EIGHT BELLS: Mike McLaughlin

Published on August 27th, 2017

Sailboat builder Mike McLaughlin (71) passed away on August 24, 2017 in his home in Granbury, TX.

Mike grew up in San Diego, where he and siblings Tom and Carol fell in love with competitive dinghy sailing on Mission Bay. Mike’s dad, “Mac” McLaughlin, built several boats with his teenaged children beginning with a 13’ Blue Jay, followed by a string of Sabots and three OK Dinghys. In 1964, while at San Diego State University, Mike began working for Carl Eichenlaub, and a few years later joined Herb Shear and Earl Elms at Chubasco Boats.

In 1971, Mike married Ann Rose, whom he had met while stationed in Fort Polk, LA. After a 3-year stint in the Army, during which time he served in Vietnam, Mike returned to boatbuilding at Chubasco. Mike purchased the Chubasco Snipe molds from Shear in 1977, forming McLaughlin Boat Works and two years later moved the business and his family to Chattanooga, TN.

Mike “retired” from the boat building business in 1986, and sold McLaughlin Boat Works to Steve Sherman who successfully added the Optimist Pram to his line of boats. Five years later Mike found that the boatbuilding bug was not out out of his system and founded Eclipse Custom Snipes.

Under Chubasco, McLaughlin, and Eclipse trade names, Mike built approximately 1,000 snipes, a handful of Thistles, Lightnings, and a ½ tonner from designer Doug Peterson. Over the years Mike also restored several older wooden Snipes.

He was an avid and very skilled woodworker, a craft he continued up through his final months. Mike’s final boat project (completed 2016), which he gifted to his family, was the full restoration of Clarke Mills Snipe #8054, now named “Steinway – and Grandsons”. Both of his grandsons are burgeoning musicians, and we think Mike was trying to get the boys into Snipe sailing by saying “You both need more practice on the Steinway.”

Regarded as highly for his kindness and spirit as he was for his skills as a sailor, boatbuilder, and woodworker, Mike’s legacy lives on through his craft and the countless stories to be told by family and friends from all over the country.

Mike is survived by his loving wife Ann, daughter Marsi McLaughlin (Robert) Davis, daughter Jenny (Darren) McHenry, grandsons Bryce and Grant McHenry, brother Tom (Maggie) McLaughlin, sister Carol (Steve) Bachman, many nieces and nephews and their children, with whom Mike was close.

A memorial service will be held in Granbury, TX on August 31st. A Celebration of Life will be held October 8th at 6pm at Privateer Yacht Club in Chattanooga, TN. Friends and fellow sailors are welcome. For more detailed information, please email marsimclaughlin@yahoo.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mike’s name to Hospice or MD Anderson Hospital.

Respectfully submitted, Tom McLaughlin 8/27/2017

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