Damon Duhaulonsod, third from left in back row, holds a copy of the first edition of Hawai'i Skin Diver, which he published in October. Duhaylonsod is surrounded by his family, whom he credits with the inspiration and support necessary to start the magazine.
Photo by Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin

A family magazine

With the help of his family, Damon Duhaylonsod tapped into his diving experience and respect for the ocean to create a new publishing business - Hawai'i Skin Diver magazine

By Greg Ambrose

Hawaii's newest magazine is a down-home venture, just as its publisher intended.

Sure, it would be less expensive to have Hawai'i Skin Diver printed off-island, but Damon Duhaylonsod says he wants to support the local economy.

And it would be easy to make Hawai'i Skin Diver a Kodak-moment magazine filled with photos of grinning hunters and their speared trophies.

"We try to bring back the family," he said. "In spearfising, you spear the fish and share the food. I want people to see you don't just kill the fish.

"We're using the magazine to educate people to do it the right way, so there is something left for our kids."

The magazine is a visible symbol of Duhaylonsod's values, from the older relatives who taught him to love the ocean to the younger ones who help him create and distribute each issue. And especially the keiki, who he hopes will be the beneficiary of his attempt to remind divers to protect Hawaii's ocean resources.

Beginning at age 6, Duhaylonsod became familiar with the ocean and its creatures near his Nanakuli home. The Air Force taught him a vocation and gave him a tour of the world, but when he returned home he found that a luxury resort had destroyed his boyhood fishing grounds.

That was all the inspiration he needed to start a magazine to help people in Hawaii realize how easy it is to lose something important. "It's not about catching the biggest fish. It's about culture and tradition and the right ways of doing things."

The first issue of Hawai'i Skin Diver hit the stores last October weighing in at 20 pages. The price was $2.50, and it was purely a labor of aloha. None of the writers or photographers was paid, and family members distributed the magazine to dive shops, sporting goods stores, supermarkets and drug stores statewide.

"Everybody said 'Let's just do it.' They believed in what I wanted to do," Duhaylonsod said. He came up with a few thousand dollars to pay for printing 3,000 copies, and a magazine was born.

By the second issue in January, everybody was getting paid, the press run was increased to 4,000 copies, the size increased to 36 pages and the cover price rose to $3.50.

The whole thing cost $10,000, and advertising paid for more than half.

The third edition of the magazine has just been printed, still costing $3.50 and still 36 pages, though Duhaylonsod said he could easily have filled 50 pages. He kept it at 36 to be able to print 7,000 copies. But the magazine isn't likely to outgrow itself.

"We want to stay a quarterly because we don't want to lose that personal touch," he said. "And besides, it's too much work."

Everett Peacock puts out an international edition of Hawai'i Skin Diver that can be found on the Internet at http://peacock.com/skindiver. It's full color, has more stories than the printed edition and includes stories and photos submitted by foreign readers.

The Internet version carries all the local ads and has attracted 200 daily international hits, which delights the advertisers.

The staff of contributors has grown to include eight writers, four photographers, two illustrators and four editors.

Every aspect of production is done in Hawaii to stimulate business locally, Duhaylonsod said. "With each issue, about 50 people make money off the magazine."

The magazine is assembled on computers at whoever's house the collaborators decide to gather at. "We're a bunch of local people trying to get by. We can't afford an office."

Although the magazine is generating money, Duhaylonsod isn't about to quit his night job, the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at Aeronautical Radio Inc. The company maintains contact with aircraft beyond the Federal Aviation Administration's 250-mile zone of influence. It links the aircraft with Hawaii, providing information and help during emergencies.

Double work duty has forced Duhaylonsod, 30, to give up being a Little League coach and manager for his four children, and has reduced his dive time drastically. But he plans to expand the scope of the magazine with trips to other Pacific dive spots.

His biggest goal is to create a Hawaii skin diving team whose members would go to elementary schools to get kids excited about diving and exploring the ocean as an alternative to taking drugs and joining gangs.

"There is so much to give in Hawaii, but people are always just looking at money," he said. "That's why I feel passionate about what I'm doing. The bottom line here is educating the kids."

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