Our Best & Worst

Lead Line — December 2001
By Richard Thiel

Our Best & Worst
We cannot in good conscience ignore it.
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One of the hazards of putting out a monthly magazine is dealing with what my grade school teacher called current events. With nearly three months between the time words are written and they are read, currency and relevancy are always at risk. Jokes that elicited guffaws one week fall flat--or worse, are considered in bad taste--the next, and issues that once appeared crucial to the very survival of Western civilization suddenly seem inconsequential. So you can see why we treat current events gingerly here at Power & Motoryacht.

This philosophy was much in our minds when we conceived "Best and Worst 2001," a feature in this issue, last spring. We felt our readers would find a half-wry, half-serious annual retrospective of topics relating to boats and boating not only interesting reading, but also helpful in putting the year into some kind of perspective. Indeed, we believed that a one-year remove would allow us to more easily judge what was important and what was in the end trivial in boating.

You are reading this at or near year's end; I am writing it on September 22. I can only guess what has happened between those two dates, what is now really important in your mind. But a mere 11 days following the events that erased the Twin Towers from the skyline just outside my window, I am finding it hard to imagine anything of more impact and importance. Nor can I imagine that the raw wounds we are all nursing have healed very much.

And yet life must go on. So as editor-in-chief, I'm faced with the question of whether to recall the events of September 11 in our retrospective or ignore them. In making that decision I am aware that this is, after all, a boating magazine, and its franchise is the escape that immersion in this particular sport can provide. It could be argued that the highest service we can render our readers is to divert their attention from the pain and pressure of everyday life. Besides, there is little that we can say at this distance about that awful day that has not already been said and said well.

On the other hand, this was not just any current event. It was for most if not all of us a life-changing experience, and so failing to mention it in any annual retrospective would be disingenuous at best, an egregious omission at worst. From this perspective, perhaps the best service we can render our readers is to remind them that this holiday season much will be missing for thousands of families, some of whom, I am sure, counted boating as a treasured pastime.

I have decided that September 11 touched each of us so deeply and so defined 2001, that we cannot in good conscience ignore it. And so when you turn to our Best and Worst feature, you'll see a picture of the Manhattan skyline as it appeared from a Coast Guard patrol boat on September 11, a skyline that even with our twin landmarks missing is still revered to those who ply the waters of New York Harbor, our staff included. We hope that you will find it another gentle reminder that although boats and boating are important to everyone who writes and reads this magazine, there are some things that occasionally transcend them in importance, and this was certainly one of them. And after all, the events of that day eventually revealed and defined the best and worst of mankind.

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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