Common Threads

Sailing World's editor, a lifelong racing sailor, takes the helm at Cruising World and finds that the change in perspective isn't such a big change at all

March 1, 2006

My father taught me to sail in a nine-foot dinghy, and he introduced me to cruising–in that same dinghy. We’d sail two miles from West Harbor on Fishers Island, New York, to little Ram Island, near Noank, Connecticut. We’d haul the boat up above the tide line, remove the mast, flip it, and place it on a couple of logs. After lighting a can of Sterno, he’d cook up a steaming plate of Franco-American spaghetti; then we’d lay a ground cloth and our sleeping bags under the boat and fall asleep to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore.

I discovered sailboat racing a few years later, gave up golf for good at age 16, and have chosen sailing over the alternatives ever since. When it came to finding a job after college, I went sailboat racing, coached sailing, and worked on sailboats; after a while, I arrived at Sailing World magazine, which is now moored right down the hall from Cruising World.

I should’ve seen the handwriting on the wall sooner. My wife, Rachel, enjoys sailboat racing with me, but our three daughters don’t. Yet strangely (to me), they’ve never objected to cruising. It didn’t matter if it was a speedy trimaran, a modest monohull, a custom cruiser, or a bareboat. That’s because for them, going cruising isn’t about the sailing. The reason to sail to a certain harbor is to enjoy the special bowl of chowder they had last year or to repeat the hike we took to the top of the island. They don’t mind trimming the sails or steering the boat, but it’s more fun dragging on a line off the stern, reading book after book, or playing cards and charades around the table in a cozy saloon. It’s about being together right now–and with any luck, the memories of these outings will last all their lives.


That’s enough of my story; what’s really been engaging for me since moving a few doors down to Cruising World is the richness and diversity of sailing experiences that make their way into each issue’s pages–tales from dozens of skillful writers, each with a distinct narrative voice, all working with a group of smart, knowledgeable editors who themselves have cruised and chartered all over.

Smile along with Jeremy McGeary in his affectionate profile of Don Street and Iolaire, then dig into Frank Cassidy’s comprehensive look at networking modern electronics. Find a good idea for your boat in Beth Leonard’s guide to high-latitude upgrades-no matter where you’re going to be sailing-and then sit back and enjoy Fatty Goodlander’s eventful romp through warm waters, from the Virgin Islands to Panama.

I’d like to thank Herb McCormick for doing such an excellent job setting the tone for this magazine over his years as chief editor and for recruiting the writers you’ll find throughout this issue. Of course, Herb’s escapades are a hoot in their own right, and starting next month you can continue to look forward to his tales as a CW editor at large–whether he’s chartering on the far side of the globe next summer or wrestling with the perfect topsides job.


The world upon which we sail remains big and round, and the dream of discovering its farthest ports and peoples will always be a sustaining aspect of what Cruising World offers to readers. So will our reviews of new products and sailboat designs, along with a steady diet of hands-on skills to help move you toward increased knowledge and self-sufficiency aboard. The common thread for all of us, whether we’re considering a cruise to cover long distances, a long weekend, or our next vacation, is the chance to immerse ourselves in a relationship with wind, boat, and water that at any moment can alter how we think and the way we live.

Through the eyes of Cruising World’s writers, I’m looking at my world of sailing through a new lens. Yet something about it is very familiar. Probably because it’s not so different from the view I had at age 7, cruising Long Island Sound in that dinghy.


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