Yachting legend Paul “Whale” Weakley dies

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.”

Yachting legend Paul “Whale” Weakley dies

Yachting legend Paul “Whale” Weakley dies

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.

Share This Post

About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Lucy Chabot Reed →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

21 thoughts on “Yachting legend Paul “Whale” Weakley dies

  1. Thomas Tow

    Paul was a terrific man! Funny was to say the least. As a freshman at Mankato State (then), I was thrilled when Paul became my Pledge Father. At the time, I was delivering pizza’s and Paul always said,”now, Tom if you ever have any extra pizza’s or poor boy sandwiches – I’m usually in my dorm room!” He always had a big smile when I stopped by his first floor room with a surprise! He was always proud of my Pledge Paddle, of course, I made it extra nice just because it was for Paul Weakley.

  2. Hugh McGugan

    I first met Whale during our Silver Shadow Days (C&C 43/C&C 41) back in the late 70’s/early 80’s on the SORC & Onion Patch circuits and being one of the few Canadian boats I always kind of felt that Paul took us under his wing – perhaps out of national comradery.
    From road hockey in the Derector’s Ft Lauderdale parking lot, to “Kialoa’s” at Chucks Steakhouse, and home made conch fritters at Chub Key on our way home from Nassau, many memories come flooding back from our times together – as vivid today as they were then!
    My favourite “Whale tale” was when the Beatles came out for a sail on the boat he was caring for at RCYC when they were in town for their Toronto concert in the 60’s. Paul used to say that it took him 2 days to clean the black heel marks off the deck from their street shoes! True, embellished, or not, it was a great story!

    You are missed Paul…

  3. Dorie Cox

    Celebration of life to honor William Paul “Whale” Weakley
    November 1st, 2015 from 1500 to 1900 hours
    Marina Boathouse Rooftop, 1601 SE 16th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
    *Hawaiian shirts are the requested attire*

  4. Doug Larson

    Are there any further details available regarding a Memorial Service for Paul Weakley?

  5. Jim Nuzzo

    Whale … you have passed but the great memories underway and ashore will never die ! It was you Whale that found me berths for many SORCs that were great racing but the “Boogie across the Bahama Banks” after the circuit were great fun times. And I hope the mention of the Conch fritter parties in Lauderdale bring a couple more smiles, remember Whales fritters were always the hottest, no surprise. Hope to see many of you at the memorial in the fall, that’s what Whale would of wanted, seeing us all together……

  6. Bill Nelson

    RIP The Great”Whale”. I met Whale over 25 years ago when I first entered the yachting biz as a chef. We quickly became fast friends as he liked to eat and I loved to cook. He opened many doors and truly was a great friend. After leaving the boating scene it wasn’t odd to get a late night call from him to catch up. You will be missed brother!

  7. Pete Stalkus

    A mix of sadness and mirth reflecting on time with Whale. Like others the connection started in the mid 70’s on the sailing circuit. A transatlantic race together, a few SORC’s, Admirals Cup, some notable deliveries and all that time in between . Always fun; always lively. Entertainment factor beyond belief. Whale brought out the child in all of us. However anyone found their way to the sailing scene Whale showed us all how to enjoy life and not take ourselves so seriously that we shut out others. That was a gift. Owners, strap hangers, industry pros and unpaid crew; he broughteveryone together and through him we enjoyed each other working hard and playing harder. Lastly, Whale was ageless. Anyone of his cohorts from the 70’s or 80’s who ran into him in later years always remarked; Whale hasn’t changed! Always laughing, always helping; always bringing folks together. He brought so many of us together; with a smile.

  8. Jack Maguire

    Whale now that man could tell a tail, I had the Honor of making a few delivery’s in the 80’s with him. I knew it was an Honor because he told me.
    He could make finding NW light on the flats at night (before it was run over) sound like Columbus finding a New World, someone mentioned that Whale collected little trinkets from all over the world he did and would display all through his home. Everyone had a specific spot and direction to face, and one of my biggest pleasures was getting that call from Whale cursing me out for rearranging everything as I left his house.
    By now he’s already gone through cases of never dull on the Gates of Hel**** NO I’m sure it Heaven anyway he was a good guy and will be missed.

