By Dorie Cox
Iowa-born Capt. Mike Bryan died on Aug. 2 of cardiac arrest in Fort Lauderdale. He was 53.
His yacht work included M/Y Lady Columbo in the late 1980s, as well as yachts Big Eagle, Steelin and Therapy. He oversaw construction, and ran, M/Y Let It Roll, a 92-foot Sunseeker. He was most recently working on M/Y Trilogy, a 96-foot Cheoy Lee.
Some people in the industry knew him as “Iowa Mike” and others called him “Beet” because he had a fair complexion and he would get red in the face after a day working in the sun, said friend and crew member Chef Ariel Brown.
“Michael is the king of one-liners, he had so many jokes,” she said. “He and his friends used call themselves the short-haired pirates.”
Capt. Bryan attended the University of Florida and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in business administration. It was at UF that he met Capt. Kean Fulton.
“Mike was really into refinish work and had several refinishing businesses,” Capt. Fulton said. “He found his calling in boats, he started as a deckhand and it took him less than three years to be a captain.”
He worked as mate on M/Y Big Eagle, a 140 Benetti, and later ran M/Y Steelin, an 86-foot Baia speed boat.
“Mike was good with extended drives, Arneson surface drives,” Capt. Fulton said. “It takes a certain kind of person with certain skills to run those.”
Capt. Bryan oversaw the construction of the new build of M/Y Steelin.
In his off time, he used his skills to volunteer at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale.
“Mike could be found over there helping do all kinds of things that the church needed to have done,” Brown said. “He would sand and varnish the church doors, basically he would do anything that they needed that was in his realm of expertise.”
He loved riding his motorcycle and had bought and refit a boat, originally the Stellar of Gibraltar, which he renamed Hosana.
He was a happy, outgoing and giving person, Brown said. “He had a huge heart.”
In the past few years, he had started his own business detailing and managing boats.
“Mike was the hardest worker you could know,” Capt. Fulton said. “He was a phoenix; he would stay the extra hour. He didn’t complain even when he was doing jobs other people didn’t want to do.”
He was also involved with the Bucket races in Nantucket, Rhode Island, with the Trilogy program.
For information about a future memorial, contact Chef Ariel Brown at +1 954-696-0843.
Click for information on a memorial on Aug. 25 in Iowa.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome below.