Humans of Hornblower: Captain Mark Philipps

Written by Damian O’Keeffe on September 27, 2016
Captain Mark Philipps

 

If you think working at a company that’s all about people having fun, eating food and cruising around the greatest city in the world sounds pretty great, you’d be right! But it takes a lot of different people with all types of different backgrounds and stories to bring it all together to create amazing memories for everyone who comes aboard. From food service professionals and chefs to admin staff, right through to our deckhands and the captains who drive our yachts.

This makes for an even more exciting place to work, so we thought it would be a great idea to share some of the stories of the many interesting members of the Hornblower crew.

There was never any doubt that Captain Mark Philipps was always going to be the first Human of Hornblower, after all, Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to him as being straight from central casting. But when we asked him a few questions, what we got in return was an amazing story that we just had to let him tell himself.

Thanks for sharing Captain Mark.

My Family

My Father served in the British Royal Navy as a commanding Officer. He served all through World War II until he retired in 1950. My grandfather, Captain John Philipps, started a nautical ocean salvage business in the USA in 1946 with a grant from allied forces from the USA. In 1951 my father joined in the family business.

My father met my mother at a U.S. Navy fundraiser for wounded maritime officers and sailors of foreign wars. Mom was a native born American from Brooklyn, NY. Mom was a columnist for a local magazine known as LIFE magazine. My grandfather Dominick, from my mother’s side was a soldier in the Italian Army and migrated to the United States in the mid 1930s where he met my grandmother in Brooklyn. My Mom’s family operated a bakery located in Little Italy, NYC.

My Mother and Father married in May 21, 1953. Dad was 15 years older than my mother. Soon after, mom and dad moved to Detroit and started a salvage maritime operation around Lake Michigan. On July 3, 1957 I was the second-born of four siblings. By 1960 mom and dad moved back to New York. My grandfather on my father’s side turned over the family business to my father due to health issues. A few years later grandpa passed. My Mother’s father “Grandpa Dominick” baked his last in 1971.

I had the best childhood anyone could ever wish for. I was blessed with the best mother and father, grandparents, brothers, sister, cousins aunts, uncles, relatives and so on.

My Life

At the age of three, my family moved from Detroit to New York. I grew up in Brooklyn where I spent most of my youth on the waterfront. My family has always been involved with the maritime industry. My father along with his brothers owned and operated a very large maritime ocean salvage business that serviced both the Atlantic coast, Gulf coast and Pacific coast. With this being said I was always around large ocean classed vessels, crane barges and diving equipment. As the years past, I had the best education being surrounded by maritime professionals and had hands on training throughout my early years in life.

By the time I was 18 years old, I started my own business in the maritime industry and by the age of 21, I was able to purchase my first party fishing boat.

In January 1982 I married my soul mate. My wife Margaret She is my best friend, partner and mother of my two beautiful daughters.

By 1983 my business grew, I had three vessels in my fleet. In 1984 I partnered with another operator and started a dinner/charter yacht operating from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. We became very successful. By 1988 we grew into a two vessel operation. I sold off my party boats and devoted all my earnings and time to build VIP Yacht Cruises. As the years progressed, in 1990 we relocated our operation to Battery Park City, World Financial Center at the North Cove Marina in New York. We were the only commercial operator at the North Cove Marina for years. By 1998 we grew into a five-vessel operation. By 2000 we grew into an eight-vessel operation operating in Weehawken NJ, Marco Island FL, Miami FL, and Greenwich CT. 

My career was going very well. I was living the American Dream. It all changed on September 11, 2001. My business operation lived at the World Financial Center, one block away from the catastrophic events of 9/11.

I spent the next nine years trying to survive in business. By 2010, I had to surrender. I lost everything. The economy never came back to support as big an operation as my partner and I had built.

During my many years of business, I have met a variety of people and cherish every moment. I enjoyed the fruits of life and shared them as well. The knowledge I have harvested over the years is priceless.

 I am truly grateful for my immediate family, they followed in the footsteps of my youth, and a family that prays together stays together. My wife was — and is —  my rock, my strength that kept me strong. My daughters were by my wife and me, all of their young and early adult years as I was with my family as well. Although I never had a son to carry on the family maritime legacy, my oldest daughter Connie, is carrying the legacy forward. She is a Captain and has been a member of the Staten Island Ferry, DOT operation for the past ten years. What an overwhelming feeling a father can have to exchange passing signals and communicate over the VHF radio to a fellow captain,his daughter. I am truly blessed. My younger daughter Michelle also spent most of her young and adult years on the water as well. Michelle found a career in the financial markets to be the direction for her future. Michelle had originally set her compass to one day take over the family business but life ended up offering a different course for her.  

Michelle still conducts high level events aboard yachts in NY harbor for all occasions.

New  Beginnings

In 2010 I began a new career in the commercial maritime industry. I returned to my roots in the Tugboat, offshore transportation, salvage operations. I joined McAllister Towing & transportation, Staten Island. I traveled all over the Atlantic coast, Gulf of Mexico, lake Ontario, Canada. I had a good career with McAllister. They are a good company to work for; they care about their crews and vessels.

June, of 2012 I connected with the powers of Hornblower Cruises & Events in New York. They were just starting up there NYC operations at Pier 40 in the West Village. I was offered the position as Director of Maritime Operations. Since joining the Hornblower family, I am truly happy to be associated with a great company. I will be celebrating my fourth year with Hornblower this June. I am looking forward to a long career with them.

This is my destiny I hope for. Hornblower has grown to be a major contender in the maritime industry. I hope my professional contribution to this great company serves them well. I am truly grateful for the support the company extends to all and look forward to many more successful years with Hornblower.

 

CFS