The yachting community is mourning the loss of Jimmy Buffett, a man who sang its stories.
Tributes have poured in from around the yachting world for Jimmy Buffett. The singer, songwriter, author, entrepreneur – and always, consummate waterman – died Friday, according to an announcement on his website. He was 76.
In many ways, Buffett’s music was the soundtrack of the yachting, fishing, oceangoing lifestyle – ubiquitous in dockside bars and in the onboard cassette collections that preceded digital music. Buffett’s subject matter came to him honestly – he was himself skilled on the water, an avid fisherman, a supporter of ocean conservation causes and an owner of many yachts through the years.
“Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends, music and dogs,” the statement on his website read. “He lived his life like a song till the very last breath and will be missed beyond measure by so many.”
Instagram user islandtime71, who in his bio refers to himself as a “200T Yacht Captain, Florida native, proud Veteran,” posted several pictures of the singer.
“Can’t believe the day has come, what a great ride it’s been,” he wrote. “Thank you for the soundtrack to my life Jimmy.”
Nautical clothing and lifestyle brand The Qualified Captain wrote: “Nobody sang about the waterman’s lifestyle better.”
Florida-based Merritt Boatworks teamed several years ago with Freeman Boatworks and Pipewelders Marine to build Buffett the Last Mango, a 42-foot custom catamaran. In an online tribute, the Merritt team called him “an all time legend. He was an inspiration across so many platforms on top of his music, he inspired us to engage in projects we would have never thought possible. He was a selfless man who shared his great success with so many through his charities and the people around him. It was always great to have his contagious smile and positive energy around the boatyard when he would visit.”
Captain Ryan Harrington, a fishing charter captain, posted Buffett’s classic song of the ocean-going life, Son of a Son of a Sailor.
“Being born and raised and growing up on Tierra Verde in the 80’s and 90’s the island was full of parrot heads,” he wrote. “Today the culture has changed out there but back in the day you could go down any canal on a weekend and hear Jimmy Buffett playing. It was more of a culture than anything. His music outlined the lives we lived, fishing, boating, traveling, indulging in cocktails, living somewhere tropical surrounded by water, and being stress free.
“My Dad started taking me to Parrot Head meetings when I was 6 years old. Pretty sure Buffet was my first concert. Those were events where people young and old, grandparents, kids, doctors, lawyers, drunks, stoners, rich and poor would all come together …
“We all have that song that makes us stop what we are doing and give a listen and subliminally start singing along. For me, it’s ‘A Pirate Looks At 40. After my Mom passed when I was 12 years old, my Aunt and Uncle came down and went on a mini healing getaway down to the Keys. That song would play at every tiki bar and to this day it brings tears to my eyes. Hearing ‘Mother Mother Ocean’ brings me right back to that trip as we would cry and sing together but if brought us together and got us through our loss…
“RIP Jimmy, thank you for the memories and the bonds you brought to people’s lives over the years.”
In 2018, Buffett spoke to Boat International about his life in boats and the sailing yacht he’d recently downsized to, a custom 15.24-metre motor sailer designed by Ted Fontaine called Drifter. ““I love beautifully designed, traditional boats,” he said.
He also reminisced about previous boats he’d owned, including the first one, a Cheoy Lee Offshore 33 that he bought in 1976 after his album A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean came out.
“I said, ‘Look, I don’t know if this music thing is going to last, but no matter what, I can sail, I can cook, and I can sing, and I know that I can live on the boat and go where I want.’”
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