Change of Watch
Good news. My old friend Dan Dickison has agreed to take over the editorial helm of this magazine, starting next month. He's a fine sailor, editor, and writer, having worked at Sailing World for many years (where we worked together) and as an editor and later editorial director of SailNet. He's a pro—he knows sailing all over the country, knows the industry, and knows the other people who know it. He's a great fit.
Belvoir Publications, owners of Practical Sailor, are rapidly expanding their fields of coverage, and have asked me to help them launch, and then edit, another publication—one that has little to do with boats, and more to do with health, science, and medicine. It's an opportunity that I'm eager to tackle, not only because the topics and the new challenge interest me, but because I'll get a chance to do more sailing, or at least more gear-testing on the water. No kidding—I'm staying on here as an editor-at-large, and will be testing and writing for PS every month. Meanwhile, we've got this transition rigged so that Dan won't be quite as pinned behind the computer monitor as I've been for the past few years. More tinkering, less typing. That's the motto of the day.
Still, a big part of the editor's job in this magazine will always to manage the constant, heavy flow of feedback and information from Practical Sailor's readers, both "civilians" and marine industry professionals. You are, without a doubt, the best-informed, most involved, most helpful readers that any magazine could have—and you are, in fact, the wellspring of both article ideas and follow-up information.
Many readers, when they write in, describe themselves as "members" rather than "subscribers," and with good reason. This magazine is a bit like a forum with a lot of participants. It's not a free-for-all, by any means, but even when readers' words aren't published, they're read and assimilated.
Throughout my trick at the helm, I've been conscious of the fact that the job is a stewardship, really, of a publication that's often taken to be the "authority," or the "last word." This is a misconception. First, there's rarely a last word. Second, the prudent buyer of boat gear doesn't rely on a single source of information. There's expert advice about almost everything on the Internet. The trouble is, you can't always tell what's expert and what's not, because there's a lot of flim-flam and ax-grinding out there, and people tend to hit the Send button when they're heated up.
Practical Sailor's strength lies in an approach to evaluation that rarely splits hairs at the lab level; instead, we try to conduct tests the way any reasonably handy and curious sailor would, if he could actually try out competing products at the same time. We have no axes to grind, no advertiser-driven agenda, and we try hard not to hit that Send button until we've given things a fair shake. It's great to be able to publish findings without having to worry about biting a feeding hand.
It has been—and will continue to be—a tremendous pleasure to work with Tim Cole, Dale Nouse, and Nick Nicholson. These are true renaissance people, and the work has always been in concert, never in conflict. Chris Landry at Powerboat Reports has been a comrade in the field and in the office—paint and anchors, keyboards and ink. Sail and power symbiosis.
Note the new editorial contact information at the right. Good grief—after 30 years, the editor is finally out of New England. Not to worry—Dale and I will continue to serve up provincial pronouncements from secret bases in the Ocean and Nutmeg states. As an editor at large (sounds like a criminal, or an escaped beast, doesn't it?), I'll be available via e-mail at LoganCT@aol.com.
To Dan Dickison and all of his correspondents—you—I wish the fairest of winds, and I'll look forward to seeing you on the water.