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Round-the-world sailor and yacht captain Paul Weakley, known throughout the industry simply as Whale, died yesterday (Thursday, June 11) from complications related to cancer. He was 72.
“I first met Whale in the mid ’70s during the SORC days,” Capt. Don Anderson wrote in an e-mail to friends about Whale’s death. “Back then, few people got paid for sailing so all the boat workers would hang out together between races and find all sorts of entertainment to keep them occupied. … Anybody that did the SORC in those days will remember the famous trashcan parties at Miamarina, the blue Jeep, and other escapades that bonded everyone together. We have Whale to thank for these memories and friendships that have lasted the test of time.”
Known to many as a generous man, Whale shared his love of sailing and the ocean with anyone who wanted to learn. He mentored a generation of young mariners and taught the fading art of marlinspike seamanship, everything from whipping and splicing to crafting respectable bell pulls and monkey’s fists.
“He was a mentor to me and taught me so much of what I know today about boating,” Eng. Vinnie Jones said in an e-mail. “Whale had a wealth of knowledge and took the time to teach and make it fun.”
Whale was born in Canada, educated in Minnesota and Wyoming, and lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He died in his home, where his brother had been overseeing his care. A memorial service is being planned, both soon and again in the fall when many yacht crew will return to the region.
Click to read “Not afraid of frayed knots: Captain teaches rope skills to kids” by Lucy Chabot Reed in August 2008.
On November 1, 2015 the yachting community hosted a memorial party for him.
“That’s Paul in the box with the blue tape (in front of his fraternity Blazer, and his brother David) surrounded by his Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers (L to R) Fred Schultz, Dan Fields, Doug Larson, and Jim Benson,” Doug Larson said by e-mail after the event.