Why We Need Your Help

The Goal

We want to focus ever more on in-depth actionable content that will be of use to you members for years to come.

  • Chapters to fill gaps in the Online Books.
  • Diagrams and illustrations.
  • Checklists linked to in-depth explanatory chapters.

It’s Happening

We are already doing a lot of this:

  • We have finished the rigging checklist and associated articles.
  • I’m working on an electrical systems checklist, and most of the associated articles are already written.
  • I have spent weeks interviewing experts and industry insiders and reading manuals on lithium batteries so I can update our Electrical Systems Online Book with that technology.
  • It’s a rare day that passes without us making an improvement to an existing article. Might just be a few words changed, but often it’s a rewrite.
  • We are in the throes of installing a bunch of interesting gear to review on the AAC Test Boat, AKA our J/109.
  • We are winding up a frenzied refit of said boat—my fourth refit…must be nuts—during which we have learned a huge amount that we will share.

Some Things Don’t Change

There is one thing that has been the core of the site from day one that will never change:

Our focus on seamanship and voyaging offshore.

We are not, and will never become, a site full of breathless fan-boy articles about new technology just to get clicks and members.

Challenges to Solve

So that’s where we are now, and what we plan for the future. But we have two challenges to solve before we can move forward:

  • Time
  • Revenue

Actually, the two are interrelated, read on for how.

The Situation

  • AAC is a full-time job for me in the winter, and near that in the summer; and a part-time job for Phyllis year round.
  • Our member growth stalled at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • AAC membership has always been closely correlated with stock market returns, as you would expect.
  • I’m not a big enough fool to try and forecast economic trends, but it does seem likely that we are entering a period of subdued growth, so growing membership is going to be difficult.
  • Member growth, or even just adding enough new members to balance attrition, is directly correlated to how often we publish.

I’m feeling like a gerbil on a wheel:

  • We need to produce an article at least five times a month just to stay in one place.
  • General administration and maintenance of the site takes up at least as much time as content creation, because we have to do it all ourselves to keep costs contained.
  • There are often times I would like to spend a couple of weeks researching, writing, and illustrating a new in-depth article, but with the current model that’s out.

Another Problem

But wait, it gets worse (you were waiting for it).

We have an expenses problem, too:

  • The cost of the software and services we use to publish this site has skyrocketed over the last three years at a rate far higher than inflation.
  • Ever more rigorous privacy, tax reporting, and security requirements have forced us to pay ever more for the software and services to comply.

Price Increase?

So why not just put up the prices to cover these costs?

We just did, at the beginning of the May. Annual membership went from $24 to $36 a year.

Yup, that’s a 50% jump, but also the first in over three years, and only US$1/month.

And anyway, we were, and have been since 2013, when we started membership, relying on growth to make up for a silly-low price. That’s a bad strategy, particularly in the uncertain times we live in where reliable recurring revenue is required for AAC to survive.

Not a Fix

But that’s not a fix because most members are on our legacy annually recurring plan at your original sign-up price of $18 (2013), $19.99 (2015), or $24 (2018), depending on when you signed up.

Not a Good Situation

Add all this up and we are not just working harder for the same money, we are working harder for way less money after expenses, and that’s getting worse every month.

That does not feel good, particularly since our income from AAC has never been princely.

The Plan

Four steps to fix this:

1. Price Increase

  1. Put the price up substantially, even though we know this may reduce new signups. Done.
  2. Increase the price annually, so we don’t have to resort to a big percentage jump again.

2. Reward Automatic Renewal

Continue our policy of existing annual members automatically renewing at the price they signed up for:

  • Rewards loyal members.
  • Helps members who have, through no fault of their own, not come through the pandemic well.
  • Makes it more attractive for annual members to automatically renew so as not to lose their legacy rate.

3. Encourage Upgrading to The Current Price

Ask members to voluntarily change to the new price of US$36 / year to fund the improvements listed above.

