Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sailing Blogs

Thanks to Zephyr for pointing me to the brief article by Rebecca Waters about sailing blogs in the May 2006 issue of SAIL magazine. Rebecca draws her readers' attention to the phenomenon of sailing blogs, cites Zephyr and a couple of cruising blogs, and gives some advice on how to find more sailing blogs - including mentioning that the Laser sailor who writes Proper Course has a list of Top Ten Sailing Blogs. Actually Rebecca, I have written a couple of top ten posts, Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2005 and a more recent Boating Blog Roundup.

Rebecca closes her article by noting that interaction is the element that distinguishes weblogs from other forms of mass communication and suggests that this interaction is missing from the sailing space.

Interesting point. Is she right? Do sailing bloggers interact with each other? Are we a community, or just a bunch of lonesome writers dumping thousands of words into the ether with no hope of any feedback?

I'm not sure. It seems to me that the level of conversation between myself and my readers and the authors of the blogs I read is growing all the time. But I am constantly surprised by which topics in this blog generate the most comments from you. In the past month the subjects that have inspired you to respond the most often have included a story about a jetskier being jailed, an account of racing in the rain, some cute pictures of my gorgeous granddaughter and a spoof report about a protest hearing involving two of the Bee Gees. Of course the all-time record for number of comments from you was the infamous dueling church signs post. On the other hand, my attempts to educate myself and you about racing tactics have elicited comparatively little reaction. But our ongoing, interminable discussion about how sails work has generated some erudite and passionate responses from a small group of sailing geeks like myself.

So what's that say about the topics that interest you and that will spark conversation? You like funny. You like cute. Some of us like to argue about a subject that not one of us fully understands.
We all hate jetskiers. I guess you're not so different from the sailors I know in real life.

Are we a community? I must admit that in following some of your blogs over many months I have become interested in your sailing lives and started to feel that I know some of you well, that we might even become friends if we met in the flesh. For example it has been fascinating to read Dan's account of fitting out his new trimaran and finally launching her last weekend, and to follow the ups and downs of Carol Anne's attempt to qualify for the Adams Cup. I have had a good chuckle over Ant's Enterprise racing (and drinking) adventures in England and Edward's daysailing jaunts in California. The interaction that we, and others, have had via comments in the blogs have felt, at least to me, very similar to the interchanges with sailing friends in real life. A word of congratulation, some encouragement, occasional empathy when things are going bad, laughing over a joke together ...

My own standard of whether I am interested in reading your blog and interacting with you is the "beer and pizza" test. If you were to show up to Wednesday night racing at our club, would I want to sit with you in the bar afterwards for beer and pizza? Would I find your conversation interesting? Would we have things in common? Would we enjoy each other's company?

We might sail different kinds of boat. We might not both be serious racers. But sailing would be our common bond. Sailing anecdotes would be the core of our conversation. But it would be OK also for you to tell me about how proud you are of your kids, or nephews, or grandchildren; to whine about the terrible weather we've been having lately; to tell me about your vacation; to complain about those awful people at the next table. All of these subjects are the stuff of normal conversation and fit well into an interaction with fellow bloggers too.

So what do you think about this whole topic of interaction among sailing bloggers? Do we do it enough? How can we encourage it? Does it matter?

Geeze - is that the time? I've rambled on for way too long. The pizza is all finished. The beer pitchers are empty. Time to hit the road.
It was nice talking to you. See you soon.


EVK4 said...

the only people who comment are those that want your readers to click on their blog. seriously, I think that's true. How many non-bloggers comment on your blog. I have three non-bloggers comment: my wife, my Dad and one of my best friends.

That said, I would share beer and pizza with everyone I link to and one that I don't (that's Dan and I only don't link to him because of the Pineapple sails fiasco, I read his blog on the sly).

Charles N. Cox said...

Congrats on making the top ten, Tillerman!

Pat said...

Pat said...
Beer is in the fridge and in the guest room closet at our lake place. Otherwise, you'd have to make do with frozen pizza or make something; the nearest pizza joint is 15 miles away. Showing her transom to most of the fleet on Sunday's last race gave Carol Anne a lot of satisfaction. I do want to hear more about tactics, and trim/go fast, and clues about what the shifts are doing, and race committee stuff.

Ant said...

I agree that sailors are all the same, when I went to Sri Lanka, the other sailors I talked to in the context of the event were pretty much like me, and pretty much every sailing event I do, especially those with a social side, I meet someone new, ramble on (both of us) about sailing, family, work, more sailing, beer etc and its like we were old mates...
BUT via blogs do we communicate... are we having view is that you Tillerman my friend are having more conversations than me on but still not the same level as other people in the blogosphere. I was thinking of posting on this, and I probably will, but I think its something to do with sailors not being geeks (mostly) and that reading a blog is one thing and I do think we all have a decent amount of "attention" but not interaction, not conversation, maybe we just havent sussed out the right kind of content yet to stimulate the indepth conversations..? Tillerman I'd be interested, either publicly or not to see wat you viewer stats are like..

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I think evk4 was having a hit at me for not being a registered blogger. I did try and register, however when trying to register the system wanted me to set up a blogspot url. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, I don't know, but I didn't really fancy setting one up.

I read and comment on your articles/stories/rants because they are interesting and I normally get a laugh out of them. On some occassions I have even mentioned your rants in my own articles, which link back to Proper Course so others can view your site.

Links are what makes people aware of your site, and therefore ranks you higher on search engines such as Google and Yahoo. If you do a search on Live Sail Die, a page for Proper Course will more than likely appear. (And Litoralis).

On Live Sail Die, there is no option for someone to become a blogger. We took this option away so readers could get direct links straight from our site.

Anyway - Congratulations on an excellent site Tillerman. Your topics are insightful, adventurous, and most importantly, entertaining which ensures your readers keep returning.

So, I may not be a registered blogger, however I am an avid reader from Australia and will keep returning to read and comment and learn more about the life of Tillerman.


Carol Anne said...

I definitely believe that most of the people I "meet" in the blogosphere would also be people I'd enjoy pizza and beer with. (Pat, however, is wrong about having to settle for frozen -- I have a great recipe for homemade sourdough pizza crust. You'd just have to let me know ahead of time so I can let the dough proof.)

I especially find Proper Course to be a good place to make connections. I actually use the links here instead of trying to maintain a huge and constantly changing list of bookmarks. Tillerman's place is essentially the clubhouse where we all come to socialize.

JP said...

I agree with the last comment about socialising via Blogs. While its nice that Tillerman visits my blog it is even better to, as she put it, make connections.

Tillerman's long list of other sailing blogs is very useful and been a good eye opener for what else is out there.

Not only do different bloggers write about different things but also comment about different things. So a laser racer would read different posts to a yacht racer.

But everyone would be interested in Tillerman's new grandchild!

james and penelope said...

Thanks for your list of sailing related blogs. Hard to keep up on how many are out there. Offer my own Spindrift at

Post a Comment