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Old 10-10-2008, 07:53 PM   #1
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This hurts me deeply to post this, but I feel I need to. We sometimes let our adventurous souls take control of our brain. Probably around the 27th of Sept. I met a young man on line that wanted to sail around the world. We as sailors hear these words all the time from newbies. I am not trying to discourage anyone from doing exactly that, sail around the world. We are all at some time a newbie. Be it sailing, or anything else in life.

What I will try to emphasize is that it is extremely rare for it to be successful for a newbie. Sailing is a skill, and a highly sought after skill. It takes many miles, days, and nights to be successful at sailing the world. There is sleep deprivation, wounds, storms, huge ships with no watch, broken boat parts, lack of strength, and at times eventually the lack of will to go on.

I read his blog with a bit about his life. I thought he could make it. He survived so much, and so close to death. He walked away with a smile, and a wonderful attitude. In the blog was a friend who had been there, and done it, or so it was said. In my mind this man did not give him enough tutoring, and let him leave with misconceptions of sailing.

In what he described as a strong breeze, and gusting to a near gale. He abandoned his boat. To most experienced sailors this kind of weather is seen often, and especially if you will sail the world. He sold everything to put his dream into a reality, and in a matter of 8 days he abandoned it.

I am not knocking this young man. What I am trying to do is make aware to people with dreamy eyes, and sweet dreams the need to realize the reality of what happens at sea. Take lessons, learn to navigate, know the boat you are leaving in intimately, be a McGiver, because you will have to fix anything at any given hour, be physically fit, charter different boats, or start small, and learn, learn, learn, practice, practice, practice, do coastal sailing, but my goodness be PREPARED.

Sailing is not a slick magazine cover. Sailing can be blood sweat & tears. The greater the skill the easier it gets. There is a new to our marina boat owner. I can see he is reading, and studying. I can also see he has his dream. When we talk I make sure I am his reality check. That I bring in the WHAT IF. I relay how I was hurt, but had to sail on. I know at times I sound negative, but I feel I have to put deep within his mind what can happen.

If you have the skill, and run into a storm. It can be a tough day, or 3 of sailing with exhaustion. If you haven't the skill the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare. FEAR is an ugly beast, and it can disable you, or make you stronger. PREPARATION is everything, and not only with the boat, but with the human brain & spirit too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.....BEST WISHES to all who choose to sail, and especially those who sail offshore on passages..........i2f
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Old 10-10-2008, 08:31 PM   #2
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:37 AM   #3
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Faint heart never won a .......

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Around 1979 a Scot with NO sailing experience started passages that gained a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II :-

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Old 10-11-2008, 02:21 PM   #4
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It is very clear it can be done. That goes without saying, and just possibly I myself am an example? I do know the Blyth story. You have to admit it is extremely sad to see these things unfold. Too many unprepared people go out to sea with no reality of what it can be like was my point..............i2f
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:34 PM   #5
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I am well pleased this topic came up because the concept of a sheer amateur sailing arround the world is a little worrying. Yes, it has been done. Chay Blyth did it and so did Shane Acton and several others but look beyond the amateur status label at the character himself. Both Shane Acton and Chay Blyth were professional soldiers. If my memeory serves me correctt, Blyth was an army man whereas Acton was a marine; not that it matters here. What matters is that they were both strong characters with lots of determination and trained to rely upon themselves in daunting circumstances. Certainly, you do not have to be a proffessional soldier to sail arround the world without ever having previously held a tiller but you do need the qualitiest the men had, unless you have more than your fair share of luck. In fact, luck has everything to do with the outcome unless you have the knowledge required to influence it yourself.

I do not wish to put anyone off, exactly the opposite in fact, but I certainly do not want to see dreams of cruising the world being dashed appart on rocks or other hazards of the seas. With experience, common sense and a well found craft there is no reason why a round-the-world voyage should not be a successful and enriching experience. With one of these components missing there is every chance that a dream will turn into a disaster; and that is a disaster we all share. Every cruising voyage that results in a rescue at sea, no matter how trivial, reflects badly upon all of us and results in increasing demands for governmental control.

Anyone contemplating cruising, be it coastal or deep sea, should have the intention of gaining at least the minimum amount of experience and knowledge required to safely complete the planned voyage before departure. Common sense is the most difficult of these and, I fear, cannot be learned; you are either endowered with it or you are not.

