By Lucy Chabot Reed
Friends and colleagues mourned what seemed like the sudden passing of Capt. Alexander Damrell Greenson earlier this week. He died in the early morning hours of Sept. 26 of cancer.
In yachting more than 30 years, Capt. Greenson had just finished managing the build and launch of M/Y EIV, a 165-foot (50m) Rossinavi formerly known as Project Vector. The vessel launched in June, and one of his social media posts from Aug. 6 shows him returning from sea trials.
It was at about that time — after a few months of random pain– that a biopsy confirmed a mass on his liver was cancer.
Capt. Greenson remained committed to his job and boat, according to his partner, Caroline Dewey, on his Caring Bridge journal, and continued with a planned five-week cruise with the owner and guests. He flew home to the United States in mid-September, and was soon admitted to the hospital, where he died about a week later.
Capt. Greenson got his start in yachting aboard a small vessel in Newport in the summer of 1989. Industry veteran Norma Trease secured that post for him.
“He walked into my office in Newport and said ‘I want to get into yachting and I’ll do whatever it takes’,” Trease recalled. He had grown up sailing in Connecticut and had what she called a prep school look, so she found him a job that summer as chef/mate on the yacht of a friend.
He would work myriad jobs over the ensuing decades, including skippering the presidential yacht M/Y Sequoia in the late 1990s and helping build the 105-foot modern schooner America 2.0. He spent about 15 years running M/Y Panthera, based in Ibiza. He shared his experiences cruising in Greece during the 2004 Olympic Games in this Triton story.
“His exemplary yachting career has inspired many crew to follow in his footsteps, and he is beloved and mourned by friends and family worldwide,” Trease wrote on her Facebook page this week.
“It’s a big loss to me and many in yachting,” said Capt. Martyn Walker, who met Capt. Greenson in Palma when he was the stew on S/Y Aile Blanc, the 100-foot (30m) Camper & Nicholsons launched in 1939. Capt. Greenson would soon become her captain.
“On his recommendation in 2008, I hired his daughter, Seldon, on M/Y Pegasus II and she met her now husband, Mark Jones, and they went off to excel in yachting after sailing with me for a couple of years” Capt. Walker said.
“One of the great distinguishing characteristics about Alex was his non-stop networking throughout his career,” said Trease. Being based in Ibiza meant he had the winters free, and he attended events, boat shows and parties regularly, she said. “His self education never stopped. He really worked hard on his career and personal growth.”
Most recently, he had invested time learning to be a better photographer, she said. He also had a passion for cycling and painting.
The last time Trease saw Capt. Greenson in person was at last year’s International Superyacht Society gala just before the Fort Lauderdale show. She interviewed him on the red carpet wearing a “beautiful blue brocade dinner jacket.”
“I asked him ‘Who are you wearing?’ and he said it was his grandfather’s dinner jacket,” she said. “His grandfather had bought it to go on a cruise and he inherited it. It fit him like a glove.
“He was a really special person and brought out really great things in the people around him, not only in yachting, but as a human,” Trease said. “He was a great human being.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is editor/publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.