Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sailing Websites

Why do sailing websites suck so much?

That was the question posed by Adam Turinas at Messing About in Sailboats. Or to be more precise: Why do sailing websites suck so much (blogs excepted)? Adam has been checking out some so-called "professional" sailing websites, mainly the websites of dead-tree US sailing magazines, and has come to the conclusion (as a self-described Internet professional) that most of them are "equally crap".

Adam has also been checking out sailing blogs and has discovered that the stuff on sailing that
he finds most interesting is in blogs, not on the sites of sailing magazines. He then comes to the conclusion that "sailing bloggers have the responsibility to make the web a better place for sailors".

I must admit that that last statement put me back on my heels for a while. "Responsibility." "Make the web a better place." Yikes. That's heavy stuff. I don't know about you but I blog for fun, not with any thought of making the web a better place. And as for responsibility, that's the last thing I want when it comes to blogging.

But then I started thinking that maybe Adam has a point. These days most of my reading about sailing is on blogs. If I want to follow what's going on at major Laser championships I can check out US national team member Andrew Campbell's blog, or if I want to see some tips from race winners in local Laser club racing I can find them at Greenwich Laser Racing. I can stay in touch with the training and racing of a fellow Laser master sailor at Split Tacks, or if I feel nostalgic for news of club racing in the old country I can check out Soulsailor or All Day I Dream About Sailing.

If I feel the need to see some superb sailing photography I can feast my eyes at Sailscape, or if my taste today is for some more off-beat pics with a watery theme I can go to The Horse's Mouth. If I feel like a good argument about some sailing controversy I head over to read one of Peter Huston's rants at Sailing As I Sea It, but then if I need something more soothing I settle down to enjoy the latest writings by Judy and Mark Handley
at about their cruise around the world.

The list goes on. I can ogle over marine electronics at Panbo, hear all about the latest news on marine accidents, safety and law at Lawboat, or for something completely different drop in at Grandma's Gone Surfing.

I could go on and on. I think Adam has a point. Some of the most entertaining, informative and provocative writing about sailing on the web these days is to be found in blogs. And the beauty of this medium is that I can tailor what news, stories and opinions I see by continually tuning my feed reader to include those blogs that interest me and to drop those that don't.
(I use Bloglines.)

Adam is critical about the website design and quality of grammar and spelling at some of the "professional" sailing websites. To be honest, some bloggers fall a little short in these areas too. But I don't really care. Almost all bloggers are writing from the heart. They are telling us about personal experiences or expressing opinions about which they have a passion. They are not hacks regurgitating some press release written by some other hack in a PR agency for a company promoting some marine product. It's this vivid, personal, direct, honest communication that makes sailing blogs such compelling reading. And by using Bloglines I can compile my own personal sailing magazine full of articles that interest me written by a variety of folk who are passionate about their subjects.

But what do you think about all this? What do you see as the key differences between professional sailing websites and sailing blogs? Which do you prefer to read? And why?


Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! (or is it 'here! here!)
I agree with Tillerman. In fact it goes with everything, photos, news articles, etc. "Professionals' lack spontaneity and truthfulness.

Zen said...

Pros write for a check.

Bloggers write to share, not reward. Most times they do not even get comments.

OG said...

Wow - Live Sail Die must be one of the sites that suck!

Oh well, we love writing about sailing and sharing what we find with the world.

The beauty of blogs is that everyone can voice their own unique opinion and views as well as having some fun along the way.

Who's to say what sucks and what doesn't?

Carol Anne said...

I can get nearly all the technical stuff I need from books and other dead-trees media. What I get from blogs is inspiration and motivation.

When a website merely reproduces the dead-trees media, it doesn't add to the experience. It's the interaction, the direct responses between one person and another, that makes the Web different. And blogs are where a huge amount of that interaction takes place.

Pat said...

Some of "what sucks or doesn't" may be a matter of taste.

Some of it may be economics; professionals with a big budget to feed can easily get caught up in being hucksters for products that are remote from the needs of most ordinary sailors.

And some of it may be a matter of getting trapped in formulaic writing, market surveys, avoidance of being threatened with litigation, of groupthink, or of reliance on contributors who only represent a few traditional "takes" on the sport.