  9. Scotty King

    I am greatly saddened to hear of this news. I sailed bow for Whale on Mandrake, the big Intuition and the little Intuition in the late 70’s early 80’s. I climbed trees in Cowes with him and others I will not name. We have lost touch over the years but the memory of our times together have not dimmed. The Blue jeep, the parties at Miamarina…these are memories of my youth and sailing with the Pied Piper. It just doesn’t seem possible he is gone now…but never forgotten. Sail downwind Whale.

  10. Doug Larson

    I stand corrected about my earlier comment on Paul’s education. Paul received his B.S. Degree from Mankato State (now Minnesota State) in 1969. He then did attend the University of Wyoming and received a Masters in Recreation, after which he went to work for Disneyworld in Orlando while it was still in the development phase.

  11. Jan Akerberg

    I was a fraternity Brother of Paul Weakley at what is now called Minnesota State University. For years I thought he “made stuff up” as the stories were always bigger than life. Time after time, over the years, his stores proved to be true. About the time we were graduating, he had gotten a new Yellow Mustang and claimed that he put Nitrogen in the tires. Every one in the fraternity give Paul lots of shit. Now 40 years later it is common to put Nitrogen in tires as it is a bigger molecule than air and not as prone to leak. He knew this because of the racing scene.

    Paul had a very positive look at life and nothing seemed to push him back, not even the cancer. There was about 100 of us from the fraternity that got together last April and Paul was there. He was full of life right up to the end.

    We have lost a real treasure of a person and one that I miss. We all lost with his passing.

  12. Fred Schultz

    Paul will be missed by all who had the pleasure of his company, from Spinners in North Mankato in the late 60’s to this March ( 2015 ) in Spinners it was always great to see the twinkly as the yarns were spoken. The 50th we had together will be remembered especially for the ” Whales ” presence. His laughter helped us to all belong.
    Proud to be a Phi.

  13. Carolyn Pollock


    His enthusiasm when telling a whale of a tale some might think would be exaggerated, but the truth always being more creative than fiction had all ears open… even if you had heard the story more than a few times.
    Having a love for all things beautiful, simple, and small; wet feet and a green thumb made him an amazing teacher.
    The Yachting community lost a legend, the large marine mammal we all loved so much, remember the laughs, lessons, and tales. Celestial sexton navigation secrets, splicing, secrets of boats power or sail, and of course all the on/off shore sailor stories with those he cherished most.

    When you walked into his classroom, bunker, or as he liked to call it “Whales chateau relaxo” it was a feast for your eyes. Each trinket to us, a treasure to him, told a story reminding him of a friendship or an adventure he once embarked on.
    These treasures are the most unusual, perfectly fitting for such a man that was far from ordinary. Engineered simple things to make his life easier or more fun for others; orchids with intense irrigation system, a homemade wonderful swing children and adults could not resist,
    his port and starboard lights above his garage so he would know red on his right when returning home, the famous ring game, just to name a few…

    Watching kids look up at him as if he were a magician, hanging onto every word he would say warms the heart.
    Some of his magic tricks included; turned lanyards into name badges, coasters into rolling wheels, 2×4’s pieces of wood into building blocks, convincing kids mangos are the new candy,
    kids barely old enough to walk had to go for a ride in his side car motorcycle, restaurant napkins became princess tiaras, feeding “Sammy” the squirrel peanuts in his backyard, his mind was always creating fun.

    Hanging out in his picture perfect garage, country music blasting, harley talk, cocktails in hand made for several unforgettable afternoons, and jealous neighbours.
    If Whale kept any boat the way he maintained his things that is one lucky boat owner, he practically had washed the paint off his truck.
    Timing is everything to somebody who owns a clock collection, making sure they were all wound properly creating a harmonious symphony of dings…hourly.

    I have always thought of him at a monkeys fists glance, convinced he could make those keychains with his eyes closed. He never seemed to sit still, even while his classic Westerns would be playing always a new project sprawled out on his compass table.
    Whale had a couple theme songs; Pirate Looks at 50 by Jimmy Buffet, and Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, those songs will forever put a smile on our faces, fond thoughts in our hearts, and a tear in to the eye.

