New Waggoner Editor & Publisher

March 16, 2011

The new owners will be Mark and Leslie Bunzel, owners of Fine Edge Nautical Publications, in Anacortes, WA. They’re the publishers of the Douglass “Exploring” series of cruising guides, and U.S. co-publishers of the Dreamspeaker series of cruising guides. They also publish a guide for the Virgin Islands and other books.

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Mark Bunzel is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captain, owner of Fine Edge Publications and has published articles on cruising throughout the world in national magazines.

Mark spent many hours in the Waggoner display at the 2011 Seattle Boat Show, where he endured an onslaught of loyal readers who lectured him about the importance of doing the research to keep the Waggoner up to date. It’s one thing to think you know it’s important; it’s another to be ordered, with wagging fingers, about the importance. Mark will be a good steward of the Waggoner.

This is being written in early March. Agreement has been reached and some money has changed hands. The final documents, however, are still with the lawyers. I expect the actual handing off to be accomplished by mid-March.

Why are we selling? I hate to accept it, but we got old. My wife, Marilynn, and I are in our 70s. It’s time to think about retirement while we’re still in good health. Also, we would like to enjoy some car travel in addition to cruising time on the boat. The demands of publishing the Waggoner kept me tied up almost year-round.

We do plan to go cruising (the boat was NOT part of the deal). But we hope to take a more relaxed approach. Instead of making two, three, or four stops in a day, we’ll try staying two or three days in one place. I have a book project in mind, and I expect there’ll be some magazine articles. A couple editing projects are on the horizon. The boat, of course, will absorb all the attention I choose to lavish on it and ask for more.

If these things don’t keep me out from underfoot, I joke that Marilynn has a 3-ring binder, with tabs, filled with “suggestions.” An early task is to attack the moss that has taken over our front lawn. That one isn’t in the 3-ring binder. It’s a job that has to be done.

The Waggoner has been the most rewarding project I could have imagined. It has allowed us—forced us—to see more of the amazing Inside Passage than we could have seen otherwise. To keep the book up to date, for more than 15 years we have spent nine to 11 weeks on the boat, cruising almost to Alaska and back.

In the process, we have met and gotten to know so many remarkable people. We’ve been invited to weddings, and to funerals. We’ve watched kids grow up. We’ve met people who were legends, before they weren’t there any longer.

Professionally, the Waggoner tested my writing skills and editing instincts. Once a year, I got to rewrite everything in the book. Sentences that were too long or weren’t crisp got cleaned up. Omissions got remedied. New information got added. And since the Waggoner was my book, I could do what I wanted with it. The delicate and very personal Anniversary Anchorage note is an example. I would never have trusted an editor with it. The “Running the Rapids” sidebar, introduced in the 2010 edition and revised slightly for 2011, is another example. It tries to explain something that is as much art as it is science, and takes too much space to do it. But I thought the effort was important, so the sidebar is in the book.

I’ve felt I’ve had a close relationship with the people I was reporting on, and with the readers I was reporting to. I called it “wrapping my arms around my audience.” With that as an objective, the writing just fell into place.

Notes such as this usually wrap up by thanking those who were helpful along the way. This note will be no different. Here goes. It’s a short and partial list. There are many others.

Correspondents and fellow cruisers—Without the thick file of comments, suggestions, critiques and news provided by our fellow boaters each year the Waggoner would be much less than it is. Thank you for your time and good will. Thank you for knowing that I wouldn’t twist what you sent into something you didn’t mean. Thank you for allowing me to not give you credit sometimes, when credit would interrupt the readability of the book.

Tom Kincaid—Tom Kincaid is the founding editor and publisher of Nor’westing, the local boating magazine, now in its 47th year. Tom published my first article, which grew into a monthly column called “The Weather Leg.” Later, I was editor of his beloved Nor’westing for nearly two years. Tom taught me about reporting, ad sales, layout, printing and deadlines. He let me make mistakes, which I made many of. Later, Tom wrote much of the material in the first edition of the Waggoner, and contributed several sidebars. Only a few lines of Tom’s original writing remain in the Waggoner, but several of his sidebars have run each year. Tom is 89 now, long retired. He and I had lunch at Arnie’s, on the Edmonds waterfront, not long ago. His body is letting him down but his mind is sharp and he’s living in the present, with his eye on the future. The Waggoner’s success has deep roots in Tom Kincaid’s influence on me.

Sheri Berkman—Sheri Berkman is our daughter. She did the graphics side of the early Waggoners, plus helping run the company and manage the computers. She is extremely intelligent, and works without regard for the clock. With no previous training she built ads, proofread copy, and did the layout for each year’s edition. She learned HTML, the language of the Internet, and wrote the code for the waggonerguide.com web site we still use. Although Sheri retired 10 years ago to be a mom, she has remained involved. Some years ago Sheri was on board our boat for a week in the Broughtons. People there still ask about her. She’s an impressive woman.

Stacia Green—Stacia Green’s title is Managing Editor, although she actually was my boss. She ran the whole company, yet always had time to update marina information, follow up with advertisers, manage the computers and web sites, and be the voice on the phone everyone looked forward to. Stacia helped put my first Waggoner together and my last one. For several years she joined Marilynn and me on our research cruises, one week each year to a different area. She was easy to have on board. She saw the country and met the people the book was about. She is magnificent.

Dan Hale—Our son Dan was a gifted writer, editor, book designer and typographer. He did the page design and typeface selections that are with the book today. He did the all-nighter that got the first Waggoner to the printer (we wrote half the book that night). Dan later went on to co-author a book about typography and web site design, and played an important role for a major web site development company. One evening at our home Dan was thumbing through a new edition of the Waggoner when he stopped and said, “That’s Times Roman!” He was referring to the italic typeface of a photo caption, which looked just fine to me. Except it wasn’t just fine. It was supposed to be the italic face of Monotype Columbus, the Waggoner body copy typeface. Try as I might, I couldn’t see the difference. He could.

We lost Dan to esophageal cancer in November 2005, a week after the 2006 edition went to press. Dan was 35. He was better than I am. We miss him, desperately.

Marilynn Hale—My wife, my best friend and toughest critic. Each year, Marilynn has spent 10 weeks with me on the boat, and 10 grueling days in our Seattle Boat Show display. Early in the company’s history when we were just getting going, she did the boat show with the flu. In 2010 she did the show less than a month after receiving a new left hip joint. She has mothered our children and doted on our grandchildren. She has sat through countless advertising meetings, and pestered me to make just one more call before quitting for the day—a call that often resulted in a new client. Marilynn is mildly dyslexic, which results in her being a slow and sometimes uncertain reader. On a summer cruise in 1993 it was her exasperated “Just get to the point!” while reading another guidebook that helped us decide to create the Waggoner. Marilynn is responsible for the “See area map page xxx” notes on the top of chapter pages, so readers don’t have to flip through to find the right map. She is responsible for several new maps in the book, and important changes to existing maps. She has a genius for spotting bad sentences and vague statements. Marilynn won’t let up, either. When she knows she’s right she keeps at me until I give up and do it her way. Usually, her way is the better way.

Thank you, Marilynn.

—Bob Hale

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