If you aren’t familiar with the old world of Usenet News (back mostly in the days of the text based internet before web browsers brought us graphics and pictures), then you may not realize that mailing lists are an outgrowth of that communication form. Newsgroups as they were known as, were publically accessible discussion groups. Anybody could read. Anybody could post. After a while, this free-for-all grouping began to be overrun by the spammers and people who could stay reasonably on-topic. There is still a huge world of Usenet, but its not something that I follow any longer. Google Groups is the current worldwide archive of all the old Usenet News postings that still exist (most of them… we’re talking millions upon millions of postings back to 1994 or so). You can also read current postings there too. Since I don’t follow the newsgroups much anymore (they are good for quick reference lookups, to this day), I won’t get into recommending which groups to follow.
After the signal to noise ratio got too bad in the wild-west of Usenet, people began moving to mailing lists. Mailing lists are and address that you send email to and it resends it back out to everyone who is subscribed. This structure allows various limits to be placed, as needed. The mail will only be sent to people who are subscribed. Subscriptions can be open to anyone, or can require approval by a moderator or group owner. Postings can be open to be made by members or non-members, as desired. A mailing list that requires a person to be a member, and that the first few posts are checked for content, can be kept reasonably under control, especially when there is a good community of users who work together to “ban” problem postings if needed. The groups I list here are usually well managed, fairly spam free, and have an incredible amount of information.
Just remember… these are private individuals posting because they want to (or even have some motive to). Don’t believe everything you read… cross check. You will soon learn who are skilled and that you should really pay attention to, and who you can skip over (just like in “real life” :-)). Also, I highly recommend that you “lurk” for a while. Jump in, introduce yourself and your background and interests, then be quiet and read… and read… for a WHILE. Don’t try to become the local expert right off the bat.
Most mailing lists maintain archives that are searchable and/or readable for members. Its a good idea to check the archives FIRST, before you ask a question… it seems that usually the answer was given the day before you subscribed 🙂
Lastly, consider where your answer goes… some questions should be answered “off list” with a direct note to the original poster. Other messages appropriately go back to the main list so that everyone can learn from the conversation. A little reading of a particular group will give you a good idea of the dynamics of that “community”.
Yahoo makes many boating mailing lists available… search at http://groups.yahoo.com to see what is out there. Here’s a listing of what I find valuable. Yahoo also makes online archives available, so you can actually read the postings on their web pages without receiving them as email. This can be especially valuable if you are on a low-bandwidth connection (on your boat?), or just want to check out a group to “see what you think”. Most (all?) of the Yahoo groups also have archives for the storage of files and pictures that members often make use of to provide pictures and illustrations to follow up their discussions.
Atkin Boats – From the time William Atkin left a budding career in civil engineering to take up boatbuilding and designing in 1906, until his son John’s death in 1999, the Atkin drawing boards spawned over 900 designs. This group is for the discussion of those designs and the boats built from them.
- Backyard Boatbuilding is for the sharing of information about building or repairing a boat yourself. Mr. George Buehler â€“ a boat designer of some renown, is the philosophical inspiration for this group.
BartenderBoats – An active group geared around the Bartenders designed by George Calkins. Share information and experiences about owning and building Bartenders, ask and answer questions, offer boats or parts for sale, share photos, etc.
Bolger – Discussing, building, using Phil Bolger’s boat designs and similar. There are several other groups with pictures and files (look on Yahoo). Of note is the Bolger Cartoon group (which also lists all the others).
ElectricBoating – The Electric Boating group is a forum dedicated to the promoting, sharing and discussing the experiences, design and performance of boats driven by electric-motors. Key initial focus will be on boat conversions to electric and experiences and tradeoffs associated with “going electric”. Climb aboard and share your experiences and dreams of silent electric-powered water propulsion.
ElectricBoats – A forum for the discussion of everything about electric boating.
John Welsford Builders – Ask questions, tell us about your project, or just listen in. John is usually around and there are a lot of other knowledgeable folks here too.
LowCostVoyaging – “Low Cost Voyaging” is intended as both a resource for the cruising minimalist – for those who want to set sail for the minimum expenditure, and to keep sailing affordably – and a meeting place for wannabees, boat-builders, and those who are, or have been, out there ‘living the dream’.
OrigamiBoats – Origamiboats forum has been created to explore all aspects of a unique and revolutionary method of building frameless steel sailboats. The technique is known as “folded steel” boatbuilding, or “origami steel” boatbuilding. Many of the steel boats of this type on the BC coast have been designed by Brent Swain. Ben Okopnik is providing a searchable archive of this list.
Flapdoodle Dinghy – a neat folding dinghy design with some interesting discussion
This organization hosts several good lists that you might want to check out.
Great Loop – Cruising America’s Great Loop and other inland routes