Ahoy there! Area attorney, civil mediator loves fishing and boating on Great Lakes


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

When attorney Edmund Sikorski Jr. speaks of docks, he doesn’t mean the place where a criminal court prisoner stands or sits—but mooring places for boats.

Passionate about boating and fishing since the age of 6, Sikorski—an attorney and civil mediator in Washtenaw County—is in his element on the water, or in the marina helping others learn and maintain their boating skills.

A prior long-standing member of the Clinton River Boat Club, Sikorski would no doubt concur with Ratty from “Wind in the Willows” who opined, “There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Starting with wooden fishing boats in boyhood, Sikorski graduated to bass boats in the 1980s to fish the Huron River chain, and Kentucky Lake in south central Kentucky.

In the mid ‘90s, he was boating on the Great Lakes with a 10-meter Trojan International, then a 48-foot Chris Craft.

Before returning to the Great Lakes State last year to be close to his two daughters—sadly, both are “landlubbers”—Sikorski spent seven years as a certified circuit civil mediator and an appellate mediator in Florida, where he was able to continue his love of water pursuits. He particularly enjoyed offshore Palm Beach and the Gulf Stream, where he once landed a 300-pound swordfish.

An alumnus of the University of Detroit School of Law, Sikorski qualified as a captain in the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marines and then as a master. He served as an executive officer in Ann Arbor Power Squadron, and a member of the board of directors of the Clinton River Boat Club. He holds United States Power Squadron Certificates in Seamanship, Engine Maintenance, Manual Electronics, Weather, and Piloting; and a Transportation Worker Identification Credential in Maritime Transportation Security Administration. He also is a Certified Marine Insurance Professional (CMIP), earning certification from the International Institute of Marine Insurance Studies in Tampa, Fla.

His diverse clientele during 40 years in law practice has included marine operators; and his current mediation practice includes maritime claim disputes.

“Marina operators span the spectrum of business operators as in any other business except they have to deal with customers who think they know more than anyone else because they can afford the luxury of buying a larger watercraft,” Sikorski says. “Marina operators thus fall into two categories—diplomats who cajole or generals who control their customers by threat of immediate eviction.

“I’ve seen both approaches work depending on the flexibility of the customer and the exasperation of the operator with hard to get along with/know it all people. It can get pretty testy.”

Sikorski particularly enjoys Lake St. Clair in the summer and Lake Erie in the spring. But while boating is a great break from legal work, he notes that it takes full concentration.

“One mistake could be lethal to you and your passengers,” he says. “You absolutely must know what you’re doing at all times.”


Sikorski’s 6 Rules of Boating

Rule 1: If in any doubt about conditions, stay put and wait it out at dock. The problems compound geometrically if you leave port.

Rule 2: Do not leave dock without adequate flotation gear for all passengers.

Rule 3: Wear flotation gear at all times underway, whether on the Huron River, Lake St Clair, Great Lakes or the ocean. “This rule is not negotiable or subject to discussion,” he says. “I personally learned this lesson the hard way twice in my boating career and I’m lucky to be here.”

Rule 4: Know your boat and its maneuvering capabilities. “Every boat handles differently,” he says. “It’s not like a car because the pivot point is the center not the front.”

Rule 5: Understand and practice docking and undocking maneuvers. Conduct drills until you get it down cold. “More accidents happen during this stage of boating than anywhere else,” he says. “Organized confusion guarantees the best recipe for disaster. This is Murphy’s Law on steroids.”

Rule 6: Re-read and obey Rules 1-5.