New Subscription (Membership) System

Over the next few weeks we will be moving to a new subscription (membership) system.

Let’s look at why we are doing this.

Aligns To Our Business Model

Our business model has evolved to be much closer to that of a magazine, rather than a membership site. The new system is specifically designed for the former.

One change you will notice immediately is that we are substituting the term “subscriber” for “member”, to fit in with the nomenclature used by the new system.

Easier To Use

The new system will be a lot easier for subscribers to use. For example, the login and forgotten password systems are way better, and paying for a new subscription or renewing are hugely improved.

Better Account Management

In the same vein, it will be much easier for you, our subscribers, to see and manage everything relevant to your account in one place.

More Flexible Paywall

One of our biggest business challenges has always been how to convince potential subscribers of the value of our content without actually showing it to them. The new system gives us a lot more ways to show some content, but still maintain the paywall, and makes it easy for us to experiment to find the most effective mix.

We Get Help

Currently, Phyllis and I do all AAC administration—site maintenance, support, bookkeeping, compliance, accounting. As part of this change, the new system’s developers will be taking over site maintenance, which should give us more time for content creation—gotta be good.

Don’t worry, Phyllis and I will continue to be the point-of-contact for subscribers with a problem.

No Login Change

One very cool part of this is that, even though we can’t see your passwords (encrypted), we have figured out how to do this without requiring you to change your login credentials.

That said, the way you login will change a couple of times during the process, with the first version being a bit inelegant—sorry, it won’t be like that for long.

An AAC App

I saved the best for last. The new system works with a custom and branded AAC app that will run on Apple and Android. Some of the cool features are:

  • A single login for both app and web access.
  • Full content (including Online Books) synchronization between the app and the web site.
  • Comments made on either the app or the web site will show on both.

This is something we have long known we needed to do, since over 60% of you now read the site on phones and tablets, and that percentage goes up every year.

There is one fly in that ointment: we will not have said app up and running until the winter (northern hemisphere  of 2019/20. Getting ready for this upgrade is a huge task for Phyllis and me and the summer is for sailing!

The Bad News

I would love to tell you that we have the whole cut-over process all figured out and that it will go without a hitch, but that would be a foul lie.

The reality is that, even though we have been working on this for over a year—selecting the new system was a hugely complex decision, and we have also done a ton of preliminary work on the cut-over—I can pretty much guarantee that there will be some truly spectacular screw-ups over the next couple of months.

(In a previous life I founded and ran a computer company where we did a bunch of system cut-overs, so this is hard-earned experience speaking.)

The good news is that we are working with some very smart developers and Phyllis and I are committed to checking everything over six ways from Sunday, so I’m confident that when something does go wrong, we will be able to fix it reasonably quickly.

That said, we need your help:

If you see any problems at all on the site over the next couple of months, even something that’s confusing, please:

  1. Report it to us via email or as a comment to this post. The latter would be better (as long as there are no privacy issues) since then others can chime in with their experience.
  2. Be patient while we fix problems. Frankly, this is going to be a hugely stressful time for Phyllis and me and getting yelled at is only going to make that worse. (By and large you AAC subscribers are both polite and patient, but every so often someone goes off the deep end, which is really hard to take when we are struggling to fix a problem that is often not of our making…yea, I’m looking at you PayPal.)


Site Downs

While we do the cut-over, there will be at least three periods that the site will be down, ranging from 2 hours to a day. Sorry, but it’s unavoidable with a change of this magnitude.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

19 comments… add one
  • David Mar 13, 2019, 4:14 am

    Good luck, hope things go smoothly ? best laid plans etc so I’ll be patient. Looking forward to the Android app, I assume you mean winter Northern hemisphere?

    • John Mar 13, 2019, 6:36 am

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the good wishes. And yes, northern hemisphere. I will fix that.

  • Taras Mar 13, 2019, 7:14 am

    Hi John,
    As an iOS developer, I can beta-test your AAC app if you wish to get some pre-release inputs.


    • John Mar 14, 2019, 8:17 am

      Hi Taras,

      Thanks for the offer, but hopefully it won’t be necessary. The app will be AAC branded but it’s one that has been used by other publications for some time.

