He called it “San Diego's necklace.”
As befits a storyteller, Ronald Frank Wood's description of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge had a bit of poetry to it.
With the necklace laid out behind his cutter rigged sloop, La Paloma, the city skyline to one side and what appeared to be a magical isle on the other, Wood found himself happy with the life he began to forge for himself three years ago.
The computer programmer wanted a simpler existence after his second divorce, so he opted to live aboard La Paloma, which he sailed once a week from his mooring off .
He was doing so Saturday, out on a jaunt near National City, when he fell overboard. His friends were unable to help him and . Wood was 57.
Kathryn Elizabeth, who called herself Wood's “first mate on deck,” shared in his passions. He also loved medieval re-enactments and went by the name of Baron Greywolf among the Vikings, the clan he and friends adopted as their own.
Between boating and re-enacting, Elizabeth said Wood embraced “zen, just existing and being peaceful.”
But for him it was better to do so surrounded by people, whether around the fire at a faux medieval camp or on one of the boats near the park.
There the skippers and their guests would share Sunday brunches or use a sail as a movie screen so everyone could watch. But when the meal or film was over, Wood was at the center of the gathering, as he loved to tell stories.
Perhaps he was born to it, Elizabeth said, as a son of circus performers. After a childhood of moving here and there throughout the Midwest, he joined the Navy when he came of age.
His stories sprang from those experiences, from being shaped by the circus to spending time at sea with the military. But there was love, too: Elizabeth said the oldies inspired him, timeless tales from film classics like Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Wood knew his audience. The story “would always depend on who was in the room,” Elizabeth said, yet it would be “dramatic and funny, animated, with lots of laughter,” she explained. “He always had a good ending.
“He just lived a rich life,” she concluded.
Services are pending. Wood is survived by his mother, two brothers, a sister and a large collection of friends.
This story was amended to correct the name Wood used during his medieval re-enactments.