Capt. Pat O’Brien died from injuries sustained in a three-vehicle accident on I-95 in central Florida on July 17. A Chevy SUV pulling a boat blew a tire and careened into a semitruck, according to news reports. Capt. O’Brien’s motorcycle slid on its side and he was ejected. He was 64.
Capt. O’Brien began his career as an electrician on ships then worked as an engineer on racing sailboats, according to a 2006 interview with him on the website CharterWave.
In his career, Capt. O’Brien worked rotation on the 230-foot M/Y Skat and as captain on the 95-foot M/Y Perfect Timing, the 102-foot S/Y Gleam, the 130-foot M/Y Bonheur II, the 142-foot M/Y Namoh, and the 170-foot M/Y Dream.
Capt. O’Brien was married 25 years to Robin Woods O’Brien, a charter broker with Fraser Yachts in Ft. Lauderdale.
Friends expressed condolences on The Triton’s website and Facebook page, sharing memories of his work and his hobbies, which included building and flying his own aerobatic airplane.
“I want just to think that he is flying with his red small airplane in paradise,” Giovanna Zuin, operations manager at Trieste Yacht Service in Italy, wrote. “He was a great captain, but first of all, a great person. It was a real pleasure to work with him.”
Former Stew Rachel Rodrigues got to know Capt. O’Brien during his relief jobs on M/Y Victoria Del Mar.
“I will always remember his kindness, gentle nature and great sense of humor,” she wrote online. “Am so deeply saddened. My heartfelt sympathies go out to his family, friends and his soulmate, Robin. I’m so sorry for your loss. We shared many a bridge watch together, swapping stories about our global wanderings and love for animals,” she wrote. “He had such a beautiful outlook on life.”
Vivien Godfrey, CEO of Bluewater Books and Charts, said Capt. O’Brien was a longtime customer.
“We knew him as a very professional and detail-oriented captain,” Godfrey said. “He asked if he could spend a few days at Bluewater learning how to do chart correcting since he knew how important it was to have his UKHO charts correct and up-to-date. He was always a pleasure to work with, and we will miss his friendly face.”
Friend and colleague Patti Trusel, charter broker with Pier One Yacht Sales, said he loved motorcycles.
“He loved a lot of things – he loved his wife, he loved his animals – but he loved riding his motorcycle,” she said. “He would have rather had 64 years of doing what he loved to do than 90 years of being afraid.
“But he wasn’t reckless,” she noted. “He was careful and methodical. And in 26 years, I never saw a ruffled feather on that man, over anything. He was such an even-keeled kind of guy.”
In lieu of flowers, his family asks for donations to help his favorite causes, including Rails to Trails, U.S. National Parks and various animal rescues. Click to visit the GoFundMe page.
A gathering of Capt. O’Brien’s friend are meeting at Tap 42 in Ft. Lauderdale on Fri., July 22 at 7 p.m.
The Triton will share more details of Capt. O’Brien’s life as they become available. To share a memory, please contact Associate Editor Dorie Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read details of the accident click here.