Unique Stories About Boating, Builders and Waterways

Welcome to Loose Cannon, a newsletter by Peter Swanson. His professional life began with 20 years in newspapers. He was an investigative reporter in New England and worked for eight years as editor of New Hampshire Sunday News. From 2000 onward he wrote for a slew of boating magazines and served for a spell as editor-in-chief of PassageMaker, which is dedicated to the trawler-yacht niche. Unfortunately, as the fortunes of print media waned, fewer and fewer pages were dedicated to anything even remotely hard-hitting. The goal of Loose Cannon is to share stories and viewpoints (please, don’t call it “content”) that the boating public cannot find anywhere else. Swanson has sailed since the age of 11, lives on a sailboat, but also has tens of thousands of ocean miles on motoryachts. He calls himself “propulsion agnostic.”

Why should you sign up for a paid subscription?

Running a media company, even one as modest as Loose Cannon, is a time consuming endeavor. And, like everyone else, the staff has bills to pay. Without advertising for revenue, Loose Cannon is not beholding to any advertisers. Our stories come from honest reporting, honed over 45 years in journalism. The news and views herein are shaped by a life in boats begun in New England more than 55 years ago. No one in marine journalism does what Loose Cannon does.

Career timeline

2022: Resurrected Loose Cannon, as a regular email newsletter and website dedicated to “unique stories about boats, boating, builders and waterways.” The original Loose Cannon was an online column published by Soundings magazine for two years, beginning in 2013. Boating Writers International named Loose Cannon “Best Column” for 2014. Judge Jim Rhodes said:

Loose Cannon columns, addressing important issues in the world of boating, are written with passion and conviction. The author doesn’t back away from strong opinions. The simple, direct and muscular style is something every good columnist should strive for.”

As a talking head on the television series “Dark Waters: Murder in the Deep.” A 2019 episode called “Burned” was based on stories about a real-life arson-murder aboard a boat in St. Marys, Georgia.

2016-2019: Managed the seminar program for TrawlerFest, a boatshow and educational event dedicated to the trawler yacht niche. Up to 30 seminars were presented at locations in Florida, Washington State and Maryland. Responsibilities: Choosing topics, recruiting speakers, scheduling and negotiating pay. Also helped produce several boating education videos for online Boaters University. One video, “Marine Diesel Maintenance and Troubleshooting,” was produced for about $10,000 and went on to earn more than $300,000 in sales.

Authored the most comprehensive account in the English language to date about the motoryacht Fidel Castro used to invade Cuba and launch a revolution.

May 2018: Became the first American to go aboard Granma, the motoryacht Fidel Castro used to invade Cuba and launch his revolution. The vessel is housed in an air-conditioned hangar on the grounds of the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. The Cuban government allowed the inspection in return for original research identifying Granma’s origins as a U.S. Navy training vessel in World War II.

April 2017: The Obama Administration normalizes relations with Cuba, allowing U.S. citizens to travel to the island nation on their own boats with certain restrictions. Planned, organized and led a small fleet from Florida to Marina Hemingway in Havana in what was called “Rally to Cuba: Learn the Lingo.” Participants attended classes on Spanish for cruisers and visited several cultural and historical sites.

2013-2017: Editor-in-chief for PassageMaker, a magazine dedicated to the trawler-yacht niche. Loose Cannon columnist for Soundings magazine. Wrote about charter destinations in the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Sea of Cortez, Thailand and France.

Crossing the Gulf Stream aboard Hong Kong Maiden, early 1990s.

2010-2014: Won numerous awards in the annual Boating Writers International writing contest in the categories of electronics, adventure and news and analysis.

2008: Editor-in-chief for Waterway Guide, producer of cruising guides for the East Coast, Bahamas and the Great Loop.

2006-2013: Delivered other people’s boats from Florida to the Caribbean and back and along the U.S. West Coast.

