Sailing through life's waves together: The maritime love story of James and Nicole Christie

One such tale is that of James and Nicole Christie, a couple whose journey navigates not only the waters but also the depths of companionship and shared passion.

Their paths intertwined as Nicole sought James's boat maintenance and restoration expertise. Years passed in a harmonious exchange of knowledge and camaraderie until, one day, James mustered the courage to ask Nicole out on a date, and eventually her hand in marriage. 

As James, owner of Christie Marine meticulously tends to the vessels' needs, Nicole orchestrates unforgettable experiences for yacht owners through her company, Yacht Captain 4 Hire. Together, they blend their passions seamlessly, intertwining their professional pursuits with the fabric of their personal lives.

In the heart of Port Huron, nestled by the serene waters, lies Christie Marine—where James Christie restores classic boats. 
New planks on the bottom of a Lyman boat before being painted.
"I was an entry-level person at a boat restoration shop, and I had no idea about any of it," James Christie says. "I was like, well, I'll give it a try, and I just fell in love with it." For 15 years, James immersed himself in the world of boat restoration, learning every trick and trade of the craft. His dedication and passion were unwavering, laying the foundation for what was to come.

One of James's favorite aspects of his work is painting and varnishing. 

"It's where the magic happens," he enthuses. "But we also build some cool stuff too; like custom modifications, retro upgrades, and one-of-a-kind requests."

A customer found a Lyman boat behind a car dealership that was dilapidated and filled with over 500 gallons of water. "He brought it to me and said, 'Let's start going through it,' so I did," James Christie recalls. 

From replacing planks to intricate stem and keel work, he found the restoration process hard but deeply rewarding. "We carbon fibered the sides and built up a primer and applied awl grip paint," James Christie explains, highlighting the meticulous attention to detail that defines his work.

Lyman boat bottom freshly painted with awl grip.

"Carbon fiber veil is like a magic wand for boats," James Christie says. "It helps with cracks and reinforces plywood, ensuring longevity and durability." 

When asked about the specialized paint, awl grip, James Christie explains, "It's a two-part paint that's more durable. Unlike basic one-part paint, it doesn't shrink up after a few years, ensuring a long-lasting finish." 

As Captain Nicole Christie stands at the helm of Yacht Captain 4 Hire, she orchestrates journeys across the seas with passion, precision, and a touch of pioneering spirit. She carved her path, driven by an insatiable love for the water instilled in her from a young age.

"My family did a full restoration of a wood boat when I was a kid," she recalls fondly, "and they named it after my first and middle name, Nicole Elisa."

Her childhood obsession with swimming and boating evolved into a lifelong passion, leading her to become a competitive swimmer and eventually pursue a career as a yacht captain. "I wanted to live it everywhere," Nicole Christie reflects, "beyond summertime living in Michigan. I wanted to go with boats to new places."

With an unwavering determination, Nicole embarked on a journey that took her from the serene waters of the Great Lakes to the idyllic shores of the Bahamas, navigating through 28 countries. Despite being a female in a predominantly male-dominated industry, Nicole Christie blazed her trail, earning the respect and trust of clients worldwide.
Nicole (front) and James Christie watching a yacht being transported by freighter to another port.
"It's very exciting to go to all these new places by boat," Nicole Christie says, "and I've made a full career out of it." Her expertise extends past captaining vessels. She even utilizes freighters to transport boats across oceans.

Beyond professional endeavors, Nicole’s partnership with her husband, James, adds another layer to their story. Together, they form a formidable duo, with James’s expertise in boat restoration complementing Nicole’s prowess as a captain. Their collaboration extends from restoring boats to participating in boat shows, a testament to their shared love for the maritime world.
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Read more articles by Cynthia McClung.

Cynthia McClung holds a forced field of positive energy that’s contagious. As the mother of a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, and a kindergartener she believes a smile holds immeasurable and undefinable power. “Smile and watch what will happen; turn evil into goodness, sadness into elation, and give joy to others.” Cynthia embraces mother nature and the outdoors. As a hobby farmer living in the city, her home features edible landscaping and wildflowers. Becoming a freelance writer is a dream she has manifested with the intention of serving others through words. More about Cynthia at or Mama Cindy’s travel blog at