Award Top 2015 Boating Stories

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized during the Miami Boat Show in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 15 contest categories representing $15,000 in awards were made to first ($500), second ($300) and third ($200) place scorers. Cash award recipients also received a recognition plaque noting their “Excellence in creating compelling stories about the boating lifestyle through entertaining, educational and inspiring journalism.”

In its 23rd year, the BWI contest attracted 127 participants submitting 322 entries. In addition to cash awards, Certificates of Merit were presented to writers of another 45 articles which scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2015. Each of the categories (noted below along with sponsors) was judged by four active journalists in the first few weeks of the New Year. Results (First- to third-place awards are linked):

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Martin Flory Group

1st place, “Hung Up on Hongs” by Fatty Goodlander (Cruising World, Nov.); 2nd place, “An Accidental Paradise” by Ben Zartman (Cruising World, May); 3rd place, “Is It Windy, No?” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Aug.). Of the first place entry judge Mike Sciulla said, “The author transforms a journey to and through Thailand’s watery caves – literally pools located inside an island – into a richly nuanced meaning of life tale. At the heart of this piece is a thoughtful story about friendship, hardship and the joys of chucking it all replete with a masterful use of the English language and some great photography.” Certificate of Merit Awards: “Into Antarctica” by Kim Kavin (Yachting, Aug); “Seeking Higher Ground” by Darrell Nicholson (Cruising World, June); “This Must Be the Place” by Jody Argo Schroath (Chesapeake Bay, April); “Haida Gwaii: The Best of Canada’s Pacific Northwest” by Stephen Blakely (Soundings, March); “Back From Extinction” by Janet Hein (Classic Boat, Nov.).

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st, “Hired Hands” by Zach Harvey (Anglers Journal, Spring); 2nd, “A Way Home” by Bill Pike (Anglers Journal, Winter); 3rd, “Northern Gravity” by John Jinishian (Anglers Journal, Summer). Judge Jennifer Chesak said “The author of ‘Hired Hands’ takes the nagging injuries a working fisherman sustains and turns them into beautiful imagery. The prose of this short piece evokes the passion, commitment, and grit it takes to make a living this way, and why some folks wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.” Merit Awards to “Catch ‘em up, Boys” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal, Fall); “The Thump” by Arnold Markowitz (Anglers Journal, Summer); “Fishing For The Table” by C.J. Chivers (Anglers Journal, Fall); “Can Congress Finally Get It Right For Recreational Fishing?” by Ryck Lydecker (BoatUS Magazine, April); “Does Your Boat Freak the Fish” by Lenny Rudow (BoatUS Magazine, April); “A Bay Runs Through It” by Gary Reich (Chesapeake Bay, April); “Atlantic Canyon Runners” by Vincent Daniello (Sport Fishing, March).

Gear, Electronics & Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex/Schneider Electric

1st place: “Tricks of the Trade” by Ron Ballanti (Anglers Journal, Winter); 2nd, “The Halo Effect” by David Schmidt (Yachting, Aug.); 3rd, “Single vs. Twins” by John Page Williams (Boating, Oct.). Judge Kim Kavin said, “The Gear category had a lot of great writing and innovative ideas for covering the subject matter … ‘Tricks of the Trade’ taught us all something new and interesting about using radar to catch more fish.” Merit certificates: “The Quiet Revolution” by Michael Vatalaro (BoatUS Magazine, Aug.); “Peripheral Vision” by Lenny Rudow (, June 21); “Joy(Sticks) to the World” by Chris Caswell (Sea, March); “Hooked on Networks” by Nigel Calder (Professional Boatbuilder, Aug.); “Simrad’s Halo Radar” by Bill Bishop (Practical Sailor, Oct.); “Getting Connected” by Green Brett (Cruising World, May); “The Battle in the Bay” by Alan Jones (Boating World, March).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Editor’s Letter” by Patrick Sciacca (Yachting); 3rd“Off Watch” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World). Judge Frank Sargeant described the first place entry as, “Masterful, poetic writing along with an obvious level of angling expertise. Nearly every line requires a closer look, evokes a feeling or an image. These columns make you think, ‘Damn, I wish I could write like that!’” Certificates of Merit: “On Watch” by Fatty Goodlander (Cruising World); “Weather Eye” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay); “Jody’s Log” by Jody Argo Schroath (Chesapeake Bay); “Under Way” by Mary South (Soundings).

