By Dorie Cox
Capt. Joshua Wattula had recently accomplished one of his goals: to be master of a yacht. He had recently been hired as captain on M/Y ForaPlay, a Pershing.
But friends said he did not show up to work on the yacht on June 24. He was found dead in the house where the crew stayed in the Hamptons area of New York. The cause of death has not been determined; his family awaits toxicology reports. He was 29.
“He was just at the top of his game, he was killing it – his first time in international waters in the Bahamas and first trip to New England [as captain],” said friend Capt. Jared Woodin of the 70-foot M/Y Wicked. “This is so abrupt.”
Capt. Woodin hopes to help organize a memorial in South Florida for his friend, whom he said was “the closest thing to a brother to me.”
Capt. Wattula gained experience toward his captain’s license with work on motor yachts including Murphy’s Law, a 125-foot Delta; Atlantica, a 135-foot Christensen; Take 5, a 115-foot Sunseeker; Sovereign, a 125-foot Broward; and Lady Sheridan, a 190-foot Abeking & Rasmussen.
Mate/Engr. Rory Callahan was on the dock at Chelsea Piers in New York City and caught the lines when Capt. Wattula recently pulled in on M/Y ForaPlay for the season in Sag Harbor. Callahan, who works on M/Y Sima, a 98-foot Santa Margarita, met Capt. Wattula about eight years ago and had watched him move up in his career from dayworking.
“He loved what he did and saw this as a lifetime career,” Callahan said.
The loss will be big for the rest of the crew who met in a crew house eight years ago, Callahan said. They keep in touch, visit each other and meet up around the world. Callahan had visited Capt. Wattula in his hometown of Seattle, and the two planned a reciprocal trip to Callahan’s home.
Friend Capt. Peter Hunziker recalls their recent trip up the Eastern seaboard.
Aside from personal relationships, the yacht industry has lost a mentor who was “encouraging, generous and genuine,” Callahan said. “He was very amicable, outgoing, and never put people down at work. Instead, he would show how he would do it.”
Capt. Wattula loved to work on deck, but had no problem going down to help in engine rooms or to help stews, Callahan said. “He was an all-around helper and did not begrudge working.”
Callahan added that he would miss his friend’s sincere personality and the way people smiled when he walked into a room. “Josh was an old friend I could always count on,” he said.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below. If you would like to add stories and photos to this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.