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Industry mourns longtime marine journalist

Dan Fales, a well-known and respected marine journalist for more than two decades, died Wednesday at the age of 78 after a long battle with lung cancer.

“Dan was a gentleman in every way,” says Peter Janssen, former publisher and editor-in-chief at Motor Boating & Sailing, where he worked with Fales for more than 20 years. Fales was the executive editor and electronics editor. “Everybody liked Dan and, more importantly, everybody respected Dan. You could always count on Dan doing the right thing.”

Beyond his skills as a writer and editor, friends say Fales was an excellent skipper.

PassageMaker magazine editor-in-chief John Wooldridge recalls that Fales introduced him to the Intracoastal Waterway on a delivery run from Hilton Head, S.C., to Miami.

“Beyond being a pleasure to be on a boat with, Dan was such a professional on the water — he just knew so much and I learned a lot from him,” Wooldridge says.

Janssen says he made several delivery runs north from South Florida with Fales, and agreed, “He was extremely proficient on the water and just a pleasure to be on a boat with.”

Fales and his wife, Jerry, had a 36-foot classic lobster boat built in Maine and they kept the boat in Norwalk, Conn., while they both worked in Manhattan. The vessel, Barnabas, became their second home from April through November, with most weekends spent anchoring in Long Island Sound or picnicking and bird-watching on one of the Norwalk Islands. Two cats, Barnacle and Binnacle, were mainstays on the boat.

After his retirement in the mid-1990s, Fales and his wife bought a house in Tenants Harbor, Maine, where Fales did freelance editing, most notably “Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling.”

“He loved this sport so much and I think he was one of the real giants,” Wooldridge says. “He will be missed.”

Fales is survived by his wife.

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