Long after the other Soviet sailors had climbed down from the masts of the tall ship Kruzenshtern, one cadet clung to his post 60 feet above the deck and waved slowly to an American girl who watched him with tears in her eyes.
Larissa Mryszuk, 17, stood crying at the Inner Harbor as she watched Demetrious Kolomoietz sail away, knowing that it will be months before she can visit again with the 19-year-old man she plans to marry.
"I never believed in love at first sight until it happened to me," said Larissa, recalling the afternoon when she and her parents were touring the Russian training ship in Norfolk, Va., and she saw Demetrious looking at her from across the deck.
"We just saw each other and time froze," she said. "I just couldn't say anything, but my mom kept telling me to go over and talk to him, so finally I did. And we talked for about 10 minutes, and made plans to see each other again."
Larissa, whose grandparents live in the Ukraine, speaks Russian and Ukrainian fluently, so she was able to converse easily with Demetrious, who only knows a few words of English.
The couple met each morning while the ship was docked in Norfolk, and they spent the days together sightseeing and shopping. One afternoon last week, Larissa bought a pair of jeans and a shirt for $70 from The Gap, which she gave to Demetrious as a gift.
"He wouldn't take it at first," Larissa remembered. "He kept saying 'Seventy dollars? No, I can't take that!' because he told me for that kind of money you can almost buy a car in his country."
After a six-day stint in Norfolk, the Kruzenshtern set sail for Baltimore, where it was docked at the west wall of the Inner Harbor since July 12.
Larissa and her friend Karen Prucha, who also met a sailor aboard the vessel, came to Baltimore to spend time with the cadets before they set off at 9 a.m. today for Bremerhaven, Germany.
The girls waved and took dozens of pictures this morning as the four-masted ship pulled away from the harbor.
"I can still see him there. He's still waving," Larissa said. She pointed to the tiny figure in the distance, and spoke wistfully of the 18-day romance that she is certain will lead to marriage.
"I gave him my diamond ring, and he's going to send me one of his rings as soon as he gets home," she said. "We're going to write lots of letters, with pictures in every letter, and we're going to send videotapes and recordings of our voices so we can hear each other."
Larissa is planning to visit the Ukraine during her Christmas vacation and her summer vacation. Then, she plans to attend the University of Kiev next fall, so she will be near Demetrious in the Soviet Union.
"I'm going to miss him so much," she said. "We'll be across the seas, but I know we were meant to be together, and we'll be together again soon."