The Master of the Harbor

Greg Featherstone. Photo by Scott Holstein
The Master of the HarborGreg Featherstone is navigating his life from the helm of a dream job
By Zandra Wolfgram

Just one look at his sparkling blue eyes and wide, easy smile and you have a feeling there are plenty of tall tales this face cannot wait to tell. This harbor master — responsible for the traffic flow, safety, Coast Guard compliance and even event activities at HarborWalk Marina — has certainly seen his share of doings on the docks at the 200-slip Destin marina since it opened in 2007. But one of the most interesting stories just may be his own.

Greg Featherston, 65, has always loved the water. He grew up near the shores of Lake Erie, taking every opportunity to motor around on the family’s 16-foot Thompson runabout.

He volunteered to go into the Army at 18 and was sent to Vietnam, experiencing first-hand the 1968 Tet Offensive during his two-year tour. “You grow up quick,” he says. Featherston came back from the war, but his brother didn’t. Capt. Fielding “Wes” Featherston, an Air Force pilot stationed in Da Nang, was listed as Missing In Action when he failed to return from a covert operation over Laos in 1969.

After leaving military life, Featherston worked his way up through the ranks in various hotel jobs around the country and eventually moved to Panama City Beach in 1976, taking a position as a sales manager for the Miracle Mile Resort — “my first time to see sugar white sand.”

He took to hospitality like a duck to water and was soon recruited as an “advance man,” charged with inspecting venues for an international production company. “It gave me the opportunity to travel the world,” he says. The water lover he is, he was especially taken by the English Channel; the cold, European mountain streams; the placid lakes of the Orient; and the vast oceans of the world.

But while he liked the job, the constant travel wore on him. When he had to look at the newspaper to figure out what city he was in, Featherston realized he needed to make another change. He moved to Jacksonville and worked at a property management business. After giving a talk to a homeowner group, a developer named Peter Bos called and offered him a job at a beautiful property in Northwest Florida called Sandestin Resort.

After nearly 30 years and various boats, trawlers and “go fasts” later, Featherston still enjoys working with Bos. For this boatman, his job is a “dream come true.”

“I believe what you give you get in return. But, in this case, I think I’ve come out on the better end of the deal,” he says with a smile in his eyes. ec