Holding a crystal trophy and a large check, a smiling Marlin Bree stands between BWI President Kim Kavin (left) and West Marine Director of Community Relations Laurie Fried.

Marlin Bree accepts the 2008 West Marine Writer’s Award from BWI President Kim Kavin (left) and West Marine Director of Community Relations Laurie Fried.

The Ensign writer snags top award again

For the second time in 4 years, writer Marlin Bree has won the top Boating Writers International award for a feature article published in The Ensign magazine.

Bree, an honorary member of St. Paul Sail & Power Squadron, won the prestigious West Marine Writer’s Award for “The Old Man and the Inland Sea,” which appeared in the January/February 2007 issue of The Ensign. It tells the harrowing true story of a lone Norwegian fisherman who defied death during an ice storm on Lake Superior in 1958.

Judges said Bree’s article “does a superb job of what magazines such as American Heritage and Smithsonian do regularly: take an event from the past and explicate the circumstances in vivid, gripping detail.”

Presented on 31 Oct. at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Bree’s award consists of $5,000 and a crystal trophy.

The article was first recognized in Boating Writers International Annual Writing Contest last February, taking first place in the Seamanship, Rescue & Safety writing category. The top three entries in all 16 categories competed for the grand prize, the West Marine Writer’s Award.

The only person to win the award twice, Bree also won in 2004 for “A Solo Sailor Meets His Storm of the Century: The Day All Hell Broke Loose,” which recounts Bree’s own story of survival when a monster storm roared onto Lake Superior, nearly taking him and his 20-foot centerboard, Persistence, down. The article appeared in the June 2003 issue of The Ensign.

“Both winners were epic tales of men against the sea—heroic stories of courage, endurance and resourcefulness in the face of almost impossible odds,” said Bree. “In my tales, ordinary boaters with analytical calmness rose to meet each new challenge. … The mariners coolly looked at impending disaster with positive attitudes and they drew upon many skills they probably thought they would never need.”

Published since 1914, The Ensign is the official publication of the United States Power Squadrons, the largest nonprofit recreational boating organization in the world.