To return briefly to the successful navigations made be persons of the calibre of Blyth and Acton; they were indeed short on experience and even knowledge but they had a huge portion of positive mental attitude, survival ability and common sense which enabled them to overcome their shortcomings. I do not endorse this but merely point out that these qualities are invaluable when things start to go wrong.

As an argument against my point of view, it could be pointed out that some have succeeded in completing fantastic voyages whilst lacking in knowledge of the sea, boatsmanship and navigation as well as, perhaps, being challenged regarding common sense. That is true. That is what statistics tell us. There will always be someone who does the impossible to prove that 99.99% of the others are wrong. The trouble with statistics is that they are often regarded as absolute whereas they should, in most cases, be regarded as indicitive. Ask not "how many people sailed around the world with no prior knowledge" but instead ask "of those who sailed arround the world, and lived to tell the tale, what percentage had little or no knowledge of sailing, seamanship etc. before departure" I think the figures would speak for themselves.

Maintain your dreams for it is upon dreams that we build our lives and set benchmarks for future achievements but be realitic. Acknowledge the fact that the best way to achieve one's ambitions is to have the understanding, experience and knowledge required. Gain that experience and enjoy the cruising life, safely.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-12-2008, 05:11 AM   #6
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Without study - without research - without planning - without preparation - without attention to detail - without timing - without the experience of others - without practice - without the temperament for the sea. Without these, even a well found and financed boat may not complete its passage.

The key to successful and safe cruising is probably an amalgam all of the above.

I2F and Stephan summed it up!
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:47 AM   #7
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You are right, it sounded depressing.

Reality check vs a depressing downer is a thin line between the two.

I will print your post off and tuck it in my wallet. When I finally get to go and if all does not go well. I will pull it out and read it. Sort of a "I told you so to go".

Some people never have the courage to shove off from shore. Maybe the 8 days was not a failure as you feel it was. I have had some bad days on terra firma. Why did you not give me a heads up.

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Old 10-12-2008, 11:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckwheat View Post
Some people never have the courage to shove off from shore. Maybe the 8 days was not a failure as you feel it was. I have had some bad days on terra firma. Why did you not give me a heads up.
Did any of your bad days on terra firma, outside of a war zone, end in police and military forces rallying their resources to effect a rescue? Did someone ask a long-haul trucker to divert several days from his route in order to pick you up and take you with him to bring you to safety without any compensation for lost revenue or extra costs? And pay for your food while he was carrying you? Did it require a rescue plane to locate you? The difference is that at sea the outcome of a mistake is often much more serious than a problem on land. The freighter does not begrudge the time or effort expended, but that does not minimize the cost or risk to "innocent" bystanders.

I believe in the Coast Guard's responsibility to come to our aid when it is necessary. I do not feel that "necessary" should include rescuing a person who is in trouble due to his/her own ignorance and lack of preparation, though too often it does.
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Old 10-12-2008, 12:19 PM   #9
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Very good point, JeanneP.

There are accidents that happen and there are 'accidents waiting to happen'

IMHO, I think we are far too willing to rescue people free of charge when their predicament was predictable and inevitable - not a matter of 'if' but 'when'.

In the UK there have been a several individuals in the last few years who have required 'serial rescueing' - great resorces required from the emergency services, advice constantly ignored and no implication or cost on the individual.

No-one minds helping those who are well prepared and equipped for the task that they set themselves - unfortunately those who are ill equipped and ill prepared may take the resouces when they are required by the deserving.
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Old 10-13-2008, 03:53 AM   #10
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The same could be said for skiers, hunters, hikers, cross country skiers and everyone else who ventures from the safety of their front steps. I can remember living in Colorado the voluteers risking life and limb, plus $ to go look for someone who skied out of bounds and was in a snowslide. How about the idiots who were lost on Mt. Hood 2 years back.

Two nights ago I flew a lady off the island I am working on to Anchorage for a medical emergency. The cost of a medavac from here, about $25,000. It would have been a lot better for everyone involved if she lived in Anchorage. Better yet a few blocks from the hospital.

