Last Latitudes & Attitudes publisher talks about magazine’s demise

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The CEO of Sextant Publishing, the company that purchased cruising lifestyle magazine Latitudes & Attitudes from founder Bob Bitchin before it went belly-up last summer amid accusations and legal battles, is finally telling his side of the story.

Sextant CEO Dennis “DJ” Doran made public a comprehensive website detailing his version of events that led to the demise of the magazine launched in 1996 by Bob Bitchin — whose birth name is Robert Lipkin — and his wife, Jody, which Sextant Publishing bought from Bitchin in January 2011.

Doran titled the website: “The Inglorious Demise of Latitudes & Attitudes and”

Doran said it took Sextant a long time to respond to comments addressing the matter in which the magazine folded because the company needed time to “recover from the catastrophic financial losses and stunning betrayals during the closing of Latitudes and Attitudes.”

“Over the last year, many things have been said without a response from us. We chose not [to] respond because at the time we were struggling just to digest everything that was happening,” Doran wrote in a blog post on the web page titled “Summary of Events.”

The site includes links titled “Contracts and Documents,” “Financial and Accounting,” “Legal” and “Emails.”

When asked to respond, Bitchin told Trade Only Today in an email that he had worked hard to build a good reputation during his 20 years in the marine industry.

“I really would rather not play this game,” Bitchin said. “It just gives credence to Mr. Doran’s rants. My advertisers and readers are my best defense. I am very proud of what I created and sorry to see where it went once I sold it.”

Former editor Sue Morgan told Trade Only at the time of the collapse that she didn’t know where the publishers were, but confirmed longtime staffer Capt. Woody Henderson’s blog post that the crew showed up to work to find the doors chained shut.

Bitchin and other longtime staffers joined to form The Bitchin Group and have since launched a digital and quarterly print magazine called Cruising Outpost.

Click for the full text of Doran’s post.

— Reagan Haynes


11 comments on “Last Latitudes & Attitudes publisher talks about magazine’s demise

  1. Mitch Perkins

    That’s a lot to digest……but I did get this out of it:

    “It all began at the 2011 Oakland Boat show.”

    While the proper name is Strictly Sail Pacific it proves that The Show is a tremendous catalyst for The Sport and Industry of Sailing.

    Keep your eye on the website for next years show information.

  2. Raychel Brown

    Not only is it a lot to digest – there is still and HUGE amount of information missing…many email responses are not there…

    Including my own subscriber who’d paid for multiple years DJ responded to me in a strange fashion.

    Its really not unlike the current mess between Chef Gordon Ramsey and Amy’s Baking Company in Phoenix…

    The facts are still all a mess…and the question still remains where are DJ and Joe? Speaking through an attorney and or saying their address hasnt changed … a cop out…they lived on their boat…and where is it?

  3. Steve Hall

    Many facts are not true. I am proud to be a contractor with the new organization. Bob and the rest of the team have done a great job with the new magazine, hence why the others are upset.

  4. Kim Hess-Stone

    In all the years I have known Bob & Jody (and the entire crew) I have felt nothing but trust and integrity. They worked extremely hard to build a community of cruisers and dreamers who feel the same way I do. Before meeting them in person, I was a fan of the magazine. After I met them I began writing for the magazine and continue to do so (now Cruising Outpost).

    I believe that results are the only thing that need be addressed. DJ & Joe ran with their tails between their legs, Bob & Jody stood tall and proud, knowing that the foundation they worked so hard for was solid. They regrouped and formed another magazine to fill the void left by Sextant Publishing when they closed the doors to Latitudes & Attitudes.

    Not only have Bob’s fan base (subscribers) come back in full support, but advertisers as well. As far as I am concerned he is still in good standing within the marine industry. It is sad that such good people have to be dragged through the mud like this.

    I stand behind them 1000% percent.

    Kim Hess-Stone
    author, Yoga Onboard
    Healthy Cruising blogger

  5. R. Millings

    I just love DJ’s comment of “from the catastrophic financial losses and stunning betrayals during the closing of Latitudes and Attitudes”. I know of one person who gave Sextant $20K of her pesonal money before they chained the business and drove it into the ground. So…their financial losses weren’t even their money but the money of their investors who trusted them. This was not a business venture for the two owners of Sextant, it was a con job.

  6. Gale Schulke

    Mr. Duran is the most dishonest person we have ever had the displeasure of meeting. During this episode with L and A, Mr. Duran and his partner engaged in a deal with us when we tried to purchase a boat from him. We agreed to a $10K down payment pending survey.It was to be a fully refundable payment if we decided not to purchase the boat. (We have contracts to prove this). We contracted with a Boat Broker to handle the sale. Our surveyor came out and spent 20 minutes on the boat and told us that the decks were rotted through. He showed my husband the rot. Our broker then informed us that the boat was not even owned by Mr. Duran. It was actually owned by someone in Reno, NV. Stupidly we had already given him a check for the $10,000.
    Mr. Duran cashed that check the same day we gave it to him and we have not been able to get it back. We are currently going through legal measures to locate Mr. Duran, who does not answer any of our requests for our money to be returned. He is slippery then an eel. I, personally, do not believe a word of what he says. Our lawyer has told us that he has MULTIPLE judgments against him already and we have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever seeing our money again.
    I truly hope you publish our account because it does show the true character of this man and his partner.

