The Boating Barrister

John K. Fulweiler, Esq., a Proctor-in-Admiralty based in Newport, RI, offers tips for navigating tricky legal waterways, always with a healthy dose of wit.

The Boating Barrister

Sharing the Commons: Avoiding Legal Pratfalls

By John K. Fulweiler

Sharing the Commons: Avoiding Legal Pratfalls

Habits are a funny thing. You’ve got decent habits, like a black coffee with two sugars and a float plan with a fuel reserve. And then they’re the bad habits like those Marlboro Reds, wearing your COVID mask under your nose, and open water trips with a single outboard and no float plan. Sometimes a mariner’s innocent habits can lead to disaster. Yup, your nautical patterns might chart a course straight onto the legal shoals, making it…

The Boating Barrister

Park Right: Maritime Law Mistakes

By John K. Fulweiler

Park Right: Maritime Law Mistakes

I’m down with the Mediterranean moor, but I don’t get this phenom of people backing into their driveways. In my time, you pulled into a drive. If there was a second fridge in the basement and a color TV in the family room, your drive might’ve bent around in a half-circle so you never saw reverse. But these days, it’ll be twenty feet of macadam mat and folks be twisting and wheeling their carriages backwards leaving it parked, grille out….

The Boating Barrister

Bracing for the Strange

By John K. Fulweiler

Bracing for the Strange

There’s no small wonder in securing the mooring rode to the bow cleat after a hard day’s voyage. While the event is often viewed in terms of the accomplishment, maybe it should be weighed in terms of what didn’t go wrong. Boating has always been fraught with the unexpected, be it gale plagued weather coasts, springing planks, and untrustworthy chronometers to wet plugs, blown out-drives and stubborn diesels. Worse still, once fixed, patched or plugged, the prudent…

The Boating Barrister

Don’t Buy This Boat!

By John K. Fulweiler

Don’t Buy This Boat!

I’d buy an IMOCA 60 and park it in that slot betwixt the Black Pearl and Oldport Marine. I’d sit on the deck and waggle a toe at the milling masses. In an afternoon southerly, I’d unfurl the J2, slip the dock and bang around the harbor. Maybe on some wicked weekend, I’d crank over to Sag Harbor and front on my mon frère. When the breeze built right, I’d loop up to Bar Harbor and crash…

The Boating Barrister

Lunar Navigation, YouTubes and Slocum

By John K. Fulweiler

Lunar Navigation, YouTubes and Slocum

This is the time of year you slip down to the marina and rustle around your boat. Maybe you rummage out that Mark III Sextant you’d promised Nathaniel Bowditch you’d learn to use. Maybe you spot the collar to the spotlight plug you’d dropped last season ghosting quietly at the bottom of the lazarette. Point is: it’s all about odds and ends until the weather breaks and those air molecules start social distancing and things warm up….

The Boating Barrister

A Sailing Passion

By John K. Fulweiler

A Sailing Passion

I’m good with boats and can pretty much get anything waterborne from here to there with relative ease. I wasn’t ever very competitive in dinghies and I didn’t do much big boat racing. Time and chance is probably why. I’ve gotten good (maybe, very good) at other endeavors, but there’s something particularly sweet about developing a youthful passion and spinning it into a life – even one cut short too early. I didn’t know Geoff Ewenson and…

The Boating Barrister

Salvaging A Corpse: Happy Halloween

By John K. Fulweiler

Salvaging A Corpse: Happy Halloween

It’s close on Halloween and I love salvage, making the case of the salvaged corpse a good topic. It was a couple of years after the Second World War in Bayshore, New York. A man named Charles was on the Bay aboard his eighteen-foot flat-bottom skiff. He had a couple of thousand dollars in his pocket, but he was all outta luck (that last line should be read in the voice of Lennie Briscoe (a/k/a Jerry Orbach)….

The Boating Barrister

A Primer: How to handle things, some salty and some not.

By John K. Fulweiler

A Primer: How to handle things, some salty and some not.

By John K. Fulweiler, Esq. This is a primer, an antidote to all things amateur. It’s a one-page missive on a mission to commission solutions to a dozen situations (or ‘sitches as a person I love and know calls them). Some of the situations are maritime oriented and some aren’t. A few are unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean a life well led shouldn’t (or won’t) cross these waters. Dragging anchor. Don’t worry you didn’t have enough scope…

The Boating Barrister

Angle of Vanishing: Advocating for Injured Sailors

By John K. Fulweiler

Angle of Vanishing: Advocating for Injured Sailors

In a lawsuit’s lifecycle, it breaks ground all Iron Maiden-like with musket fire and skirmishes. But keep moving forward gaining each half league, and defense arguments founder and talk of settlement ensues. And I call that point in a lawsuit where the defending troopers drop their arms, the “angle of vanishing.” I’ll get to how Naval Architecture refers to and uses the phrase “angle of vanishing,” but let’s heave-to momentarily and consider the maritime law’s treatment of…

The Boating Barrister

Dirty Yachting

By John K. Fulweiler

Dirty Yachting

Newport is straight fire these days. Covid or not, the docks have a blistered Med look with miles of polished hulls, scuttling uniformed crew and Rovers idling at the curb. They’re calling the couple of new waterfront hotels “boutique,” a label meaning the business model is all about individual excess – larger rooms and larger rates. But it’s like how Mac Miller raps across a pulsing trip-hop: “She do whatever she like. And that just don’t seem…

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