Best Boating Writing of 2014

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized in February, 2015 for submissions to the annual writing contest judged 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.”

Click on the shaded titles to link to the winning entries.

In its 22nd year, the BWI contest attracted 134 participants submitting 349 entries. In addition to cash awards, Certificates of Merit were presented to writers of another 60 articles which scored within 95 percent of third-place tallies in each category. All submissions to the contest were published in 2014. 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:

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

1st, “Boat Systems Bootcamp” by Frank Lanier (Boating World, Sept.); 2nd,, “Mix It Up” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, Aug.); 3rd, “Free & Cheap: In Boats We Trust” by Lenny Rudow (, Feb. 24.). Judges described the top entry as, “Cleverly written with appropriate humor injected for those ‘been there’ situations experienced by most boat owners … with useful overviews of major onboard systems and accurate instructions on how to fix them when they fail.” Merit Awards: “Caring for Your Hydraulic Steering” by Bill Parlatore (BoatUS Magazine, Feb.); “Every Little Thing’s Not Going to be All Right” by Tom Neale (Soundings, Nov.).

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

1st, “Remembering the Cuyahoga” by Michael Fincham (Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Feb.); 2nd, “A Speck in the Sea” by Paul Tough (New York Times Magazine, Jan. 2); 3rd, “Sinking Boats for Safety” by John Page Williams (Boating, July). Of “Cuyahoga,” judge Louisa Rudeen Beckett says it “Combines a dramatic account of one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s most tragic incidents as told by a survivor who later wrote a book about it with lessons learned and handed down to future Coast Guardsmen and women.” Merit recipients: “Cold-Water Fishing Safety” by Alan Jones (Boating World, March); “Raft of Trouble” by Lenny Rudow (, May 21).

Boating Photography – sponsored by Freedom Boat Club

1st, “Spirit of America Crash” by Brett Bayne (Speedboat, Dec.); 2nd, “Docks After Dark” by Tom Serio (Lakeland Boating, Jan.); 3rd, “Ramiti” by Neville Hockley (Cruising World, Jan.). Judge Michael Sciulla suggests the first-place entry reflects, “Preparation and possession of a sixth sense that the great action photographers seem to share … the image captures the exhilaration and challenges that makes boating such a unique lifestyle.” Merit Awards to: “Sunset at the Antigua Charter Yacht Show” by Kim Kavin (YachtWorld, Nov. 19); “435 Everglades” by Robert Glover (All at Sea, Nov,); “Going Back” by James Raycroft (Power & MotorYacht, Nov,); “Anchored in Glacier Bay” by Michael Robertson (Good Old Boat, Sept.); “Hope Town Light” by Stephen Blakely (Soundings, June).

Boating Columns – sponsored by KVH Industries, Inc.

1st, “Loose Cannon” by Peter Swanson (Soundings Online); 2nd, “Under Way” by Bill Sisson (Soundings); “The Pin End” by Chris Caswell (Sails Magazine). “The ‘Loose Cannon’ columns, addressing important issues in the world of boating, are written with passion and conviction. The author doesn’t back away from strong opinions. The simple, direct and muscular style is something every good columnist should strive for,” said judge Jim Rhodes. Certificates of Merit: “Marketing Insight” by Michael Sciulla (Soundings Trade Only); “Weather Eye” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay); “Fishing” by Zach Harvey (Soundings).

Boating Issues, News and Analysis – sponsored by Mercury Marine

1st, “The Future: Electric Boats” by Vincent Daniello (Yachting, Dec.); 2nd, “Derelict Dilemma” by Ryck Lydecker (BoatUS Magazine, Feb.); 3rd, “Spies in the Skies” by Kim Kavin (Yachts International, Dec.). “Starting with a solid lead, this well researched article on ‘The Future’ quickly brings the reader through a century of innovation with a realistic eye on the not too distant future of electric propulsion,” noted judge Alan Wendt. Merit Awards: “Tough Times for Tall Ships” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, Dec.); “Spy in the Sky” by Roger Marshall (Dockwalk, May); “Paper or Plastic?” by Peter Swanson (Power & MotorYacht, April); “Avoiding the Pitfalls” by Greg Proteau (Lakeland Boating, Sept.).

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

1st, “Make Your Boat 1000 Times Better” by Lenny Rudow (, Nov. 8); 2nd, “The Falcon Soars Again” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Oct.);3rd, “Chill Baby” by Lenny Rudow, (, June 9). The top entry is, “Engaging, informative and heartwarming at the same time. I enjoyed the writer’s conversational style and fresh perspective. I felt inspired to go out and do the very same project with my children,” said judge Rebecca Cahilly. Merit Awards: “Seeing the Light” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, May); “The Last Living Whaleship” by  Mary South (Soundings, Oct.); “Lights of a Different Color” by Green Brett (Cruising World, Feb.); “Back from the Dead” by Chris Caswell (Power & MotorYacht, July); “Bottom Stripping Basics” by Doug Logan (, March 31).