  7. John Peterson

    An enormous amount of time on a web site devoted to what? Just show yourselves and explain yourselves. There are many questions unanswered, however, two facts are clear:

    1..”DJ” has not clearly explained ceasing of operations and the disappearance of almost everything associated with L & A.

    2..Bob stood tall and “started”again against all odds at a time the industry still is suffering greatly; initially he and crew are publishing again to his credit. All he can do is attempt a come back with a niche publication that has and will provide interesting stories of the marine/sail lifestyle.

    Being part of a company in this industry that has suffered greatly I can only imagine the foritude and dedication Bob has to give 24 hours a day to regain his personal stamp of approval. We are behind the new venture and proud to be the “inside cover and page #!” advertiser hopefully for a long, long time.

    John Peterson
    Marlow-Hunter, LLC

  8. Heidi Benson

    I am one of the so-called “Former trusted Employees”, as Mr. Doran calls us, and have a Labor Commission Ruling against him. Many of the documents that have been posted do not contain the full information and some of them are just false.

    Although Mr. Doran has posted a Small Claims Court filing against me, the courts, strangely enough, have no record of said Claim. He may have filled out the paperwork and posted it on his website, but it was never actually filed. Details were never his strong suit.

    He also posted an appeal to my Labor Commission filing, also to which he never followed through. He has never made an attempt to repay me the monies owed to me and will not reveal his whereabouts. He uses a UPS Store for his address and recently shut down his email.

    For someone claiming to be “wronged”, he sure isn’t being very transparent. If you want to contact Mr. Bitchin you can easily reach him by phone, email, his home address or at a boat show. He has nothing to hide, unlike Mr. Doran.

    Enough self-made drama, DJ. Pay the people you owe and let’s just all get on with our lives and go sailing!

  9. Steven Bowden

    In the name of journalistic integrity here, where’s the story?

    The way we see it is that an investor purchased a distressed company with the idea he could ‘turn it around.’ He couldn’t raise enough money in the middle of the recession, stopped paying bills including the purchase price and the company folded. Happens every day.

    The former owner, Bob Bitchin wasn’t paid and was forced to declare personal bankruptcy but quickly formed another company. He hired employees and gained advertisers. The new company is apparently a success and ‘Cruising Outpost’ magazine has become very popular. This is the American way of doing business.

    The whole thing sounds like sour grapes to me and should be ignored by the press.

    Bob & Jody are very nice people who are very popular in the cruising community. They have helped a lot of small businesses over the years including ours. I for one am glad they’re back and plan to support them any way I can.

    Steven Bowden (aka cap’n greybeard)

    Pamela House

    SeaTech Systems

  10. Kent Little

    I, like a lot of people commenting, know Bob and Jody and advertised with Latts and Atts from time to time. I, unlike some others, did not have ad money spent that was basically ‘stolen’ at the time of L&A’s doors were closed. I can only speculate that most of what Mr. Doran says is not true and he seems not to be found to answer any questions. On the other hand, If I need to talk to Bob Bitchin, he answers the phone or email every time. Bob and Jody have done more for the cruisers and supporting the lifestyle than anyone else I’ve known in 30 years of selling boats. I know who I would put my trust in and I’m glad to support the new (and way improved) Cruising Outpost magazine.

  11. Bill LaJoie

    Yes, I know, I’m late to the party but I gotta say this – Mr Duran convicts himself with his own document. Basically, he admits that the basis of the sale of L&A was going to be funded from third party “investors”. Investors he never produced – for what ever reason. He then said his own due diligence was lacking. That’s HIS problem. No wonder Bob wanted the business back. If everything Duran says is true Duran’s best option was to give the company back and become a payable for his paltry claimed $120,000 investment – but he wouldn’t do it – Why? He wasn’t capable – by his own admission – of fulfilling his financial commitment to raise funds. Bob’s management method – even if flawed – kept the company going. Ultimately Bob would have to take tough fiscal action – but boating has been in the sh*ter since 2005. It was reasonable and responsible for Bob to seek out investment capital. In the end Bob was able to restart a new publication with many of his old employees and vendors and customers. A feeble mind could not have pulled THAT off! My hat is off to Bob and Company. But thanks to Mr Duran for telling the back story. It doesn’t make Duran look nice or smart or honest – he just looks, well, g*y.

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