Meet Beth Leonard

By Bob Adriance

Let's start with the conclusion: Beth Leonard, the new editor of Seaworthy is qualified for the job. As you're about to learn, that's an understatement.

While most people lead lives of quiet desperation (Thoreau), Beth and her husband, Evans Starzinger, quit the corporate world and went sailing around the world, twice. The first time was in a nearly new 37-foot Shannon ketch and the second time in a 47-foot aluminum Van De Stadt sloop, Hawk, which they took delivery of as a bare hull and finished themselves. By the time Hawk was completed, she was capable of taking them anywhere on the planet. Among other things, the boat safely carried Beth and Evans above the Arctic Circle, and on a 60-day, nonstop passage through the dreaded Southern Ocean.

The obvious question is, what does dodging icebergs and waves that tower over the mast have to do with things like a bent prop, a leaky fuel pump, or a split bilge pump hose — the kind of mishaps the average Seaworthy reader is liable to encounter? Wouldn't Beth be better suited to edit Ocean Navigator? Well, the answer to that is simple: In their 110,000 miles of cruising, they encountered many of the same problems that weekend boaters deal with, only in the Arctic or Southern Ocean you can't drop the anchor and call TowBoatUS. Instead, they carried spares and made repairs themselves. They also spent days, even weeks, checking and rechecking systems on Hawk before they began a long passage.

Photo of the Hawk and Amalia glacier

More to the point, though, Beth grew up waterskiing and fishing in a boating family in upstate New York. She understands the joys and frustrations of everyday boating, and she truly enjoys talking to boaters about their boats.

Now, the final question: Can she put words together to make a coherent sentence? The answer to that is yes; when she wasn't standing watch, Beth found time to write three books: The Voyager's Handbook, Following Seas, and Blue Horizons. The Voyager's Handbook is widely regarded as the definitive book on bluewater cruising, and Blue Horizons won a 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.

Other changes are afoot here at BoatUS. After 25 years resolving member problems with builders and boatyards as director of the BoatUS Consumer Protection Bureau, Caroline Ajootian is retiring to live a quiet life with her husband in Oregon. Charles Fort, the associate editor of Seaworthy, will be taking over from Caroline. But Charles, who also spent much of his youth bouncing around the world's oceans on a Van De Stadt, will remain on the Seaworthy staff along with Chris Landers, who cut his boating teeth working on tall ships in the Cheaspeake. So you can count on Seaworthy to continue delivering timely, insightful information that will help keep you, your family, and your boat safe on the water — just as it has for 30 years. 

— Published: January 2013

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