More Than you Really Wanted To Know About Cruising Outpost #6

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More Than you Really Wanted To Know About Cruising Compost …
Er, I mean Outpost! #6 – The Cruising Outpost Extended Family

By Bob Bitchin

ExtendedFamilyI have often been called naïve because I refer to our readers as extended family.  It’s actually pretty funny, but over the 35 years I have been living aboard, cruising and writing about it I feel I know each of our readers personally.  I think it has to do with the fact that when I am writing this useless drivel, I am writing not to an audience but to a friend.  There is no face on this friend, but none-the-less, I feel as if I am just “talking” to someone who is into the same kind of lifestyle as I am.

Over the years, I have sailed with hundreds of our readers on our Share The Sail’s, and met thousands of our readers at boat shows, parties, seminars and events.  What is odd is that when I meet someone at a show or on a dock they feel as if they know me, and I them.

I guess when this hit me the most was when we lost Latitudes & Attitudes.  Jody and I were lost.  Yes, a lot of that feeling came from the fact that at this late stage of my life I found I had lost everything financial I had built up over the past 50 years or so (the first 20 years were spent trying to learn what I’d do for the next 50!) and we were not quite sure where we’d be or how we’d live.

Oddly enough, the thing that weighed heaviest on me was that I didn’t have an outlet to “talk to my friends.”  You see for most of my life I stayed in touch with my extended family with my writing.  For many years it was writing to bikers all over the world, and I felt the same kinship as I moved to cruising.  While I was doing the motorcycle magazine I was living aboard my boat.  So the transfer was not even noticed by me.  Besides, believe it or not, there are a whole lot of bikers who are into sailing.  It’s something about the freedom.

But I digress.  Here’s the thing.  When I sailed off into the sunset back in 1986 it was a different world.  Back then the common knowledge for cruisers was to sell everything you had and convert it to gold coins.  Stash them in your bilge, and sail off, never to return.  Literally, you sailed off into the sunset.

I did this.  I was 42.  Quite frankly, if I had died at 52 , in 1996, I would have had a perfect life.  You see, in 1996 I found myself in Crete, with a busted generator, and no more gold coins.  I ran out of money!

But wait!  That’s not how it’s supposed to be!  I’d read all of the books about casting off the dock-lines, and what I’d gleaned from the days of old was, you sail off.  That’s it.  No one talked about coming back.  But we live longer now.  Who knew?

So Jody and I sailed home, using my trusty American Express card (don’t leave home without it!) and by the time we reached our home port in Redondo Beach, we found ourselves in debt, living on a boat that had over 75,000 miles under her, no money to fix her up and no real prospects.

This is where a lesson my dear ol’ dad taught me was first brought to the forefront of my alleged mind.  He’d told me many years earlier that there is very little a man keeps thru a lifetime, and money is not one of them.  A man’s reputation and his friends are the two things that will stay with you thru your whole life.

On our arrival in Southern California, three of my old friends helped me start Latitudes & Attitudes. Two were from the magazine business (Easyriders and Prime Media) and one was a car dealer.  All of whom I had known for 20 years or more.  I had a list of 300 people who were receiving a little newsletter I sent out while cruising and they were sent an invitation to subscribe to a magazine based on those letters.

We got 600 subscriptions within a couple weeks, and we started the magazine.  Over the next 17 years the magazine grew, and then gave birth to a national TV show, a radio station, Share The Sail, cruiser’s parties and a lot more.

Then we entered our own personal hell.  In a matter of a few months everything we built was gone.  It’s a long story, and has way too much negativity in it for this missive, but in the end we were bankrupt with no-where to turn.

We thought!

As it turned out, my dad was right.  Friends I had never met came forward to help.  Ideas poured in, and soon Jody & I were once again hard at work doing what we love.  Poisoning the minds of thousands of people.

Now if you think about it (which obviously we did not!) there was no way this would succeed. First of all, do you have any idea what one of the worst businesses in the world is to get into today?  How about publishing?  What kind of idiot would start a print magazine in a world where print magazines are dying on a regular basis?  That’d be nuts! The Internet is killing print media!

