Monday, January 01, 2007

Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2006

In the spirit of the season here is my own personal favorite list of Top Ten Sailing Blogs of 2006. It was tough to narrow the list down to only ten as there are so many great sailing blogs out there. To help me prune the list I ruthlessly applied the following rules to select a blog ...
  • 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.
Top of the list is The Horses Mouth. Joe Rouse serves up an eclectic feast of sailing news and photos with fish on Fridays and weekend wahines. Spectacular photos, sharp humorous comments, always entertaining. Keep up the good work Joe.

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 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 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.


Anonymous said...

Whoohooohooohooo!!!! You like me, you really like me!

I'd like to thank my loyal dozen readers, The Google, Eli for pimping my blog subtly on SA, Tillerman for inspiration, Joe for publishing my Santa pictures, the staff at The People's Republic of Berkeley Marina, Capital Yachts for going out of business 20 years before I bought my boat, my daughter Camille for keeping us from losing that race that one time, Joseph the Liar for selling me my boat so cheaply, Seadon for selling me non-embarassing sails, Harken for crap that rarely breaks,, and, most importantly, my wife for putting up with the sailing.

Anonymous said...

I made the list, wooowhoo!!!
( I need a dancing smily here for real !)

I'd like to thank, Tillerman, EVK4, Roya-san who first gave me the support to keep blogging in my early days and links to my blog.
Also my other loyal readers around the globe, especally those that leave comments or sent me emails! Thanks to the Great Spirit for the blessings of good health, job, family and opening my eyes to other paths in life. Thanks to my teachers and to Nikon for making cool cameras I can afford. Wayfarer Yachts for making a great boat at reasonable cost so that some 20 plus yrs later I could afford to buy one and even dream of sailing offshore half way around the world. Thanks to Blogger for giving free blog space. Thanks to all those who sailed before me long distance and wrote about so I could share the dream and plan my own. Yoh sensei in Japan who's book showned me it could be done in a small boat an my ideas about Zen and sailing are not so weird. Thanks to all the makers of all those parts that held up through the years so I did not have to replace them before I went sailing last year. Last but not least my almost perfect wife who does not give me grief about spending time and money on the boat!

Anonymous said...

Although not quite blogging Steve Bodner- from San Francisco- post regular regatta reports on his windsurfing site

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an excellent ranking of blogs and a wonderful attitude to sailing and sports. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

This must be a mistake?
I thought for sure that
I was going to be kicked off of
campus this year for excessive
drinking, but some how I ended
up the Prom King.

Thank you very much, I am humbled
and honored. I will try
to live up to expectations and not
follow Miss USA's path down the
hole of degradation ... on second
thought...Pour me another


P.S. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention Tillerman!


Anonymous said...

Oh crap I'm out the top ten this year... no suprise really, not enough sailing or commentary posted in 2006... I hope there were moments of my usual blogging brilliance inbetween the longer-than-i-would-like lulls?

This year will be better... hold on to your hats and tillers.... I'm back... hopefully!

You do want me bck don't you?????

Tillerman said...

Right on Ant. I felt bad about having to leave you out this year because, as you say, there are many moments of blogging brilliance on Soulsailor. But the lulls between them were longer than I would have liked. I still look forward to reading your stuff and am pleased to hear that you're back on the scene.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know what is required to make the top of the list... Surely its more than just how often one posts and or comments...
Would someone not make it if you didn't understand or respect their opinions? Or if you totally disagreed with their views?
Just throwing some ideas out there...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention, and for reading the site. Hope the Monday Morning Tactician can be helpful for racecourses across the country, but I appreciate the kind words. Thanks for the support for the campaign.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the props - you have set a fine example to follow. We are still figuring out how to best use Scuttleblog, but it has provided us a new venue for commentary. Look for more in 2007.

Tillerman said...

og - I think I wrote a couple of times about how I was choosing the top ten.

To answer your specific questions...

If I didn't "understand" what someone wrote I guess they wouldn't make the list. Why would I applaud stuff that's so badly written or so abstruse that I can't understand it? But I don't know of any sailing blogs I don't understand (other than ones in languages that I don't know).

If I didn't "agree" with someone's opinions they could definitely make the list. A guy called Peter Huston has started and stopped writing a sailing blog twice. He was very opinionated and I often disagreed with his opinions but I loved his blogs. Come back Peter if you are reading this.

As for not "respecting" someone's opinion, that's a concept I find hard to grasp. I think I respect the opinion of anyone who bothers to write a coherent opinion about sailing, even if I disagree with them.

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