Celebrating the First Anniversary of the
Discussion Group List’s Launching

December 1, 2005

It was one year ago today that this discussion group was launched!

We have survived the first year, have thrived -- the test of any start-up.

The seed was planted after days of Dick King and me wrestling with a spam attack he was suffering from an Internet domain address in -- France! I finally tracked it down to a company in Paris and he was ultimately able to end his aggravation. Then came the attack from China. My pursuit of the source led me to the old SailNet Catalina 22 discussion group: SailNet, unbeknownst to most of us, was publishing our e-mail addresses on its website, in an archive from which the spammers were harvesting by the bushel!

I'd considered starting a C22 discussion group after Catalina Direct changed to its "Clubhouse" web-based format (where we can't contact each other off-list without surrendering our address to the same spammers), but then I discovered the SailNet list, to where many of my newfound friends and gurus had emigrated. Why bother investing my time and money if something else was already available? Those spam attacks were the last straw. It was then time, or prepare for ceaseless spam and virus attacks, for they had begun. We'd unwittingly all just become potential roadkill on the worldwide information superhighway.

Beginning in mid-November 2004, Skip Meisch, Bob "Hobie" Davidson, Dick King and I spent a lot of time on the phone discussing first the need, then the potential -- the viability -- of a new, heck yet another, C22 discussion group. It had to be easy to use -- but secure. I didn't want a whole bunch of rules, and I wanted to make it casual, conversational, neighborly.

We agreed that my plan could work, that I might be able to pull it off over time. I set up the introduction and application form on the Chip Ahoy website, redesigned the site to offer an invitation on every page with a link to it, we tested and tweaked the form a number of times, and were soon ready to launch the new discussion group.

And so it began, December 1, 2004. After a year or uninterrupted service, I've now dropped the "New" in my "Catalina 22 Discussion List" blurb on the Chip Ahoy website: It ain't new no more!

But a year ago I was walking the plank. If I didn't greatly prize the other lists and all the readily available experience and advice, then I wouldn't have even considered starting my own. To start my own risked being blackballed from the other much-valued lists, my prospective competition and me theirs. But what is life without risk and challenge?

So I took the leap, made the preparations, paid for the service and set it up, and launched "The New Catalina 22 Discussion List" on December 1, 2004. After working out a few start-up bugs, the rest is history.

Below are the first week's subscribers -- the beginning of where we are today:

#1 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 6:17 PM
Dan Keagle - "North Light"

#2 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 6:21 PM
Cliff Willoz - "Isabel"

#3 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 6:28 PM
Tom "Turk" Terleski - "Miss Kitty"

#4 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 6:39 PM
Pete Kover - "Wind Toy II"

#5 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 7:01 PM
Bill O'Brien - "OBIE1"

#6 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 7:44 PM
Richard Byrd - "Byrd's Nest"

#7 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 8:00 PM
Stephen Brown - "Mama T"

#8 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 8:27 PM
Bob Conway - "Spindrift"

#9 -- Sunday, December 5, 2004 8:49 PM
Chuck Bennett - "Mya Scape"

#10 -- Monday, December 6, 2004 5:16 PM
Gordon Thomas - "Bon Reve"

#11 -- Monday, December 6, 2004 10:20 PM
Chris Hallinan - "Wings High"

By the end of Week One there were fifteen subscribers counting Skip, Hobie, Dick and me; a decent start but a long way to go. As someone mentioned recently during the discussion over financial support of this list, "contributors" also means those with information and experience to add to an ongoing discussion. Without that a discussion list is useless, though this list even in the beginning had some of the best-and-brightest. We had to keep it growing, and we certainly did, persistently in some instances, often slipping in subtle invitations to join on other lists, other times not so subtle. The Chip Ahoy website itself (today with over 19,400 "hits") drew in many others.

By the end of Week Two we'd added another twenty-two member-subscribers, and over the coming weeks and months the list grew steadily. "Build it and they will come" happened.

As we grew, I added the "Member Services" section to the Chip Ahoy website. In the spirit of this growing community the "Discussion List Members in Their Own Words" page was created, so we could get to know each other as more than an e-mail address and sail number. When many wanted to submit photos of their boats (instead of themselves) to that page, I established the "Discussion List Members' Boats" page, and for those who wanted to publish photos unrelated to either, the "Photos Submitted by List Members" page was added. Before long this clutter all had to be organized on the Member Services page. Recently, Dan Schafer ("SeaBatical") set up a "Frapper" webpage that pinpoints our individual locations. You're each again invited to join in, participate on any of these pages, if you haven't done so already.

We've even gone international! Member-subscribers include: Bo Broomé ("Cold Shot") of Norrköping, Sweden; Piotr Zabiello ("Marina," a Jaguar 22) of Basel, Switzerland; Michael Coghlan ("Relentless") of Canberra, Australia, and of course our other Aussie friend Paul David ("Reflections") of Melbourne, currently on sabbatical -- and though not so distant, there are our seven Canadian neighbors.

We're up to 221 current subscribers in twelve short months. (I know they're short because Chip Ahoy is again sitting out in my yard covered for another winter, right where it was when this list was launched!) Over the past year I've vetted and subscribed 315 (and have rejected half a dozen or so "suspects"). Though some over time have left, if they gave a reason it's usually that the list has become too busy. That's understandable: it has handled over 10,000 individual messages since its birth. (I keep them all in an e-mail archive file.)

We've come a long way in only a year. We now have 56 List Sponsors that we didn't have last December when the expense was entirely mine. A few of those have contributed more than once; even the Catalina 22 National Sailing Association sent a check toward the list's ongoing maintenance -- and bestowed its 2005 "Recruiter of the Year" award on me, the Chip Ahoy website, and this list! The cost no longer is coming out of solely my pocket thanks to those generous list sponsors. This discussion group can go on well into 2006 -- but still needs your fair share of support, if you value it and haven't already sent your check to support it.

This discussion group started out as "free" and I intend to keep it that way. There's been a marked improvement over where it was but six months ago (with only 15 "List Sponsors" besides me). As of today, its first anniversary, about 25 percent of our member-subscribers have made a voluntary contribution to keep it going. That leaves only 75 percent to go!

Thanks again to Chris Hallinan ("Wings High" then, a C36 now, but still a member-subscriber) for administering the list during my absence last summer while on my annual extended cruise. There wasn't so much as a hiccup, even though out of nowhere the list service-provider suddenly was bought out and changed ownership while I was away. (Incredible timing!) Great job, Chris.

When I launched this discussion group a year ago I had no doubt that it would succeed: It was time; it was necessary; it was "a better mousetrap." All it required was some thought and planning, effort and risk, my time and seed money -- and it has succeeded beyond my expectations. It has certainly been worth it: this thriving community is now ours. It remains secure, continues to grow, and will last as long as our mutual interest in C22s does.

Happy birthday discussion group -- we've come a long way together in the first year!

List owner/administrator