Charles "Chuck" Husick, editor of "Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship," former chairman and president of the Chris-Craft Boat Co., freelance writer for numerous boating magazines and longtime public policy advocate for the nation's boat owners, died Monday at his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., after a lengthy illness.
Husick came to the attention of the boating public in the late 1980s when he took the helm of the ailing Chris-Craft. The company had been under scrutiny for months by the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau for building boats that had delamination problems.
Rather than stonewall the allegations, Husick immediately promised to get to the root of the problem and fix things. BoatU.S. officials were so pleased by his forthright pro-consumer approach that he was the first industry veteran named to the BoatU.S. National Advisory Council, a post he held until his passing.
Although Husick was first and foremost an engineer who worked on the Gemini manned space program and held senior positions at Cessna Aircraft Co. and Fairchild Industries, he was also a bluewater sailor and a pilot who rose to the top public-policy ranks of the marine and general aviation industries. He served on the board of the Radio Technical Commission for Marine Services, an industry/government group that coordinates marine electronic standards for the United States, and as chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
He held a 100-ton Coast Guard Master's License, taught courses in marine diesel engines and marine electrical systems in his spare time, and his long-running "Ask Chuck" column in BoatU.S. Magazinewas hisforum to respond to and explain the mysteries of modern marine technology. He also was a contributing editor to major boating publications such as Sail, Cruising World, Power & Motoryacht, Yachting, Ocean Navigator and Southern Boating. He also was a frequent contributor to Soundings, Trade Only's sister magazine.
Husick's most endearing quality was that he was a tireless public policy advocate for recreational boaters - in many respects the Don Quixote of recreational boating.
Convinced that the widespread use of Type I marine sanitation devices would result in cleaner water than no-discharge zones that went unenforced, he hounded everyone who would listen and made more than a dozen trips from Florida to Washington, D.C. - at his own expense - to lobby Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency.
He was also a tireless campaigner for continued funding of Loran-C and for the rights of cruising boaters who, while anchoring, often were at the mercy of local law enforcement officials.
More recently, he and his son, Lawrence, a national security expert, played a key role in fashioning a unified industry response to Bush administration concerns after the USS Cole terrorist attack that small boats could be a threat to national security.
Husick is survived by his wife of 17 years, Louisa, a sister, two sons and four grandchildren. Only time will tell how those of us who relied on Husick for answers to so many of life's questions will survive his passing.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.
- Michael Sciulla is the former editor and publisher, BoatU.S. Magazine and BoatU.S. senior vice president of government and public affairs