Sven Ola Joffs, 83, Was Sailor, Native of Finland
Friends and neighbors of the late Sven Ola Joffs of Barnes Road, Oak Bluffs, are invited to attend an informal memorial gathering at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Sail Martha's Vineyard headquarters (D.A.R. building,) 110 Main street, Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Joffs, who died July 11, was born in Helsinki, Finland, on May 9, 1921, the son of Rafael Joffs, a businessman and hotel owner, and Maria Linnea Lindqvist Joffs, an architect. He went to sea as a cadet in 1939, at age 18. By age 19 Mr. Joffs was a seaman aboard the four-masted bark Pamir, when the New Zealand government in the early days of World War II famously impounded her along with her crew. After he was free to leave New Zealand, Mr. Joffs became a merchant seaman, sailing bos'un on American ships and becoming an American citizen.
"Between ships" in the merchant fleet, Mr. Joffs sailed his own 34-foot Alden sloop single-handed in the Caribbean and trans-Atlantic four times, before becoming a full-time professional captain on some of the most successful American ocean-racing yachts of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s including the renowned Ondine yachts of Sumner A. Long. He uncompromisingly taught dozens of crewmembers the rules of ships and the sea, making an indelible impression on each of them.
After retiring in 1990 to his home on the Lagoon in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Joffs became a builder of intricate ship models and a sailor of model boats. He leaves his cousin, Gunnel Kervinen, of Finland, and the many friends to whom he was a unique and extraordinary personality.