By Capt. Peter Hunziker
I have been dear friends with Josh Wattula for as long as I have been in yachting [“Friends remember Capt. Joshua Wattula“, posted June 28]. From Miami to New York and many cities in between, we clicked and picked up just as the last time we left off. His love for the water and passion for life was unlike any energy I’d ever been around. Together we shake and baked, movers and doers, he handled any challenge in his way.
We recently traveled the Eastern seaboard together to New York last month – the running joke was that he couldn’t catch me and my dad because I would leave an hour early out of port to beat him to the next spot. Boy, did we have fun – we drank and we ate and we laughed like kings. He would take over any room that he walked into.
It was an extremely special trip for me as I brought my father, who has stage 3 terminal cancer. Josh met my dad and immediately they became best friends, as my father would say. Josh’s lingo didn’t hesitate as he dove right in with my dad and called him Pops. They bonded, and he made my father feel so special.
It’s been a huge loss for me, my father, and the entire yachting industry. My father has been writing a book about our trip north prior to Josh’s passing and Josh is one of the main characters as we stopped in Charleston, Beaufort, Virginia Beach, Atlantic City, and the final destination, New York. The book will be dedicated to him.
He had us laughing out of our seats every night and every day. I’ll never forget being mates before we became captains – we were on Fisher Island in Miami and we would walk our owners’ dogs together and just talk about the future and the endless possibilities. On our trip north last month, we reflected on the past and the future and we complimented one another at the highest levels because we had come so far from walking dogs and being mates, to growing into young, confident, competent licensed captains.
This was Josh’s first full-time captain’s position – he was so excited and full of life. I feel like as I’m writing this, I’m walking next to him, talking as we were last month. I can hear the conversation and see it now. He was so excited and proud, as he should have been.
I truly am at a loss of words and emotions for this tragic loss of my dear great best buddy. I’m writing this at sea; I’ve been crossing from Marsh Harbor to Bermuda since Sunday night. Sunday night, I also talked to Josh. To receive the news that he had passed Monday afternoon and having four more days of cruising and well over 500 miles to go to Bermuda, I can’t explain the waves of emotions that has put me through.
I will miss Josh for the rest of my life. He was an amazing friend, worker, son, and captain. I idolized his outlook on life. We were two peas in a pod. It all doesn’t seem real.
As my father, First Mate David Hunziker, said Monday: Rest In Peace Capt. Josh Wattula, The Best There Ever Was.