Bruce R. Brakenhoff, Sr., co-founder of the well-known brokerage firm Bartram and Brakenhoff and a leader in ethical and legal practices for yacht-sales and yacht-charter brokers, died on June 15. He was 80 years old.
Like many in the marine industry, Brakenhoff (far right in the photo) was bitten by the boating bug in childhood. While growing up in Larchmont, New York, he enjoyed cruising on his family’s boats. He went on to purchase some himself, too. Sailboat racing was a particular passion, both with one designs and offshore yachts. No surprise, then, that Brakenhoff became a member of several yacht clubs, including the New York Yacht Club, and was involved in racing events, such as the ones at Key West and Block Island.
Brakenhoff’s marine career began more than 50 years ago at Orienta Marine in New York, not far from his hometown. He went on to join Northrop & Johnson and became vice president. In 1967, Brakenhoff co-founded Bartram and Brakenhoff with J. Burr “Joe” Bartram, Jr. (left in the photo), a friend and fellow broker who shared his passion for sales and sailing.
Equally important, Brakenhoff was the ethics committee chairman for the Yacht Brokers Association of America for more than two decades. He further served as treasurer of the American Yacht Charter Association. Brakenhoff is credited with writing some of the first contracts used in the charter industry. He’s also credited with creating ethical and business-practice standards that continue to be used by charter brokers worldwide.
Brakenhoff is survived by his wife, Noel; his son, Bruce, Jr.; his daughter Betsy; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in July.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting Brakenhoff on a yacht charter a few months after I entered the yachting business in 1993. Though I knew just a bit about his background, his reputation loomed large. What could have been an intimidating situation became a comfortable one, as Brakenhoff was enjoyable to speak with, and someone I knew I would continue to respect for some time.