We meet a lot of people in our line of work. We meet a lot of really interesting people in our line of work. We occasionally meet people who are positive, charismatic, embrace life with arms out wide and shake us up. We finally met Bruno Hansen and his partner Luisa Grottker about 10 days ago, having failed to connect last summer.
Bruno is a South African/Zimbabwean/Dane and a friend of various South African friends. He brought his MacGregor 36 Catamaran (a basic boat with narrow hulls, a large trampoline and no creature comforts!) down from New Hampshire last summer and was joined by Luisa who hails from a farm in Northern Ontario. Together they worked on the boat and became a ‘phenomenon’ around Deltaville – Luisa could be seen cycling up Rte 33 with Bruno in tow. Bruno came to be known in town as ‘the Wheelchair Guy’. He calls himself ‘The Crippled Captain’ and those of us who walk, he calls ‘Uprights’.
Bruno lost the use of his legs in 1998 after a car rolled on him during a hijacking in Cape Town and broke his back. Since that time, he has been through many dark periods, but with every ‘down’ there were lessons learned – mental, physical and spiritual – which have strengthened & honed him into this positive, fearless, life-loving person who gets out there and LIVES and inspires others to do the same. Since the accident he has faced death more times than any of us would care to; he’s like a cat with 9 lives. He has adventured more than any of us ever will; he’s done more good for others than most of us ever will.
Within 3 years of the accident he had rebuilt a catamaran in Durban and headed across the Indian Ocean, diving and surfing in remote locations. In 2004 his was the only boat to escape the Tsunami in Patong Bay in Thailand. He felt something was wrong when the water was being sucked out of the Bay, so cut his anchor line and motored out of the Bay as the first of the Tsunami waves hit.
He’s had a lifelong connection with the water and much of his therapy came through surfing. He became the World Adaptive Surf Champion; he’s owned property in Bali where he could surf to his heart’s content; he builds his own wheelchairs; he built a Camp in Panama, where he encouraged people with physical disabilities and PTSD to come out on a ‘Work Away’ program to work, to heal and to meet others who have life challenges and to spend time in the water. Last September he had a surfing accident which left him without the use of his upper body for several weeks….. but he’s BACK! Building strength, getting the boat ready to go South.
Luisa grew up in Germany until age 10 and then on a beef farm in Northern Ontario. Her Art College years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, exposed her to the ocean and coastal life. On her return home during the Covid years, she hankered after the ocean, so went to Panama to participate in a ‘Work Away’ program at Bruno’s camp. When Bruno asked her to join him on the boat she thought he was joking! She is a commercial gardener, potter, has a strong sense of adventure (she’s camping on a boat in Deltaville Boatyard in January) and commitment to the planet. The boating lifestyle is new to her, so she’s been on a steep learning curve! She’s calm, cheerful and a superb team mate, cook and just the right counterpoint to Bruno.
They splashed on January 30th, will be heading south down the ICW at the end of the week (BRRR) and look forward to spending time in the Bahamas. Back to warm weather & warm water, swimming, fishing and sailing – because in the water and on a boat, people are equal. In the water one is weightless; in the water the cares of the world are left behind.
They have loved Deltaville and have enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of ‘Deltavillains’, particularly the Deltaville Boatyard and Jackson Creek Marina.
These remarkable people re-awaken ones’ sense of adventure and make us want to ‘go for it’ ……but we will wait until the ambient temperature is above 80 degrees!!