A Sailing Passion

Published on December 14th, 2020

WindCheck magazine columnist John K. Fulweiler speaks about the power of passion in the November/December issue:


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 I don’t want to trade this column on his passing. But a friend was quick to text me because Geoff was in our peer group and I have a vague memory of maybe sharing a Prof. Dennis Nixon seminar-style class with Geoff at URI in the early 1990s. (Dennis Nixon’s thoughtful instruction being a remarkably common connection to so many of us with any involvement in the sailing world.)

Anyway, good on Geoff for having such a goddamn sailing passion. Good on Geoff for having packed so much of that sailing passion into his life. His voyage ended too early, yet the cacophonous chorus of online tributes and remembrances is a testament to a full-blown life.

Writing a column where you start off talking about someone’s death doesn’t give you a decent pivot to any other topic. You don’t think that when you start writing, but it becomes obvious. Usually, and maybe more so in deference to this column’s title than anything else, I try and cram some maritime legal nugget on the printed page leaving you more learned than when you left. I don’t have any interest in trying to foist nautical knowhow this time and I don’t want to get cute.

I worry sometimes whether I’ve done a good job packing my ditch bag with life experiences? That’s a 3:00 a.m.-style worry that’ll have you slipping into dark spaces only made darker by the rattle of a New England wind. I read something somewhere where someone complained no matter how hard you work or how fine your varnish strokes or wondrous your design, you’ll still leave life’s theatre mumbling, “I should’ve done more or done that,” or what have you. There’s a nice safe harbor to that sort of thinking; you steer a course and you steer it as best you can and that’s your voyage. And like any salty passage, it’s never perfect, but it’s your accomplishment. – Full report

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