And then let’s see if we can find an industry that is even harder hit by today’s economy?  How about the marine industry?  That’d be one to stay far away from, for sure.  It would take a real idiot to start something in the marine industry.  Specially a print magazine, right?

But hundreds of our former readers came forth and created a Founders Circle.   These were the people who, as soon as they heard what happened, said they would help, and they did.  They “subscribed” to a magazine that didn’t even have a name yet.

Have you got any idea of what it felt like for Jody & I, when this happened?  To go from the depths of our own personal hell to about as high as you can get (without chemical help!)?  At first we didn’t believe it.  Soon our “family” that created the previous magazine had formed a company, and we were ready to announce to the industry that we were “back.”

But wait?  After what had happened when “the previous” mag went down, how would the marine industry feel?  I mean, it had taken over 15 years in the industry before they had accepted this tattooed ex-biker into their fold.  Even though I was on the Sail America Board of Directors there were still many who weren’t quite sure we belonged.  And so it was with great trepidation we approached our first boat show.  The Newport International Boat Show asked us if we wanted to do one of our Cruiser’s Parties.  We said yes.  How bad could it be, right?

Jody & I packed our show trailer with our booth, and even though we didn’t have a copy of the magazine yet, we drove from our home in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California to Rhode Island, stopping to pick up Show Manager Dave on the way. All the way I worried about how we would be received in Newport.  After all, Newport is kinda the home of the Blue-Blazer set, and I did not fit that mold.

One of the first people I ran into was John Peterson, president of Marlow-Hunter.  He reserved the first advertising spread of the magazine, and said he wanted it “indefinitely.”  I was floored. For the week of that show just about everyone who had ever advertised in our old rag was on board, and not just for the first issue, but for the first year!  And then, the night of the Cruiser’s Party arrived.  How would the boaters feel about what went down?  Once again, we worried for naught.  As a matter of fact, that party had more people attend than at any of our previous Newport events.

But the very best thing that came from the Newport Show was this. As the day’s of the show passed we realized that our family was still intact. People we had never met stopped by to say how their lives had been affected by what we’d done over the previous 15 years, and, as always, we felt as if we knew them all.

It’s a fact.  Family is not necessarily a blood thing.  It is more of a kindred spirit thing.  So when I refer to our family, please don’t correct me.  The hundreds of people I have sailed with, the thousands of people I have met at cruisers parties, seminars and events, the tens of thousands of people I have met at the boat shows, and the hundreds of thousands of people I have “met” in my magazines and on TV, these are my extended family.

 

 

44 COMMENTS

  1. I have alot of unused time to waste and you Bob are a great read! Yippee to you & Jody! I remember meeting you guys when you pulled up at the at Pearson's Fuel Dock in San Diego like it was yesterday. WOW Was that '06 or 07' ? Ted & I got back in 1994 (living on American Express too!) Started The Watermaker Store in 94' with $50.00 and 5 credit cards. After selling out in 2006. Kinda the same old misery for us with the company that bought us out. Drove it into the ground. with no more said that's behind us. Being very fortunate with my exit interview, they GAVE our business back to us. Today, I still have the same $50.00 and 5 credit cards. Funny how that works 🙂 So The Watermaker Store is till thriving from the comforts of our home. Always knew you would rebound and gracefully too! Luv You Guys! Dory & Ted too

  2. Bob & Jody
    Nancy & I (Jim) always look forward too seeing the two of you at the Miami boat show, and receiving each issue of your magazine.
    We are glad to see you back, and it's nice to be a part of your extended family.
    Jim & Nancy
    S/V Amata Marie
    CSY 44 WT #34

  3. Hi, Bob and Jody….What a great "editorial"!!! My wife and I always try to say "Hi" when we're at the Oakland All Sail Show. It's like you said, we almost feel like it's a big family and that we know you. We've read so many editorials by you in the OTHER mag that we certainly feel like we know how you think (scary, eh?). Anyhow, were long-time subscribers of L&A, have read your books, have attended your cruising seminar, and are now proud charter subscribers of Cruising Outpost. Love the new magazine and format. Our best to you, Jody and the rest of the staff. Hey, we can dream!
    Richard and Linda

  4. Never having cruised (yet), but working up in boat size (yeah!), I look forward to each and every BS'in rag you folks put out. Might be a while but by the time we meet I will have used a lot of what you have turned me on to. And that's a thanks by the way!!

