WALBRIDGE, Robin dearly loved captain of the HMS Bounty, has gone to his eternal rest, and passed from this world to the next while following the passion of his life. Robin was born Oct. 25, 1949. From the start, Robin charted his own course and followed his own stars. His course led him across the globe, but he was anchored in four loves: youth, the sea, the HMS Bounty, and his beloved Claudia. His passion for teaching held no bounds. From taking adjudicated "hard core" youth to sea, to developing training programs for children with disabilities, Robin believed that ships were living classrooms. Countless scores of children and adults found purpose in their lives while on the decks under Robin's tutelage. Robin, nonetheless, believed that the sea was the true teacher-a place where those who searched could find meaning. His love for the sea had early childhood beginnings: a mother who encouraged him to smell the salt air, to touch the slippery seaweed and examine the seashells. Since the day he borrowed a sailboat at age 18, "the sea cast its spell on him and held him in its net of wonder" for the rest of his life. He went on to chart an amazing nautical career that spanned the gamut, beginning as a field mechanic on Miller houseboats on the Suwanee River. He went on to mate and captain such vessels as the Governor Stone, the Bill of Rights, the Heritage of Miami, and the HMS Rose. The highlight of the captain's stellar career was the two years and 15 voyages training the crew of the U.S.S. Constitution. Robin was honored by being asked to be at the helm of "Old Ironsides" as the guest Captain/Advisor for her "awe inspiring" first sail in 116 years. For Robin, the HMS Bounty was a labor of love, an extension of himself. After taking the helm in 1995, under different owners and multiple crews, Robin took a near derelict movie prop vessel and helped transform her into an ambassador of peace and goodwill for hundreds of thousands of adoring fans worldwide. Under Captain Walbridge, the Bounty has spanned the globe, highlighted by ports of call in Boothbay Harbor, Barcelona, Scotland, Norway, Halifax, and Gdansk. Despite his world travels, Robin cherished the quality time spent with the love of his life, Claudia. In his spare time, Robin was also an excellent amateur photographer, and a master craftsman of furniture and kayaks. An accomplished story teller, he enjoyed swapping tales of his adventures with his many close friends. Robin, son of the late Howard and Anna (Palmer) Walbridge, is survived by his beloved wife and soul mate, Claudia McCann; step-daughter, Shelly McCann; and granddaughter, Tara McCann, both of Fall River MA; his step-mother, Alice Walbridge; his sister, Lucille Walbridge Jansen; step-brother, Steve Patterson, all of Vermont; and a sister, Delia Walbridge-Gosik of Poland. Wherever his next adventure may take him, we know that this gentle soul, this quiet, self-effacing man, will have only one request: "A tall ship, and a star to steer her by." To celebrate his life, Robin's family will be holding a private memorial service.
Published in Tampa Bay Times on Nov. 6, 2012.