Best Boating Journalism Recognized for 25th Year

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized at the start of the 2018 Miami International Boat Show in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 17 contest categories representing $17,000 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 Silver Anniversary year, the BWI contest attracted 126 participants submitting 277 entries. In addition to cash awards, Certificates of Merit were presented to writers of another 35 articles which scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2017. 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 (with links provided for the top three entries in each category):

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club
1st, “Just Scraping By” by Jay Fleming (Anglers Journal, Winter); 2nd, “Alligator Reef” by Robert Glover (Power & Motoryacht, March); 3rd, “The Seasoned Skipper” by Brady Kay (Pontoon & Deck Boat Magazine, March). “Fleming’s images tell a powerful story, from onboard and underwater shots, to scenes of working boats taken from removed vantage points, to the eye-catching portrait work that helps to describe and define the characters in the article’s written word,” explains judge David Schmidt. Certificates of Merit: “Fishing Rods” (cover photo) by Jody Dole (Anglers Journal, Fall); and “Near Miss Moment” by Jan Hein (Classic Boat, July).

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation
1st, “The Bay’s Tastiest Pastime” by Gary Reich (Chesapeake Bay Magazine, June); 2nd, “Noise Factor” by Jim Hendricks (Sport Fishing, Jan.); 3rd, “Uber Fish” by Doug Olander (Sport Fishing, Nov.). Says judge Alan Jones, “Reich takes us on an insider view of the world of recreational crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay and skillfully passes on local knowledge – gleaned over a lifetime – to help the reader successfully participate in this not-so-deadly catch.” Merit Awards: “Natural Attraction” by Barry Gibson (Anglers Journal, Summer); “Fight Them Fast” by Jan Fogt (Anglers Journal, Spring); “Contact Sport” by Gary Caputi (Anglers Journal, Summer).

Boat/Engine Care and Maintenance – sponsored by Pettit Paint
1st, “10 Winterizing Disasters: Don’t Do This” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine, Nov.); 2nd, “Spin Science” by Vince Daniello (Boating, Feb.); 3rd, “The One-bucket Cleaning Kit” by Drew Frye (Practical Sailor, May). Commenting on “Winterizing, judge Zuzana Prochazka noted, “It’s nice to see the same old subject get a fresh new read.” Certificates of Merit: “Spring Commissioning Advice” by Frank Lanier (BoatUS Magazine, April); “Driven to Vigilance” by Ed Sherman (Cruising World, July); “Flushed With Success” by Mark Corke (BoatUS Magazine, April); “Shore Power Burn” by Tom Hale (Chesapeake Bay, May).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta
1st, “Diving Into the Endeavor 42” by Darrell Nicholson (Practical Sailor, Feb.); 2nd, “Working Tough” by John Page Williams (Boating, Nov.); 3rd, “Return of the Beast” by Alan Jones (Boating World, May). Nicholson’s used boat review, “Presents the pros and cons of the design, and even explains how to approach the model’s most common repair needs. And it’s a rare review that will make you laugh hard and teach you something else to look for in the process,” said judge Ben Ellison. Merit Awards to: “Mas Appeal” by Marilyn Mower (Boat International, Nov.); “Not Your Father’s Grand Banks” by Kevin Koenig (Yachting, Nov.); “Pursuit of Passion” by Daniel Harding (Power & Motoryacht, Aug.).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.
1st, “Between Fish” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal); 2nd, “Logbook” by Daniel Harding (Power & Motoryacht); 3rd, “Notes from the Cockpit” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine). Judge John Wooldridge quoted Ernest Hemingway’s “prose is architecture, not interior decoration,” to describe Sisson’s writing: “Like a modern structure, he builds his work on solid footings, satisfies the spatial needs of its occupants, and furnishes it liberally with glass walls for clear views looking inside and outside one’s imagination.”

