Editorial February 1, 2005 Issue

Human Resources

A few weeks back a friend called and invited me to his "hull turning party." Readers who are acquainted with one-off boat construction won't find that to be such an awkward phrase. It might even prompt a small wave of nostalgia.

My friend is midway through building a 25-foot wooden lobster boat. A boatbuilder by trade, he's doing this project on the side, for himself. Rest assured, he's also a sailor.

It didn't surprise me at all to show up and see a line of parked cars leading all the way down the street from the little creekside hovel that's affectionately referred to as "the boatyard." Turning a hull—so that construction can begin on the interior, deck, and cabinhouse—is an honored tradition among boat enthusiasts, wooden or otherwise. The few times I've attended or participated in boat turnings, the atmosphere has always been warm, jovial, and celebratory. This occasion was no different.

There were probably 150 folks there that afternoon, but only 30 or so of us could fit into the tight quarters of the shed to lift his precious project. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we bent our knees and backs to the task. For a fleeting moment, I was concerned that mere manpower wouldn't be a fitting match for all that wood and epoxy, estimated by my friend to be about 1,500 pounds.

To my silent relief, the upside-down hull fairly soared off its chocks and we collectively inched it through the shed doorway and into the sunlight without incident. Afterward, with equal ease, we rolled the vessel upright.

The things that are possible to achieve through collaborative effort can astound you, and witnessing such synergistic feats can be truly inspiring. Here at PS headquarters, we've had the opportunity lately to glean something of the potential that exists in this realm. After placing a modest ad in our December and January issues, asking for parties interested in contributing to the publication, we've been innundated with responses. It seems that an overwhelming number of readers want to be involved in influencing the content of this magazine; something we regard as a good sign.

To date, 50-plus applicants have registered their interest, and the missives haven't stopped arriving yet. We've heard from "retired government scientists," "career naval officers," veteran sailors with over "200,000 sea miles" under their keels, and "passionate weekend sailors." Among them are PhDs, MDs, JDs, MBAs, and EdDs, as well as those educated at the school of hard knocks. The dispatches we've seen range from a single sentence e-mail to a 10-page resume, and all of them resound with sincerity.

Any publication's greatest asset is its readership, and PS is indeed fortunate to have committed, passionate readers whose interests and skills span a broad spectrum. Witness the variety of letters in this issue's "Mailport" section and you'll understand what I mean. This magazine is tremendously enriched by the fact that its readers care enough to interact actively via letters to the editor. Now, we're hoping that we can take that richness a step further by engaging a few of those readers as occasional contributors.

Of course this is by no means an original idea; we've done it before fairly often. Yet it seems to have an especially appropriate applicationwith a publication like PS. We're looking forward to the synergy that will result from our little ad, as I'm sure you're looking forward to the progressive material that will be the ultimate outcome. But first there's a bit of HR work to be done.

 

-Dan Dickison

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