BWI Writing 2010 Contest Winners

Top marine journalists in the U.S. and beyond were recognized in mid-February during the Miami International Boat Show in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 16 contest categories representing $16,000 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 18th year, the BWI contest attracted 146 participants submitting 365 entries. In addition to cash awards, Certificates of Merit were presented to writers of another 53 articles which scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2010. Each of the 16 categories (noted below along with sponsors) was judged by four active journalists in the first few weeks of the New Year.

To view the winning articles below, click on the highlighted links in the text.


1. Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.
1st place, “Horton At Large” by Tom Horton (Chesapeake Bay Magazine); 2nd place, “On the Wind” by Chris Caswell (Sailing); 3rd place, “The Pin End” by Chris Caswell (Ocean Magazine). In this category, entrants are required to submit three related columns. Describing the top choice, category chair Marlin Bree says, “In plain language and with great heart and building resonance, Horton takes readers on wonderful armchair journeys … Here is a master columnist at the top of the game, gleefully and insightfully at work.” Certificates of Merit awarded to: “Texas Boating” by Lenny Rudow (Texas Fish & Game); “Dead Reckoning” by Bob E. Sherman (Waterfront Times); “On Watch” by Gary “Cap’n Fatty” Goodlander (Cruising World); “Editor’s Letter” by Dave Reed (Sailing World); “Off Watch” by Wendy Clarke (Cruising World); “Setting Sail” by Peter Nielsen (Sail); and “Under Way” by Bill Sisson (Soundings).

2. Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by
1st place, “There and Back Again” by Nica Waters (Chesapeake Bay, Nov.); 2nd place, “Making Tracks On Moosehead Lake” by Mike Lee (Cruising World, May); 3rd place, “When They Wished Upon a Star” by Ben Zartman (BoatU.S. Magazine, Aug./Sept.). “The message of Waters’ story is ‘Just Go!’,” offers category chair Diana Jessie. “So many dream of the cruising lifestyle but this family went and can hardly wait to go again. A great tale; watch for a sequel.” Merit Certificates to: “Good Morning George Town” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Feb,); “Heart and Soul” by Bill Sisson (Soundings, June); and “Real Men Go Inside” by David Seidman (Boating, June).

3. Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine.
1st, “Precious Days with Cap’n Wilson” by Tom Neale (Soundings, Aug.); 2nd, “Bill Zinser Has His Cake” by Kevin Koenig (Power & Motoryacht, Nov.); 3rd, “Splash” by Jody Schroath (Chesapeake Bay, Feb.). “Neale delivered a wonderful portrait of his subject, rich with first-hand anecdotes and well told. It was a pleasure to read,” said category chair Glen Justice. Merit awards to: “Sawzall School of Design” by Mary Drake (Soundings, Aug.); “Shipwreck, Recovery, Inspiration” by Liza Copeland (Cruising World, Dec.); “Irwin Jacobs” by Michael Verdon (International Boat Industry, June/July); “A Sea Gaucho” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Sept.); “Stress Test” by Stuart Streuli (Sailing World, Oct.); and “The Old Girl’s Ready to Dance Anew” by John Rousmaniere (Cruising World, Dec.).

4. Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Couplemate Trailer Parts.
1st, “Where Might & Majesty Meet” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Nov.); 2nd, “The Sea Less Sailed” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, July); 3rd, “Pearls Around The White Continent” by Deborah Shapiro (Cruising World, April). Judge Peter Frederiksen described “Might & Majesty” as “Compelling, riveting and a total assault on the senses. I felt I was aboard with this couple and wanted to be. This story is why we leave the dock willing to embrace nature on her own terms.” Merit award to “Eat, Drink, Be Merry” by Elaine Lembo (Cruising World, Feb.).

5. Boating Adventures – sponsored by Discover Boating.
1st, “Taming the Tehuano” by Peter Swanson (Soundings, Dec.); 2nd, “Closing the Circle” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Nov.); 3rd, “Escape from the Island of Doom” by Marlin Bree (The Ensign, Winter). Said category chair Alan Wendt, “Misdirection, suspense, and practical advice on intelligence gathering prior to undertaking a cruising adventure, were neatly packaged around a typical writing assignment of making a boat delivery an exciting read.” Merit awards: “Cruising Clayoqu” by Nonnie Thompson (Pacific Yachting, May); “Racing Oneself Round the World” by Webb Chiles (Cruising World, April); “Still Waters” by Kevin Koenig (Power & Motoryacht, Dec.); and “Cape Crusaders” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, Aug.).

