Writers Guidelines

We’re the sailing magazine for the rest of us. we’re honored you’re considering writing for us.

Most of our readers do the maintenance and upkeep on their own boats. The majority of our readers’ boats are fiberglass production sailboats from the 1950s to the 2000s. We are about trailer-boats and cruising boats and everything in between.

We publish articles focused on pride of ownership and articles that discuss upgrades, maintenance, refits, and restoration of good old boats. We also publish sailing stories in which the writer messed up and lived to tell us about it, to teach us what they learned. We like thoughtful ruminations on the sailing life. We also publish histories of the companies and personalities associated with the sailing industry.
Because these themes are well-covered by other magazines, we do not publish:

  • Destination articles
  • Cruising logs
  • Racing coverage

Formatting submissions

  • Submit your photos and words in separate files.
  • If we’ve not acquired a story from you in the recent past, please include your mailing address (for payment) and a bio.
  • Please refer to our Photographer’s Guidelines before taking or sending photos.
  • Submit your words in an editable file (preferably .doc) and do not use fancy formatting. There is absolutely no chance that we will use your formatting. It will be deleted through our process without ever being appreciated by the editors. Simple is good. Simpler is better.
  • One space only between sentences.
  • If you don’t hear from us, please make sure 3 weeks have passed before following up.

Acceptance (or not)

We ask that you submit articles on speculation. Competition for space in Good Old Boat magazine is brisk. Our responsibility to our readers requires that we try to get the best and most appropriate material. Do not be discouraged if your submission is not accepted. A piece that is not accepted by one publication could easily be just what another publication is looking for. Send articles and photos to Michael Robertson, editor.

Technical Articles

While we appreciate humor in any article, fluffy technical articles that do not thoroughly cover the topic are not appropriate for our audience. We give writers of technical stories enough space to be thorough, even up to 5,000 words. Technical articles should contain enough information (including all relevant contacts and resources) that our reader is ready to embark on a similar project. Our reader should know whether he would like to do this work and is capable of doing it.

The writer should present potential stumbling blocks and point out areas which are open for misinterpretation. (For example, during barrier coat applications, just how dry must the previous coat be before applying the next round? Might this differ from one side of the boat to the other if the sun shines on one side only?)

Think of the work you are describing as a process involving specific materials and activities. Did you use epoxy resin or polyester resin? Instead of saying marine bondo, be specific about which product was used. Was the sealant RTV, urethane, or polysulfide? What kind of wood did you use? A process that worked well for you involving specific materials may not work at all if the materials involved are substituted for others that are not compatible with each other or not really suited to the task.

So give us more detail than we will need. If it breaks up the flow of words, include an appendix with materials and sources. We will publish as much of it as we think is appropriate to make certain that, if a reader attempts the project, there is a good chance of success. You cannot give us too much detail about materials used.

Our technical editor is a curmudgeon. There is nothing we can do about that. His notes follow. Authors should avoid the following usages:

  • Amps per hour, Amps/hr. and similar -- Although actually published occasionally elsewhere, these are meaningless terms that only confuse the well-informed reader and demonstrate the writer's lack of comprehension of basic electricity. If amps per hour does not grate on your sensibilities like fingernails on a blackboard, you probably should not write about electricity. If you do the algebra on this, you come out with the reciprocal of time (1/time) or charge divided by the square of time (T squared). Nonsense.
  • Electricity and water do not mix -- Many writers eventually resort to some kind of water analogy to try to explain how electricity works. I have yet to see what I thought was a really good water analogy. If you want to explain electricity, talk about electricity. Hydraulics is another field entirely. Avoid this trap; it is already full.
  • ABYC -- Marine technical writers often quote the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) chapter and verse as though the quoted requirements came from the burning bush. This is not a popular practice with the Good Old Boat editors. The ABYC Standards and Recommended Practices for Small Craft documents are not available to the vast majority of our readers. Membership in the organization is quite expensive and is, therefore, not common among non-professionals. Although regulating agencies and insurance companies may adopt all or parts of the ABYC standards, the ABYC standards are otherwise completely voluntary having no inherent force in law. They also do not preclude good design and engineering alternatives.

Last, but not least, we prefer honesty to "apple pie and motherhood." We are not trying to appease advertisers, so if something does not work well, feel free to offer your opinion for the benefit of fellow readers.

Payments For Submissions

When we buy your story, we’ll let you know in what issue we plan to run it, usually sometime 6-12 months in the future. We’ll try and let you know later if that plan changes. We pay writers 30-45 days prior to publication. We normally pay by check, but can work out another means, such as PayPal, for writers out cruising or living abroad. We aren’t formal enough to fuss with contracts, but we’ll send you a copy of our simple writer’s agreement at the time we make you an offer.

Generally, the only photos we pay for separately are cover photos. We do things the same way for photogs as we do for writers, except that we pay upon acceptance for cover photos.

Following is our payment schedule:

Boat Reviews: Our comprehensive reviews of good old boats run 1,500 – 3,000 words and focus on sailing characteristics, layout and design, and pros and cons to consider when purchasing (possible trouble spots to watch for, and so on). We pay reviewers $700, but we assign these reviews to select writers. Unsolicited boat reviews don't work with us.

Book Reviews: We have a stable of eager readers to whom we assign reviews. We do not want unsolicited book reviews. Our reviews usually run 200 – 450 words and we pay $50 for each.

Cover photos: We like to see people in these, there should be an obvious sailing reference. Could be a boat at anchor, people at the helm aboard a boat under sail, or a boat owner working on the boat in the yard. We need portrait orientation, high resolution, and great lighting and composition. We pay $100 for one-time use as a Good Old Boat cover, both in print and electronically.

Cruising Memories column: Have you got a memory you want to share about a time in your sailing life? If your prose shines and your subject is unique, we’re interested. These can run 1,500 – 2,500 words and we pay $150-$300.

History column: We'd also like stories about specific boat types (such as what's gone on with Ericsons over the years), profiles of designers (the career of Carl Alberg or George O'Day and how the individual influenced what we're sailing today), or about other things such as sail shape and materials, hull shapes, keel shapes, etc. We’re looking for depth, 1,500 - 4,000 words at $500 - $700.

Learning Experience column: Did you screw up big time and survive to tell us about it, to teach us what you learned? Please do. We’re looking for 1,000 – 2,500 words and we pay $200 - $500.

Reflections column: We want your thoughts/ideas/ruminations on all facets of the sailing life in 350 – 750 words. These are the kinds of things that come to us when we've been "out there" a while. We pay $175 for these short pieces.

Simple Solutions: Have you completed a small project aboard that has made your sailing or liveaboard life better or easier? Do you have a quick tip that we’ll be eager to share with our readers? These stories can run 50-1,000 words and we pay $50 - $250 for them.

Unclassified: This runs the gamut, from sailing/technical/refit/maintenance/upgrade articles, shorter-length to feature-length (500 - 5,000 words) at $100 - $700.

Photography

Photography guidelines. Read More ›

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