Here’s a lazarette’s worth of things boaters would do well to remember:

  1. Sailing isn’t a sport…not in the way most of the 50 states understand sports.
  2. Foiling hulls will never catch on en masse with the recreational boater.
  3. It’s not the cost of the boat. It’s the upkeep.
  4. The buoys are there for a reason.
  5. Sail because you love it, not for any other reason.
  6. Wearing a brand name is one thing; wearing a store’s brand name is quite another.
  7. In the face of an emergency, do something. Get your anchor out, lower sails…take action!
  8. A claimant’s case is won by your attorney taking action. Be the squeaky wheel.
  9. The folks at big box boating stores are largely nice and largely don’t know squat about boating.
  10. Always operate with the mindset that your marine insurer is more likely not to pay, than to pay.
  11. Marine insurers will claim ‘lack of maintenance’ as an alleged basis to decline a claim.
  12. Confirm things like navigational limit extensions in writing with your insurer/broker.
  13. Salvors don’t want your boat. They want a salvage award for fixing your fiasco.
  14. Stop with this ‘we’re giving them a day on the water’ thing and get an inner city kid an Opti and a summer’s worth of sailing lessons! How hard is this?
  15. Ever considered the racial makeup of folks at a regatta? Boating will only grow and thrive through diversity.
  16. When you hit something in a center console at 30 knots, you’ll keep going.
  17. Squinting ahead ‘real hard’ in the face of fog or nighttime conditions doesn’t work. Slow down.
  18. Learn how to use radar. If you don’t and I’m across from you at a deposition, it won’t go well.
  19. My flight instructor was right: always keep your head on a swivel. Situational awareness!
  20. Boats have problems. Stop complaining and pay the yard bill on time.
  21. If you’ve got a boat for recreating you’ve won life’s lottery, because 99.44% of the huddled masses don’t.
  22. If you own a boat over 100 feet you should pay a lot of tax. Period. No mas.
  23. There are too many boats over 100 feet.
  24. A maritime lien attaches to your boat without any special legal filing.

We just had a Nor’easter rip through Newport. For kicks, I shed my jacket, loosed the tie and got our dinghy launched to go check on our ‘big’ boat. The waves were stacked with short periods and it only got worse as I got into the harbor. With the wave tops curling over and foaming aboard, an increasing amount of seawater sloshed around my legs. I’m a good rower, but it wasn’t hard to divine this voyage would end more Jules Verne submariner tale than Moby-Dick adventure. While considering a retreat with dignity, a crawler caught me off center, lifted skiff and your author and handily tossed us no less than twenty feet downwind. Once in the drink, the late afternoon baptism had me grinning. The overturned dinghy slithered toward shore, and I alternated tugging her onto course and paddling alongside until we coasted to the harbor’s sandy edge. Good fun.

Sometimes foolhardy adventures shake the inanity of our daily struggles. I have a cousin who wrote a book titled something about seawater as the cure for all things. I can’t disagree with that proposition.

We’re crowded together and penned up in ways that’ll suck your soul dry. Every first responder is a blessing because somehow we’re not allowed to do things ourselves. Every cop is just trying to keep us safe. We’re all processed, stamped, approved and authorized. Fight this. Go do something foolhardy where you know you can manage the downside. Push yourself. Heck, William F. Buckley used to bang around Long Island Sound under full sail in the grips of winter weather. And these Instagram sailors, with no real feel for how pissed the sea can get – let them bang across the oceans. Maybe I wouldn’t cross the Atlantic with an inflatable strapped to the bow (check out ‘Sailing Uma’ on YouTube) and maybe I’d work a paper chart harder, but so what. At least they’re out there.

Long ago on a fall day in Newport, I met a guy aboard a ten-foot Zodiac with a Johnson outboard and an expensive foul weather jacket. “Where you going?” I asked, looking at his multiple six-gallon fuel tanks. (The old, red metal rounded kind.) He was going to Florida. No joke. He waved a gas-station map around and said he just zips down the coastline. Be that guy.

This article is provided for your general information, is not legal opinion and should not be relied upon. Always seek legal counsel to understand your rights and remedies. Underway and making way. ■

John K. Fulweiler, Esq. is a Proctor-in-Admiralty representing individuals and small businesses in maritime matters including personal injury claims throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and with his office in Newport, Rhode Island. He can be reached at 1-800-383-MAYDAY (6293) or, or visit his website at

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