    Having cancer Whale realizing he might not live to 120 he kept his head high, smiled with a positive attitude, reminding people that he is a cowboy, and this was not his first rodeo.
    May your spirit be free from your body that hindered you. Rest in peace, hopefully not doing too much resting but dancing with Elvis. You are in good company my friend.

    xox love Carolyn

  14. Doug Larson

    Paul was a close friend of mine. I saw him last in March at a college fraternity (Phi Delta Theta) reunion. I already miss him a lot. There were always “tall tales” about Paul, but one that needs correcting: he was not educated in Wyoming (unless that’s perhaps where he lost his virginity). We were college roommates at Mankato State – which is in Minnesota.

  15. Jeff Neuwirth

    Whale was always there to remind me that being a yachtsman was not just a career, as many see it these days. Being a member in good standing of the IBNA and a life long Gypsy in the Palace I raise a glass to a true romantic and a great friend who has gone over the bar in fine style. Cheers Whale.

  16. Tim Stodola

    RIP Whale (Paul Weakly).
    1983, I had just got out of the USCG and headed to St. Pete for SORC, I met Whale on “Thunderbolt”. He took me under his wing, gave me a place to stay in return for work on the boat, and introduced me to many of the BN’s and sailing industry people that I still call friends today!
    All who knew him, knew the warmth of a friend, and were regaled with tall sailing stories. Although I hadn’t seen him in quite a few years, memories of him will be with me till we meet again.

  17. Bob Kimball

    My first Whale encounter was in Moorehead City
    We were on different boat delivery’s in the 70’s.Paul was waiting for his weather window and off across the pond on a Motor Sailor . Then there were the Grand Prix Yacht
    Brokerage days where his b/n car was a Corniche , and often seen driving into Derecktor’s playing the part of who he was……..Whale will be missed….let the stories continue……Sail on Whale

  18. Jeffery Alexander

    Whale was one of my close and oldest friends in the world of sailing I could go on forever with stories ( Whale tales) that all of us have about The Whale ,our experiences we have all shared with him. The man loved life and showed it! And was one hell of a sailor. Knowing the man I’am sure he would say , only be sad for a moment and when you are at sea remember me in Reverie!!

  19. Don Anderson

    The international sailing community has lost another great one. The Whale (aka Paul Weakley to the government and his family) passed today. A true legend. A competitor in just about every major sailing race in the world, he had friends everywhere.
    I first met Whale in the mid 70’s during the SORC days. 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. Whale would be down from Canada and I was coming in from California (as he called it the left coast where the tree huggers lived), but we formed a friendship that lasted through the ages.
    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.
    Whale had a heart bigger than a whale. He was a true friend that if you needed help, he was your “go to guy.” He would drop everything and help solve any problem. He had a gift for that and I was proud to be one of his oldest friends.
    Eight bells. It’s the end of your watch my friend. You will be missed.

  20. Eng. Vinnie Jones

    I’m deeply saddened by the loss of a true friend. Paul Weakley (aka Whale) will be missed but never forgotten. He was a mentor to me and taught me so much of what I know today about boating. Whale had a wealth of knowledge and took the time to teach and make it fun. Twenty years ago, I first was first introduced to Whale by another legend Freddy Appleton. When I first met these two I had now idea what i was in for. At this point in my life I was a green as they come, and Whale quickly took me under his wing. Among other things I was immediately assigned to ice cube and toaster oven duty. I was taught how to whip, splice, make monkeys fists, stand watch, lines fenders, clean boats properly, and much more. We spent countless hours talking about our love of racing sailboats, our love of the sea, and listening to Buffet. Being away from home for the fist time in my life I found a home away from home. A place to go to get away from the madness. A place to cook a meal and be with friends. So many friends did I meet and created long lasting friendships. It was my second family and I had Paul to thank for that. He had a heart of gold and a story to tell. So here are to ships that sail the seas. There are small ships and big ships, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Editor’s Picks