Loose Lips Sell Ads

A salty new magazine, Dockwalk, tells the real stories about life in Broward's booming yacht business

At first neither Mullen nor Pinkham had any clear idea what they were doing. They recruited acquaintances to submit articles and sell ads. They sorted through piles of photographs sent in by friends. Then they sat down at Pinkham's personal computer and started learning how to assemble a publication using a ten-years-out-of-date desktop publishing program.

The result was a mishmash of first-person sea tales ("Bump in the Night"), news-you-can-use articles ("Record Keeping"), and lighthearted features ("How did You Get into the Yachting?"), not to mention spelling errors, grammatical train-wrecks, felonious layouts, and large doses of titillation.

But the paper also contained a breezy and endearing refusal to take itself too seriously. In an initial message to the reader, the editors explained, "We hope to receive the majority of impute [sic] from those on the job, so don't be shy and take part, network! As we go through the learning curve, we apologize for spelling mistakes, layout mishaps, and getting a few names wrong."

On occasion the paper has even offered commendable journalism. For example, one of its major themes this year was coverage of the arrest and seven-month imprisonment of Fort Lauderdale yacht captain Michael Churchward in Turkey on a charge of boat theft. While Churchward was incarcerated, the paper included an update in every issue; when he was released, it was the first paper to interview him and publish a long account of his ordeal.

Now, as summer wanes and the Fort Lauderdale boat show approaches, Mullen and Pinkham have thrown themselves into focusing on getting Dockwalk off the ground and in the hands of the crew members who are already pouring into the county for the coming season.

Next spring they hope to expand distribution northward along the Intracoastal and then shift the bulk of distribution to Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer season.

And after that? "I want to blanket the Med for the summer season," says Mullen determinedly. Already he's been getting requests from overseas for copies of the magazine, requests he's happy to grant for the cost of shipping. So far the magazine can be found on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca and in South Africa.

And as for his critics? "Hey, what can I say?" Mullen grins. "This is part of what yachting is all about. These are the things that are talked about in yachting circles. And we're all sailors, after all.

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