When a Boating Story is a Civil Rights Story

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 6.33.06 PMI was thrilled to write this article for Soundings about a boater who has challenged a $75 fine all the way up through the Pennsylvania court system, to the point that he’s attracted civil-rights attorneys who are promising to take the case even further if he loses.

So often in the national boating magazines where my byline appears, we are writing about, well, boats. Those stories are of course interesting, but in this case, I was asked to do a deeper dive into a privacy issue that frustrates many boaters—an issue with which even non-boaters, I hope, can identify.

Washington Post Feature About Rescuers Who Buy Dogs at Auctions

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 9.01.22 AMMy investigation into rescuers who buy dogs from breeders at auctions is on the front page of today’s Washington Post print edition.

This story is based on hundreds of documents provided by an industry insider and additional open-records documents from numerous states, and more than 60 in-person, phone and email interviews with rescuers, breeders, animal advocates and auctioneers.

It is the first time that anyone has ever documented—in dollars and cents—the multimillion-dollar river of cash that is flowing from rescue nonprofits, shelters and dog-advocacy groups through auctions into the pockets of dog breeders.

The insider documents came my way after my 2016 book The Dog Merchants was published. The insider read Chapter One, which described the phenomenon of rescuers buying dogs from breeders at auction, and then reached out to me. The insider said Americans would be stunned to learn how much money those rescuers had been spending. Then, during the following 18 months or so, the insider sent me $2.68 million worth of proof.

I’m deeply grateful to the huge team of people at The Washington Post who helped me bring this major investigation to light.

3 Awards from Boating Writers International

bwi logoI am humbled and honored to say that I won three awards today in the annual writing competition of Boating Writers International.

One was a third-place prize in the Seamanship, Rescue and Safety category for “When the Call Came,” the story of a harrowing rescue at sea that I wrote for Yachting magazine. (We called it “Rescue in the Atlantic” for the online version.)

My other two wins were honorable mentions for articles that I wrote in Soundings magazine. “Whales Return to the Big Apple” won in the Environmental Education and Awareness category, and “Voice Forensics May Help Nab Mayday Callers” won in the Boating Issues, News and Analysis Category.

Many other great writers won as well, including several at Yachting, Soundings, Angler’s Journal and Soundings Trade Only, all of which I do work for as a freelance editor.

Congratulations to all the winners!

 

3 Awards from the NJ Society of Professional Journalists

nj-spjThe New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its annual writing competition today (for work done in 2016). I’m thrilled and honored to share the news that I earned three prizes in this year’s competition in my home state.

Each of the three awards is for second place in its respective category:

A full list of the winners is here—and there is some really great journalism in the links by all of my colleagues in the industry. Congratulations to all the winners!

When the Call Came

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 4.28.11 PMIn 17 years of writing for marine magazines, I’ve rarely had the chance to craft a story like this one that Yachting just published. I’m so thrilled to share it here.

Originally, this was supposed to be a much shorter piece, maybe 500 words at most. The reporting revealed that there was much more to the tale than any of us at Yachting originally realized, and the editor and art director worked with me to give the text several thousand words’ worth of room to breathe. We were able to take readers on an experience in the Atlantic Ocean that is at once heart-pounding and heartwarming, with some incredible photos like the one at right sent to the magazine by yacht crewmember Catherine Marks.

In the print edition, the headline was the same as on this blog post, “When the Call Came.” (The online headline, “Rescue in the Atlantic,” is more search-engine and social-media friendly.) I hope you enjoy reading the piece. It’s one of the coolest stories I’ve had the chance to write in nearly two decades of marine journalism.

3 Awards from Boating Writers International

bwi logoI was both humbled and thrilled to learn this morning that three articles I wrote in 2016 won awards in the annual writing competition held by Boating Writers International.

My feature “The Future is Now,” about the use of virtual reality in yacht building, written for Yachts International, earned first place in the news and analysis category. I also earned second place in that same category, for my feature “Miami 2.0,” about changes to the Miami International Boat Show, written for Yachting.

