Yacht Eng. Michael Allen Vitiaci died on April 6 in South Florida. An autopsy report has not been issued.
“Michael worked on boats and yachts since he was 18, and his love for the ocean will remain with us,” stated an online obituary. He was 46.
Chief Stew Theresa Bonds met Mr. Vitiaci while working on M/Y Matrix Rose, a 147-foot Sterling. They were part of the crew until January when the yacht was for sale. He then attended classes at Maritime Professional Training in Fort Lauderdale.
Bonds went to work with Capt. Brett Eagans on M/Y Livy Lou, an 85-foot Pacific Mariner, and she suggested they hire the engineer. Mr. Vitiaci was on a day off when he was found dead at his friend’s house, Bonds said. Capt. Eagans offered the yacht for a memorial and they took the family to spread ashes on April 20 in waters off South Florida.
Both Capt. Eagan and Bonds said Mr. Vitiaci was a good engineer, both hands-on and “book smart.”
“He read through his books and aced his tests,” Bonds said. “I don’t think he truly realized his potential, but he said, ‘I’m content with my life and money’.”
She said he was fairly private with his social life and he enjoyed jokes. Bonds told of a day when she was cleaning a guest room while Mr. Vitiaci was working in the engine room.
“When I walk out, I see his big, old handprint on the wall and he busted out laughing,” Bonds said. “He was always cutting up, but he would always help.
“He also went to get a towel to help for under my knees while I was cleaning on the floor. He would do anything for you, but he was like a big kid,” she said. “He would come up like a tough guy, but he had insecurities like everyone. I have good friends, but he’s the one that would always be there.”
Mr. Vitiaci is survived by his parents, Michael and Betty; son Nicholas Michael; daughter Coral Jane; sisters Mayra and Michelle; and brother Javier. A memorial was held on April 8 at T.M. Ralph Plantation Funeral Home.
Click here for an online memorial page.