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I’ve been around boats my whole life, from a little inflatable with an outboard that I was driving around when I was 9 to the Hobie cat we got when I was in middle school. That’s what our weekends were, diving or wakeboarding or sailing when we weren’t playing sports. My dad was working as a stockbroker and he wanted out. He recognized the investments industry was changing, so he took an opportunity that changed everything: he decided to build a catamaran sailboat.
I remember going up to St. Augustine and watching them build the boat. Maybe that’s what sparked my interest in construction, along with helping my dad restore two of our personal boats. Once the catamaran was finished, it could hold up to 49 people, and the family business for the next 15 years was running charters in Palm Beach. It was a full-time job for my dad and it was nights and weekends for me. Even in college, I was coming home to run big charters. When I was 13, my dad had me take the Coast Guard captain’s course — just to go through the class and learn, since you can’t get a captain’s license until you’re 18. I passed the test. Just never got my license.
My dad had been a sailing race captain and the commodore of the Palm Beach Sailing Club, so he ran the boat like it was a race. He named the boat They Call the Wind Mariah after the Kingston Trio song. It always stuck with him as a neat reference, wandering alone and just having the sound of the wind with you. While my dad was captaining, I kept guests entertained — snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing out in the Lake Worth inlet. We shared in some life events, since people would hire the charter for weddings or even to spread their loved ones’ ashes. My dad had taught me to snorkel right around when I learned how to swim, so I’d take people out show them puffer fish and manatees. It was a dream, being able to make some money as a teenager and take people sailing and snorkeling. But my favorite part of working the boat was sharing the experience with my dad, having that connection and seeing him build a business around something we loved.
But my favorite part of working the boat was sharing the experience with my dad.
I started working at Suffolk as an intern, then became a Career Start before going into the field as a superintendent. Everything I learned from my dad on the boat helped me when it came to the jobsite. He never let the crew sit idle. As a teenager working on the boat, I thought it was annoying, that my dad was just being my dad and making me do something. But as I got older, I realized we were creating this experience for people who may have never been on a boat, and we were responsible for keeping them safe. When we had swimmers in the water, I was on lifeguard duty, and I had to rescue multiple swimmers in distress. There was always something to be done. And that’s the superintendent I became. I was always out walking the job, thinking about the work we were doing and making course corrections based on what was happening in the field — just like we did when it came to wind, tides and currents on the boat.
I’ve got my own kids now and all my free time is spent wrangling them, but we’ve started getting out on the water together. My son is 4 now, and once he gets a little older, I’ve got it in my mind to rejoin the Palm Beach Sailing Club. We also got my daughter her own paddleboard for Christmas. On the last weekend of her summer break, we just paddled around the intercoastal through the mangroves. She went to school and they asked for her highlight of the summer — she told them it was paddling with her dad. That was pretty great for me.
Lifelong South Floridian Tim Havill is a warranty manager at Suffolk’s West Palm Beach office. He is a graduate of Suffolk’s Career Start program, during which he built a school at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and a data center in Charleston, S.C.
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