Don Patton, of Patton Marine, Miami, Florida, died on February 15, 2018 just a couple months shy of his 89 birthday. Patton was recognized as one of the premier marine surveyors in the world. In the marine business for 73 years, he had a profound knowledge of power, sail, and commercial vessels. His surveying skills and consultation took him around the world from the Americas to Europe, Asia and Down Under. His main work revolved around pre-purchase surveys for just about every major superyacht brand— plus writing specifications for new builds and refits and doing evaluations and appraisals for insurance companies, banks and philanthropic donations among other tasks.
Patton grew up in Connecticut around Long Island Sound. In his youth, he raced dinghies and Lightnings and had summer jobs skippering boats and making deliveries. In the 1940’s he began working in boatyards, first in Connecticut, then in Florida. His first proprietary business in Florida was a marine salvage company. Intermittently, from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, he crewed in various sailboat-racing circuits such as the S.O.R.C, and other regattas in North and South America, Bermuda, Sweden, and Cuba. An accomplished sailor, Patton raced aboard many illustrious yachts such as Ticonderoga, Kialoah, Escapade, and Ondine. He was very proud to be a part of their history.
At Marine Salvage company, he ran a crane barge called Humble CT-1. In the early '70s, he was a yacht broker for Richard Bertram and Co. In the late '70s, he opened his own brokerage firm Worldwide Yacht and Ship. Since starting in marine survey in the '80s, Patton had spawned and mentored many top-tier surveyors in the business.
He will be remembered not only for his professional acumen but also for his engaging personality and irascible wit. He never missed a party or a fun yachting event. Even in his later years, It was not unusual to run into him at a black tie event in Monaco, a beach barbecue in Newport, RI, on the docks in Fort Lauderdale, or racing in the St Barths Bucket. In his later years, following a mishap at Turkish shipyard, he sported a cane with the dash and dignity of Fred Astaire.
Donations can be made in his Patton’s name to one of his favorite charities: Team Paradise in Coconut Grove, a sailing organization that gives the disabled community the opportunity to sail at all levels of expertise from recreational sailing to world class competition. teamparadise.org
Mr. Patton's memorial service was held at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami on March 5, 2018. By all accounts it was a memorable event.
The following piece by Ernie Gann, American aviator, sailor, author, and conservationist, was read at his memorial service:
LIFE IS ETERNAL
I am standing upon the sea shore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone."
Gone from my sight -- that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when some one at my side says, "There! She's gone," there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "There she comes!"