Reader Feedback: No More Vagabonds, Please

In our June 2012 issue we published a letter (below) on our feedback page in response to "Fish On", an article printed in our April issue. We receieved an outpouring of response to the feedback letter, and were unable to publish them all in our magazine. The conversation continues here and with Wally Moran's response.

No More Vagabonds, Please

I have been an enthusiastic subscriber to your magazine for quite some time and have found it most enjoyable. At times, however, I see articles that absolutely amaze me. "Fish On" (April 2012) was one of these. The sailor in the story acted recklessly by not seeking immediate medical hlep for a severely injured and ill crew member, his wife. That he did not seek medical advice immediately or as soon as he arrived in port is unbelievable. To allow his wife to suffer like she did is sheer neglect at best and abuse at worse.

I suspect Mr. Hein's reluctance to seek medical attention was financially driven, and he did not want to pay for prompt medical assistance. I think your magazine, and others in sailing media, are partially responsible for this. There is an undercurrent in many articles about grossly under-financed people vagabonding around the world on a shoestring.

I could have cruised for the past 20 years. Instead I finished my Ph.D., taught at Brown and Yale, started two companies, and am now  gearing up to hire over 500 professionals in the Middle East. his is why I can now speak to the folks at S&S about a new custom yacht (which will be U.S.-built) and pay rediculous yard bills. Frankly, I resent the glorification of sailing vagabonds who are at times viewed as celebrities by the sailing media.

Dennis Wright Michaud, via Email

Please Mr. Michaud, continue to run your business and hire hundred of people worldwide. Maybe that will keep you too busy to hang out at the marinas. The world doesn’t need any more snobs. For a person supposedly so smart, you didn't waste any time making some extreme assumptions. I'm not rich in $$ but I have more wealth in family and true friends than you'll ever have.

Brian King

Via email

My first inclination is not to be as obnoxious as the writer of “No More Vagabonds, Please,” in addressing his attack on sailors pursuing their dreams on less than what the writer considers to be a sufficient budget; however after reading what I’ve written, I have failed.

I suspect that Mr. Michaud’s reluctance to cruise for the past 20 years is based on his erroneous conclusion that a large coffer, a custom built yacht and expensive navigation equipment are a substitute for experience acquired in actually sailing. Of course, it isn’t. Many inexperienced sailors have lost their lives by putting faith in costly trappings, instead of understanding and practicing good seamanship.

Although I have not taught at Brown or Yale (I do have an advanced degree in Economics), many of the Ph.Ds with whom I interact in my current assignment lack the common sense necessary to navigate daily routines, let alone captain a boat. I won’t presuppose that Mr. Michaud is devoid of common sense, however, his diatribe on "vagabond" sailors is not based in reality.  

So, SAIL, PLEASE keep on publishing articles about vagabond/middle class sailors, as well as ones with deep pockets.  There are treasures to discover in the experiences of all these folks.

Howard Hoffman

Kissimmee, FL

I could not help being disturbed by the arrogance, judgment, and intolerance of the yachtsman complaining of “vagabonds.” As sailors subject to winds, tides, weather and foreign cultures, there is a bit of vagabonding inherent in the sport. I think Mr. Michaud is in for a lot of disappointments and frustration as he tries from the helm of his yacht to impose his attitudes on the rest of us.

A little bit of "live and let live" would go along way as we all enjoy the God given wonders of sailing the seven seas. The constitution does give all of us the right to pursue happiness. Good luck to Mr. Michaud and may all his success bring a bit more humility along with it.

Tom Willey

Via email

It would appear Dr. Michaud picked up something else in the past 20 years when he could have otherwise been cruising: Hubris. Sad.

John Fenn

Grand Lake, Oklahoma

Upon reading the letter in the Feedback section of the June edition written by Dennis Wright Michaud, I was blown away.

I was shocked by his judgment calls on people he does not know anything about. The fact that he flaunts his accomplishments. The fact that he is locating his business overseas or at least using foreign employees even though the jobs are desperately needed in America. The fact that he feels that only the rich should be able to sail the seas.

But I soon realized that no one could ever be that pompous and full of himself, so the answer had to be that SAIL Magazine had been pranked or punked!

David Austin

Flagstaff, Arizona

Pardon all of us common folk for cluttering up your ocean. You must think we’re really impressed with your resume, business empire in the Middle East and that you can order a new yacht and pay those “ridiculous yard bills.” Perhaps when you get your new boat, if you actually find some time to use it, those changes in latitudes will result in changes in attitudes. Otherwise you’re still just another one of those whom we’ve seen more than we’d like to recall.

Steven Meacham

Shelton, Washington

Enjoy your custom mega yacht as it is securely tied up to your country club marina, Mr. Michaud, as that is obviously the only water you're going to see. None of your 500 employees in the Middle East or your fellow professors are going to rescue you if you find yourself incapacitated in the middle of an ocean crossing. 

