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Commentary: Thank You from Speedonthewater.com

Thanksgiving always has been my favorite holiday. Family, friends, food, drink and football—What’s not to like? Plus, November in Northern California tends to be a great month. It can rain, as it did yesterday, and then on Turkey Day itself it can be 72 degrees and sunny, as it will be this afternoon. Like many of you, I will head for a healthy gathering of people I love and I am grateful for in just a few hours.

By definition, Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and that sentiment has special meaning at speedonthewater.com. Three years ago this month—Nov. 9, 2009 to put a fine point on it—I started the site out of pure economic necessity. As Powerboat magazine began its inevitable death spiral, the decision-makers at the top began cutting issues. Fewer issues with fewer pages to fill meant less work for me, a freelance writer for Powerboat since 2000. Less work meant less money, and my retainer—the fixed monthly sum I was paid for writing anything from five to 10 articles—was reduced. Again.

fpc_keywest_running1Thank you everyone for helping speedonthewater.com grow and thrive. Photo courtesy of the Florida Powerboat Club.

Right about the same time, I got a call from my boss at Boats.com, a web site for which I had been the powerboat content manager since it was founded in 2000, the same year I went freelance for Powerboat. They had decided to go in another direction, pursue other options, redirect their resources; you know, lay me off. I would now be a freelance contributor.

In the space of three weeks, I went from having two solid gigs, one with full benefits, that produced a six-figure income to two shaky gigs producing less than a third of the income, and no benefits.

So at the suggestion of Kim Kavin, a good friend and editor who’d hired me for several assignments during the years, I started speeonthewater.com. Kim’s site, charterwave.com was, to be blunt, kicking ass. She thought the high-performance powerboat world could use something like it.

Thanks to Powerboat, I knew just about everyone I needed to know in the go-fast world, and in spite of myself I’d managed to maintain a decent reputation. Thanks to Boats.com, I had ten years of experience in the online world. Without that experience, my career, born out of 25 years of print journalism, would have died.

Two months later, Paul Ray of Ilmor Marine called, He said he liked what I was doing with the site. He asked if I accepted advertising. I said yes and told him I’d call him right back. Then I called my web guy, David McCreary. “Hey Dave, we need to come up  with some ad sizes,” I said.

“No sweat,” he replied. “Hey, by the way, do you know you tripled your traffic this month?”

That was the day I thought speedonthewater.com might just be onto something. I knew there was tons of work ahead, the kind that never stops. I knew I would work harder than I ever had. But I also knew that for the first time in my life I would not be at the mercy of a phone call that began with, “First let me say that we cannot begin to tell you how important your contribution has been to us.”

I also knew I needed help—big time—and that help came in the form of Jason Johnson early this year. Recently and unceremoniously out of a job thanks to the train wreck ending of Powerboat magazine, Jason was interested enough in speedonthewater.com to give contributing to it a try. Last week, we reached an agreement for him to become an equal-share business partner.

To say I am “grateful” for Jason Johnson’s contribution is an understatement. The mission of speedonthewater.com is to provide daily news on the high-performance powerboat world, which is a daunting task for just one person, especially one who is the editor in chief for Sportboat magazine and writes six articles a month for boats.com and four columns a month for offshoreonly.com. Without Jason on board, sleep, a scarce commodity for me as it is, would be a distant memory.

So here are a few of the many people I am grateful for on this fine Thanksgiving Day: Kim Kavin, a wonderful friend and colleague who pushed me to launch a daily news site; Bob Christie, my “second brother,” who has supported my efforts at every turn and in every way; Paul Ray at Ilmor Marine, who was the first to see value in speedonthewater.com; and our readers/visitors, especially the community on offshoreonly.com, which from the start thanks to folks like Heather Dalli has seen value in and supported what we do.

And of course, I am grateful to all of our advertisers for supporting us. Without them, there would be no speedonthewater.com, Thank you Aero-MarineArneson Industries, Checkmate Boats, Cigarette Racing Team, Custom Marine Inc., Dave’ Custom Boats, Dean’s Place/The Art of DesignDeep Impact Boats, Doller Offshore Marine, Electronics Unlimited, Formula Boats, Frisini Motorsports, Hering Propellers, J.D. Byrider, Lake Effect Paint and Design, Livorsi MarineMercury RacingMystic PowerboatsPeters & MayPier 57 Marine, Potter Performance Engines, Sunsation Boats and Teague Custom Marine.

Thank you all. I am so very blessed. May this day also find you feeling blessed and in the company of those who love and appreciate you.

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