12th July 2009 New Zealand Herald article
She’s the one he let get away.
And while it’s been more than four decades, Hank Hartel has never forgotten the Kiwi beauty he met on a ship from England to Australia in 1965.
Now the 69-year-old is determined to be reunited with his lost love.
“She had these beautiful eyes, and she was fun too, easy to be with,” he said. “She was just a perfect match; we clicked straight away.”
Hartel was 25 then, and leaving Holland to start a new life in Australia.
His shipboard sweetheart, Jan Grace, was returning home to Christchurch.
They spent almost five weeks together on board, but when Hank left the ship in Melbourne, Jan sailed on to New Zealand.
He never saw her again.
“If she would have come with me to Australia, it would have been different,” he said. “We stayed friends, but then it sort of petered out.”
The pair wrote to each other, but after Hank got married they stopped keeping in touch. Hartel has been divorced now for 18 years, and can’t stop thinking about what might have been.
“I’m by myself now and you start to wonder, ‘What if you could meet up with the one you fell in love with?’ It’ll be a long shot, but it would be great.”
He’s told his two adult children about his shipboard romance, and his plan to come to New Zealand if he finds his long-lost sweetheart.
All he knows is that Jan lived in Christchurch, and was travelling home from England with a friend named Barbara.
Private investigator Rod Moratti has noticed an increase in people wanting to find lost loves.
Do you know Jan? Email email@example.com