Boat/Engine Care and Maintenance – sponsored by Interlux Yacht Finishes

1st, “Dead in the Water” by Edward Zacko (Good Old Boat, Jan.); 2nd, “Eyes on the Rode (and More)” by Frank Lanier (Sea, Jan.); 3rd, “Captain Frank’s Seachest of Horrors” by Frank Lanier (BoatUS Magazine, Feb.). Glenn Hayes explains the first place entry, “Grabs your attention right away and takes you to a place you don’t want to be, then explains how not to get there in a captivating and educational manner despite its technical nature.” Merit Awards to: “What’s In a Name” by Dennis Mullen (Multihull Sailor, Sept.); “Slip ‘n’ Slide” by Ralph Naranjo (Cruising World, April); “Make an Old Outboard Engine New Again” by Charles Plueddeman (, Sept.25); “Spin Doctors” by Vincent Daniello (Boating, May).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “Concept Craft?” by George Sass, Sr. (PassageMaker Magazine, May); 2nd, “Moonen 100’ Explorer” by Judy Waldman, (, Jan. 28); 3rd, “Cape Dory Typhoon” by Wayne Canning (Good Old Boat, July). Judge Carol Pierini offers that “Concept Craft” “was superbly written and very well balanced … an amazing job of laying out what [the builders] are doing to design and plan for the future. Details in this article are exciting and boaters will learn a tremendous amount … it promises a positive outcome for this vessel, but considers the cautions of this research.”

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Here Be Dragons” by Kevin Koenig (Anglers Journal, July); 2nd, “Voyages of a Forgotten Hero” by Thies Matzen (Cruising World, Jan.); 3rd, “Farr Out!” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, Oct.). Of the first place entry judge Darrell Nicholson wrote: “This humorous, insightful account of a fishing trip with the legendary basketball coach Bob Knight tells us as much about human nature and the challenges of being a journalist as it does about the fascinating subject of the profile. Weaving Knight’s oversized character with detailed descriptions of the islands and the pursuit, the story leaves the reader with a gnawing desire to know what happens next.” Merit Award to “The Gospel According to Jim” by Chris Dombrowski (Anglers Journal, Oct.).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Home Port Marine Marketing

1st, “Bracing for Life Without Boomers” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only, June); 2nd, “The Storm That Won’t Go Away” by Richard Armstrong (Soundings Trade Only, Oct.); 3rd, “Building Profits Through Export” by Craig Ritchie (Boating Industry, Jan.). “Boomers,” says judge Gary Beckett, is “a well-researched and well-written business story; drawn from the insights of a variety of quality sources, that exemplifies the type or reporting we like to see. It examines in detail an important and highly topical marketing issue and explains how industry professionals are reaching out to boaters in overlooked user demographics.” Merit Awards: “It’s All About Sharing” by Michael Sciulla (Soundings Trade Only, Aug.); “The Joys of Boat Loanership” by Pete McDonald (Boating, Feb.); “Sail Freight Experiences a Rebirth” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, Sept.); “To the Ends of the Earth” by Chris Caswell (Yachts International, Dec.).

Online Expressions – sponsored by Boat Owners Association of the U.S.