People are going to lead their lives, JP you did. Sometimes you can be saved sometimes not. The better prepared you are the better your chances. I always think long and hard about activating any sort of EMS. I think about the people riding in the plane coming to get my lady 1300 miles away in the middle of the night.

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Old 10-13-2008, 09:23 AM   #11
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I don't advocate everyone living a riskfree, sanitised life.

I do expect people to live with a degree of responsibility for their action - they may suffer an accident but they are not accidents waiting to happen.
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:58 PM   #12
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I fully agree with Ed and Jeanne.

There is a huge, fundamental difference between an accident hapening to someone who has prepared for voyage hike, climb or whatever it may be and to someone getting into difficulties because of being un-prepared or downright stupid. During my days at sea in the coast guard the cutter I served most of my time on picked up the same guy on six different occasions! Each time for a triviality but he screamed for help. Eventually, to get him to keep out of our waters we had to threaten to confiscate his oat if he ever came back. In point of fact, it was a threat we had no legal ground to enforce but it worked.

I also had one instance where a guy had bought a lovely, new, steel motor cruiser in the Netherlands. He folowed the coast and canals home but had to cross about 30 NM ofo pen water and then got lost. Despite one of the strogest lighthouses in the area (vis 22NM) flashing away above his head he ended up a a minefield of rocks and skerries. We got him out with his boat intact and discovered that on this $200,000 STEEL boat he only had a little Silva orienteering compass. I can't believe that he cold not afford a decent shp's compass and the cost of having it swung.

In my view, and I have only my own annecdotal evidence for this, 90% or more of the situatons which I have participated and"rescued" people from have been caused by alcohol, ignorance, incompetence, lack of experience, seasickness, nerves or not having the right gear aboard. In each of these cases the cost to society was an unreasonable and unnecessary burdon on the taxpayer. Only very few have been caused by a gear malfunction when all was reasonably believed to be well.

I am a great believer in the spirit of the sea and the concept of seamen helping each other but I expect people to help themselves first.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 10-13-2008, 06:54 PM   #13
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I work in EMS & the figures work out as follows:

90% of our calls are NOT true emergencies, though they are often percieved as such by callers.

10% of our calls are true emergencies.

1% of our calls are actual life threats.

I am sure that the figures are different, if not only due to perceptions, out to sea.

Sailing is not simply a pastime (IMO). It is a lifestyle... It encompasses many responsibilities that I see addressed here quite often. I, and I am sure many others, rally here to glean insight and an experienced opinion from those who are actively doing that which we are working to do. One who has experience is oft' saddled with the responsibility to nurture those who follow. But is it the responsibility of those setting out to seak that voice of experience, and to consider the advice gained in their future sailing endevours. Both happen here. It is because we care so much about each other that we care whether those who endevour succeed or fail. It is because we care so much about each other that we get on those boats and planes and helicopters to try to help those in trouble. By the same standard it is because we care about those that would be placed in financial burden, or far more often in harm's way that we have a responsibility to prepare for self-help and self-rescue to the best of our ability! Any Skipper has a grave responsiblity for his craft and his crew. So many folks today expect rescue rather than accept that it may not be available.

I get called out in my ambulance due to human stupidity nearly every shift. I would certainly prefer to respond to only real emergencies. But if I were one of the people responsible for off-shore rescues I would still have the attitude that I have on each and every call I take in-shore: No matter how stupid this person I am responding to has been, he or she is someone's son, daughter, brother, sister, mom, dad, grandma or grampa... And they deserve the right for me to deliver them safely home so that they can beat them to a pulp themselves!!!

In words of Ron White; You can't fix stupid!

I am not as experienced as most of you and I have already had days at sea where I was thinking that if I ever got to dry land again I would never venture out. Luckily, I have a short memory and after a rough time or two I figure out that the boat can take more than I can "if" I maintain the boat. The next time things get really rough it is something less alarming and I get to await the next level of testing.

I am also saddened to hear that this one young man was put off after 8 days at sea. I don't know how he prepared, what weather window he left in, what boat he took in what condition, or where he was at... But I know he gave up- That is what saddens me!

David
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Old 10-13-2008, 11:34 PM   #14
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While I agree totally with the first post in this thread, let's not forget the fact that the boy finally pulled the EPIRB after his rudder shaft had broken and he had zero steering ability.
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