And in the business of boating category, my article “Securing the Boat Show Docks,” written for Compass, earned a Certificate of Merit.

A full list of all the winners is here. Congratulations to everyone who took home awards today throughout the marine-journalism industry!

DWAA Names ‘The Dog Merchants’ A Best Book of 2016

The Dog Merchants by Kim KavinThe Dog Writers Association of America, at its banquet today in Manhattan, named The Dog Merchants a best book for 2016.

The Dog Merchants tied for the top spot in our category with Reporting for Duty: True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs by Tracy Libby.

I’m both honored and humbled to win this DWAA award for The Dog Merchants. My 2012 dog book, Little Boy Blue, was a finalist for the top award but ended up being a runner-up, instead winning the DWAA Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. The Dog Merchants is my first time winning a best book of the year award from DWAA.

Thank you to all of the judges, and congratulations to my co-winner Tracy Libby and all the other dog writers who took home awards today. Kudos all around!

Two Award Nominations from the Dog Writers Association of America

The Dog Merchants by Kim KavinI’m humbled and honored to share the news that my book The Dog Merchants has been named one of four finalists for Best Reference Book of 2016 in the Dog Writers Association of America Writing Competition.

It’s also a privilege to have one of my pieces on dogmerchants.com, about pet stores and dog auctions, named among the four finalists in the category for Best Blog Post or Article.

A full list of all the finalists is here. There’s a lot of talent on this list, and I wish all of the finalists good luck! Winners will be announced in mid-February.

On Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Dog Breeding

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-9-22-44-amMy latest story about dogs was published today by The Washington Post. It’s about a little-discussed sphere of the current political divide: the fact that our level of national vitriol is now keeping dogs in conditions that many of us find unacceptable.

I traveled to Ohio to report this story, to a county just west of that state’s hardest-hit Rust Belt regions. I spent a full day with a person whose political, religious and other views bear little resemblance to my own, and whose lifelong economic realities and educational opportunities are unimaginable to most people where I live, near Manhattan.

If you care at all about dogs—whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or not at all—please take the time to give this story a read. I hope that you, as I did, will realize that we Americans often have more in common than we believe, and that if we can simply find ways to talk to one another, we just might be able to solve problems that desperately need our attention.

Happy Anniversary to CharterWave!

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-3-36-32-pmA full decade ago—the same year that Twitter went live—I launched a website called CharterWave.

Now, in celebration of the site’s 10-year anniversary and widespread success, I’ve relaunched the site with a whole new look.

CharterWave was one of the first niche websites in the entire marine industry, and the first of its kind to focus exclusively on luxury yacht charter. It went on to win awards from Boating Writers International as well as longtime support from sponsors, some of whom have been with the site pretty much since its launch, and continue with the site today.

The new site design is by Z2 Media, the same company that built DogMerchants.com for me earlier this year, when my book The Dog Merchants came out.

Click over to CharterWave to check out the site’s new look and features.

Virtual Reality Enters the Yacht Industry

virtual-realityI’m super-proud of the lead cover feature that I wrote for the issue of Yachts International that is on newsstands now. It’s about the use of virtual reality in everything from the design to the construction to the marketing of yachts—a nascent field that has amazing potential thanks to the huge technology investments that many of today’s yachts represent.

Yes, superyachts are of course playthings for the rich and famous, but they also can be engineering marvels built with financial investments far greater than anything seen on land. (When was the last time you saw a $200 million house?) The addition of virtual reality to the industry presents some truly mind-bending possibilities, with some of the world’s wealthiest individuals now exploring the technology’s possibilities on multiple levels.

Look for the new edition of Yachts International on newsstands now, or head over to the Yachts International website to get a subscription.

We Have Liftoff!

Today is the official publication date for my new book, The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores and Rescuers. It’s time to celebrate!