A man of many words, great parties

Posted on Written by Reagan Haynes
George Lyle "Skip" Allen Sr. spent a lifetime on the water and built a career in marine publishing.

George Lyle “Skip” Allen Sr. spent a lifetime on the water and built a career in marine publishing.

George Lyle “Skip” Allen Sr., co-founder of Popular Boating magazine, which later became Boating magazine, and founder of Southern Boating magazine, died March 23 in Fort Lauderdale. He was 84.

His son, Southern Boating publisher Skip Allen Jr., says his father had been diagnosed with cancer.

Allen Sr. was born in New York on Oct. 24, 1929, and joined the merchant marine during World War II. He was later involved in promoting America’s Cup campaigns and participated by driving photography and committee boats. He relocated the family to Miami Beach in 1967, where he worked for Bertram Yachts.

Robert Black, of Bob Black & Co. Inc. in Sun City Center, Fla., says the industry has “lost a compadre and an innovator.” Black says he met Allen when Allen worked with Dick Bertram at Bertram Yachts as sales vice president, where he helped the company reach record sales.

“Skip and his magazine used to throw the best, I mean very best parties on the first night of the Miami show — did it for years and it was the toughest invite in town,” Black says. “It was held at his home on Biscayne Bay, and it was a rip-roaring good time with a fine jazz band made up of mostly industry veterans, including the editor of Yachting on trombone.”

Allen began his marine journalism career working for Charles Chapman as an ad salesman for Motorboating & Sailing. In 1972, he founded Southern Boating magazine, and he began guiding flotillas of recreational boat owners to the Bahamas shortly thereafter.

He founded the Marine Business Journal to serve as the “voice of the marine industry,” and also founded Mar Abierto, the first Spanish-language recreational boating magazine published in the United States. It was distributed throughout Central and South America, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.

A member of the Cruising Club of America, Allen was instrumental in the formation of the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race.

He was recognized with many awards, including the first Monk Farnham Award; the 1987 National Marine Manufacturers Association Directors Award; the 2001 Marine Industries of South Florida Golden Anchor Award; the 2004 Charles F. Chapman Memorial Award; and the 2013 Cacique Award for International Writer of the Year presented by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

He was a member of the Larchmont (N.Y.) Yacht Club; Storm Trysail Club; Royal Nassau (Bahamas) Sailing Club; Cruising Club of America; Ocean Reef Club; SORC; and the Lauderdale (Florida) Yacht Club, including the Restless Weasels.

In 2005 the National Marine Manufacturers Association cited Allen’s promotion of the industry and recreational boating for more than four decades as it presented him with the 2004 Charles F. Chapman Memorial Award. At the time, the NMMA called Allen “one of the pioneers of recreational boating in Florida, the Bahamas and throughout the southeast U.S. and Caribbean.”

At the time, Allen lived aboard his trawler Press On Regardless, splitting his time between Florida and the Bahamas. After the hurricanes that devastated parts of the Bahamas at the time, Allen used his magazines to organize aid for the region , advising boaters about islands that had remained undamaged in an effort to promote badly needed tourism.

Allen’s greatest love was his family, and from an early age they were instilled with a love for boating. Through his example, his family all share his passion, which gave him enormous satisfaction and pride.

An initial article in Trade Only Today announcing Allen’s passing drew dozens of comments within days from people in the boating industry who wanted to pay tribute to a person they called an industry icon, as well as remember his legendary Miami parties.

“Skip Allen was a no-nonsense, speak-it-as-he-saw-it and overall great friend to me and to the marine industry,” Gordon Connell wrote. “I was a neophyte in the marine industry when I got started, and he gave words of wisdom and encouragement every time we met or would call to light a fire under me if he was so moved. He and all the Allen family have always been voices of support for me, and for that I am truly grateful.”

Allen’s memorial was held in Fort Lauderdale on April 8. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Bahamas Air-Sea Rescue Association, which he helped form to assist yachts in emergency situations.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue.

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