In your self-absorbed world, you've entirely missed the point of the article–to forewarn other sailors who are indeed exploring this beautiful earth. I hope that SAIL and every other magazine out there continues to strike a beautiful balance within their pages that has a little of something for all types of sailors. We should enjoy this great earth we live on and doing it on our own terms, whether in mega yachts, small boats, single handed, crewed or with our families and friends. It seems to me that this magazine is a wonderful representative of all walks of life, just as it should be.  

Aline McDougall

Via email

Dennis Wright Michaud's response in the May issue to "Fish On" (April 2012) had one good point: medical treatment should have been a priority. I am not bitter or jealous of all the success he brags about, but he implies only the rich and successful, who have proper "custom yachts" and "pay ridiculous yard bills" are fit to be sailors. I would bet if he sailed with a few "shoestring" sailors he would learn a thing or two and meet people with a genuine love (and respect) of sailing and of the sea.

Brian Nazinitsky   

Kings Park  NY

I'm pleased you printed Mr. (Ph.D) Michaud's piece "No More Vagabonds, Please." However, he was wrong about treatment and cure, for one. Secondly, the Yale Professor seems clueless about who really sails the seas, having real life experiences along with their fantasies. Sailing, he wrote, is only for the proud who can build a one-off boat, complain about "ridiculous yard bills," and export 500 new jobs overseas. He can have his delayed pleasure and the rest of us in the 99 percent can fantasize and make mistakes and share our experiences while working on our boats next to those overpaid yardmen.

Michael Frazier

Via email

I’ve been reading magazines for over 4 decades and never once wrote a letter in response to what I had read. However, “No More Vagabonds, Please” is one I can’t ignore. For the rest of us that are clearly not as brilliant, savvy, well read, educated, accomplished, knowledgeable, talented, etc, as Mr. Michaud, do us a favor and stop sending him your magazine and bill the rest of us for your lost revenue. He doesn’t need to read it, as he already knows it all.  Being the genius that he is I suspect he will someday regret losing 20 years of cruising.  I concur that he will need a custom built yacht with a custom size companionway to fit his ego though.

Name Withheld

Via email

In response to Dennis Michaud's "No More Vagabonds, Please" in the readers Feedback section of SAIL Mag., June 2012, I would like to suggest he stick his wealthy "one percenter" attitude up his 99 percent ass.  It should be an easy fit.  

Joseph Galant

Via email

When I read the feedback email in the June 2012 issue by Dennis Wright Michaud, I was angered. I tried to just let it go but it still bothers me after several weeks.

I think that Mr. Michaud should be proud that he had the opportunity and discipline to earn a Ph.D and has started two companies. But, I am upset at his attitude toward those of us that did not have the opportunity to attend such high-end schools.

This man not only has an arrogant attitude toward those less fortunate, he is boasting about taking 500 professional jobs off shore so that there is even less hope for those of us left here.

In my 55 years of sailing experience, some of the most creative, interesting and seaworthy people I have met race and cruise on a "shoestring budget." I have encountered people like Mr. Michaud in marinas and anchorages through my sailing life but have chosen to avoid them, because I try to find the positive people to spend my time with.

Howard Spruit

Via email

I enjoy reading your magazine and generally the feedback from readers is entertaining. I wanted to comment on the recent letter from Dennis Wright Michaud.

My comment is, please disregard his request and continue publishing the adventures of the sailors like Mr. Hein that he refers to as “vagabonds.” I find Mr. Michaud (or, should I say, Professor) judgmental and condescending and I sense a bit of jealousy.

The adventures of vagabonds will certainly be far more interesting than those of a rich man’s megayacht. Keep up the good work, I enjoy your magazine.

Paul Coleman, Boston, MA

I don't often read the letters in "Feedback" but having done so the other day I was disgusted by the tone of Mr. Michaud's letter complaining about an article titled "Fish On" and SAIL Magazine's publication of the article. I didn't read "Fish On" and perhaps I might agree that someone didn't take prudent steps in the course of dealing with whatever the injury was, but I don't know that.  That said, the rest of Mr. Michaud's tone is that of a self-absorbed snob who sees fit to use his letter to remind readers how successful he is. In addition to his academic work, he reminds us that he's a "job creator" (500 professional jobs OVERSEAS). Another minute’s investigation tells me that in addition to his academic affiliations he's been closely aligned to the banking sector, an industry we've all come to find new love and respect for. Somehow I suspect the money for the custom S&S boat more likely comes from his banking affiliations than teaching.

I've been sailing and fooling around in sailboats all my life. I'm not rich, but I'm comfortable. I know plenty of sailors less well off than I who enjoy their sailing at least as much as I do, and possibly as much as Mr. Michaud will in his custom built S&S boat.  Those people who manage to do particularly interesting things in boats without deep wells of cash are, in my view, to be admired and seem far more achieved in their sailing exploits than those individuals who can write checks endlessly, largely because I can relate to them. The notion that people who aren't well heeled shouldn't be out in boats and pushing themselves (except possibly as paid crew), is outrageous, and the notion that a popular publication like SAIL shouldn't extoll the virtues of all people (wealthy or not) getting out and doing the things that make them happy sounds like an affront to the First Amendment.


Chris Bell, Glenside, PA

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