Remember Shackleton!

The Yachting staff hunkers down and carries on in Hurricane Sandy.

April 17, 2013

Barograph Hurricane Sandy

The barograph was still dropping on Monday afternoon during Hurricane Sandy. Eleanor Lawson

I imagine that when you picture the Yachting staff hard at work (which, of course, you do all the time — in fact, it’s starting to trouble us), you imagine a dedicated group of journalists, our sleeves rolled up, hard at work. We’re in a large mahogany-paneled office where a fireplace frames a crackling blaze, warming a glowing room full of Oriental rugs, lots of half-hulls and leather club chairs. One of us may be chomping on a cigar (not me, I swear!). There’s a lot of witty banter among the editors, and I look amazingly like the young Katharine Hepburn … but I dgress. That’s the way I like to imagine us working too. The truth is a little more mundane (though our corporate plaza does overlook a nice pond in the distance). What our offices lack in glamour and saltiness they make up for in luxuries like electric power — and losing that when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast let me picture us all in much different working conditions.

We were just back from the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show — where the beginning of Sandy had shut down the first night of the show! — and rushing to finish the December issue before the hurricane hit the Northeast. We lost power just before the last few stories could ship. Once it was clear that electricity might not be restored for many days, the editorial staff scattered to different locations: The show must go on! We had an issue to finish and a new one to get started. Remember Shackleton! was our battle cry as we dispersed, looking for places to hunker down and carry on.

Senior editor Dennis Caprio’s home power was restored almost immediately, so he stayed behind to guard the fort. I suspect this may have meant many full days at the keyboard in pajamas, but that’s between Dennis and his maker — he reported for duty.


Associate editor Dan Harding fought his way back to the south shore of Long Island to help his parents with the recovery. We knew a little thing like a massive power outage wouldn’t stop Dan, and sure enough, at 0900 the day after the storm, he popped up online and worked as though nothing was amiss. We gradually understood that he was holed up at his grandmother’s in some eerily charmed, fiasco-protected pocket of Nassau County. Entire towns had been leveled around him but life was good at Grandma’s. Though the Internet service was only dial-up, there were grilled-cheese sandwiches, cut on the diagonal, just the way Dan likes them. Midafternoon, Grandma came in with a Kit Kat and told Dan he was doing a super job. (Oh, great. Way to raise the bar, Grandma.)

Meanwhile, our art director, Dave Pollard, was scouting for power and Internet in suburban Connecticut. Apparently, this is the only place in the known world without a Starbucks, because he called us from “a cool lounge-like place,” where he was “forced to expense a mojito” (at noon) to “pay” for his free Internet.

Deputy editor Patrick Sciacca was on the south shore of Long Island with his family and had the worst of it. He went 11 days without power or heat, running a small generator sparingly to keep a refrigerator, his work computer and a phone charger going. One day he waited in line for four hours to buy fuel for the generator — and it was going to get colder. A lot colder. After eight days without power, I could see the increasing desperation in Patrick’s shorter, less coherent text messages. (Patrick reassured me that his new epistolary style was solely the result of numbed digits.) I pictured the Sciaccas gathered around a bonfire of their own furniture, eating from cans, eyeing the family Lab and wondering how warm it would be “inside” the dog, as Rex nervously backed toward the door. Weather trauma aside, Patrick kept his copy moving, even as he slept with one eye open to deter looters.


And me? I was working from my home, which is 10 miles southeast of the eye of Sandy, and largely spared. My office, I have to confess, is book-lined and has a fireplace, a lot of model ships and a club chair. It is both comfortable and salty. (And yet … I looked no more like the young Katharine Hepburn than I ever do. Sigh.)

The point is, wherever we may be working from, what matters is the excellence of the magazine you hold in your hands. Once in awhile, it’s more of an adventure than we signed up for, but not even a Force 12 will keep us from bringing you Yachting each month. Enjoy!

Editor’s Letter, January 2013
Click here to read more from editor Mary South.


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