For better or worse, digital media—especially the social kind—has made frontline media people accessible to readers in a way they never were back in the print days. Yes, we had phones (and the United States Postal Service for the rare letter-writer) back then, but it’s much easier to fire off a quick email or text message to the author of a story, and most of us are readily accessible that way.
People get bold in text and email messages. They express strong feelings and opinions they likely wouldn’t in a phone call, much less in person. And generally speaking, people are more likely to reach out if they hate a story than they are if they love one.
For these reasons and more, I exhale before I open reader emails or texts or—most commonly these days—one of those ominous “New Message Requests” via Facebook. They tend to be the scariest ones of all, and I’m not sure why.
And so I braced myself as usual when I opened this one a few days ago:
My name is Colby and I grew up on Lake Guntersville, Alabama. I grew up in an all-educator home (both of my parents were teachers/principals) so by no means did the household have disposable income laying around.
I say all that to set this up. There were a few “Cigarette boats” on Lake Guntersville back in the early ’90s, but the mainly a 32-foot Stryker named Thunder and a 32- or 35-foot Fountain named Double Trouble. My buddy’s dad had a Sea-Ray Pachanga, but the big boys were what impressed me. I grew up riding motorcycles/ATVs and loving anything with a steering wheel or handlebars. I loved loud and I loved going fast.
My wife and I are in our mid 30s and my passion for offshore boats grows each and every day. I seriously read every one of your articles and thoroughly enjoy your insight and how you keep the passion for offshore racing boats in guys like me. I tell myself every day, “You will have your 388 Skater with 1350s mated to M8s one day, Colby. Or the 438.”
I hope to pull up to Douglas, Michigan someday, shake (Peter) Hledin’s hand and say “When can you have my 438 ready to drop in the water?”
Your articles keep me dreaming. Thanks for the work that you do.
An Avid Fan, Colby Martin
I know what you’re thinking, that I love this message because the reader likes my stuff. (OK, fair enough, there’s probably some truth in that.) But what I really love is that Colby Martin is dreaming big. He’s a hard-working 35-year-old guy with a wife, an almost two-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son. He’s already saved half of the money he needs to send them to college—Martin is a University of Alabama alumnus—and is “on top” of his mortgage. But he he won’t buy a go-fast catamaran until all of his other financial responsibilities are met.
And even then he’ll have to sell the notion to his wife.
Every current high-performance powerboat owner was at one time boat-less (except maybe Skaterfest organizer Ron Szolack). Every high-performance powerboating habit starts with a dream.
Colby Martin has a great one. And when it happens I will write about it. I promised him I would.
It’s the least I can do to thank him as the author of the best reader correspondence ever written.