as we were… he was truly a part of our family.
Mayke, we know that he was as proud of you as you are of him and that his love was deep and profound.
For those of you who did not know him, be assured that a part of all that is good about humanity has passed from this world, let us hope that his influence will help us all to aspire to his generosity, warmth and kindness.
I am sorry I was not there when he needed me. Rest In Peace mate.
Finally we have to mention IPC’s YBW Liveaboard chat forum. It was here that I first encountered ‘Lady Jessie’. Christer had started a thread asking for votes on the best internet sailing blog. Of course I directed him to followtheboat, we got chatting and it turned out we shared the same boat yard. As to his chosen ‘Best Sailing Blog’ he diplomatically responded “there will be an awards ceremony in Bodrum to my shortlisted winners. Only people who attend are able to claim their prize”, the joke being, of course, that we would be the only people there to collect our prize, a nice cold bottle of Efes! I have to admit there was always one other sailing blog he preferred to ours. It annoyed the hell out of me but it was my inspiration to constantly improve followtheboat. Our new look is in part thanks to Christer.
His presence on the chat forum was almost formidable, frequently getting into the centre of lively debates over what the best anchor is or who made the best sailing boat. When the online sailing forum learned of Christer’s death there were many responses. Here are a few:
I would just like to add a few words to the many tributes that are being made about Christer. I only knew him through his contributions to the Forum but it is amazing how much you can learn about someone from the way they write and present their points. He came across as a lively , intelligent man with clear opinions and considerable knowledge. The Forum is a community of sailors and he will be sadly missed by all of us.
My deepest sympathy goes to you at this time.
Shocked and saddened, I enjoyed his willingness to raise his head above the parapet and stay there whilst getting pelted.
The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on the roofs and walls
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I had not met Christer and that I am sure will be my loss.
He was an absolute pleasure to read his debates and dare I say battles he had on the Forum and his banter will be truely missed.
My condolences to you Mayke, my thoughts are with you.
I certainly had some disagreements with him on the forum, but you don’t see the real person here do you? I know his boating advice was held in high esteem here and I valued that too.
How true that is, James. Christer was intelligent and straight-talking, but he was fun too. We last saw him when Liz videoed ‘Lady Jessie’ from a parasailer sailing around Skopia Limani. This is the Christer we would like to remember: happy, relaxed and doing what he did best.
Christer was always the first to open his gate for a sundowner, the first to offer his worldly advice over boating issues and the first to crack open that cold beer after a great day’s sail. Annoyingly he’d normally be the first over the finish line too!
Fair winds, Christer. May you rest in peace.