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine
1st, “The Trump Card” by Carol Cronin (Seahorse Magazine, Oct.); 2nd, “Hard Lessons” by Bill Pike (Power & Motoryacht, Dec.); 3rd, “Salvaging Boats as Life Goes On” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only, Nov.). The first place award offers, “A lesson all elected leaders or politicians should be required to read before running for office, after their election, and before going to bed each night. Delightful honesty while showing the sailing community there is a steady hand on the tiller,” noted judge Alan Wendt. Merit Awards to “Voice Forensics May Help Nab Hoax Mayday Callers” by Kim Kavin (Soundings, Dec.) and “Auction Kings” by Ann Eichenmuller (Chesapeake Bay, May).

Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits – sponsored by Pettit Paint
1st, “A New Head” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, Dec.); 2nd, “A Change of Rig” by Roger Hughes (Practical Boat Owner – UK, Aug.); 3rd, “New and Cool Underfoot” by Terry Kotas (Good Old Boat, Jan.). “Replacing your head is far from a glamour job, but Nielsen makes the process a lot easier in this thorough, well-researched and easy to follow story. Subheads such as ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ (and others) help crystalize key decisions in the process of choosing and installing a new head,” offered judge Bill Sisson. Merit Award to “Long Live Wasque” by Steve Knauth (Soundings, Sept.).

Gear, Electronics & Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex/Schneider Electric
1st, “Bottom Paint Checkup” by Darrell Nicholson (Practical Sailor, April); 2nd, “Lessons Learned by Causing a False AIS MOB Alert” by Ben Ellison (, Aug. 8); 3rd, “Garmin inReach Explorer+, Armchair Transatlantics & Hands On” by Ben Ellison (, July 2). Judge Kim Kavin said, “Checkup was a well-thought-out, thoroughly reported, smartly put-together feature that not only educates readers about various kinds of paint, but also leaves them armed with a customized shopping list for their own boat, no matter what kind of cruising they do.” Merit Awards to: “Conductive Greases vs. Corrosion” by Drew Frye (Practical Sailor, June); and “V-Drive vs. Forward Drive” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, Jan.).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating
1st, “The Boy & His Raft” by Jeff Bolster (Soundings, Aug.); 2nd, “Into the Quiet” by David Buckman (Sail, June); 3rd, “Family Ties” by Bob Arrington (PassageMaker, Jan.). Says judge Betsy Haggerty of the first place piece, “The author combines poetic description and poignant detail to tell the story of a quiet sailing day and the family dynamics that turned it into a magical adventure.” Certificates of Merit: “Beyond Wind and Water” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings, March); “School is in (Surf) Session” by Pete McDonald (Boating, June); and “Catboat Postcards” by Craig Moodie (Good Old Boat, May).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine
1st, “A Madman In a League of His Own” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings, Feb.); 2nd, “Monster Man” by Ron Ballanti (Anglers Journal, April); 3rd, “Against All Odds” by Dieter Loibner (Sail, Dec.). Judge Steve Blakely called the winning article, “A vivid portrait of an extreme character even by the standards of extreme sailing.” Merit Award to “The Story of Gar Wood” by Heather Steinberger (Lakeland Boating, April).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group
1st, “Chasing Icebergs” by Tom Zydler (Cruising World, April); 2nd, “Rite of Inside Passage” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings, Sept.); 3rd, “First Time with a Frenchman” by Annie Dike (Multihull Sailor, May). Judge Bob Arrington described “Icebergs” as, “A beautifully detailed account of a once-in-a-lifetime cruise along the western coast of Greenland. A true adventure!” Certificates of Merit: “Cakewalk to Nova Scotia” by Adam Cort (Sail, Nov.) and “Because it’s There” by Simon Murray (Power & Motoryacht, June).

Environmental Awareness & Education – sponsored by Torqeedo, Inc.
1st, “Lone Cedar Tree Opposite Shore” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, Nov.); 2nd, “Fishing for an Enigma” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, Jan.); 3rd, “Bitter Soup” by Stacey Wigmore (BoatUS Magazine, Aug.). The top selection, “Is a wonderful story about the history and science behind mapping the Eastern oyster, the Chesapeake’s most important filter feeder,” says Judge Gary Reich. “Oyster surveying is potentially boring, but the author colored the story in such a way to make it an easy and entertaining read.” Merit Awards: “Whales Return to the Big Apple” by Kim Kavin (Soundings, Nov.) and “Weapons of Mass Construction” by Lenny Rudow (FishTalk Magazine, Nov.).

