By Dorie Cox
Engr. Craig Siedelhofer died Nov. 17 of liver cancer in Roanoke, Virginia. He most recently worked as relief engineer on M/Y Serengeti, a 130-foot (40m) Westport, for about a month. He was 47.
Mr. Siedelhofer began working on boats about eight years ago and was first mate and engineer on a variety of yachts including the 45m M/Y Constance Joy, 50m M/Y Triumphant Lady, 30m M/Y Serenity II, 40m M/Y Spirit, 45m M/Y Lady Sandals and as engineer on 50m M/Y Fighting Irish and 50m M/Y Tuscan Sun. He was captain and engineer on the 30m F/V Polo V.
He had recently been experiencing pain, according to Chief Stew Melissa Miles, his girlfriend of about six years. She most recently worked on the 125-foot Broward M/Y Aquasition and the 145-foot Westship M/Y Fighting Irish.
“He was at his brother’s when he was diagnosed,” Miles said. “He thought he had kidney stone pain but it was liver cancer.”
Although he held a 200-ton license, Mr. Siedelhofer enjoyed being in the engine room and had intended to take more courses to advance his Y4 certification. He had an engineering mind as well as military training, which was often put to use on yachts, Miles said. He was a private in the U.S. Air Force and served on the USS Independence combat ship.
“If you’re not early, you’re late,” was one of his theories, Miles said. “On board he would run the deck. It was like, ‘Everyone be quiet, let Craig run things’.”
He had a great sense of humor, and was known for quickly assigning nicknames to fellow crew and friends.
“We use those nicknames for each other, too. I said, ‘I think you should have been a standup comedian,” Miles said.
Although he enjoyed people, Miles said she joked about his work in the engine room, “ ‘The older you get, the more ornery you get, but it’s perfect – you’re in the engine room and not dealing with guests’.”
Many crew considered him a mentor, including Miles.
“I’m freelancing now, and during the day I think, ‘I’ve got to tell Craig this. He taught me everything, how to tie lines, how to correctly polish, how to 2-step a boat,” Miles said. “He was my best friend. I could vent, share observations or call with funny stuff.”
Mr. Siedelhofer was born in Rahway, New Jersey, and grew up in Seaside Heights. He was a carpenter and worked in construction. When he and his former wife divorced, Mr. Siedelhofer joined a friend on a sportfishing boat in the Florida Keys. He was an avid fisherman and decided to make a career of working on boats, Miles said.
Mr. Siedelhofer and Miles based in Fort Lauderdale and had lived in Neptune Group crew accommodations. The two met while listening to a 1980s tribute band at Dicey Riley’s Irish Pub. She said he loved music, especially blues and Lynyrd Skynyrd. But he played Frank Sinatra to cook one of his specialties, Italian food, Miles said.
People often commented on his bright green eyes and asked if they were contact lens, Miles said. And he had some “battle scars” from years of manual labor.
“He was missing a finger nail, it blew off with a nail gun, and he had a bad fall on a boat, fell on his face and had stitches and surgery on his nose,” she said.
Many people will miss him, especially Miles.
“I’m used to him being away,” she said. “But this time he’s not coming home.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.