SMYRNA – When people think of sailing in Maine, their first thoughts are of the rocky coast, lighthouses and sloops under full sail being pushed by a Down East wind.
Not David Hersey. The 39-year-old draftsman sails the inland waterways of Maine – its lakes.
Hersey has been sailing only since 1997, a love affair that began with a small green and tan, 14-foot homemade sailboat that he got in a trade for a canoe.
Aside from a ride on a small Sailfish sailboat when he was 10 years old, Hersey had no sailing experience before that fateful trade, but “we always wanted to try it,” he said in a recent interview.
Through all his trials on the water, Hersey, and eventually his wife, Karla, and his children stuck with it.
“I had no concept of what a sailboat was or how to sail one,” he said.
As he was honing his skills on the tiller, he found that there was very little published information for people like himself.
“Any magazine I could find was for these 50-foot yachts for people on the ocean, and the boat reviews were for yachts with a base price of $400,000,” he said. “There wasn’t anything I could find about people who sail on some of the smaller lakes on some of the smaller boats.”
So, being a good Yankee, Hersey decided to publish his own sailing magazine for people who like to sail on Maine lakes.
“We just wanted to come up with a good, working magazine for people who are sailing,” he said.
He got the idea in January and began putting the magazine together a month later. Even Hersey was amused by the idea of publishing a sailing magazine in the dead of winter.
“To start this in February was a big challenge,” he said, laughing. “That was already one obstacle we had.”On April 11, the 24-page “Sail IN Maine” debuted with 200 issues at a cost of $3.95 each. The glossy magazine will be published bimonthly.
Like his initial sailing experience, Hersey admitted that he has no publishing or writing experience.
“The first issue shows that it’s going to be a learning experience,” he said.
For an amateur effort, the first issue looks upscale, and the glossy cover and pages add the feel of a publication. The articles, written by other lake-sailing and boating enthusiasts like Hersey, are both entertaining and informative, and easy to read.
There are articles about the experiences of rookie sailors, including Hersey’s own fledgling efforts on Spaulding Lake in Oakfield, safe sailing, lake regattas, boat reviews, boat maintenance, lake reviews and some news for people who like canoeing and kayaking, too.
“It started out with 12 pages, then it went to 16, then it was 24,” he said. “I think we could have gone another four or five pages.”
A total of 36 pages already have been laid out for the June issue, he said.
Hersey said he has invested countless hours getting out the first issue, but seeing an idea come to fruition was both rewarding and fun.
“It’s fun to put it together, ” he said. “It’s fun to look at your computer and see that it’s full.”
For all his efforts, however, he said the magazine would never have gotten off the ground had it not been for other inland sailors who offered to write articles and the people who had enough faith in him to buy advertising.
“We went to the people who have an interest in sailing and sold advertisements,” Hersey said. “Most of these people invested in something that wasn’t there.”
Now he hopes the magazine will attract readers who might want to contribute to future issues.
“We’re hoping that people will see a copy of the magazine and be willing to share some of their experiences; share some of their knowledge,” said Hersey. “That’s how we plan to get bigger and better.
“Right now we’re just going from month to month,” he added.
Hersey is humble about his new venture and doesn’t expect that the process will be smooth sailing, nor does he expect that “Sail IN Maine” will be an overnight hit or make him rich. But, like his early sailing experiences, he has his dream.
“If we work hard at this over four or five years, we could be at the point someday where we have a pretty good magazine,” he said.
Hersey can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org