Open Boating Dramas

When Sailors of the Coast purchased Buoys and Boats from BSR in 1997, the boating world rejoiced, as Sailors immediately announced plans to implement a legal document that would allow boating enthusiasts everywhere to use the B&B handbook to create their own boating instructional content. This would become known as the Open Boating License, or OBL, which was finalised and officially released to the world in 2000. The OBL allowed creators worldwide to borrow from the B&B handbook, including the updated 3rd Edition, also released in 2000. It was said that this legal document was irrevocable and would empower the boating community to create their own content by using the framework B&B had established. Whether you wanted to create a guide to finding the best local marine welding business or instructions for installing your custom bow rail, you could release it commercially under the OBL.

For the 22 years following the release of the OBL, all was well within the B&B community. That was until leaks emerged late last year that Sailors of the Coast intended to revise the OBL for the B&B 6th Edition (officially known as One B&B), adding in royalty structures, the right for Sailors to reproduce, distribute and profit off any content created under the OBL and, most dire of all, the right to further alter the OBL with only 30 days’ notice.

This sent the B&B and wider boating communities into complete shock, followed by outrage. For over two decades, community content had been the backbone of B&B’s success. From every boat merchant to every business offering snapper racks near Melbourne, the boating community was united. Now with the intent to send out abusive contracts to those same creators who had contributed to so much of the B&B handbook’s success, it seemed that Sailors of the Coast had truly fallen to corporate greed, likely due to pressures from executives of their parent company, Has Been.

While the future of B&B remains uncertain, one thing is for sure: the boating community will not let the new OBL through without a fight.