As first mate on the Schooner Appledore, Jordan “J.C.” Smith often jumped at the chance to be hoisted up the ship’s mast to make repairs and take in the spectacular harbor views.

Any one of the crewmen could have performed the exhilarating task. Instead, he eagerly stepped in to help.

On Jan. 17, Mr. Smith was working in a harness near the top of the ship’s mast fixing the radar equipment when the line came loose and he fell about 50 feet onto the deck of the ship docked in Key West, Fla.

Mr. Smith died Monday from his injuries. He was 25.

He grew up in Portland, a loving son of Richard and Carrie-Ann (Minervino) Smith. He attended Portland schools and graduated from Deering High School in 2004.

In the summer of 2010, Mr. Smith joined the crew of the Appledore, which offers cruises out of Camden Harbor and Key West in the winter season.

Mr. Smith’s mother said he found his passion in life working on the Appledore.

“He loved it. He absolutely loved it,” she said. “He told me he loved being on the water. He was in charge. He was in his element. He just loved it. I was so proud of him.”

Mr. Smith was described by his family this week as an outgoing, fearless and free-spirited guy, who lived life to its fullest. His mother said he had a love for sailing, skiing, rock climbing and traveling.

His passion for life somewhat stemmed from a brush with death in April of 2010. Mr. Smith was seriously injured when he was climbing on the rocks at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth and fell about 20 feet — landing roughly 100 feet below the cliff’s edge. He recovered quickly from his injuries and joined the crew of the Appledore that summer.

“He thought that life was too fragile and that you have to do what you’re passionate about,” his mother said, recalling a rafting trip he took last summer with some friends.

“There’s a picture of him he’s in the front of the boat. Everyone looks so serious and he has this grin on his face like he had the best time of his life.”

Mr. Smith had plans to go to Maine Maritime Academy to receive his captain’s license. He previously earned a degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in 2009.

Mr. Smith’s mother said he coasted through school, earning good grades and the respect of his teachers and fellow students. She said he was the type of kid who made time to help others.

“Everyone liked J.C.,” she said. “He always had a gaggle of people around him and for good reason.”

Robin Madden, of Portland, Ore., the older of Mr. Smith’s two siblings, said he was an adventurous guy, who was full of energy and excelled at everything he did.

Madden said when her brother was a young boy, he helped her with her algebra homework. Around 11 or 12, he tried skiing for the first time and went down a triple diamond slope. He broke his arm and possibly dislocated his shoulder. Soon after, he was back on the mountain.

“He was incredibly confident,” Madden said. “J.C. knew he was capable of doing anything that he put his mind to.”

Mr. Smith carried that attitude with him on the Appledore. He joined the crew with no sailing experience and quickly earned the crew’s trust and respect.

“J.C. said that when he was out on the ocean and far away from shore, it was complete peace — unlike anything he ever experienced before. To hear that was amazing,” Madden said. “J.C. died doing what he loved to do. The outpouring of love has been amazing. It makes me so proud to know that my little brother touched so many lives.”

Mr. Smith’s obituary will appear in the Maine Sunday Telegram and online at

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]