Ft. Lauderdale-based Capt. Robert D. Ferneding passed away unexpectedly on May 20 at his home in Coral Gables.
Ferneding, who was born on Oct. 19, 1962, was a well-known and respected captain in the yachting industry worldwide. He obtained his 3000-ton Master’s license and lived an active life. He was an avid cyclist who was dedicated to his training for the Iron Man. He loved being around family and friends, and especially loved spending time with his girlfriend Alicia.
Ferneding’s former co-worker Michael Reardon of Hill Robinson Yacht Management said the loss comes as a shock.
“He had a passion,” Reardon said. “He became an Ironman trainer. It’s a bit ironic. He was a healthy guy riding bicycles and swimming.” According to Reardon, Ferneding had just returned from a bicycle ride on the afternoon of May 20 before he died. The exact cause of death has not been determined yet but it is expected to be from natural causes.
Reardon said he misses his friend.
“Back in that day, he was on M/Y Inevitable with his wife Cynthia,” Reardon said. “They met through yachting, fell in love, got married and Rob left yachting so she could pursue a career,” he said. “But she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and died quickly.
Ferneding came back to Florida from California and worked at Hill Robinson. He eventually returned to yachting.
“He was very cordial, easy-going friend that was a professional,” Reardon said. “He was a great charter captain and a really nice guy to be around.”
Burgess Yachts Charter Broker Capt. John Cichanowicz said he is finding the loss of his friend hard to accept.
Cichanowicz and Ferneding had known each other since 1993.
“The things that I remember are that he was really an amazing captain that had a way with his crew. They all loved him, which was remarkable.
“He had a heart as good as gold. He would be there for you and help out no matter what you needed.
“He had a happy, fun laugh when he laughed at his own jokes. He was an all-around great guy.”
Ferneding is survived by his daughter, Nicole Moore (Joe) and grandson, Jacob; father Dave Ferneding; mother, Sara Cunningham and step-father, Lou; brothers, William Baxla (Sherry) and Jonathan Cunningham (Heather); sister, Sara-Anne Cunningham; uncle, Charles Starbuck (Diane); aunt, Sylvia Starbuck and several nieces and nephews and his girlfriend Alicia.
The funeral service will be held Saturday, May 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Fred Hunters Funeral Home, at 2401 S. University Dr. in Davie, Florida, 33324. A reception will follow at at 8835 Southern Orchard Rd., Davie, Florida, 33328.
The family has also asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the memorial service and cremation at www.youcaring.com/rob-ferneding-and-the-multiple-sclerosis-society-575905. Any remaining funds after funeral expenses will go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
A social gathering to celebrate his life will also be held on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, with the time and location to be announced. To inquire for more details, email John Cichanowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzette Cook is editor of The Triton.You can reach her at email@example.com