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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jack Tar Magazine

Written by Kim Carver
 Jack Tar Magazine

Fourteen years ago I began working in the tour industry as a way to avoid the 9-5 routine and actually live in the places that I wanted to visit. How can one truly understand the history and culture of an area when they spend only a few weeks there? It's impossible. Every new place was home to born-and-raised natives who were passionate about their culture and educating me in all things local. Every new place was also full of transient workers like myself. We formed temporary communities and remained friends long after our time together concluded.

After reservations jobs, guide jobs, and jobs aboard ferries and whale watching boats, traditional sailing tour boats became my preferred workplace. Here workers were dedicated to a joint mission and advancing their seamanship skills. The benefits and challenges of bonding with coworkers from whom one could not escape for weeks at a time was inevitably a character-building experience for everyone. Physically and mentally strong women and men became for me the standard, not the exception. My appreciation for my coworkers became more important than any exotic destination. The boats we traveled on were platforms for maritime culture and because of that became equally important to me. Preserving the boats, people and lifestyle, while promoting a progressive mindset in regards to women in the industry and the love of traditional seamanship amongst modern mariners are the goals of Jack Tar Magazine.

Untitled watercolor painting by Cold is the Sea

For five years I've been working primarily alone when it comes to collecting content, designing and promoting Jack Tar. It is by and for mariners - I am not professionally trained in writing, publishing or photography - I love to journal but rarely write anything for the magazine. My love for the poor transient traditional sailor inspired me to offer it free to those who couldn't afford it, accepting donations from those who could. The first issue contained simple descriptions of the Jones Act and mariner rights by a previous shipmate - human rights activist Samantha Levens. Right off I felt like I had done something important for my community, and didn't care if future issues were printed. But people liked that I was following up on my promise to print, and donations were coming in. Operating on donations alone has been hard, though. Especially in the last two years. Volunteers are helping with the facebook page and at, and I'm working with NOAA Survey Tech Colleen Peters on new layout, distribution, and website ideas. Advertising and sponsorship is now a necessity. We now publish primarily online with one annual print publication. I also publish the Women of Maritime Calendar for Jack Tar.

Kim Carver in the rigging aboard the Tall Ship Lynx

Anyone interested should follow us online. I understand that not everyone is into social networking but facebook has proved invaluable to many sailors around the world. Yesterday I asked if any of the Jack Tar readers were working on the BP spill and received firsthand accounts from the Gulf. Many chimed in with questions which the sailors onsite answered. Jack Tar readers on facebook discuss sailing the Great Lakes, fishing in Alaska, cruising in Mexico, drilling the Mississippi, and driving container ships out of Singapore. If you have a passion for modern maritime culture coupled with traditional seamanship, Jack Tar is an ideal way to get your maritime "fix."

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