Obituary : Captain Kevin O’Regan

Captain Kevin O’Regan 17th April 1926 – 14th May 2015.

 

I last saw Captain Kevin the evening before he died. “I think this is the final chapter,” he said, looking at me intently.

“Yes, but it was one hell of a book,” I replied.

The woolly cheeks that had delighted so many children when he played Santa Claus year after year, creased up to frame his eyes and the familiar rasping chuckle punctuated his words, “Oh, that it was! It certainly was!”

Kevin was born into an affluent Irish family whose life was tightly bound to the sea. His father ran a successful ship chandlery business, shipping coal and china clay while working with the harbour commissioners in Cobh. After boarding school, Kevin joined the business and soon discovered that the difficulties of communication between far flung ports allowed him to go AWOL in some of the world’s most exotic places.

His tales of flying across Australia in a bi-plane were matched by those of his first taste of Mallorca in the early 1950s. Exploring the Tramontana Mountains back then involved travelling by a combination of bicycle and donkey but in them Kevin found an island that fed his soul.

When Kevin married Alice in 1956, he brought her to El Terreno on honeymoon so that his bride could also experience the charms of Mallorca.

Kevin is survived by his daughter, Valerie, and son, Patrick, plus six grandchildren, all of whom he was immeasurably proud of.

His life went through a dark period following the death of his father and brother within three months of each other, and the subsequent sale of the family business. Kevin took refuge in the bottle until frequent memory lapses scared him so much that he ended up at the Aiseiri Centre under the watchful eye of Sister Eileen. Anyone who knew Kevin will have heard the tales of how the tough love of this one nun saved his life, and after months in treatment he came out clean. He then began offering support to all manner of recovering addicts whose stories he understood so well.

Sober, but wary of slipping back into old habits, Kevin set off for a new life in Mallorca when he purchased a bright red ketch, aptly named, Bloody Mary.

His love of theatre and singing made him a larger than life character in Palma’s Club de Mar. When a group of live-aboards and superyacht captains started discussing how they could give something back to the island that had given them so much, Kevin was in the thick of the negotiations and Joves Navegants was born.

The notion of helping some of the island’s most disadvantaged youth by teaching them to sail was a noble aspiration born from the success of sail training programmes in Northern Europe. However, the day to day reality of fundraising, dealing with teenagers and making them into an effective crew, finding a suitable boat and keeping it properly maintained, takes time, effort and endless tenacity. Since its inception Kevin never wavered in his complete dedication to Joves Navegants and all that it strove to accomplish.

Together with a small group of people who shared his vision, Joves Navegants beat through its many difficulties over the years to emerge as a respected Spanish foundation with Kevin as its lifelong Patron of Honour.

The last page of Kevin’s will reads, Joves Navegants “blossomed beyond my wildest dreams … if a service is held (no flowers please), but I ask you for subscriptions, large or small, for the charity Joves Navegants. This will make me very happy, as I go on my merry way, with the wind on the quarter and a stern following sea. Capt’n Kev.”

Joves Navegants ISBN: ES42 0487 2170 1220 0000 4445

 

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