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. Hence, this column’s contribution is a mishmash of an admiralty attorney’s random observations he found interesting and thought you might too.

The arrival of the marina’s launching contract is to me as the arrival of the seed catalogue is to others.

Remember how on the one-minute signal, you’d bang out from start line for twenty-five seconds, tack around and scoot back full tilt hoping to cross right at the gun? That’s called a “Vanderbilt start”. Maybe you knew that; I didn’t. Plus, I was all about the careening speed and horror of the dip start.

Why are the rights of recovery for the estate of a seaman who dies in international waters so different than the rights of recovery for a passenger? It’s a cul-de-sac of legal unfairness and Congress should pass a fix.

The YouTube sailing vlogs seem to be waning. A lot of the content seems unimaginative and stale. I still watch Tulu’s Endless Summer because I think they might be good eggs and I like how they’re always in action. Likewise, the Adventures of an Old Seadog are interesting. I keep an eye on MJ Sailing but they’re so damn methodical that it offends my get-it-done and get sailing philosophical approach to boating (and life). And for F’s sake, don’t get me started on that Salt & Tar channel. I mean folks, stop building a jewelry box, break ground and get on with living. Anyway, I recommend anything Vendée Globe, which has done a great job with their video uploads and when your skin pallor matches your office walls and you wane for an open sky and bend of sea, try surfing the website. Yes, you can track folks rowing their way across vast ocean expanses.

If an aid to navigation is out of whack or otherwise ailing, you can report that to the U.S. Coast Guard by submitting an online form titled (appropriately) the “ATON Discrepancy Form.” If you’ve caused the wackiness, you have an obligation to promptly report what happened to the Coast Guard.

I’ve written about trying to put more money into youth sailing. I can do my small part, but you should too. Particularly if you’ve made a bundle in whatever chicanery worked out for you. Imagine how you’d change the sailing landscape in a decade if you could fund sailing opportunities for a group of kids that wouldn’t otherwise learn a mast from a transom? Let’s buy a bunch of Optis, link up with a school or two and get kids sailing this summer. Alternatively, the nonprofit Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation is doing a lot of great stuff to spur youth sailing opportunities and it’s helmed by some big-name sailors. (

I worry the days of a family taking a week or so on their sailboat is fading; prove me wrong.

Bust out your beverage of choice and “tune in” the movie Following Seas. Holy mother of Pete. The documentary film captures portions of Bob and Nancy Griffith’s 20 ocean voyages with much of it using Nancy’s 8mm films. The colors and hues captured with that old style film are fantastic and only add to the sheer, next-level crazy of scooting around the globe on their tired-looking 53’ sailboat. And then, when you’ve recovered, buy their book Blue Water and pick up some of their sailing tips.

I miss making that round assemblage of stones, dragging what flotsam you can find that’ll burn and lighting off a beach fire. You know, the woolly sort that shifts and cackles in the ocean breeze and is always just a little too hot and wild.

And something else on the around-the-world sailing topic: Bob Griffith lifts the curtain on Joshua Slocum. While Slocum didn’t have a working timepiece (a condition he’d boast about), Bob explains that Slocum used lunar navigation which doesn’t require time keeping. This is Captain Cook-style navigation. It’s not super easy, but as this wordsmith understands, if you measure the angle between the sun and the moon with a certain precision, you can determine the time to within one minute. With one minute being about 15 minutes of longitude you can probably use this approach to make landfall – somewhere! (You can read an interesting take on Slocum and his time keeping in an old Ocean Navigator article titled “Searching for Slocum’s Clock.”)

See, nary a word on politics. You know where I stand, which is why what words I’d write would be too condemning and fierce to make good reading.

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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