4. Supporting Membership

Offer a new AAC Supporter Membership at US$120/year for those members who would like to support us at a higher level.

  • Includes an annual AAC Supporter group meeting with Phyllis and me, and possibly other benefits as we think of them.

Still a trivial amount for a member with six-figure money in a boat.


So what do you think? Please leave a comment.

Or, better yet, leave a comment and increase your support:

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David Smith

Hi John and Phyllis,

I hear you — and I will upgrade my membership.

I also have a few thoughts that I would be happy to share offline. Most of my career was in the information business, as an entrepreneur and at firms such as Thomson Reuters. Perhaps, I can help frame some other options. Or, at least, give it a try.

Outside of that offer, I note the amazing work you (and this community) have put into the design and development of the Adventure 40. Your investment of time and knowledge has tremendous value. So I would suggest you accept a modest royalty on future sales.

I also believe a portion of future revenue should be allocated to the cost of various tasks you (or a partner) may take on. For example, travel and advisory work for the Adventure 40, quality assurance, sea trials, design upgrades, etc.

This, of course, opens up the question of what type of entity might take ownership and responsibility for marketing, sales, production, etc, which is outside the scope of this comment.

Frank Ehrsam

Hi John and Phyllis,
for sure I will upgrade my membership. I do appreciate your content and it certainly is worth its salt aka our money.
At the same time I will not come up with the big bugs. Not so much because I do not value your content, but frankly the add on is of the mark. At least for me that is.
It is quite common to pull the „meet personal“ card. This I do not like. First: if I am on the lookout for you facetime-wise, I will happily pay for it on a serous, hourly charge. Secondly, I feel of it quite disbalanced to pay way of other people for not so much of an „upgrade“ – otherwise you are founding quite the broadcast-Sailing-Vessel.
The quality of your content should be worth its money. Who can not afford 60 Bugs a year is supposedly in need for a good wifi, youtube or very, very old books. Thats the way the cookie crumbles.
I would like to support your efforts, but feeling like my bigger bugs are crossfinancing others, who certainly could, but would not… Well, that does not sit well with me.
A raise for „all“ at a sersious rate would take me along – thats a promise.

Terence Thatcher

I want to pay more for what you provide. When I tried to enhance my membership, the system declined because I have an unexpired 3 year membership. Please allow us ongoing subscribers to contribute more somehow. Either a $60/year membership or just a way to add something to the standard rate. Thanks for all you and those who write and comment on this site have taught me.

Marina Steele

Dear John and Phyllis,

I really appreciate having an insight into the realities of the work that you do and for reaching out to all of us. I have just upgraded and feel that your request is well within the value proposition of your publications. The features that I appreciate most are that your materials are living, breathing documents that are always being revised to reflect your current knowledge and that of advances being made in the materials, construction or regulations within the sailing world. A learning hub that takes the trouble to amass, edit and synthesize the sheer volume of information out there PLUS adds the gravitas of having tested it all in the real world is a place I want to spend my reading time. The ebooks are superb, I’m carefully reading two of them at the moment and undergoing major revision of our setup of jacklines and tethers, autopilot set up and reefing procedures. Crucial issues indeed. With just weeks to go until we head offshore as a family I’m truly grateful to have your wisdom to hand. Many, many thanks
Marina Steele
SV Andromeda I

Jacques Lavoie

I am a part time follower of AAC. Me and wife are experience cruisers (40,000 miles) but don’t use AAC much, too busy in maintaining our boats (2) one in Canada one on the Med, plus all the work involved in planning and doing our 2500 to 5000 miles on a yearly basis. I am happy to maintain my privilege and be able to refer to all the existing material available on AAC. But if yearly subscription increase I’m not sure to stay in, balance between usage ans cost might just tip over….

Not that I don’t appreciate the website, but we sometimes feel that we know a lot about cruising and all the bells and whistles that new technology seems to add doesn’t change much on what the game is all about.

An apple pie is an Apple pie…