Dave and Nan Ellen Fuller are high-ranking officers in boating safety organizations

Dave and Nan Ellen Fuller love to boat, but their love of the water goes far beyond enjoying a sunny day on the lake. The Acworth residents are among the nation’s boating leadership, both in the U.S. Power Squadrons, otherwise known as America’s Boating Club, and with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

From their early days of owning a Sea Ray 185 cuddy cabin as their first boat in 1992 to completing the “Great Loop” around the periphery of the Eastern United States, they are well respected on Allatoona Lake and Lake Lanier where they boat and serve in leadership in clubs on both lakes, as well as regionally and nationally.

“Dave and Nan Ellen have been dedicated to both the U.S. Power Squadrons and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary from the local level through the national level,” said Lisa Herndon Wilson, who has been an active part in boating from the Lake Lanier community through the national ranks of the U.S. Power Squadrons for many years. “We are indeed fortunate to have both of them right here in North Georgia with their strong interests in boating safety and boating education.”

Portrait of Nan Ellen Fuller in uniform

Nan Ellen Fuller

The couple have spent many years enjoying the water. Nan Ellen, who grew up in Rome, Ga., waterskied with her family at Lake Weiss in Alabama. Dave, who was raised near Indianapolis, also boated as a teen.

The two moved independently to Atlanta for work: she in 1979 to work for the federal government and he in 1986 with Nationwise Auto Parts to open the company’s southern region.

“We met at an Atlanta landmark – the Beer Mug – across from Brookwood Station in Midtown,” Dave said.

“Our offices were nearby and there was just a group of us that would go there after work,” Nan Ellen explained. “We started out as friends, but found we had many things in common.”

They married in April 1987 and soon moved to Acworth and boated on Allatoona. Dave retired in 1998 and focused on his HAM radio pursuits.

“As I met more people in the Ham radio club, I was asked to help with standing watch for the Coast Guard Auxiliary at Allatoona,” Dave said. “That led to our joining Flotilla 22 at the lake a couple of years later in 2002. Little did we know what that would open up for us.”

Nan Ellen joined the Auxiliary in 2004. They both completed the organization’s series of boating education classes from basic boating safety through cruising, piloting and advanced training and also became involved with the Auxiliary leadership and committees, as well as taking their boating beyond the lake.

“Then we heard that the Power Squadron was doing a coordinated cruise to the Erie Canal in 2012 and by that time we’d purchased a 340 Sundancer Cruiser,” Dave said. “However, part of the stipulation to participate was to join the Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron.”

“It wasn’t really a hard decision,” Nan Ellen said. “We knew we wanted to do the Great Loop, so this was a chance to knock out the Erie Canal portion. I had retired the year before at the end of 2011, so it was perfect timing.”

The couple enjoyed the Lake Erie cruise so much that they committed to a two-year plan of completing the legendary 6,000-mile journey within their deadline of 2014.

Along the way, they remained active in both the USCGA and the Power Squadron, being tapped to join the leadership of each group. Both had served with local USCGA Flotilla in several capacities and had already accepted district committee and leadership positions.

Portrait of Dave Fuller in uniform.

Dave Fuller

Dave was elected to the leadership track of the local Power Squadron, which adopted a new name, America’s Boating Club Atlanta. Nan Ellen led several committees, including chairing Vessel Safety Examinations.

Dave served as Squadron Commander of America’s Boating Club Atlanta in 2019, after more than a half-dozen years working with the group while simultaneously earning qualifications and citations with the USCGA, including Instructor, Team Coordination Training Facilitator for active-duty Coast Guard and Auxiliary members, Partner Visitor, Vessel Examiner, Watchstander, Coxswain and Recreational Boating Safety Specialist. Dave recently completed a two-year rigorous senior-level Coast Guard leadership training with the acronym ASOC (Auxiliary Senior Officer Course). He also nationally leads the Public Education program for the Coast Guard and Auxiliary as Director of Education.

Nan Ellen continued to work with the local America’s Boating Club Atlanta and with the USCGA at division, district and national levels of the Auxiliary, earning numerous awards and citations. She has earned qualifications as Recreational Boating Safety Specialist, Watchstander, Partner Visitor, Vessel Examiner, Instructor and Boat Crew. She has served in multiple staff and leadership positions at flotilla, division, district and national levels.

In 2015 Nan Ellen was appointed the national liaison from the Auxiliary to the Power Squadrons because of her activities in both groups. The following year, Dave replaced her in this assignment, serving from 2016 through the present. In 2020, Nan Ellen was appointed as the national liaison from the Power Squadrons to the Auxiliary, a position she still holds. “We have a great many strategic communications meetings over dinner,” he said.

“This way, we can assure that both groups are aware of each other’s initiatives and work,” she said. “It is an excellent way to promote partnerships and complementary education, safety and recreational initiatives.”

In 2018, Dave began a two-year term as Deputy Director of Education for the USCGA; he was appointed as National Director of Education in 2020. At the same annual meeting in 2020, Nan Ellen was appointed Deputy Director of Recreational Boating Safety Outreach.

Dave Fuller standing in front of students teaching a boating safety class.

Dave often teaches boating safety classes locally and serves as National Director of Education for the USCGA.

At this year’s annual meeting, Dave was re-appointed Director of Education; Nan Ellen was appointed Director of the Recreational Boating Safety Outreach, charged with developing partnerships and strategic alliances. Their terms will continue through October 31, 2024.

“The Coast Guard Auxiliary supports the Recreational Boating Program for the U.S. Coast Guard, and so Nan Ellen and I will be working closely with the third leg of the Coast Guard’s National  Recreational Boating Safety triangle, Vessel Examination and Partner Visitor, ” Dave explained.

“It is quite an honor to be named to these appointments,” Nan Ellen said. “The Recreational Boating Program encompasses the focus of our organization and influences the future of recreational boating across the country.” According to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan, recreational boating safety is the number one mission of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Lisa Wilson, herself active in America’s Boating Club leadership, has worked side-by-side with the Fullers for many years and has witnessed their ongoing leadership abilities.

“Dave and Nan Ellen have forged productive relationships in boating education and safety at the highest levels,” she said. “We are indeed fortunate to have such committed leaders who can keep the communications open and be part of the national boating community right here in North Georgia.”

For more information about the local organizations and how to participate, visit www.americasboatingclubatlanta.org, or search for U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary on the web.

Cover photo: by Dave Fuller, portraits courtesy of the Fullers, Dave teaching photo by Pamela A. Keene