Best Boat Writing Recognized

Boating and fishing journalists, photographers and videographers were recognized at the start of the 2020 Miami International Boat Show in an annual awards program 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.”

The BWI Writing Awards, presented for 27 years, attracted 112 participants submitting 299 entries. In addition to cash awards, 45 Certificates of Merit were presented to other entrants who scored closely to the third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2019. Each of the categories (noted below along with sponsors) was judged by four active journalists in the first few weeks of the New Year. Links to the top three entries are provided below. Results:

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

1st place, “Touching the Water” by John Rousmaniere (Cruising World); 2nd place, “Arctic Blast” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings); 3rd place, 3rd, “Rethinking Inflatable the MOB Recovery” by Ralph Naranjo (Practical Sailor). Jim Rhodes said, “Rousmaniere grabs the attention of the reader at the outset with a compelling and moving lead, and then delivers on the promise with a well written story based on personal experience. A thoroughly good read.” Certificates of Merit to: “Marina Upgrades Improve Safety” by David Turley (Boat US Magazine); “A Drogue by Another Name is a Rudder” by Drew Frye (Good Old Boat); “To Moor or Anchor” by Tom Zydler (Cruising World).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Evinrude

1st, “Traditional Dealers & Independents” by Zuzana Prochazka (Marine Electronics Journal); 2nd, “Bigger, Bolder and Faster” by Eric Colby (Soundings Trade Only); 3rd, “Lifeline of the Islands” by Michael Verdon (Soundings Trade). Judge Adam Cort said of Prochazka’s article, “I quickly found myself being pulled in by this well-written, informative article. A great analysis of a vital aspect of the marine electronics industry that rarely gets the attention it deserves.” Merit Awards to “The Case for Buying a Charter Cat” by Tim Murphy (Cruising World); “The Do-It-All Machine” by Adam Quandt (Boating Industry); “Digital Threads” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade); and “Electric Propulsion” by Zuzana Prochazka (Marine Electronics Journal).

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club

1st, “Everyone Needs a Helping Hand” by Jan Hein (Classic Boat Magazine); 2nd, “Morning Light on Peggy’s Cove” by Dori Arrington (Passagemaker); 3rd, “Dispatches from Cuba” by Jay Fleming (Anglers Journal). Judge Steve Davis said Hein’s photograph “Captured a dynamic, high impact moment and because the camera was set at the right speed with the right aperture, its effect tells a story that draws the observer right into the action.” Merit Awards: “Memories in the Maritimes” by Dori Arrington (MarinaLife Magazine); “Rio Dulce Girl” by Craig Ligibel (Afloat Magazine); “Cruising Helmsman Cover” by Heather Francis; “Into the Mist” by Peter Nielsen (SAIL).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “The Art of Cruising” by Tom Zydler (Cruising World); 2nd, “Swift Currents High Seas Adventure” by Norris Comer (Northwest Yachting); 3rd, “Chasing a Pacific High” by Ronnie Simpson (Cruising World). Judge Richard Armstrong commented, “The slow-motion adventure of a skipper/author and his artist wife as they explore the Canadian Maritimes and Greenland takes the reader on a journey past ice floes, calving icebergs, rugged terrain, and wildlife in a world most boaters will never experience.” Merit Awards: “Alone at Sea” by Erin Schanen (Sailing Magazine); “Special Delivery” by Jeff Moser (Power & Motoryacht).

Boating Videos – sponsored by Boat Owners Association of the U.S.

1st, “Palm Beach 70 Commuter Contest” by John Turner (Power & Motoryacht); 2nd, “Yamaha EXR WaveRunner” by Alan Jones (Boating World); 3rd, “Solace 345 at Newport” by John Turner (Power & Motoryacht). Judge Ben Stein noted, “I really enjoyed this video. I thought it told a story in a creative fashion while also showcasing the Palm Beach 70. The video did a really nice job romantically evoking a different time and lifestyle.”

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Boats Group

1st, “The Long Haul” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings); 2nd, “The Full Quiver” by Ronnie Simpson (Cruising World); 3rd, “Sweat, Tears and Fiberglass” by Jordan Wicht (Cruising World). Of the winner, judge Bill Sisson said, “The Long Haul had a lot of elements going for it. It was well written and captured both the history behind the 70-foot 1941 sardine carrier as well as the long effort to rebuild her as a cruising yacht.” Merit Awards: “Penbo Reborn” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings); “Natty Nobby” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings).

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st, “Grace of the Food Chain” by Zach Harvey (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Rooted” by Gary Reich (Anglers Journal); 3rd, “Touchdown Strategies for Sailfish” by Vincent Daniello (Sport Fishing). Says judge Brady Kay, “Grace of the Food Chain takes an exceptionally entertaining, educational, and fresh approach to a somewhat humble topic; turning it into an informative and inspirational look at the underrated experience of angling for black sea bass.”

