Sailing benefited from Jimmy Buffett

Published on September 4th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Since his death on September 1, the tributes for Jimmy Buffett have flowed strong, celebrating his career as singer-songwriter but also the impact he had on his audience. What I would have given to see his emergence from the bars of Key West or his surprise appearance at 2019 Block Island Race Week (see Facebook video).

At 76 years of age, the beloved Buffett passed away at his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island surrounded by family and friends. He had been fighting Merkel Cell Skin Cancer for four years and continued to perform during treatment, playing his last show, a surprise appearance in Rhode Island, in early July.

I only saw him once in the late 1980s in San Diego and was fashionably outmatched by the hula skirts, Hawaiian shirts, coconut bras, shark fin headgear, beachcomber hats, and parrot accessories. I missed a do-over at one of his final concerts this past May in San Diego. Ugh!

Buffett was a sailor and sailing benefited from Buffet. As Bill Schanen wrote for SAILING Magazine in 2018, “Without Jimmy Buffett there would be fewer sailors, a diminished sailing economy, and a little less romance in our sport.

“Buffett was a force that helped power the growth of the bareboat charter phenomenon that energizes a large share of the sailing business world, supports sailboat builders and equipment makers and creates new sailors.

“Buffett was the muse, the piper, who led sailors and wannabe sailors to the Caribbean to rent sailboats and live the dream.”

At the time, I asked about Buffett being in the National Sailing Hall of Fame, and following his death, I went to look for his status. I found none.

Having been on the Hall’s selection committee, I recall discussing Buffett, and while not every nomination is accepted, I would have endorsed him. However, I often found myself in the minority of these discussions, and ultimately moved on from the organization.

The National Sailing Hall of Fame seeks to celebrate individuals who have made a lasting impact on United States sailing. What’s more lasting than songs like Boat Drinks; Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes; One Particular Harbor; A Pirate Looks at Forty; Margaritaville; Cheeseburger In Paradise; and Son of a Son of a Sailor?

While he may not seem to be a traditional candidate, the Hall has a Contributor category that “Recognizes those who have made other significant contributions to the American sailing experience. Examples include Teachers, Coaches, Administrators, Media (including authored works, TV, film, etc.), Artists, Musicians, Promoters, and Organizers.” Why not Buffett?

His death came just days after the opening of the Margaritaville Hotel in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, which is themed to reflect the beachy lifestyle in Buffett’s music, merchandise and concert decor. I will be there soon… thanks Jimmy!

comment banner

Tags: , , ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.