The Story Behind the May 2019 CW Cover

Photographer Alison Langley shares the story behind the May 2019 Cruising World cover.

April 24, 2019
The Brainerd family aboard Nora, a 42-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl. Alison Langley

Sometimes the best video sessions turn into opportune cover shoots.

In my 20s, I had taken off to explore the world and soon found myself crewing on a couple of private yachts that were circumnavigating. I sailed for six years throughout the North and South Pacific, South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Those were some of the most wonderful years of my life, and it was then that my love for nautical photography took hold. My photographs and accompanying stories were being published in sailing and travel magazines around the world. In fact, Cruising World published my first cover photo in May 1992. If it hadn’t been for those years at sea, I would not be a nautical photographer today.

When I was approached by the Cruising Club of America about a video increasing awareness of the club’s outreach programs for younger members, it was something close to my heart. Raising two kids on the Midcoast of Maine, I fully understand the benefits of life on the water and exposure to the outdoor life.


I immediately pulled in Pedr Seymour, a fantastic editor with whom I worked on our film about the NY 40 Marilee. A father of two, Pedr also shares the outdoor exploration ethic. We decided to produce three profiles of CCA members and let them tell their stories of what it means to be a member.

Posing on Nora
The Brainerds aboard Nora Alison Langley

When I learned that Alec Brainerd was a new member, I jumped at the chance to include him and his family. I’ve known Alec for 20 years as I have photographed the Maine boatbuilding industry since moving to the state in the 1990s. Alec and his wife, Erin, run Artisan Boatworks, a boatbuilding and restoration business in Rockport, Maine. Alec and his team are second to none when it comes to building, restoring and maintaining custom and classic wooden yachts. I live down the street from them and have watched their girls, Adella and Georgia, grow up in the yard and on the water. They are both used to me hanging around with my cameras and are very gregarious, so I knew this profile was going be a winner.

A few years ago, the Brainerds bought Nora, a 1961 Sparkman & Stephens yawl. Watching them on the water as a family, one can see that they embody the spirit of cruising.

Nora sailboat
Nora is a 1961 Sparkman & Stephens yawl Alison Langley

We sailed out to La Salle Island on one of those incredible hot, muggy days last summer. We cast off the dock lines and felt the cool sea breeze instantly relieve everyone. The girls were in their element, and the video was a joy to make.

After we had finished shooting the video on La Salle, I came back via my chase boat to get some final footage of the boat under sail. I switched my camera back to stills for a while as I thought it would be nice to capture a few shots for Alec and Erin.

May 2019 cover of Cruising World magazine
Cruising World May 2019 cover Alison Langley

When their daughter, Georgia, cozied up to Erin on the aft deck, I knew right away that I was capturing the essence of this cruising family.


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