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Missing a true mariner as kids and I seek role models

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Publisher’s Point: Lucy Chabot Reed

It’s the day after the Chairman’s Gala and I find myself missing Whale.

The event wasn’t even something Capt. Paul “Whale” Weakley would have enjoyed. It was a fancy affair with a masquerade theme. I wore a black gown. David, chairman of the Marine Industry Cares Foundation this year, wore a tuxedo.

But Whale would have supported it nonetheless because the money it raises helps kids learn about the marine industry. He died in 2015.

Whale was a sailor, a true seafarer, and a teacher. And he was my friend. I can’t recall the first time we met; it seems like I’ve always known him. When we started The Triton in 2004, he was quick to participate and support us. Whenever there was a cause or fundraiser, he was there with not only his own money, but the strong-armed bills of multiple friends, near and far.

He single-handedly funded The Triton marine scholarship at Broward College at our annual Poker Run, less interested in playing poker than in handing over $100 bills — dozens of them — and in riding his vintage motorcycles.

He was quick to share his love of sailing with anyone who wanted to learn. When he heard my then-young niece Darcy had taken up sailing, he gave her and my daughter two two-hour lessons on marlinspike seamanship. And that hand guard for lefties? He gave that to my little leftie daughter, Kenna.

Capt. Paul “Whale” Weakley celebrates with a 7-year-old Kenna after her first play.

At one of our first anniversary parties, watching me juggle playing hostess and mommy, he offered to take 4-year-old Kenna for a walk down the river, a half-hour adventure that would leave them both smitten and in a “love affair” that would last the rest of his life. Whenever he was in town, he would bring a bag of the best gummy bears to a Triton Networking event for her, asking only for a hug in return. When she was in her first play, he was the first friend outside the family that she wanted to invite.

Even though Whale likely wouldn’t have come to the Chairman’s Gala, he would have supported it. He would have bought tickets for others to attend, and he would have bid up raffle items he didn’t necessarily need or want. He would have signed up to volunteer with MICF’s summer camp to teach kids how to tie a knot, splice a line, and whip the bitter end.

And it makes me smile to think he would have been proud of Kenna, now a teenager who has taken up sailing, and her third-place finish in her latest regatta. He would have talked endlessly with her about how to tighten her start and when, precisely, to tack so the next guy gets bad air.

I miss Whale today. I miss his charity and his generosity. And I miss his spirit, that kid inside him that made everyone who was comfortable in their own skin want to be around him. It occurs to me now, two years after he’s gone, that he was a role model for me. I’ve tried to behave generously when faced with a silent auction for charity (much to my husband’s chagrin) and I’ve tried to teach kids what I know.

I have a feeling I will miss Whale for the rest of my life, especially when I see a kid who would love to learn more.

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5 thoughts on “Missing a true mariner as kids and I seek role models

  1. Kristy Fox

    In a nutshell Lucy – it brought not one tear, but many tears to my eyes.
    He was a jolly soul!

  2. Patti Trusel

    Whale was a character for sure, and aside from friends we shared a love for tequila that with a childish glint in his eye, he would instigate us to sip while he told his many stories…he loved being a larger than life character in our industry, good hearted he was and one of a kind. I’m glad he stays in our thoughts, thank you for bringing back thoughts of some happy times shared with the one and only Whale.

  3. beverly grant

    very well spoken Lucy, a wonderful tribute to an incredible soul, forever in our hearts…….

  4. Shalom Weiss

    Lucy, this is all so true!
    Whale is indeed missed. I remeber him well, and I think about him every so often. He even gave me a couch, which I still have because it was so nice:) That was just the kind of person he was, giving, caring, always willing to help.
    Thank you for writing this, it really tugged my heartstrings <3

  5. Lucy Chabot Reed Post author

    Thanks for the recent comments on the loss of Whale beyond just his love of the water [“Missing a true mariner, kids and I seek more role models,” page 16, March issue]. It’s hard to believe time has passed so fast, days he would have lived to the fullest if he were still here.

    I’ve not spent much time in Ft. Lauderdale during the last 25 years but did have the pleasure of pretty much living with him in the mid-1980s to early ’90s. When we (Pandora, 75-foot Little Harbor) had the house on Southeast 14th Street, he was always around. When he had it after that, we returned the favor.

    I’d give all I have for one more night by the pool or at Chuck’s and the racing crowd with him.

    PJ Bernard
    Woods Hole, Mass.

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