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

Suits for Sailors: Lawsuits I wish I could file

By John K. Fulweiler

Suits for Sailors: Lawsuits I wish I could file

I like depositions and trials. I like the clarity that comes from the pressure. But to pepper questions in the boardroom or press a witness in the courtroom, you need a lawsuit. We file lawsuits for yachties, merchant mariners, passengers and anyone else injured working on or around the sea…but that doesn’t mean a maritime lawyer can’t dream. Here are some lawsuits I’d like to file if the opportunity arose; I call these “suits for sailors.” The…

The Boating Barrister

The 49-Year-Old COLREGS

By John K. Fulweiler

The 49-Year-Old COLREGS

As much as I like all of sailing’s possibilities, clutching-in twin diesels with overly pitched props is a feeling that’s hard to beat. To pirouette a sportfisherman outside a crowded marina so the tower cants to one side, to bury the throttles in reverse building a crest of white water and then to lay sixty-feet of hull neatly against the dock’s edge is a thrill I rank very high. Twin screws coupled to naturally aspirated diesels will…

The Boating Barrister

Ones, Zeros and Sailboats: How Not to Live

By John K. Fulweiler

Ones, Zeros and Sailboats: How Not to Live

You can get high these days without the trek and effort of yesteryear; make crypto-currency bets with million-dollar upsides and acquire non-fungible tokens capturing the artwork of tomorrow. Beer gets delivered via an app. Order a car online and it’ll be in your drive the day after next. Lobsters arrive on the porch with a text. There’s no paper menu; just scan this QR Code. Order it on Amazon, complain about it on Quora and sell it…

The Boating Barrister

Boating Havoc: Three Ways to Avoid a Salvage Claim

By John K. Fulweiler

Boating Havoc: Three Ways to Avoid a Salvage Claim

It used to be when I’d slip past the breakwater and into the inner harbor on some paid gig, I’d turn and gesture back at the sea. It seemed she never made anything easy. Same thing with planes except it wasn’t the blue sky, but the plane I’d flip off. Fact is, in my youth I developed a sense that between gravity and the ocean, one of them was always trying to off me. Nowadays my relationships…

The Boating Barrister

I’d Rather Be Sailing: Regrets from the Shore

By John K. Fulweiler

I’d Rather Be Sailing: Regrets from the Shore

The New England boating season is short. For those of us still on the hard, you can hear a murmured chorus of doubt and regret. There’s the fellow next to me with the repowering project stooped over an Atomic-4 he’s removed and planted under his boat. He doesn’t say much. The enthusiastic college kids in the corner have a daysailer they’ve stripped of paint and hardware and now stand around looking forlorn and uncertain of the next…

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….

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