Capt. Louden “Lou” Hoffman, chief training officer at ICT in Ft. Lauderdale, died Nov. 9. Capt. Hoffman collapsed upon arrival to work, was taken to a hospital and never regained consciousness. He was 70.
Capt. Hoffman was an MCA 3000 gt master, instructor and examiner with the company for about 15 years. He instructed RYA courses, both MCA and U.S. Coast Guard certification courses, OOW and STCW.
Capt. Hoffman previously instructed maritime courses at Chapman’s School of Seamanship in Stuart, Fla., at the STAR Center in Dania Beach, Fla., and at the Maritime School of the West Indies in St. Maarten. His experience in power and sail on private and charter yachts took him to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters.
Friends, family and colleagues gathered at a pub in mid-November to share stories during a celebration of his life. Colleagues talked of his influence at work.
Jay Lasner, CEO of ICT, was on an instructional sail in the mid-1990s where Capt. Hoffman was teaching.
“He was an extraordinary instructor so I asked him to come to our school,” Lasner said. “He was patient and knew how to approach students when roadblocked. He knew how to get through and never gave up. I saw that in him.
“He managed to get through to all those students because he truly cared about every single one of them and took their success personally, and they knew it,” he said. “He inspired them to be as good as they could be.”
“He leaves a big void,” said Capt. Brian Luke, chief operations officer for ICT. “Lou was one of the longest standing people at ICT.”
James James, co-owner of Yacht Chandlers, which shares the building with ICT, saw a high level of professionalism in Capt. Hoffman.
“If he said he was going to do something, it was done,” James said. “No follow-up e-mail or text was necessary. I could imagine how he was as a captain. He took things personally, from the trash to the big things.
“He looked a little stern, but he wasn’t,” he said. “He liked to work, but he liked to have fun. I can’t even begin to figure out how many students he taught during his career.”
MCA compliance instructor M.W. “Mig” Urquhart said Capt. Hoffman was a mentor when she first started at ICT about nine months ago.
“He had the patience of a saint,” she said. “I would go to him in a panic and he would leave what he was doing to help.”
Jason King, CEO of King’s Institute of Private Services, taught interior courses at ICT and said Capt. Hoffman worked long hours.
“He was always there, and in three years I don’t think I ever saw him angry,” King said. “He never talked about retirement.”
His wife of 45 years, Judy, said he was often at the helm on their vacation charters to Cuba, the Greek Islands and his favorite, the British Virgin Islands. A dream of his had always been to sail to Cape Horn, so he booked passage a small tour ship that carried about 400 people interested in the maritime aspects of cruising. She treasures a photo she took of him there, with Cape Horn in the distance.
“He was blasted with snow, even the crew wouldn’t go on deck to take it,” Mrs. Hoffman said. “Life with him was an adventure.
“He held court on that boat,” she said. “Near the equator one afternoon they held a ceremony and Lou said, ‘This is not the equator yet.”
The captain of the tour timed the ceremony to be more convenient for the guests, but people started asking Capt. Hoffman when they would really cross it and when he planned to go out on deck to throw his gift to the sea.
“So, during the actual crossing, passengers chose to join Lou in the middle of the night,” she said.
Capt. Hoffman is survived by his wife, three daughters and four grandchildren.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends are invited to share memories and photos with Lou’s family and friends on Facebook at “Captain Lou Hoffman Memorial Page“.