By Dorie Cox
Yacht owner and coal executive Christopher Cline died in a helicopter crash on Thursday, July 4, according to media reports. It has been reported that he was one of seven killed when the helicopter crashed in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. NBC News reported that the Bahamian police confirmed that four females and three males died, but they have not released the victims’ names. Mr. Cline was 60.
“He was one of the good guys,” said Billy Smith, formerly of Trinity Yachts, the builder of Mr. Cline’s first yacht named Mine Games. Smith, now of Merle Wood and Metal Shark Boats, said he enjoyed working with Mr. Cline.
“He was a no-nonsense guy that was very easy to deal with, but he knew what he wanted,” Smith said. “He was all about quality, excellence, and everybody understood what he was trying to achieve.”
Trinity Yachts built Mr. Cline’s 164-foot (50m) M/Y Mine Games, which he had for “quite a while,” Smith said. After that yacht, the company started to build a 198-foot yacht, but Mr. Cline sold it halfway through construction because he received a good offer for it, Smith said.
“He was going to start a bigger one, but the idea of waiting two years got to him,” Smith said. “Then he got the 203-foot Benetti M/Y Mine Games.”
Although Mr. Cline’s primary focus at Trinity was yachts, Smith said he had looked into tug and barge operations to move coal.
“He was a tough business guy, but he did not have the idea that, ‘I have to win and you lose’. He was about ‘this needs to make sense to both of us,” Smith said.
He was well liked by a variety of people in the yacht industry, from dock attendants to yacht builders, according to Smith.
“Some people treat their peers different than workers, and when you see someone nice to people they ‘don’t need to be nice to’, people they don’t need something from, that tells you a lot about their character,” Smith said. “If you saw or dealt with him, you never, ever had a sense of how rich he was. He never forgot where he came from.”
Smith remembered an unannounced visit to Trinity when Mr. Cline showed up with his helicopter pilot, his best friend from high school. They stopped in on their Honda Gold Wings, driving their motorcycles across country.
“He was nice, sharp, and quiet,” Smith said. “He surrounded himself with good people. I liked him because he was very active with yachts, motorcycles, helicopters – he was straightforward, no games.”
Click for a July 24 update from NTSB in the Sun-Sentinel.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.