Boating Adventures – sponsored by Yamaha Marine Group

1st, “The No Good Very Bad Windiest Day” by Carol Cronin (, Nov. 30); 2nd, “From Zero to Racing” by Tasha Hacker (Cruising World, Aug.); 3rd, “A Rogue-ish Wave” by John Kretschmer (Sail, July). The first-place entry is, “A great story told with unusual hubris for a sailor … it captures the excitement of high-level racing,” said judge Charles Fort. Awards of Merit: “Use Yourself Up” by Webb Chiles (Cruising World, Nov.); “Mission Accomplished” by Al Jacobs (BoatUS Magazine, Aug,); “Aboard Pillar with Papa” by Vincent Daniello (Yachting, June).

The Business of Boating – sponsored by Home Port Marine Marketing

1st, Undervalued Gen X is Boating’s Sweet Spot” by Michael Sciulla (Soundings Trade Only, May); 2nd, “Tender Trials” by Chris Caswell (Dockwalk, July); 3rd, “Band of Sisters” by Reagan Haynes (Soundings Trade Only, July). “Gen X,” says judge Gary Beckett, is “Well-written, well-researched and focused on a hot topic that the recreational marine industry needs to take seriously … the issue of attracting more people to boating.” Merit Awards: “Not All Aboard with Florida Rail Plan” by Jim Flannery (Soundings Trade Only, Aug.); “Light as Art and Architecture” by Rebecca Cahilly (The Megayachts 2014, Oct.).

Boat Tests & Reviews – sponsored by Volvo Penta

1st, “Sea-Doo Spark” by Jeff Hemmel (Boating, June); 2nd, “Princecraft Xperience 188” by Lenny Rudow (, Oct. 27); 3rd, “Aurora” by Marilyn Mower (ShowBoats International, June). Judge Carol Cronin writes, “The Spark test is a very helpful review for potential buyers, showing off both strengths and potential weaknesses. Best of all, its playful tone matches the intended audience.” Merit Certificates to: “A Test of Time” by Daniel Harding (Yachting, Nov.); “World’s Most Unusual Limo” by Alex Smith (, July 14); “Going Her Own Way” by Patrick Sciacca (Yachting, Aug.).

Boating Travel or Destinations – sponsored by Martin Flory Group

1st, “Pot of Gold” by Nadine Slavinski (Cruising World, Dec.); 2nd, “Cherries Jubilee” by Jody Argo Schroath (Chesapeake Bay, March); 3rd, “A World Away From Shore” by Troy Gilbert (BoatUS Magazine, June). Judge Alan Jones said, “’Pot of Gold’ transports the reader across the Pacific to Sydney where the author experiences the beauty and the culture along with the frantic energy the city’s harbor exudes.” Merit Awards: “Beyond the Water’s Edge” by Kim Kavin (New Canaan-Darien Magazine, July); “There Are No Shortcuts” by Stephen Blakely (Soundings, Dec.); “Three Days Before the Museum” by Tim Sayles (Chesapeake Boating, June); “Valhalla Revisited” by Charles Doane (Sail, Nov.); “Together Time” by David Reed (Cruising World, Dec.); “A Season Down South” by Jen Brett (Cruising World, Sept.); “Wilderness Found” by Kate Laird (Sail, July); “Longest of Days” by Tom Cunliffe (Sail, June); “Escape to Baja” by Peter Swanson (Power & MotorYacht, Oct.); “Cruising Dutch Waterways” by Peter Franklin (Practical Boat Owner – UK, Feb.); “Don’t Stop the Carnival” by James Raycroft (ShowBoats International, Oct.).

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

1st, “Where To Steer, Eat & Anchor On the ICW” by Frank Lanier (Practical Sailor, May); 2nd, “Riding Out A Gale” by Nigel Calder (Sail, June); 3rd, “A Vane To Steer Her By” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, July). Judge John Wooldridge said the ICW feature, “Covers the wide-ranging field of cruising guide products with a thorough scrutiny. As the ever-increasing number of baby boomers take to the ICW for adventures on the water, this feature is invaluable.” Merit certificates to “Flares: Flaming Out?” by Earl MacKenzie (Cruising World, Nov.); “Cruising NOAA’s Arc” by Ralph Naranjo (Cruising World, July); “Here Be Fog” by Peter Swanson (Power & MotorYacht, Dec.).

Boating Lifestyles – sponsored by Discover Boating

1st, “Buried Treasure” by Chris Caswell (Power & MotorYacht, March); 2nd, “Which is More Fun, Kayak or SUP?” by Carol Cronin (, Aug. 13); 3rd, “Family Affairs” by Gary Goodlander (Cruising World, June). Judge Marilyn DeMartini called “Treasure,” “A Fun story! The characters come to life and the reader can see the action. I’m looking for the next boating flea market!” Certificates of Merit: “Embrace the Hacksaw” by Doug Logan (, July 30); “Reward Lives in The House Of Risk” by Matt Rutherford (BoatUS Magazine, June); “Raising a Child Dangerously” by Diane Selkirk (Slate, April 8); “Back in the Day” by Alvah Simon (Cruising World, Oct.); “The Cat with Nine Lives” by Randy West (Cruising World, June); “Boating As a Lifeline” by Dave Livingston (BoatUS Magazine, Aug.).