  5. Hi, Bob & Jody! Nora from St Pete! I too have started my own business after going through several varieties of hell over the last 6 years, and my friends who really are family have done unbelievably awesome things to help! Went to the cruising seminar in 07 with my ex. Love the new magazine and the fact that you two are still standing!

  6. Bob

    My wife and I met you and Jodi at Strictly Sail Miami in February. You invited us to the party but we were leaving town that day.

    You were both very kind.

    We bought two subscriptions to CO and await the next issue!

    Good luck!
    Rick and Debbie

  7. Sweet! Please allow me to say thank you for what you do. The last boat, I owned was sold in 97 when I broke my fibula and had to focus on recovering and a career change. Cruising Outpost keeps me connect with my dream.

  8. Haven't met you yet, Bob and Jody. But I was a regular reader of Lats and Atts and jumped right in to be a founding member. Hope to meet you guys soon. Although I have a background in both power and sail we are the recent new owners of a 1989 44' Marine Trader Trawler – new name "Fiafia". We are still on the hard getting work done in Bradenton, FL but expect to be cruising shortly. Can't wait. Keep up the great work. Tom and Genny

  9. Bob,Jody, Woody and the rest of the Family, I have as yet to become a live aboard but hopefully I am very close. 13 years ago I picked up a bunch of sailing mags (Cruising world, sail, etc.) to do research on a new lifestyle Ive been planning for over 50 of my 57 years…to live on a boat and sail the Caribbean…I immediately subscribed to Lats & Atts..it portrayed the kind of people and that "kindred" lifestyle I was sure was out there…I thank you a great deal for keeping that dream alive for the last 13 years and even through that "Dry Time" I would re listen to Bob's "Pods of Knowledge" I kept as down loads…I look forward to the day when I can report to you, Captain, that we have cleared the dock now "Show me that Horizon" and we be gone…Your Brother in Kind …Winky Blackstrap (yes, me Island name …as good as thar ever be one! We be meetin soon !)

  10. Truer words were never spoken. Bob. Not money. Not things. Not power. But the times we had and the memories we made with friends will cause the final smile. Tom and Sharon " DISTANT STAR"

  11. This sister will see you in Long Beach in October! Last time we saw you and Jody was at the Oakland show a couple years ago. And Cruising outpost is fabulous! The quarterly format gives me time to read every single page and re-read all I want to! So very glad you are still able to keep in touch.

  12. Bob, through your words and the inspiration within, many of us readers have stood upon your shoulders to reach our dreams. When word came that you and Jody were in a bad spot, many of us saw it as an opportunity to show how much your words have meant over the years. Thank you for helping to make our dreams, a reality.

  13. BB, we are so happy to be part of your family. It certainly changed our life's. Keep up the great writings and rants.
    We'll see you at a boat show, I'm sure.
    Jeff & Marie
    oh yea, AKA Ken & Barbie

  14. So happy that things are finally on the upswing for you guys. You have always been very gracious when I have visited you in Miami. I do miss the old L&A name, but the content in CO is still just as good and I enjoy every page.

    Ron

  15. Bob,
    The "family" has had a positive impact on our lives and it was an easy decision to jump onboard the Founder's Circle. Unfortunately because of my husband's health issues we are no longer on the water but still love reading about "out there"

  16. Hi again, Jody n Bob, There's great people out there and there's mean people out there. The great ones never float to the top! Your money can get lost, but your education never will. Thanks for the nod, now lets go have some more fun. Your kindred thoughts and deeds have propelled us to sell a house, downsize the stuff, and buy a max prop. Funny, how all those things go together, eh? Soon, we'll be living the dream, not dreamin' the life.
    Tom n Diane, s/v Summer Wind, Bayonne, Jensen Beach, and a few others.

  17. Hi again, Jody n Bob, There's great people out there and there's mean people out there. The great ones never float to the top! Your money can get lost, but your education never will. Thanks for the nod, now lets go have some more fun. Your kindred thoughts and deeds have propelled us to sell a house, downsize the stuff, and buy a max prop. Funny, how all those things go together, eh? Soon, we'll be living the dream, not dreamin' the life.

