By Dorie Cox
Christensen Shipyard’s yard captain and warranty/quality control department manager Michael Magee died on Jan. 30 at his home in Vancouver, Washington. He began at Christensen Shipyards in the custom cabinetry department in the late 1980s. He was 67.
“He is deeply missed and this is a loss felt deep within the heart of the Christensen community,” wrote Anna Libby-Pipher, interior designer with Christensen Shipyards.
“He helped in commissioning of our boats and rode herd over the captains looking for information,” Jim Gilbert, president of Christensen Shipyard, said by phone. “What to do, where to get this part, or this work done? He was great with that.”
Mr. Magee had run several Christensen yachts, was respected by captains and industry professionals, and was an asset to the company, according to Gilbert.
“Great guy who we’ll miss greatly,” Gilbert wrote in an email. “A quiet and strong force in the industry — the kind of bedrock a strong industry requires in which to thrive.”
Mr. Magee served as a crew member on race boats and as captain on maxi-yacht Boomerang in the 1979 Fastnet race, according to his online obituary.
Friend and colleague Tim Pedersen worked with Mr. Magee from 2000 to 2015 when the shipyard temporarily closed and then both worked for Vigor. Mr. Magee did the QA/QC work on the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) project until Christensen called him back as the in-house yard captain and quality control and warranty manager in 2017, Pedersen wrote in an email to The Triton.
“He was a superb captain, always very well informed and every move was carefully calculated and efficient,” Pedersen wrote. “I used to try and jam as much into any given day or project and Mike always told me to slow down, that it was more efficient. His quote was, ‘slow is smooth and smooth is fast.’ I will never forget that and abide by it it daily.”
Pedersen worked deliveries and sea trials with Mr. Magee as captain and shared a memory of a delivery of an 85-foot yacht from southern California to Portland, Oregon. The two shared watch duty and one night the yacht was hit by a rogue wave on the port side “that laid the boat clear over onto the starboard side, windows completely awash.”
No windows broke, but the dining table “took flight and destroyed the media cabinet and the surrounding cabinetry,” he wrote. The incident triggered yacht alarms and shutdown the computers, navigation systems, lights and generator. “We were in a bad way,” Pedersen wrote.
But Mr. Magee got to work to solve problems.
“Mike put some ear plugs in, crawled under the helm console with all the alarms going off, and began trying to figure out which cable belonged, whereas all the computers had fallen over and were all disconnected. After about 30 minutes of me steering by hand with nothing but a compass, Mike emerges from below the console with a smile, looks out the wheelhouse door at the ocean and says, “Is that all you got?,” then says, “if you’re going to be angry, go back to bed” to the same ocean as if it was listening. That was Mike, the definition of cool, calm, and once in a while his sense of humor would come out,” Pedersen wrote.
“Mike was a very simple and quiet person, easy going, loved by all, a great teacher,” Pedersen wrote. “I miss him as a coworker, a captain, and as my friend and treasure the lessons from him and our time spent on the water.”
“Beverage And Stories For Mike Magee” was held March 8 in Vancouver. For more information visit OregonLive.com.