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Project foreman and yacht engineer Michael McCaskill died of a heart attack while at work on a yacht in the Bahamas on July 27. His projects included the three-year rebuild of M/Y Serque. He was 52.
Mr. McCaskill was born at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va., and after high school he graduated from the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend, Wash. He got his start working on yachts when he was hired on the conversion of a 115-foot Broward into the 133-foot custom M/Y Serque.
Greg Cox was project manager on the yacht at Ocean Marine in Portsmouth when he hired Mr. McCaskill in 2005. Cox now works as a Volvo Penta field service engineer.
“Mike was a huge part of the mechanical aspect of M/Y Serque,” Cox said. “He was lead on the engine room, he did the mechanical and technical side to find a home for everything to meet compliance and the owner’s requirements.”
From the beginning, Cox said he saw Mr. McCaskill had mechanical and problem-solving skills. And he could handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
“He was a unique worker, one of the best,” Cox said. “He worked from sunup to sundown. He was task oriented and challenged to get the work done quickly with high quality.”
Cox said Mr. McCaskill’s strong family background, including his father’s career in the U.S. Navy as commander and instructor, taught Mr. McCaskill how to work in the yachting industry.
“He understood the respect to pay to crew and owners,” Cox said. “Mike’s only negative was paperwork. He was not good at reports, documenting, or email. But he did it verbally or over the phone.”
Steve Hadik, director of Pole Star Maritime in Woolwich, Maine, also worked with Mr. McCaskill during the past decade.
“Mike was a true craftsman and gentle soul,” he said. “I recall gaining instant respect for him when I learned he had apprenticed at the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. That’s really coming up through the hawsepipe in my experience.
“Mike was always the go-to guy whenever we needed to know what to do or what to expect,” Hadik said. “He never lost his sense of humor or came off in an overbearing, big-ego way. This, coupled with incredible versatile ability, is unique in our waterfront world, and we will miss him a lot.”
James Myhre, vice president of JM Marine Enterprise in Ft. Lauderdale hired Mr. McCaskill as project foreman for the refit of Scout Base Galveston BaySmart in 2013.
“Mike was indispensable for his wide spectrum of knowledge,” Myhre said. “We took the boat down to bare aluminum. He understood all different aspects of it; the plumbing, the electrical, and he could put it together.
“He was a self-described engineer,
we called him our systems engineer,” Myhre said.
John McCaskill said his brother loved his work.
“Mike was master of everything including construction and electrical, and if didn’t, he would strive to know. He had passion.”
Mr. McCaskill is survived by his father, Charles Edward; stepmother, Sarah; daughter, Nellia; son, Kodie (Alexia); grandson, Weston; companion, Camila Bellotti; brothers James and John; and stepsisters Elaine Turner and Stephanie Fridge. He was estranged from his wife, Myrba. He is predeceased by his mother, Suzanne.
A memorial service and interment will be at a later date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to South Florida Animal Rescue Network at firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 305-216-8802.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.
Read more about the refit of M/Y Serque from the November 2008 issue of The Triton: From blown engine to major refit: Introducing the M/Y Serque.
Friends, family and colleagues will on gather on Fri., Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. at the The Pirate Republic Bar, Seafood & Grill for a celebration of Mr. McCaskill’s life.