In 1987, Dan Schworer and Richard Kellum had the bright idea of starting a niche publication that would cater to the needs of Puget Sound boaters. Not surprisingly — given our region’s boating-obsessed culture—the magazine was a success, and Northwest Yachting’s proud legacy was launched.
In the nearly 30 years that have unfurled since the first issue hit marinas and chandlery shelves, the marine industry has grown, with an evolution towards bigger and more comfortable boats, more efficient marine engines, and electronics that were unimaginable back when LORAN and paper charts were a navigator’s best friend.
Throughout the years and the myriad wind shifts that have carried boating into the 21st century, Northwest Yachting has kept its readers appraised of the evolving boating market while also helping them to better enjoy our magnificent cruising grounds through authoritative articles, practical guides, new-boat and new-product reviews, as well as informative how-to pieces.
I joined the magazine’s staff nearly ten years ago, working and learning alongside Schworer, Kellum and former managing editor Bruce Hedrick as I grew from an administrative assistant into a sales and management role. After Schworer’s unexpected death in May of 2015, and Hedrick’s retirement later that summer — as well as Kellum’s retirement this spring — I assumed the role of publisher and purchased Northwest Yachting with the goal of furthering the magazine’s proud legacy. I have since taken some bold steps to help the magazine evolve from the days when we metaphorically relied on LORAN to navigate publishing’s sometimes-challenging waters to a modern magazine that uses GPS to deliver better, more targeted content to our loyal readers and advertisers. While we will retain the best aspects of Schworer’s and Kellum’s original vision, over the course of the next few months we will be completely overhauling and redesigning the magazine to create a publication that better serves our core audience of Pacific Northwest boaters.
A big part of this evolution will involve bringing some new voices to the magazine, and I’m thrilled to introduce readers to Alex Kwanten, our new Creative Director, as well as Norris Comer, our new Managing Editor.
Kwanten originally hails from New York City but moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 to be closer to the mountains, forests, and our myriad wild places. Kwanten, 37, has an impressive resume that includes work at niche and business-to-business publications, and his eye-catching design work and photography skills are already making the magazine more visually engaging. While Kwanten currently spends most of his free time enjoying our dry-land playgrounds—whether hiking, shooting photos, or wrenching on his 1975 MG MGB/GT — he is also looking forward to expanding his nautical horizons.
Comer joins the magazine from Portland, Oregon, by way of St. Petersburg, Florida. Comer, 26, first learned to sail on Puget Sound during high school but used his time in the Sunshine State to hone his seamanship skills aboard his “classic plastic” Catalina 27 while also working as an editor at a St. Petersburg publication. A stint on the Norwegian reality TV show, “Alt for Norge” (where he attained local celebrity) was next, followed by a wise move back to the Pacific Northwest. Comer now owns a 1970 Albin Vega 27 and he’s looking forward to learning more about the trawlers and powerboats that commonly grace Puget Sound and our magazine’s pages.
As for my own background, my husband Chris Gibbon, a competitive sailor, and I own a 1998 Bayliner 4788 and I come from a multi-generational boating family. I remember plying local waters with my parents and grandparents as a child—an experience that Chris and I love sharing with our own children, and one that has shaped my love of the local boating culture and for Northwest Yachting.
So, while I’ve seen boats get bigger and more comfortable, I’ve also seen Northwest Yachting change, and I’m thrilled to share our redesign with you in the months to come. Please stay tuned, because — as the old nautical adage goes — a red sky at night is a sailor’s delight, and, while I may be a lifelong powerboater, I can tell you that the tomorrow is going to be a great day for boating on Puget Sound and the pages of Northwest Yachting.
-Michelle Zeasman, Publisher, Northwest Yachting