  • Flemming Torp Petersen Mar 13, 2019, 7:54 am

    Good Luck! Sounds great!
    I wiill keep my fingers crossed! ?

  • Ken Mar 13, 2019, 9:24 am

    Good luck on the changeover! It’d be really awesome if the new app stored most content offline (text only) so we can read it without an internet connection, offshore, etc. Finding good internet is always a pain… and it’s always when I have a question!


    • John Mar 14, 2019, 8:20 am

      Hi Ken,

      The app has a cacheing ability for some 20 pages of content but it is not really designed as an offline solution. We may be able to look at modifying it to download one or more online books on request. Something we will talk to the developer about.

  • Timothy Grady Mar 13, 2019, 10:48 am

    Bring it on! Looking forward to it all (in a good way).

  • Lee Worthy Mar 13, 2019, 1:08 pm

    Looking forward to this new adventure! Best wishes!

  • Andre Mar 13, 2019, 1:58 pm

    An App with online book sync !!! Just for that i’m ready to handle all the issues to get there. Excellent upgrade for an already excellent site.

  • Zed Zawalski Mar 14, 2019, 4:59 am

    John, we’ll share the pain with you

  • John Mar 14, 2019, 8:25 am

    Hi All,

    Thanks very much for all the encouragement.

    We made a big step forward yesterday—so far, so good.

  • Ernest Mar 14, 2019, 6:25 pm

    Hi John,
    don’t know if you already started switching over, but I noticed two changes, one most certainly intended (the “do not copy” reminder on the paywalled content), and one that comes most certainly unintended, just below where you can opt for “notifications without commenting”. Until now this changed to the “you are subscribed” message if you had subscribed for notifications of that page, but now this simply remains as if you hadn’t subscribed, even after entering the email. I don’t know if the subscription system is currently flawed or only the displayed text – just wanted to point that out.

    Edit – the text changes to “subscribed” when you actually comment and choose to subscribe. So it looks as if the “subscribe without comment” process isn’t working as intended.

    • John Mar 15, 2019, 8:48 am

      Hi Ernest,

      Neither are from the new system. The notice is because people were writing to me who were not members commenting on articles that members had sent them. One even had the unmitigated gaul to say “I’m not going to join, but just writing to tell you about how you have it all wrong”. Needless to say he did not get an answer!

      (By the way, the new system will let members share with non members in a limited way that does not damage our sales, we hope, or violate our copyright.)

      As to the comment notification system, that’s a free standing plugin and nothing to do with the membership system, so I will need to report it to the developer. It’s a premium plugin that we pay an annul fee for so they are usually pretty responsive.

    • John Apr 3, 2019, 4:12 pm

      Hi Ernest,

      I finally got time to check the comment subscribe issue you reported. Seems fixed now. There have been two updates on the plugin, so I guess one of them got it.

  • denis Foster Mar 18, 2019, 6:03 am

    Hello John,

    Since the switch, I can’t login with a message that I should enable cookies and a link to apple support that can’t be found.

    On my Mac with Safari it stays blocked.

    On the ipad I am writing you have to allow pop ups to at last get connection to your excellent site.

    This message is constructive but I don’t think this procedure is user freindly.

    Hope you find a solution to get back to usual.


    deniswfoster@gmail (in case I can’t login and get your answer)

    • Matt Mar 18, 2019, 7:44 am

      I got that error about cookies being blocked as well (using Firefox Quantum 65 on Win7 Pro). Simply attempting to log in the same way a second time worked fine, so my first guess would be that it was checking for the presence of a cookie that hadn’t been set yet?

      • John Mar 18, 2019, 8:19 am

        Hi Matt,

        Thanks for the heads up. I was able to duplicate this so I will take a look. That said, we are half way though the conversion and have both the old and the new systems part enabled, so I think this will go away in the next couple of days.

    • John Mar 18, 2019, 8:28 am

      Hi Denis,

      I’m pretty sure it’s a temporary problem at this point in the change over. If you try to log in a second time it should go away. Please advise if it does not.

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