6. Boat/Engine Care and Maintenance – sponsored by Interlux Yacht Finishes.
1st, “The Great Chesapeake Engine-Break-In Cruise” by Wendy Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, March); 2nd, “Three Days in the Hull” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, Sept); 3rd, “What Happened to My Motor?” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, July/Aug.). Of Clarke’s story, judge Paul Esterle said, “Who would have thought it? A writer who made a 50-hour engine break-in interesting and fun to read!” Certificates of Merit: “Girding for Silent Season” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Oct.) and “Sewing Machine Surprise” by Don Casey (Good Old Boat, Nov/Dec.).

7. Electronics – sponsored by Jeppesen Marine.
1st, “Wonder Who’s Out There?” by Ben Ellison (Cruising World, May); 2nd, “Testing Small-Dome Broadband Sat-Coms” by Gram Schweikert (Cruising World, July); 3rd, “Rewriting the Book on Lightning Protection” by Peter Swanson (PassageMaker, June). Said judge Nyla Deputy about the first place winner: “Very informative … a crucial reminder to look at ship traffic on the Internet while underway.” Merit award to: “On the Water with Apple’s iPad” by Glen Justice (MadMariner, July).

8. Ethics and Environment – sponsored by Thetford Marine.
1st, “The Sting” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, Aug.); 2nd, “Dying From Seas of Debris” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Dec.); 3rd, “Salvation on the Half Shell” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, Oct.). Judges said “Sting” had “A great story idea and creative use of description. The writer keeps bringing the eco-issue back to the boating experience throughout. Nice turns of phrase and conversational tone with solid information.” Merit Certificates: “A Haiti Crisis Call for the Motorsailer M.D.” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, April) and “Mother, Mother Ocean” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Dec.).

9. Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation.
1st, “America’s Meanest Freshwater Fish” by Pete McDonald (Boating, June); 2nd, “Net Game” by Jane Meneely (Chesapeake Bay, Sept.); 3rd, “Release the Beast” by Ron Ballanti (Salt Water Sportsman, Aug/Sept.). Category chair Bill Sisson described the first-place choice as, “A well-written, entertaining look at the passionate (and crazed) pursuit of the elusive muskellunge. As the clock ticks, the author does a nice job of putting the reader right smack in the middle of his hunt.” Merit Award to “Top Dogs” by Doug Olander (Sport Fishing, Dec.).

10. Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine.
1st, “Fading Glory of Working Waterfronts” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, July); 2nd, “9 Innovations We Want Now” by David Seidman (Boating, Feb.); 3rd, “Life Will Never Be Completely the Same” by Elizabeth Ellis (Soundings, Sept.). Of “Waterfronts,” judge Elizabeth Altick said, “This article is painfully relevant. The far-reaching subject was thoroughly researched, the story carefully written and the quotes bring the waterfronts and their residents to life.” Certificates of Merit: “Cuban Marinas Prepare for U.S. Cruisers” by Peter Swanson (Soundings Trade Only, March); “Is That Repo Boat Really a Bargain?” by Eric Sorensen (Soundings, Feb.); “Where the Deals Are” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, June); and “When a Tax Bill is Your Trip’s Souvenir” by Ryck Lydecker (BoatU.S. Magazine, May/June).

11. The Business of Boating – sponsored by Home Port Marine Marketing.
1st, “Inside the Genmar Bankruptcy” by Michael Verdon (International Boat Industry, Feb./March); 2nd, “To Protect Your Ship’s Interest Take Control of Insurance Claims” by Lucy Reed (The Triton, Oct.); 3rd, “The Stuff of Legends” by Jennifer Chesak (Whaler Magazine, May). Judges described the winner as, “A very good, thorough report of a major news story that reshaped the recreational marine industry. Well researched and soundly written.” Merit awards: “Missing the Boat” by Craig Ritchie (Boating Business, Jan.) and “Oceans Have Opened in South Korea” by Beth Rosenberg (Soundings Trade Only, Aug.).