Piloting a trawler through the Panama Canal in 2002 on a delivery from Florida to Ensenada, Mexico, which is about 80 miles south of San Diego. The picture was taken from Jimmy Buffet’s Continental Drifter III.

2005: U.S. Coast Guard Master’s License, approved for 50 tons.

2004: Participated in the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally as a journalist aboard the lead vessel Atlantic Escort: Leg 2, Bermuda to the Azores.

2003-2006: Communications director for Great Harbour Trawlers of Gainesville, Florida. Planned and organized the delivery of an N37 trawler from Florida to Hawaii, included taking the boat on the first leg to Ensenada, Mexico (just south of San Diego). A relief crew completed the Pacific crossing to Honolulu, setting the record for smallest twin-engine power craft ever to do so.  Also planned, organized and led a rally of Great Harbour boat owners from Newport, Rhode Island to Downeast Maine.

Posing with Great Harbour Trawler owners at the grand finale of the Downeast Rally at Linekin Bay in Maine.

2001-2002: Senior editor for Passagemaker magazine, during which time participated in the Oman-Djibouti-Suez leg of the “Nordhavn 40: Around the World” demonstration project, which set the record for the smallest powerboat to circumnavigate.

2000: Bought Rio, a Morgan Out Island 41. Cruised from Chesapeake Bay south, through the Bahamas and Greater Antilles.

1999-2000: Lived aboard 30-foot ketch Hong Kong Maiden at Luperon in the Dominican Republic. Captained and maintained 53-foot excursion catamarans for the local tourism industry.

1998: Designed, staffed and edited a new Sunday newspaper in New Hampshire called Foster’s Sunday Citizen and published by the George Foster company. Coverage area included the state’s Lake Region and Seacoast New Hampshire and Southern Maine.

1997: Assisted in the commissioning, crewing and delivery of Kathryn B., a 100-foot, three-masted schooner based in Rockland, Maine.

Captained by Gordon Baxter, the three-masted Kathryn B. sailed from Rockland, Maine, with charter guests in the late 1990s.

1995: With two cousins, purchased Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 ketch and named her Hong Kong Maiden. Cruised Maine, Nova Scotia, U.S. East Coast, Bahamas and Northeastern Caribbean.

1980: Bought 28-foot wooden sloop, possibly built in 1947, and named her Meerschaum. Cruised Cape Cod and Maine. Won the Windward Invitational wooden boat race in 1982.

1979-1997: Worked for Union Leader Corporation as a reporter and editor, rising to editor of the statewide New Hampshire Sunday News. Spearheaded the group’s conversion from black & white to four color.

Meerschaum ghosts past the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast. Fast boat, builder unknown.

1978-1979: Reporter for the Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York.

1977-1978: Reporter and columnist for the Westfield Evening News in Westfield, Massachusetts.

1976-1978: Graduated University of Massachusetts summa cum laude with a BA in Journalism & English. Raced on the sailing team. Taught beginner Fencing.

1974-1975: Castings grinder and weight-shifter, Bridgewater Iron Foundry at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Mail sorter and truck loader, U.S. Postal Service Sectional Center at Bourne, Massachusetts.

1972-1974: Attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Member of the sailing team.

Basic training, 1973.

1965-1970: Taught myself to sail on Cape Cod in a Cape Dory 10, followed by a Cape Dory 12, followed by a Cape Dory Handicat.

1955: Born Biloxi, Mississippi. Air Force brat. Lived in Spain for four years as a child, while my father was stationed outside of Madrid.

The 2017 novella is a historical what-if surrounding Ernest Hemingway’s last war patrol in 1943 and the unsolved murder of one of the world’s richest men. Available, like everything else, on Amazon.

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Unique stories about boats, boating, builders and waterways


Newspaper editor. Cruiser: Nova Scotia to Caribbean. Writer for boating magazines, specializing in Florida, Bahamas and Greater Antilles. Captain of excursion catamarans in the Dominican Republic. Delivery skipper. U.S. Coast Guard master's license.