Editorial January 1, 1998 Issue

A Day in the Life

The occasional visitor to our offices usually gets a peek at our projects of the month. At the moment, we have nearly a dozen anchors and a half-dozen watermakers strewn around the floor and tables. More often than not, the visitor says something to the effect that it must be fun playing with boat gear all day. Well, yeah. Sometimes I forget what a typical workday was like in my past life, back in the 70s, when I was a hospital administrator. Before I was senior editor at Cruising World magazine, before living aboard and going cruising.

Back then I wore a suit and tie and carried a small leather appointment book. The director of pharmacy would pass me in the hall and say he needed a half-hour meeting. I’d pull the book from my jacket pocket, flip to the day and say, “How about two o’clock.”

“No, he’d say, “I’ve got a two with the director of nursing. How about a three?”

“Can’t do,” I’d answer. “I’ve got a three with the housekeeping supervisors. After that there’s a briefing for the community advisory board.”

“What about tomorrow?” he’d ask.

“Nine-thirty’s open. So is two-forty-five.”

“Give me the nine-thirty.”

“What’s it about anyway?”

He’d look both ways down the hall, then whisper, “My assistant got another job offer. If I don’t give him a raise, I’m afraid I’ll lose him.”

And so it went, one appointment to the next.

Things are more than a little different at Practical Sailor.

Take, for instance, the day not long ago when Nick Nicholson, our editor-at-large, walked up from his boat at the nearby marina to check the latest weather forecast from Bob Rice’s Weather Window. Nick had been waiting for a weather window alright, one that would allow him to take off for Bermuda in late autumn with as little risk of gales as possible. We chatted about the current and projected positions of the several low and high pressure areas.

When he left, I turned to my computer and opened up the file for the January issues. The anchor test Dale Nouse and I had been working on wouldn’t be ready in time (stalled by the same bad weather that had Nick holed up). Fortunately, we had a number of features in overset. How about…

The phone rang. A reader wanted an opinion on high-output alternators. We talked for five or 10 minutes. When he hung up I opened up the files of several articles to check length. The battery monitor update would do nicely, but it was a page long. Should I edit it on screen or print it out and edit on hard copy?

The phone rang. It was one of the customer service representatives from our publisher’s office in Connecticut. She had a reader on the line who wanted a back issue including a boat review of the Island Packet 35. Unfortunately, we haven’t reviewed it, so the question was whether our review of the Island Packet 31 would still be helpful? Heck, for $7.50, sure it’s worth reading the 31 review. I hung up.

Back to battery monitors.

A knock at the door. In walked a PS reader who just happened to be in the area and saw our sign. We shook hands as he looked around, and I wondered if he was disappointed that our offices aren’t as big as those at Consumer Reports, with dozens of personnel dressed in white lab suits and standing at test benches. He saidhe had a bone to pick with me, disagreeing with our assessment of some piece of electronic equipment that we said was mediocre and he believed was excellent. I asked him if he had tried other brands for comparison but this didn’t change his tune.

To change the subject I showed him the anchors and watermakers.

“Boy,” he said, “must be great to play with boat stuff all day.”

The phone rang.

I hardly had time to say, “Yes, it certainly is.”

—Dan Spurr

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