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Captain’s 15th Mate : He Vows This Wedding Is the Last

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nine years after marrying his 14th wife aboard a boat in Newport Harbor, William (Swede) Jenson returned to the marital waters Saturday to try again with bride No. 15.

Jenson, a nautical licensing instructor who says he is 65 years old, exchanged vows with wife No. 15, Linda Jorgensen, 30, amid boats rocking in their berths.

As the ceremony began, Jenson, wearing a black-and-white tuxedo, walked down the gangplank at Arches Marina and onto a schooner named Samarang, docked at the pier. He was followed minutes later by members of the the bridal procession, each of them removing their high heels as they stepped onto the boat, then standing in their stocking feet--for better balance--at the bow.

The justice of the peace, Ian Bruce, a longtime friend of Jenson, took his spot wearing black admiral’s attire that he called “the North Atlantic uniform.”

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As the boat cruised slowly down the harbor, the bride and groom stood at the bow waving to guests and well-wishers who sped up in their boats close to the schooner to offer congratulations.

As the couple stepped off the schooner, the justice asked Jenson if he planned for this to be his last wedding.

Jenson said, once again, “I do.”

The newlyweds promenaded down the pier to the reception at Josh Slocom’s restaurant in Newport Beach, where they were applauded by friends, relatives and former students of Jenson.

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“He is kind of a fixture,” said Joe Minney, the owner of Josh Slocom’s. “He has been here a long time--20 or 25 years.”

The reception was teeming with seafarers who joked in a nautical jargon. To everyone, Jenson is known as “Captain” or just Swede. Even his new wife refers to him as Swede.

The justice said: “If Swede and I rubbed our backs together, barnacles would fall to the floor. We’re a couple of old salts.”

Jenson’s age is the subject of much speculation. “I heard him say he was 72 once,” said Walt Phillips, the best man.

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The bride is convinced that her husband is 65. “I’ve seen his birth certificate and passport.”

And she seemed undeterred by Jenson’s track record at the altar. “He is everything I have looked for in a man and a husband,” she said at the reception.

They met 10 years ago at the Ancient Mariner restaurant in Newport Beach where Jorgensen was a waitress and Jenson a regular. Jorgensen, who has never been married before, said that when Jenson first showed interest in her, “he would not let me go.” They had been engaged for about four months.

The couple say they have never been happier and are preparing to start a family “within one year.”

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“She’s got to be happy,” Jenson said. “She’s got me.”


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