Or to put it another way, being an editorial director of a big, glossy magazine, with expensive staff and production costs, long lead times, and advertisers to be kept happy, must be like conning a battleship. You don't get to take it for a fun spin around the harbor on a moment's notice; instead you're all caught up in every sort of bureaucratic process and procedure and each little move has to be choreographed and coordinated in advance.

Writing a blog is like having a little sailing dinghy or one-person keelboat launched and rigged and waiting for you at the water's edge; all immediately ready for you to hop on board and response to your every move and your least whim.

Anonymous said...

Love the slogan...die on your laser, because that is what I have been telling my kids and friends I will do. Die on my Laser or be the first to sail the Atlantic on one.

John said...

there are some good sites out there


Anonymous said...

You left out,, and


Sailmonster is self generating. Our members make it great or not. We have been hit by SA as copying them which is not the case. That is why we formed. FU-SA Family United Sailing Association:) Our site is for all ages and clean.

Anonymous said...

I have been to the sailmonster site, it sucks the most of any site I have been to. Not a single thing about sailing. maybe some raft ups and local stuff. but to say you are copying sailing anarchy is a joke.

Anonymous said...

I agree Sucks

Jeff said...

Yeah,Sailmonster Sucks, worst of the worst

Jerry Stanford said... is the sailing my space for adult drunken sailors, and calling them adult is stretching the term. No actual sailing content,unless you consider the youtube videos that someone else made, the ones they made themselves are just pathetic. You have a salesman that runs,and his wife, both of which get sickening real fast.
Sailing Anarchy Rules

Roznos said...

From Sailmonster:

Thanks for the feedback. If you had half a brain you would realize that is designed for people to publish there own sailing news, stories, experiences and meet other people that do the same. Our focus is to get people on the water. If you think that promoting sailing and running events to raise money for kids and sponsoring races sucks go to and start your own site like seaknots for free Rockstar.

Peter Lyons said...

Well I happened to go to your site sailmonster and watched it for the past week or so. I wouldn't say it sucks.It is ok if you like the owner, namely you telling people how great you are and patting yourself on the back in your articles. Its a shame no one else seems agree.

Most people that have a good site, a good job,or anything good don't go around trying to pushing it down people's throats. They don't have to, they know what and who they are or what their site does.

You say go to for free, well I am not promoting a website and if I did,I might just use it. I wouldn't be like you and advertise to my whole website audience how much it cost to add features to my website like you do. Big Bucks it will cost me ect. ect.ect.

Come on down to earth. Your website is not a serious sailors site no matter how much you try to sell it to everyone. You have you,your wife, a few of your local buddies and a few other members that keep it going. Just look at how many are online, not many at all compared to other sailing websites.

I would never have posted this here but after reading your reply to the other comments, I just had to let you know what your site really is.
And by the way most of the people from your site have gone over to Seaknots and they think it is just great, it actually has a huge variety of user generated info about cruising. Not like yours,where you and your wife are the main contributers of photos and videos and articles that someone else has done,that you mainly copied from other webpages and posted them on your site and where the polls are "how much wood can a woodchuck chuck".

Come off it, do you think serious sailors want to read that stuff and the other goofyness that goes on at sailmonster.

Peter Lyons

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

Thank you for your input. Sorry if an open discussion offended you. Not sure if you are aware of what we do. Have a great day.


Peter said...


I was not offended in any way. I was just giving you my feedback on your website.

It is not an open discussion there, in fact there is no disucssion there. It is YOU that does all the talking, all the posts,all the patting yourself on the back and most all of everything. You sit in your shoutbox all day long and if no one answers you, you still keep on talking.

You may post events and you may help sponsor things in your area,and try to promote sailing with your site, which is great.

But in reality, if you sit down and look at it truthfully,as a sailing website, it is really the most childish sailing website on the internet today.You have no usefull information for sailors,no orginal content,just rehashed videos,photos,and articles,that is posted all over the internet before you even put it up on your site.


Anonymous said... is a joke on most of the real sailing websites. ENOUGH SAID

Anonymous said...

Desperate Sailors is a great site. And it's free

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