12. Seamanship, Rescue & Safety – sponsored by Sea Tow Services International.
1st, “Training Day” by Pete McDonald (Boating, Jan.); 2nd, “Knowing When to Doubt What You See” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, Nov.); 3rd, “Weathering a Bay Squall” by Tom Dove (Chesapeake Bay, Aug.). Judge Randy Scott said, “McDonald’s candid recounting of a personal training exercise in boating safety is very instructional, and his skillful weaving in of humorous anecdotes made what could have been a ho-hum topic a true pleasure to read.” Merit Certificates: “Road Rules” by Chris Caswell (Lakeland Boating, May); “Gale Warning” by Myron Arms (Cruising World, Jan.); “Analyzing Tactics for MOB Retrieval” by Ralph Naranjo (Practical Sailor, Jan.); “Adrift in a Life Raft” by Lenny Rudow (Texas Fish & Game, Aug.).

13. Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine.
1st, “Good – Or Not So Good – Vibrations” by Eric Sorensen (Soundings, Dec.); 2nd, “Tricking the Water” by Pete McDonald (Power & Motoryacht, July); 3rd, “Bust Rust” by Lenny Rudow (DIY Boat Owner, Jan.). Of the first place work, judge Darrell Nicholson said, “It is refreshing to come upon a writer who can present important details and specifications on a highly technical topic in an entertaining way. Logically organized and presented in lively prose even when addressing some of the more complex aspects of vibration analysis and noise abatement.” Merit awards: “All Mixed Up” by Vincent Daniello (Motor Boating, Jan.); “Boating’s Great Debates” by David Seidman (Boating, March); “Count on Compass” by Jeremy McGeary (Cruising World, July); “Current Events” by Bill Grannis (Trailer Boats, Feb.); and “A Propulsion-Efficiency Experiment” by Nigel Calder (Professional BoatBuilder, Apr./May).

14. Boat Tests – sponsored by Volvo Penta.
1st, “Passion Play” by Chris Caswell (Yachting, July); 2nd, “HMCS Regina” by Craig Ritchie (Boatguide Canada, Jan.); 3rd, “J/95 Slips Into Shoal Waters” by Darrell Nicholson (Practical Sailor, Aug.). Judges said, “Reading Caswell’s take on the Riva SportRiva 56 is like wandering through the red light district in Amsterdam. Much as with any beautiful woman, this story presents all of the basics — but in a way that somehow leaves you licking your lips and wanting more than you may ever get.” Certificates of Merit: “Wood v. Glass” by Pete McDonald (Boating, Feb.) and “Dreamboat” by Gary Reich (PropTalk, Dec.)

15. Gear, Electronics and Product Tests – sponsored by Xantrex Technology Inc.
1st, “Underwater Cameras” by Bill Springer (Cruising World, Aug.); 2nd, “The Smash Factor” by Lenny Rudow (MadMariner, July); 3rd, “Generation Gap” by Jim Barron (Trailer Boats, Dec.). Category chair Lisa Knapp described the first place selection as “a well reported and written hands-on test.” Merit Certificates to: “High-Capacity Bilge Pumps” by Frank Lanier (Practical Sailor, Sept); “Rad Radomes” by Ben Ellison (Cruising World, Jan.); “Which Wi-Fi Antenna is Best?” by Darrell Nicholson (Practical Sailor, April); “Which Anchor Works Best for You” by Nigel Calder (Yachting Monthly, Dec.).

16. Megayachts – sponsored by Awlgrip North America.
This category had insufficient entries to be judged.

17. Original Online Content – sponsored by National Marine Electronics Assn.
1st, Panbo (.com) – The Marine Electronics Weblog, by Ben Ellison; 2nd, CharterWave (.com) by Kim Kavin; 3rd, Boating Local (.com) by Tom Richardson. Judges said, “Ellison’s work oozes electronics knowledge, how-to guidance, and product advice with regular spirited ‘conversations.’ Content is delivered energetically, factually, collegially, with a warm sense of the boating community and in a particularly handsome presentation.” Merit awards: MegaYacht News (.com) by Diane Byrne; WaveTrain (.net) by Charles Doane; MadMariner (.com) by Glen Justice; Around the Americas (.org) by Herb McCormick and David Thoreson; MarioVittone (.com) boating and water safety blog by its namesake.