On October 6, 2017, Capt. Jack Antoinette, acaptain/engineer veteran of the yachting industry of 40 years, passed awayafter losing his battle with liver cancer. Here, Chief Engineer TravisLiberatori pays tribute to the man who changed his life.
“His name was Jack Antionette. He was born October 5, 1954,on an army base in Virginia to Mary Ann Antionette. His father was ChiefWarrant Officer in the U.S. Army, John Leo Antionette, a WW2, Korea, andVietnam veteran. He lived most his life in Hialeah, as did Jack, who passedaway from liver cancer on October 6, 2017. The things Jack did in between would change many lives —maybe the world, for better and worse. For me, he changed my life for thebetter.
Jack saved my life in two ways — by talking me out of goingback into the Army in 2003 when I was a blind 23-year-old and giving me a tradeand something to live for. I would become a licensed marine engineer — a yachtie.Along with it came a lifelong friend, a crazy uncle. His family became mine. Iwould travel, explore, and do things that I never could have imagined in mywildest dreams.
In his early teens, Jack was a commercial spear fisherman,filling boats off Cay Sal Banks with snapper and lobster, and likely theoccasional square grouper. He was a genius engineer at a young age, engineeringsuch yachts as M/Y Big Eagle, M/Y Mia Elise, M/Y Ultima III, M/Y Queen ofDiamonds, and more. Later he got married, went land-based, and ran abusiness named Polar Marine, a leading marine HVAC service in the mid-’90s inFort Lauderdale.
As he aged he was drawn back to the sea, building yachtssuch as M/Y Adler and captaining yachtssuch as M/Y Osiana. He alsoengineered many, many more. Jack was the last of the old school mariners whodidn’t have a proper license but could run circles around most who did,including myself. The first time I ever left the country was with Jack on M/Y Osiana. Instead of heading to a war zoneas I had imagined, I was literally heading to paradise — Paradise Island,Nassau. On the way we cruised through fog off The Bahama bank. Jack said it wasa sign that I’d be a life-long mariner. I laughed, but he was right. He trulywas a pirate, with some strange and unspoken connection with the ocean.
He was a talker and a storyteller, a real character — sometimesgood, sometimes bad. That’s how he got his nickname, Captain Jack Sparrow. Youjust never knew with Jack. He even had twin sparrow tattoos on his shoulders,though he disliked tattoos; a unique amalgamation of everything strange andmariner — that was Jack.
Jack had his issues like most, but he was special. Theclosest thing to a real life pirate I’ve ever met. He upset some and savedothers. But without him, the last thing I ever could have seen was the insideof an armored vehicle exploding, or worse. Instead I saw the Exumas, Monaco,Newport, Spain, Corsica, Maine, France, Mexico, Sardinia, Gibraltar, and somany more, more amazing places than I ever imagined I’d see in a lifetime. I metmore amazing people than I knew existed. And I’m still just getting started.
He taught me so many things, as did his nephew JosephAntionette. To these two I’ll forever be grateful.
Jack had no wife or children. He is survived by his mother,brothers, sister, nieces, and nephews. He’ll be remembered by all those heencountered through stories, pictures, and memories. There will be a littleCaptain Jack in all of us who were lucky enough to know him.
Smooth crossings, Jack. You will be missed.
V. Travis Liberatori
Anyone who would like to share their own stories about JackAntionette can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”