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Kicker Marine Audio

1st, “Patience of Solomons” by Heather Francis (Cruising Helmsman); 2nd, “The Allure of the ‘Mini Loop’” by Rich Armstrong (BoatUS Magazine); 3rd, “Kenai Kingdom” by Norris Comer (Northwest Yachting). Judge Carol Pierini said, “Patience of Solomons presents a well-documented overview of the Soloman Islands, complete with extensive details for each port. From introduction to the conclusion, this story leaves little untold and is so valuable for others planning a cruise to these islands.” Merit Awards: “Still Waters Run Deep” by Simon Murray (Power & Motoryacht); “Guatemala’s Sweet River” by Craig Ligibel (Afloat Magazine); “Bareboating Florida’s Forgotten Coast” by Chris Caswell (Charter Savvy); “Riding the Rideau” by Mark Pillsbury (Cruising World); “For Love & Adventure” by Bob Arrington (Power & Motoryacht).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Perfect Patterns” by Gary Reich (Anglers Journal); 2nd “Against the Grain” by Henry Hughes (Anglers Journal); 3rd, “Bait Lady” by Bill Pike, (Anglers Journal). Of the first place piece judge Kevin Falvey said, “The author’s command of language was exercised in a reserved manner that resonated with power.” Merit Awards: “Miracle Workers” by Michael Verdon (Soundings Trade Only); “Every Boater, a Builder” by Krista Karlson (Outboard Magazine); “Hard Aground, Caught Aback” by Gary Goodlander (Cruising World); “Hardwired” by John Page Williams (Anglers Journal); “Fate and Faith” by Kim Kavin (Passagemaker). “The Oldest Tugboat Man in Baltimore” by Rafael Alvarez (Chesapeake Bay Magazine).

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “Stone Silent” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Soundings); 2nd, “Disappearing Act” by Lenny Rudow (Marine Electronics Journal); 3rd, “Living With Ethanol” by Drew Frye (Good Old Boat). Says judge Jim Fullilove, “Stone Silent’s intriguing lead draws us in to an account of a small-boat commercial stone crabber who may soon be put out of business by environmental factors far beyond his control. Lively, descriptive writing puts us in the middle of the action while external research lends credibility to the real-life tale.” Merit Awards: “Vancouver Liveaboards Fight for Way of Life” by Diane Selkirk (Broadview); “Wind Farms vs. Fishermen” by Kim Kavin (Soundings); “The Trickle-Up Theory” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only); “Defending Wakesports Boats” by Eric Colby (Soundings Trade Only); “On Pings and Panic” by Kim Kavin (Soundings).

Environmental Awareness & Education – sponsored by Torqeedo, Inc.

1st, “Fish Pimping” by Callan Wink (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Plight of Whales” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay Magazine); 3rd, “Cold, Wet and Hell Bent” by Jeff Moser (Outboard Magazine). Judge Gary Reich said of the winner, “An intriguing and thought-provoking essay on the conflicts one fishing guide experiences when guiding clients with opposing world views and the inner struggle he wrestles with when turning the looking glass on his own profession.” Merit Awards: “Return of the Bay Scallop” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay Magazine); “The Flammable Fix” by Kim Kavin (Soundings); “What Goes Up …” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay Magazine).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “The Palm Beach 70” by Dan Harding (Power & Motoryacht); 2nd, “The Ice Palace” by Marilyn Mower (Boat International US); 3rd, “Vision 68 Horizon” by Norris Comer (Northwest Yachting). Said judge John Wooldridge, “Experiencing a boat doesn’t get any better than this. Well written and researched, I found the Palm Beach narrative playful, fun and entertaining. A good read.” Merit Awards: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Chris Caswell (Boat International); “Front Row Seat” by Pim Van Hemmen (Soundings); “VIDA” by Marilyn Mower (Boat International US).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Off Watch” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World); 3rd, “Seamanship” by Bob Arrington (Power & Motoryacht). Judge Charlie Levine said “Sisson uses a reflective tone to portray a deep love and passion for the ocean and the marine life that lives beneath its waves that inspires the reader to carve out some watery memories of his own.” Merit Awards: “Dispatches” by Gary Reich (Soundings); “Boating With Missy” by Melissa Gervais (Northwest Yachting).

Gear, Electronics & Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex/Mission Critical Electronics

1st, “Fire and Metal” by Gary Reich (Outboard Magazine); 2nd, “Toy Story” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating); 3rd, “Sterndrive vs. Outboard” by Chris Caswell (Boating). Judge Kim Kavin says: “This was an incredibly close call in the Gear category, with only a half-point separating the winning and second-place entries. Fire and Metal edged out the competition thanks to the kind of descriptive writing we don’t often see applied to gear topics. It was a feature-style approach to covering something that often gets only technical reviews.” Merit Awards to: “Choosing and Using Jackstands” by Drew Frye (Practical Sailor); “Getting in Gear” by Kevin Falvey (Boating); “Electronic Distress Signals” by Ben Ellison (Panbo).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “Back to the Abacos” by Tim Murphy (Cruising World); 2nd, “Sisters from Other Mothers” by Barbara Marrett (Cruising World); 3rd, “Smoke on the Water” by Simon Murray (Power & Motoryacht). Judge Betsy Haggerty noted, “In Back to the Abacos, long-ago journal entries and vivid descriptions of new experiences combine to bring readers along on a three-generation catamaran cruise that highlights the closeness of the family and the beauty of sailing in the Abacos.” Merit Awards: “Drifting” by Craig Moodie (Good Old Boat); “Chez New” by Tom Neale (BoatUS Magazine); “Kids at Heart” by Bill Pike (Outboard Magazine); “When Time Stands Still” by Krista Karlson (Power & Motoryacht).