1st, “Turf to Surf” by Tasha Hacker; 2nd, “WaveTrain: A Blog About Cruising Sailboats and Other Aquatic Miracles” by Charles Doane; 3rd, “Got Bait? – Marsh Island Mayhem” by Lenny Rudow (on Judge Craig Ritchie described “Turf to Surf” as, “Outstanding work – well written, highly engaging, with strong production values in a cleanly designed package. The writing is crisp, the subject matter interesting … fully leveraging the strengths of its medium.” Certificates of Merit: “Pedestal Steering Maintenance” by Wayne Canning for Ocean Navigator magazine on YouTube; and “Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub” by Ben Ellison.

Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine

1st, “Let’s Go Foiling” by Roger Marshall (Megayachts, Nov.); 2nd, “Captain Boyle and the Messerschmitt” by Jan Adkins (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); 3rd, “Bathymetric Break-Out” by Lenny Rudow (BoatUS Magazine, June). Judge Jim Rhodes said “Foiling” is, “Good, solid technical writing. A thorough and clear explanation of a complex subject, written in a straightforward and readable expository style that does not get in the way.” Merit: “AIS for the Rest of Us” by Edward Zacko (Good Old Boat, July).

Seamanship, Rescue & Safety – sponsored by Sea Tow Services International

1st, “Helicopter Rescue” by Chris Caswell (Dockwalk, Jan.); 2nd, “A Cry In The Dark” by Bill Band (Chesapeake Bay, Oct.); 3rd, “The Ship’s Log” by Edward Zacko (Good Old Boat, Nov.). “Clear, nicely articulated instructions on preparing for an airlift …well researched,” said judge Louisa Beckett about the first place entry. Certificates of Merit: “Anchor Like a Voyager” by Mike Litzow (Cruising World, Nov.); “Hell or High Water” by Daniel Harding (Power & Motoryacht, Sept.).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “Frontier Foray” by David Schmidt (Sailing World, Sept.); 2nd, “Our Life on the Water” by Diane Selkirk (Saturday Evening Post, March); 3rd, “Pioneers of the Amazon” by Shaw McCutcheon (Showboats, Sept.). “Frontier,” says judge Bob Duthie, is “An exciting account of a small boat race through some of the most beautiful yet dangerous waters in North America. This well written story really brings the adventure to life.” Merit: “Seven Days in the Faroes” by Nigel Calder (Yachting Monthly, July); “The Big Blue Show” by Bill Mitman (Chesapeake Bay, June); “The (Not So) Great Circle Route” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Oct.); “The Best Yet” by Elaine Lembo (Cruising World, March); “From Fallujah to Fiji” by Ronnie Simpson (Cruising World, Nov.); “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by Nadine Slavinski (Ocean Navigator, Sept.).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “The Transition” by Lin Pardey (Cruising World, Oct.); 2nd, “Very Big Passages, Very Little Kids” by Mike Litzow (Cruising World, May); 3rd, “Pat and the Rat” by Doug Logan (, Feb.19). Of the first place entry, judge Charles Fort said, “A bittersweet story that everyone who’s ever been In love with a boat will face when it comes time to find a new owner for her.”

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Awlgrip North America

1st, “Never Wax Your Boat Again” by Kevin Falvey (Boating, Nov.); 2nd, “Malahne” by Marilyn Mower (Refit Annual, Nov.); 3rd, “Saving Mariposa” by Mickey Raup (Chesapeake Bay, Aug.). “The author of ‘Never Wax’ manages to make a description of serious grunt work informative, educational and entertaining,” noted judge Roger McAfee.

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “Florida’s Aging Bridges” by Kim Kavin (Yachts International, Dec.); 2nd, “All Hail the Green Machine” by Vincent Daniello (Boating, April); 3rd, “Sophisticated Lady” by Jan Adkins (Chesapeake Bay, July). “The ‘Bridges’ piece was well reported, well sourced, well researched, and delivered comprehensive information about the subject in an authoritative voice,” said judge Chris Landry.  Merit: “Virtual Navigation is Here” by Ryck Lydecker (BoatUS Magazine, Aug.); “For Want of a Working Waterfront” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, May).