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January 4, 2010

PAE loses two friends

PAE is saddened by the loss of two dear friends over the past weeks – two men who were pioneering Nordhavn owners in their own right. Jim Sink made voyaging history in his yacht and set the standard for Nordhavn cruising; while Ross Ritto made history with the outfitting and technological advancements of his Nordhavn.

Jim Sink passed away yesterday at the age of 80. A long-time friend and supporter of the company, Jim gained notoriety – and a place in the record books – by becoming the first person to circumnavigate in a production trawler yacht. In 1990, he and wife, Susy, spent five years on their global cruise. They logged more than 50,000 nm on board their Nordhavn 46, Salvation II, and paved the way for future Nordhavn owners, eager to see the world on their own boats. “Jim Sink was an inspiration to many yachtsmen,” said PAE Vice President, Jim Leishman, who cruised extensively with the Sinks on board their boat.

A former Navy pilot, Jim was a staunch supporter of Nordhavn. “It’s the only boat I know that’s so acceptable to all three modes [of cruising]: ocean crossing, coastal cruising and inland cruising,” he told Circumnavigator magazine in 2003.

The knowledgeable seaman was a member of the prestigious Cruising Club of America and named Trawler World Passagemaker of the Year in 1996, following the conclusion of his circumnavigation. Well after the Sinks sold their boat, Jim continued to be an advocate for the company and he and Susy even relocated to Dana Point – less than a mile from PAE’s headquarters – where he could easily keep up on Nordhavn goings-on.

“Jim was a good personal friend and helped us all a great deal to put Nordhavn on the map,” said Jim Leishman. “He’ll be missed.”

On the cusp of making his own mark on the boating world was Ross Ritto, who died December 23, 2009, after a four-month battle with cancer. Ross was an electronics wizard, having founded his own company, Sound Image, nearly 40 years ago, which started as a touring live sound company. As an entrepreneur, Ross had earned his claim to fame by providing the sound engineering at concerts for huge acts like Jimmy Buffett. It was Buffett who introduced Ross to Nordhavn when he invited him for a ride on his Nordhavn 62, Continental Drifter.

A hard-core sailor, Ross liked the Nordhavn concept, and in 2005 took delivery of a brand new Nordhavn 55. Ross designed and installed the navigation and media on his own. In early 2009 Ross took delivery of a new boat, a Nordhavn 76, which set a number of “firsts” for a Nordhavn: it is the first-ever twin-engine, dry-stack exhaust Nordhavn; and, more interestingly, it is the first all-LED lit Nordhavn, a concept that has taken hold with future Nordhavns. Additionally, Ross campaigned for his boat to be equipped with several cutting edge electronics including an all-digital camera system and hi-tech bridge navigation and video switching systems. And, just as he did with his first Nordhavn, Ross completed the installation (with a little help from some Sound Image staff techs) all himself.

When asked about the avant-garde electrical systems – some which had never been installed on a boat of any kind – Ross speculated it as being the wave of the future. “This is beyond HD,” he said.

Ross was a great customer and friend. We concur with his wife, Katie, who aptly and simply summed his as “a life well-lived.”

Missed, but certainly not forgotten, we salute Jim Sink and Ross Ritto for the impact they have had on Nordhavn, both personally and professionally. Our hearts go out to the friends and families of these two terrific people.