|On The Wire|
Where We Were. Where We're Going.
By Bill Mattson
|After 5 years of on-and-off Internet publication, On The Wire will no
longer be updated with new articles. However, all past issues will still
be available, and will be hosted by TheBeachcats.com. (They will still
be accessible via the http://www.catsail.com/ URL.)
TheBeachcats.com also has a classifieds section, as well as a link to an
excellent forum for beachcat sailors. |
Back in the early 90s, I purchased my first Hobie Cat, an old Hobie 14. By this time, the popularity of beach catamarans had already waned, so there were not many resources for information on my newly found sport. I had bought the boat from my friend Frank Pineau, who also owned a Hobie 16. Frank also had
|a few old issues of the now defunct Hobie Hotline Magazine. Every now
and then, he’d give me a pile of them, and I would read them cover to
cover. Frank and I would also meet each other at Lake Castaic in Santa
Clarita, CA, where we would bring our families and play around on our
boats all day. |
A couple of years later, I purchased my second boat, a Hobie 16. By this time, another source of information became available: The Internet. In particular, a virtual gold mine of Hobie Cat information was the Hobie Mailing List hosted by Dave Aronson. A couple hundred Hobie Cat sailors belonged to the list, providing good information to other sailors at all levels. Some of the members still reside on the latest generation of the list on Yahoo! Groups. It was at this point, that I had an idea; Publish a magazine resembling The Hobie Hotline, entirely in electronic form without printing any paper. The Internet would make such a magazine available to the entire world. It would not take much money, but it would take a considerable amount of time.
In 1996, I took a job in the San Francisco Bay area, which is about 500 mi north of my home. I would fly up north on Monday, live in an apartment close to work, then fly home on Friday. It was no fun being away from my family, but it did give me tons of free time in the evenings. The idea for the magazine had been in my head for over a year, and I now had the time to put it all together. On The Wire was born.
What to do for content? Frank and I had planned to install deck ports in our boats, so I figured I could photograph the whole project, then post it as a feature story. Then I needed a product review. Hell… I had just bought deck ports and a trampoline, so I laid them out on the driveway and took pictures of them. As for Tech Tips, I went through the Hobie Mailing List for good tips and wrote the authors for permission to publish. For a cover shot, I used a picture of myself on the trapeze, taken recently during a trip to Mission Bay with Frank. One interesting aspect of the effort was that I tried to keep it as close to a printed magazine as I could. No animations or other bandwidth hogging frills. It was just a printed magazine that sat on the reader’s monitor. (I did vary from a printed version somewhat with the interactivity of the Readers, Places to Sail, and Classifieds sections.) Once the September 1996 issue was ready, I uploaded it, then announced the new issue on the Hobie Mailing List.
Well, the response was pretty damned good, if I say so myself. Aside from the praises, I was getting submitted material, having made a plea for it in the editorial section. I was getting good stuff! I’m talking quality submissions, very well written, complete with pictures. The articles kept flowing in, and for a bit over a year, I published a new issue very single month. I was even getting it out religiously on the first of every month, too. Sometimes I’d be up until 2 or 3am doing it, but I did it. I remember uploading the new issue in these early hours of the morning while my “Please wait for update” screen was up, and seeing the hits as the early birds were trying to get in.
To offset the expenses of maintaining and hosting the site, I started selling some banner ads and T Shirts. My goal was to bring in enough revenue to pay my authors for their submissions. Unfortunately, I never realized enough income to do this. However, the ad money collected was almost enough to pay the bills, and it kept the site online and free to readers.
A while later, I was back home living with the family. With lawns to cut, and a house to improve, time started becoming scarce. I started missing months, and publishing “2 month” issues. Soon, I was going months and months without an update. Without current updates and the resulting low traffic, I stopped charging my advertisers. I started thinking about taking the site down altogether, but then I would get the occasional email from a new catamaran sailor thanking me for the help in getting them started. After reading these emails, I would reconsider and leave the site up. After all, my ultimate goal when establishing the site was to create a resource for the new guys. Still, it was becoming a pain to write the check to the ISP each month to keep a site up that was not generating any revenue, save for the occasional T Shirt sale.
This brings us back to The Hobie Mailing List, which has been through many changes and hosts throughout the years. Again, the latest generation of this list is a Yahoo! Group called TheBeachcats. The list moderator, Damon Linkous, has agreed to host the On The Wire archives at his website TheBeachcats.com. There is a link on the main page of this website which will direct visitors to the On The Wire archives. A big thanks to Damon for offering to do this. While I had some offers from commercial sites to buy the content, all the submissions to me were donated and I did not feel comfortable selling it. So the content is still available at no charge, thanks to Damon.
Thanks also go to my numerous contributors. These folks graciously donated quality content with the intent of freely sharing their knowledge to the sailing community:
Geoff Von Wollenberg
I hope I remembered everyone. (If anyone sees an omission, please let me know.)
|While this site was a ton of work, it was also a good deal
of fun. I trust I have made a difference in helping a sailor out here and
there. I encourage all my readers and contributors to visit TheBeachcats.com. It is likely I
will be posting an article there on occasion. |
Feel free to contact me at my new email address shown below.
Sail fast, sail safe,
William R. "Bill" Mattson
Return to TheBeachcats.com