Reflections on my time as a columnist for Power & Motoryacht.
In his last column, Michael Peters looks back on six years of stories, including the ones that got him into trouble.
Writing this column has been a very rewarding experience for me. I had never had a column before, yet I was granted the freedom to discuss my personal views and experiences from a lifetime spent inside the boating industry. I’ve written 72 columns, and yet the magazine rejected only two of my pieces. One of them was among my favorites; titled “Lost Diamonds,” the column criticized the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show as an inept venue for the sale of boats, as they were all stacked up, side by side. That one sent shudders through the editors who feared they would lose their jobs because their company owned the boat show at the time. I learned the limits of my autonomy on that one.
The column that garnered the most reader feedback was “Locked and Loaded.” In it, I questioned whether I should carry a gun aboard my new boat. The piece came out shortly after one of our country’s mass shootings, and it was my way of entering the gun debate.
One earnest reader gave me advice on the small arsenal I should carry, including the exact model gun I should have for every situation I could encounter. I still don’t own a gun and proudly supported the young survivors of the Parkland shooting and their March For Our Lives.
The angriest response from readers was generated by “Keyboard Warriors.” The column was originally titled “Mean Girls,” and with it I meant to expose the intolerance some boaters have for other boat owners. I received a number of nasty comments, including “Have you seen his wife naked?” Boy, were these guys easy to troll. They came out of the woodwork expounding the very hostility I was commenting on.
In “Miss USA” I suggested the possibility of a new presidential yacht if Donald Trump became commander in chief. It almost didn’t get published, because the editors were pretty sure The Donald would be old news by the time the article was in print 45 days later. I still don’t like Trump, but I sure was right that he would still be around.
The one I had the most fun with was “Make Boating Great Again,” my spoof on Trump’s campaign. Some thickheaded people clearly didn’t get it, thinking I had made some really great points on overprotecting the environment. Others thought it was the funniest thing they ever read and clearly got the satire. I was reminded that most boaters are Republicans. Sad.
In “A Fishing Massacre” I suggested readers get in the mood and listen to a recording of “Alice’s Restaurant” and perhaps smoke a little something. Some people definitely didn’t take my advice, because I got a very serious letter reading me chapter and verse of the California MPA fishing laws. This guy slapped me with “ignorance is no excuse,” even though I was from out of state. To him, I reiterate: Go smoke a doobie.
I have always thought knowing when to quit was an art. I have run my course and the only things I have left to write about will get me killed, imprisoned or sued. I know I have pissed a few people off, adding political commentary when I had the opportunity.
I know I have made fun of a lot of boats and people, but I have tried to poke fun at myself along the way, too. For now, my days as a writer are over.
Thanks for reading Sightlines for the last six years.
Keep a lookout for Mike cruising around Catalina Island aboard his Bertram.
By Mike Peters