By Bob Bitchin
The Unbelievable Story of How Cruising Outpost came into being…
It all started with our Founders Circle
The story of how Cruising Outpost came into being could be a book in itself. There are villains, hero’s, disasters and as always needed, a happy ending.
Once upon a time there was a couple of idiots who decided they wanted to sail all over this big blue ball we call Earth. Let’s call them Bob & Jody.
Bob decided to sail off for the South Pacific after he had sold a couple of magazines about the motorcycle lifestyle and tattoo’s to a friend. With his ill-gotten gains he bought a well-salted vessel, named it Lost Soul, and took off after kidnapping his bartender from the Portofino Yacht Club. That would be where Jody comes into the story.
For years they sailed to all the places they’d ever dreamed of (and even through a few nightmares!) but in the end, after many years at sea, they returned to their home port, broke. In fact they were in debt for a couple credit cards.
One day as Bob sat with two friends who had stayed home and were also in the magazine business, it was decided Bob should start a Boating Lifestyle magazine in order to do some of the things people like to do. Like eat!
And so it was a new magazine was born. For the sake of argument, let’s call it Lats & Atts.
Over the next 17 years Bob & Jody took their fledgling rag from a startup thru the growing stages, until it was one of the most read publications in boating. Hundreds of thousand of boaters were having their minds poisoned by said magazine on a monthly basis. They had a TV show that aired nationally for 5 seasons, as well as a radio station that played nothing but boating music, and all was well with the world.
It Rhymes with Buyer
But Bob & Jody missed the sailing life, and so it was, when they were approached by a buyer, they sold the magazine.
Bob, not being the brightest bulb in the package, neglected to check out said buyers credentials … and his credit! Five months later the new owners changed the locks on the doors locking out the long time staff, took the computers, and disappeared into the night.
Bob & Jody were never paid. They soon realized that all of the company cards had their personal guarantee, and had been maxed out by the buyers, and the payments not made in a couple months. Also many suppliers had been stiffed, and the printer had not been paid in months.
They were wiped out, and were looking at losing their home and everything they owned. They went into bankruptcy.
All was lost, and they tried to figure out how they would be able to live on Bob’s Social Security.
But wait! What’s this? An email from an old friend. “Why don’t you start a new magazine?” he asked.
At first Bob balked at the idea. Nearing his 70’s and in the current economic climate, specially with the current state of the publishing industry and the marine industry, he could not see a way.
And besides, they were broke. If they wanted bubble-gum they would have to finance it, and they couldn’t even do that because they’d just gone bankrupt!
Here is where the hero’s appeared out of no-where. The original staff of the previous magazine, who had been locked out and been left unpaid in most cases, said they were ready.
And the biggest surprise of all? The readers of the old magazine banded together and said, basically, “Built it, and they will come.”
And so the Founders Circle was born. Hundreds of previous fans got together and ordered 5 year subscriptions to a magazine that had not even been named yet. The staff formed a new company, and hired Bob & Jody as consultants to create this new entity. In just a couple weeks so much money had flowed into PayPal that they didn’t want to release it as they thought it was a scam.
It was actually pretty funny. Picture the conversation between PayPal and the yet-to-be-named magazine.
Them: “Hello, I am with PayPal and we noticed a large influx of money into your account. I am afraid we can’t release these funds until you show proof of delivery. Have you delivered the products?”
Us: “Well, er, actually, no. These are 5 years subscriptions to a magazine.
Them: “And what Magazine would that be?”
Us; “Ah, ya see, it doesn’t have a name yet.”
Them, hesitatingly: “So all these people sent in all this money for a magazine that does not exist?”
Us; “Well actually, yes.”
A long silence on the phone…
Them: “I am going to have to talk to a supervisor. Until then we cannot release the funds. We are sorry.”
An even longer pause.
Us: “But, if you don’t release the funds we can’t create the new magazines?”
A dial tone….
As it turned out PayPal did work with the staff, by releasing enough to create the corporation, open a bank account and start the work of producing a new boating lifestyle magazine. Let’s call it Cruising Outpost for the moment.
Once the magazine started to take shape a very odd thing happened. It dawned on us that the new magazine would not exist if it were not for the readers. At that point we were not sure how the advertisers would take to the new magazine, as they had been thoroughly screwed when the last issue of the previous title never printed, even though they had paid for the ad space.
So a new idea formed. A magazine that would be for the readers, as opposed to one for the advertisers, which is how all other magazines are aimed. It was decided that, since the other magazines only ran about 30-35% articles to 65-70% ads, we would reverse that. We set 30% ads as our goal.
And most of the staff agreed they really hated to see ads for cars and watches in their marine magazines, so it was decided only marine products would be able to advertise. This did cause some funny conversations like, “What about Pusser’s rum and Land Shark Beer?”
It was decided these were boating lifestyle related and allowed in.
But the biggest test was still in front of the newly-born fledgling company. The Newport International Boat Show was about to commence, and it was a full 3 months before the first issue would be in print. How would the advertisers respond to us, and most of all, what about all the subscribers to the previous magazine that was shut down by the idiots that bought the Lats & Atts? Would Bob & Jody be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail?
And so the big day came in Newport as the show opened.
But wait! There are no angry mobs? The advertisers even start asking when the new mag would be out. And even more, they are ASKING for ad space. Asking? For ad space in a marine magazine? That’s unheard of. Usually you have to send out an arm-breaker (ad salesman) for such things to happen.
And even more surprising? People who had heard of what happened. The previous Lats&Atts readers, came searching for Bob & Jody. They wanted to support the new mag, even though it was not even n print yet! Whodathunkit?
And what’s this? The show management people want us to have a party there at the show to announce the new magazine to the industry. Even more surprising, people came. Lot’s of people (probably due to the free beer and pizza, but we’ll take it!)
The first issue of Cruising Outpost hit the newsstands in December. It sold out in a few weeks in most West Marine stores and many Barnes & Nobel stores. The first issue was 180 pages, and just about every major marine manufacturer was advertising in it. It was a huge success.
Issue #2 hit the stands this month (February, 2013) and it was even bigger. 196 pages with a new water-resisent matte finished cover that made it look like a true coffee table book.
And so it is, Bob & Jody are back on the show circuit after successful shows in Annapolis, St. Pete, Chicago and Miami, and are looking forward with great anticipation to the Texas and Pacific shows.
More people are subscribing every day, our facebook pages are getting to over 140,000 people in a week. The website is growing faster than the magazine, and once again, all is well with the world.
Next update on Cruising Outpost? We don’t know. Probably when the feeling takes us!