On October 6, 2017, Capt. Jack Antoinette, a
captain/engineer veteran of the yachting industry of 40 years, passed away
after losing his battle with liver cancer. Here, Chief Engineer Travis
Liberatori 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 Chief
Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army, John Leo Antionette, a WW2, Korea, and
Vietnam veteran. He lived most his life in Hialeah, as did Jack, who passed
away 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 the
Jack saved my life in two ways — by talking me out of going
back into the Army in 2003 when I was a blind 23-year-old and giving me a trade
and 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. I
would travel, explore, and do things that I never could have imagined in my
In his early teens, Jack was a commercial spear fisherman,
filling boats off Cay Sal Banks with snapper and lobster, and likely the
occasional square grouper. He was a genius engineer at a young age, engineering
such yachts as M/Y Big Eagle, M/Y Mia Elise, M/Y Ultima III, M/Y Queen of
Diamonds, and more. Later he got married, went land-based, and ran a
business named Polar Marine, a leading marine HVAC service in the mid-’90s in
As he aged he was drawn back to the sea, building yachts
such as M/Y Adler and captaining yachts
such as M/Y Osiana. He also
engineered many, many more. Jack was the last of the old school mariners who
didn’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 zone
as 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 was
a sign that I’d be a life-long mariner. I laughed, but he was right. He truly
was a pirate, with some strange and unspoken connection with the ocean.
He was a talker and a storyteller, a real character — sometimes
good, sometimes bad. That’s how he got his nickname, Captain Jack Sparrow. You
just never knew with Jack. He even had twin sparrow tattoos on his shoulders,
though he disliked tattoos; a unique amalgamation of everything strange and
mariner — that was Jack.
Jack had his issues like most, but he was special. The
closest thing to a real life pirate I’ve ever met. He upset some and saved
others. But without him, the last thing I ever could have seen was the inside
of an armored vehicle exploding, or worse. Instead I saw the Exumas, Monaco,
Newport, Spain, Corsica, Maine, France, Mexico, Sardinia, Gibraltar, and so
many more, more amazing places than I ever imagined I’d see in a lifetime. I met
more amazing people than I knew existed. And I’m still just getting started.
He taught me so many things, as did his nephew Joseph
Antionette. 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 he
encountered through stories, pictures, and memories. There will be a little
Captain 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 Jack
Antionette can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”