Boating Profiles – sponsored by ZF Marine

1st, “Townsend Bell Is Slowing Down” by Kevin Koenig (Power & MotorYacht, Nov.); 2nd, “Iron Woman” by Dieter Loibner (Soundings, Feb.); 3rd, “More than a Woman” by Meredith Laitos (Sail, Dec.). Judge Betsy Haggerty described the first-place story as, “Fast-paced like its subject (IndyCar driver Townsend Bell) and filled with vivid descriptions, this well-written profile puts readers inside Bell’s boat as he tackles ocean swells and talks about how boating adds balance to his adrenalin-driven life.” Merit Awards to “The Fastest Ex-Pat” by David Schmidt (Sail, Sept.); “Don Street Is Not Dead” by Andy Schell (Sail, May); “If I Die, Just Throw Me Over the Side” by Jim Flannery (Soundings, April); “When Lin met Larry” by Herb McCormick (Cruising World, Feb.).

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

1st, “WaveTrain: A Blog About Cruising Sailboats and Other Aquatic Miracles” by Charles Doane; 2nd “Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub” by Ben Ellison; 3rd, “Runabout Restoration” by Chris Landers (on BoatUS Cruising Log). Judge Reagan Haynes described “WaveTrain” as, “Well-organized, engaging, and covering a wide array of topics without becoming fragmented or difficult to follow. The writer is engaging whether comparing products, detailing a recent trip, or following recent boating news.” Certificates of Merit: “Turf to Surf” by Tasha Hacker; “The Marine Installers Rant” by Bill Bishop; “Got Bait?” by Lenny Rudow (on

Fishing – sponsored by Suzuki Motor Corporation

1st, “Circling Back” by Barry Gibson (Anglers Journal, Winter); 2nd, “Another Time” by Bill Sisson (Anglers Journal, Summer); 3rd, “End of the Day” by Barry Gibson (Anglers Journal, Summer). Judge Gary Reich said of the winning entry, “I have never read such a deliciously crafted, accurate, and humorous story describing the lifecycle of someone with an angling affliction. I smiled through every single paragraph of this great fishing read.” Merit Award to “Raising Havoc” by Jim Hendricks (Sport Fishing, Oct.).

Ethics and Environment – presented by the BWI Membership

1st, “Thar She Blows” by Marty LeGrand (Chesapeake Bay, Dec.); 2nd, “Building Boats and Shaping Lives” by Mary South (Soundings, March); 3rd, “Long Way Home” by Wendy Mitman Clarke (Chesapeake Bay, Sept.). “’Thar She Blows’ combines a mix of ingredients we all should strive for in our craft: Good information presented in an interesting and entertaining way, tied together by solid writing and thorough research,” said judge Lenny Rudow.

Technical Writing – sponsored by Dometic Marine

1st, “Taking Wing” by Peter Nielsen (Sail, May); 2nd, “The Floating Oasis as a Citadel” by Marilyn Mower (Megayachts 2015, Nov.); 3rd, “High Fiber Diet” by Roger Marshall (Megayachts, July). Judges said, “’Taking Wing’ took a complex subject and made it not only understandable but made me want to run out and buy a boat with a soft wing sail.” Merit: “Now You See It” by Ralph Naranjo (Cruising World, May); “Don’t Be Intimidated” by Frank Lanier (Sea, June); “Alternative Power: Outboards that Are Gasoline-Free” by Lenny Rudow (, April 19).

Drones & Contest Winners Fly in Miami

The traditional Friday morning gathering of writers, media supporters and wellwishers coupled to a newsy presentation and update from the marine electronics world is on tap for February 13, 2015 from 8 to 10 a.m. in rooms A 204-205 of the Convention Center.

Boating Media’s Dawn of Drones will include a panel of expert fliers from Miami Aerial Drones to demonstrate the newest drones, lessons learned and from the membership, and efforts to develop a code of conduct and ethics that drone users are developing in concert with the FAA.

For several years, friends at the National Marine Electronics Association have fed the ranks of hungry scribes as the breakfast sponsor and offered inside information on what’s going on in the world of marine electronics. This year will be no exception.

$17,000 will be presented to writers of over 50 boating and fishing focused stories, reports, how-tos, travelogues and blogs in print and on line judged by their peers as being the best in 2014. Another 60 journalists will be cited for Merit recognition for their creative efforts.

BWI’s annual meeting, awards ceremony and panel is open to all in the marine community and requires no ticket for admission.

Writing Awards Presented for 2013

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized in Miami on February 14  in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of 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.”

A reading list with click-throughs to the top three entries in each category can be found here:

Read more

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.” Read more