Seamanship, Rescue & Safety – sponsored by Sea Tow Services International
1st, “Take It Slow” by Gary Goodlander (Cruising World, Nov.); 2nd, “Hypothermia Myths and the Truth About Cold Water” by Mario Vittone (Soundings, Oct.); 3rd, “When the Call Came” by Kim Kavin (Yachting, April). Goodlander’s piece was described by judge Jim Rhodes as, “Reader-friendly boating journalism at its best, drawing on personal experience and subject-matter knowledge to tackle a complex topic. It delivers in a conversational style punctuated with humorous anecdotes adding up to a rollicking good read.” Merit Awards: “Aground: When There is No Coast Guard” by Diane Selkirk (Yachting Times, March); “Know What to Do Before the Flood” by Dan Parrott (Soundings, Nov.); “A Small Boat For the Big Emergency” by Heather Francis (Cruising World, Nov.).

Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine
1st, “Sanitation System Shutdown: 10 Things to Know” by Frank Lanier (Sea Magazine, Oct.); 2nd, “The New Frontier” by Charles Doane (Sail, April); 3rd, “Computer-Assisted Groundings?” by Ben Ellison (, Dec. 7). Judge Mike Smith said, “Sanitation Shutdown was a surprise since it addresses such a mundane topic. We’ve all written that article many times; however, the author did a good job of covering it once again.” Merit Awards: “How Did We Get from This . . . To This?” by Ralph Naranjo (Practical Sailor, March); “Cape Effect” by Fiona McGlynn (Pacific Yachting, Oct.).

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by the BWI Membership
1st, “Black Sands & Black Magic, Vanuatu by Sail” by Heather Francis (Cruising Helmsman, Oct.); 2nd, “Rum Runners” by Mark Pillsbury (Cruising World, Aug.); 3rd, “54 Days of Rain” by Paula Casanovas (Soundings, Feb.). The first award was described by judge Gary Beckett as, “A compelling, detailed and at times riveting first-hand account of the writer’s adventures cruising waters of the Vanuatu Islands chain.” Merit Awards: “We Done Reach” by Robert Beringer (Sail, Oct.); “Fancy Dancing in Pine Island” by Douglas Bernon (BoatUS Magazine, Feb.); “Greenland High” by Tom Zydler (PassageMaker, Oct.).

Boating Videos – sponsored by Boat Owners Association of the U.S.
1st, “Crestliner 240 Rally DX: Video Boat Review” by Ed Kukla (, Aug. 20); 2nd, “How to Repair Gelcoat” by Mark Corke (BoatUS Video, Nov. 12); 3rd, “Boston Whaler 330 Outrage: Video Boat Review” by Lenny Rudow (, April 27). The first place award, “Blended a sense of humor with detailed reporting and editorial insight by the narrator and top-notch video and audio editing by the videographer. It was a fun visual ride,” offered judge Chris Woodward. Certificates of Merit awarded to: “How to Choose a Life Jacket” by Paul Cronin (BoatUS Video, Dec. 15); “How to Back a Boat Trailer” by Rich Armstrong, (BoatUS Video, May 2); and “How to Change the Engine Oil in Your Boat” by Charles Fort (BoatUS Video, July 3).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Home Port Global
First, “Where Are All the Young Boaters?” by Fiona McGlynn, (BoatUS Magazine, Oct); Second, “Multi Country” by Peter Nielsen (Multihull Sailor, Sept.); Third, “Total Connectivity” by Zuzana Prochazka (Marine Electronics Journal, Sept.). Says judge Kimberly Koditek, “In ‘Where Are All the Young Boaters?’ the personal connection to the author’s life, its timeliness and relevance to the industry as a whole, truly took on a unique approach in examining this important topic.”