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Fair Winds and Following Seas, Capt. John Bonds (1939-2010) By Julie B. Connerley issues were addressed through coordinated apt. John Bledsoe Bonds, 70, passed away efforts of the Navy, Cruising Club of America, aboard his J-40, Alliance, in Newport, RI, June and the Seattle Sailing Foundation. 8. I received a call the following morning requestThey included, among others, the Man ing a photograph. Overboard Study, today’s Quickstop Maneuver, It wasn’t the first time I had received such a Lifesling and its Quickstop Circle retrieval. call, but this time it was different. Most notably, Bond’s conclusion that inflatI “knew” Capt. Bonds for a total of about able PFDs were far superior to standard PFDs nine hours – during a US SAILING Safety at Sea took safety to an entirely new level – even though seminar moderated by him and fellow extraordithe U.S. Coast Guard initially rejected the idea. nary author and sailor, John Rousmaniere, at Perhaps Capt. Bonds’ greatest legacy may be Pensacola Yacht Club in February. Capt. John Bonds the transition from Navy-focused SAS seminars What he taught me in those hours will stay to public SAS programs that thousands of sailors with me a lifetime. For those who did not know have participated in during the past 26 years. Capt. Bonds, the sailing community, indeed, everyone who “During Jimmy Carter’s administration,” began Bonds, “messes about in boats,” has lost one of our nation’s great“the Navy’s flight hours were severely curtailed in the interest advocates for safety at sea. est of budgetary reduction. The result was an alarming His wife Beth, daughter Margaret Podlich, son John B. increase in accident rates.” The Navy’s response was a quarBonds, Jr., and two grandchildren survive him. terly “safety stand-down” for all aviation units. As a journalist preparing for the SAS seminar, I e-mailed The sailing program, headed then by Capt. Edwin A. the captain. He was prompt and thorough – a writer’s dream Schuman, decided a safety stand-down was in order as well. subject. Organizers created the first Safety at Sea Seminar that I had the great fortune to sit down and chat with him as spring. It included data about hypothermia from Wayne well. Capt. Bonds was a charming gentleman. Full of life Williams (who established the Air Force water survival with a twinkle in his eye as we shared a secret laugh about school), supplemented with first aid and meteorological him picking up his dirty socks at home, and just as quickly presentations. SAS has been standard training for Naval he responded to this freelancer’s request for a bio. personnel since 1980. The Arkansas native began small boat sailing on a reserNext Bonds helped convinced the Navy to open it up to voir in a Super Snark. After honing his skills on various the public. The first seminar was “standing room only with boats, he graduated from Rice University and joined the over 600 people.” The rest is history. U.S. Navy. After 26 years service, Bonds retired from the Navy in In 1976, he wrote an article in the Naval lnstitute 1988 as a captain and became executive director of the Proceedings campaigning sail training as a professional skill United States Yacht Racing Union (now US SAILING). He for personnel. He also suggested the creation of a singular left US SAILING in 1994 but continued to moderate SAS position, director of Navy sailing, to oversee training and seminars as requested by local organizers. recreational sailing in the Navy. “The real test for the sailors who attend our seminars,” “While I was at sea,” Bonds said, “the Navy decided to implement this program. and I was invited to put it in place.” During Bonds’ tenure as DONS, significant safety See BONDS continued on page 68



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August 2010