- It must be mainly about sailing.
- It must have been in existence for most of 2006.
- It must be updated regularly.
- It must be actually worth reading... it's interesting, entertaining, educational, funny, whatever... something grabs me about it.
- The writer engages his or her audience, allows comments on the blog, responds to them, makes comments on other sailing blogs, is part of the community.
Edward from EVK4 Bloglet writes about sailing his Newport 28 Lady Bug on San Francisco Bay, introducing his son and daughter to sailing, his Polka Dot Racing Team, and more mundane aspects of sailing such as docklines. He's not crossing oceans or sailing major regattas; he's just a guy having fun on the water day-sailing with his family and doing some local racing. But he has a knack for wry self-deprecating humor and he brings the reader into the experience in a way that makes his blog fascinating reading. Thanks for sharing, Edward.
Zen from Zensekai also lives in the San Francisco Bay area and sails an Islander-29. He is a martial arts instructor, has a "made in Japan" wife, and plans to sail to Japan one day. His interest and knowledge of Asian culture, languages and philosophies brings a unique twist to a sailing blog, as exemplified by his post on Tai Chi, Sailing and Laser Racing. Sensei, domo arigato gozaimashita.
Zen dreams of sailing across the Pacific but in 2006 Mark and Judy Handley achieved the dream in their Tayana 42 Windbird and wrote about at HandleySail.com. I have followed their progress all year from the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and then from island to island across the Pacific to New Zealand. Judy writes posts almost daily about their shore adventures and sailing voyages (not even a broken leg interrupted the flow), and Mark chips in occasionally with articles about the technology on their boat. Gets my vote for best cruising blog of the year.
Sailscape continues to delight us with his superb photos of New England seascapes, classic yachts, small boat racing and Virgin Island views. A feast for the eyes!
Eli Boat feeds his readers plenty of stories and photos from the yachting world at large but my favorite posts are of his stories of Cape Cod Frosty racing in New Hampshire such as this account of the day when 24 Frosties came out to race and the photos in this post entitled Once the ball gets rolling.
One of my prime sources of sailing news is the renowned Scuttlebutt newsletter, so I was pleased to see that this year they also started a blog named... what else but Scuttleblog, a place for Tom and Craig Leweck to post personal commentary such as a peeve about one-design class measurement, to question the future of Olympic yachting, or to bust some gossip about Dennis Conner. These guys know the sailing world as well as anyone and can always be relied upon to keep us informed and entertained.
I follow the blogs of a number of top racing sailors, Olympic contenders and world champions, but the best of the bunch is US Laser sailor Andrew Campbell's CampbellSailing.com. Not just because he is a Laser sailor but because he follows all the rules of good blogging that I listed above (and you would be amazed at how many of the other racing hotshot bloggers don't do so). This year we have been able to follow Andrew's progress from the culmination of a stellar college sailing career through major regattas in Europe and North America, the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China, and the Laser Worlds in Korea. Since returning to the USA, Andrew has been writing a series of articles entitled Monday Morning Tactician such as this one on a rules situation near a windward mark. I'm looking forward to continuing to learn from Andrew's experiences and following his Olympic campaign.
And then we have LiveSailDie. You didn't think I could leave this out of the Top Ten did you? Two Aussie sailing instructors in Queensland cover yachting from an Australian perspective in a breezy, fresh, entertaining style. Check it out.
And finally we have Zephyr self-described as Sailing Culture for Voyagers, Zealots, Poets and Populists. This has to make anyone's top ten list of sailing blogs. In May alone the author wrote about Long Island Sound summer anchorages, Dee Caffari's triumph, the lost crewman off ABN AMRO TWO during the Volvo, the passing of poet laureate Stanley Kunitz, MapMuse technology, the opening of the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis, and a SAIL magazine article on blogging.
Zephyr posts on average about once per day and covers sailing from so many angles. His insights into sailing culture in the broadest sense of the word are often thought-provoking and occasionally provocative. I can't do better then to end this round-up of sailing bloggers by quoting at length from Zephyr.
Technology is having a significant impact on sailing culture, particularly in how sailors communicate with one another and share information about key aspects of voyaging and cruising (weather, friendly ports-of-call, sheltered anchorages). Some of the best examples of this are found in the multitude of individual sailing weblogs being published with more popping every day. Unlike Zephyr, which focuses on a specific topic (sailing culture) and covers it broadly, these sailing blogs are written from the perspective of voyagers, boatbuilders, weekend warriors. They're mostly about the individual journey and serve as a two-way, grassroots window into the sailing world. When I was mate on the Maxi in the late 90'’s I used to punch out email updates to all my desk-bound friends back in the States, compile a mailing list and send them whenever I could find an Internet cafe when we paused in Roadtown, English Harbor, Culebra, etc. I remember people enjoyed them, forwarded them all over their offices, to friends across the country. Sailors are intrinsically storytellers and the Internet has magnified this attribute. Consider the shift from the viral, uncontrolled mass email to a narrow-casted, self published weblog. We are witnesses to this technology proliferating, evolving and beginning to virtually knit together the larger sailing community...not surprisingly the results are (like many things in life) heterogeneous - we discover compelling content side-by-side with the trite, sublime with mundane, unique with conventional...And who knows where technology will take the world of sailing story-telling in 2007? I'm looking forward to finding out.