29 September 1943 – 17 October 2022
Mike was born in Dundee on 29 September 1943. His father was in the British Army so, aged 6, Mike started boarding school in England. In 1957, Mike joined Stowe, where he was happiest in the workshops, building his first boat there. It was at Stowe he joined the naval section of the CCF, which definitely set him on his future path. He really valued his years at Stowe, especially the broad-minded outlook towards nurturing people‘s different talents, which was unusual in those days.
Following Stowe, Mike went to Dartmouth Royal Naval College and by 1966 he was a fully trained diver and mine disposal officer. In the latter part of the sixties, Mike spent several periods in Malta, clearing unexploded ordnance from Valletta Harbour.
During the 1970s, Mike ran a pioneering diving company called Strongwork in Aberdeen. He and his colleagues played an enormous part in improving safety conditions and regulations, as well as formulating diving tables that are still used today. It was during this time, in 1975, that Mike’s son James was born.
In 1981, Mike negotiated and managed the record-breaking recovery of four tonnes of gold at 250m from a WW2 wreck in the Barents Sea near Russia. This was just one of many wreck-recovery projects that he ran world-wide.
After meeting in 1982, Mike and Monica married, Mike bravely becoming stepfather to four! They moved to Crinan in Argyll and bought a boat yard, which looked after fishing boats, small ferries and yachts. In 1998, they sold the business and after a few years of underwater consultancy, they concentrated on custom building their yacht, STRAVAIGIN, with the intention of “sailing away”. It took ten years, being supervised by and built to Mike‘s exacting specification, but they left Scotland in 2012 and slowly made their way to Greece, with winters in Portugal and Sicily, and spent many happy years exploring the islands.
Mike suffered a severe stroke in 2020, which led them to selling the boat and returning to Scotland, where he died at home on 17 October 2022, having recently seen James, his sister and all the “steps”. Mike was intensely proud, “driven” and meticulously organised. (His grandchildren called him “Tidy”). He was never a quitter and, as a friend wrote, “genuinely believed that human ingenuity could solve anything”. He hugely enjoyed evenings round the dinner table with friends of all ages and backgrounds, although was notorious for falling asleep at the table. He believed that there was only one volume setting for all the eclectic music he loved. But he was probably most content at the helm of a sailing boat, preferably in somewhat challenging conditions.
Monica Stewart, Mike’s wife