  18. Bob and Jody, There's great people out there, and there's mean ones out there. The great ones ALWAYS float to the top. Welcome to the floaters. The gang at The Tarpon Lodge, Pine Island, Fl. welcome you back, too!

  19. You and Jody are vital components of sanity in a crazy world. You are truly correct: family is more than just blood. Your photo is on my mantle. Mom and Dad's pic is in the hall. Hangin' with ya through thick and thin.

  20. Well done Bob! Bravo! I found myself in your family through an Ex girlfriend who was on your staff in the ole Latts and Atts days. You personally have enlightened myself, and others I'm sure, as to what real life hardships and success takes on a soul. Most people just "look in the window" to see whats on the inside where as you and Jody opened the door to share the view. I wish you continued success and happiness for both you and Jody.

    Sincerely, Badmax Bruce

    Founders Circle member

  21. I had just renewed my Lats & Ats when two or three weeks later I read it was closed. The money paid was one thing but the mag I liked the most out of 5 I subscribe to was ending. Sanbar Sam gave me a coppy of Lats & Ats and I was sold on it many years ago. Reading your mags cover to cover lead me to my first 26' McGregger after six years I have just stepped up to a 28' Liberty, soon to retire from cross country Truck Driving and cut the lines and enjoy the life. I'm proud to be a Founders Circle Member, and look forward to more great reading. Keep up the good work. God Bless Fair Winds

  22. Bob your writing has done nothing but make me feel good. Being a Bard is a worthy profession and I thank you for making my life better than it would have been. Peace Joy and Prosperity my friend and I hope I can call you a friend.

  23. Eric and I are humbled to be a part of your family Bob… we love you and Jody as if you were blood family. You came into both of our lives at just the right time, and waved your magic wand (or pirates sword?) and transformed our lives into what they are today. With family like we have, nothing is impossible! We are looking forward to having you both at our Grand Opening in December and raising the Cruising Outpost flag, christening it an official "Cruising Outpost"!

    Love ya man
    Kim & Eric Stone http://www.DocksideTropicalCafe.com http://www.IslandEric.com http://www.YogaOnboard.com

  24. Bob, once again you give me another lesson on Life. I still owe you the story of "Consensus" but right now I just wanted to join the multitudes that are "better people" just for knowing you. A short hour conversation a few years ago changed my whole outlook including how I look at myself. You will always have your "family and friends" because of the way you and Jodi interact with everyone you meet. Your adventures just reinforce my belief that life is just like owning a boat…..always cost more than you thought, always was harder to do than expected, and that last look at her when leaving always makes it all worthwhile….A big Well-Done from Texas to you both. You both have a room at my "inn" anytime you're in Houston.
    Kevin and Cecilia Cooper

  25. Bob, I've been a fan ever since you and Jody showed up at St. Pete back in the last millennium! The magazines are fun to read and my mom (85 years old) loves to read them too! I'm in Kemah waiting on the weather to settle then heading to the MS gulf coast. Have a great summer and I'll see the family in St. Pete!

    Guy

  26. So glad that your new rag is going so well. Lats and Atts was my fav and I do 5 of them. The new one is great too. I built a big ole heavy ketch in the 70's and cruised for 4 years down to the Tahiti and back to the NW. When I got back to Seattle I was broke and had to babies which somehow we produced along the way. I worked on boats and worked my way back to building boats of my own design. I'm retired now and have a boat that I built for another cruise but not sure if I can get going again. Your mag at least keeps me up on whats happening in the cruising world and keeps my interest up. I did do the grenadines share the sail with you guys last may and I was the one who drove you down for dinner on Martinique with Jodi and Tabitha which I really enjoyed. Hope everything keeps going well for you guys. See ya sometime, Mike

  27. Bob & Jody,
    Glad to hear you two are back. Going over some speed bumps in my own life at the moment but great memories of times spent with the two of you. I look forward to the day I'm back out sailing again and reading your new mag.
    Dave

  28. Bob, Jody et al. You clearly exemplify the adage “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. I am honored to be a member of Founders Circle. I am also pleased that I get to continue to learn of the sagas of Bubba Whartz.

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