At the International Conference of Professional Yacht Brokers in Baltimore this week, Florida yacht broker John Weller received a new award named in honor of Paul Bennett, a successful and exemplary yacht broker and 13-year member of the board of the Yacht Brokers Association of America, who died two years ago after many years of living with cancer.
John works at Allied Marine, at Bahia Mar, in Florida, and for more than three decades he has set an exemplary standard in the yacht brokerage business. According to Bill Full, of East Coast Yacht Sales, who made the presentation, John stood out from other worthy candidates as one who has provided exceptional service in his community, where for 30 years he’s run an annual fishing tournament for adults and children in a Big Brothers and Sisters program. He’s also been involved in getting disabled people out in specially adapted sailboats, and more recently arranged to take people with cancer and their families out on the water on clients’ boats to help normalize their lives and reduce the stress of living with the disease. The latter, which have become known as "Weller Days" is something John told me he’s done since he started fighting cancer himself.
In receiving the award, John described how he and his wife were outbound on a cruise toward the Panama Canal, 35 years ago, when they were hit by a 50-knot blow, and were running at 8 knots under bare poles. They put into port on the Florida coast, where he met Dick Bertram and was offered a job. He’s been there ever since.
John didn’t spend much time reflecting on his career as a yacht broker, but said he intended to put the honor of this award to use in a way he thought Paul Bennett would appreciate. With that he extended an offer to lend a hand to any broker wishing to duplicate his programs, which all now come under the banner of the Freedom Waters Foundation, co-founded by John and Debra Frenkel.