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Old 02-09-2007, 10:45 PM   #1
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Default Risks and Dangers

What are the real risks and dangers at sea?

I have read with great interest about pirates, the debate of guns or not, and the discussions of sailing in convoy. I am forming the conclusions to simply avoid the known problem areas and do not pack guns. The advantages of traveling in convoy seems to far out weigh the disadvantages.

It seems the likelyhood of perils other than pirates are much greater. The list is endless.

What are the greatest risks, actual incidnets?

What do the maritime statistics say?

Top five to ten types of incidents?

How many small boats are lost at sea each year? Why?

How many people (**) die at sea each year, because they were there?

Could it have been avoided?

** Meaning ordinary cruisers, not deep sea fisherman, or those exceeding all limits attempting to set extreme records.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:38 PM   #2
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My 82yo mother worries every time I take off on my boat again. I use to drive a chemical tanker hauling HazMat over the road in the US: THAT WAS CRAZY! DANGEROUS! Sailing is very safe so long as:

1) good boat with proper equipment (p.e. means good sails, storm sails, bilge pumps, etc before radar, water-maker, bimini).

2) reasonable intelligence is applied.

Does this gaurantee you will be safe? No. If that's what you want, don't get out of bed.
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Old 02-18-2007, 08:11 PM   #3
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Hi Aqua Man,

Not sure any one person might be able to answer all those questions. Guess a lot of global stats are simply not collected.

I may sound obvious but IMHO most sailing incidents are really minor - engineering or electrical breakdowns, groundings, personal injuries, etc. If all you do is keep your wits about you to the level required to say, drive a car, then you'll avoid or deal with most of those OK.

I do hear occassionally about boat theft, so making sure an unattended vessel is really secure comes high on my list - and organising someone you trust to act as watch in your absence always makes sense. Again, on a daily basis, ensuring you are securely anchored is pretty important.....but one could list hundreds of such safety issues.

But I 100% support your views re piracy risks (although on a global scale the risk is truly insignificant). We too simply avoid risky regions, breath a lot easier each time entering a new land with no arms on board, and spend the money saved on safety kit that has a greater practical value than a gun.

Good luck with your answers,

JOHN
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Old 02-18-2007, 11:33 PM   #4
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Hello Aquaman,

My Radio logs over the last 7 years in the seas of S.E. Asia and the Indian Ocean reflect that the greatest risks and dangers to cruisers are some of the following - not in any order of severity :-

1) Dragging anchor, resulting in holing the boat on rocks.

2) Hull fittings giving way to seawater.

3) Dismasting due to rigging failure.

4) Boom connecting head.

5) Fingers caught in sheet/winches.

6) Engine failure at the same time as wind failure.

7) Infection from minor injuries becoming major problems.

8) Fuel contamination.

9) Outboard engine stolen.

Many risks are probably minimized by good maintenance practice and planning - common sense -

and waiting for the storm to pass - etccc....
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Old 02-19-2007, 02:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MMNETSEA View Post
1) Dragging anchor, resulting in holing the boat on rocks.

2) Hull fittings giving way to seawater.

3) Dismasting due to rigging failure.

4) Boom connecting head.

5) Fingers caught in sheet/winches.

6) Engine failure at the same time as wind failure.

7) Infection from minor injuries becoming major problems.

8) Fuel contamination.

9) Outboard engine stolen.
To Richard's list I might add:

10) Navigation errors leading to groundings.

11) Knockdowns, broachings or swampings from high seas - possibly leading to dis-masting.

12) Steering failure

I would also note that pretty much everything on the list is avoidable with preparation (having the right information ahead of time either weather information or charts, or cruising guides) or experience.
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Old 02-19-2007, 05:40 AM   #6
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Thanks,

That helps. It seems to me, that I could fairly summarize the responses thus far as cruising is no different than many other endeavors in life. If one obtains and uses education, experience, skills, good judgment, has adequate and correct equipment, properly maintains it, goes properly prepared, has back up equipment for critical systems, has a sound plan and alternatives, and practices risk management, the results generally are favorable.

As a new wanna-be cruiser, just starting my studies and internet search, one of the most serious and eye-opening things I found on a few web sites was the pirate issue, perhaps followed by the advice of do not carry arms. That information combined with the advice do not fit together very well in my mind. Given more time, research, statistics, explanations and facts it becomes more clear, easier to understand and makes better sense.

In the same light, early in our discussions of perusing a cruising endeavor, we heard the news on national TV about the Ken Barnes solo circumnavigation gone bad and the rescue. Shortly after that I learned of The Flying Pig grounding and ordeal.

Combined those incidents prompted my questions. My goal is not to let things happen that are avoidable and should they happen have a way of dealing with them.
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Old 02-19-2007, 08:09 AM   #7
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Yes, agreed.

If we all remember human nature will report on and discuss the more 'exciting' safety issues over the most common, then piracy and guns will be seen in the right perspective.

Good luck with your planning and hoping to see you out there sometime.

JOHN
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Old 02-19-2007, 11:00 AM   #8
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Probably the best lesson that Peter taught me when we first started out was that you had to do it right the first time. That meant not rushing in all willy-nilly before the brain had engaged and thought out the problem. It is surprising just how much time you really have to sort things out.

However, as you will have seen from the Flying Pig debacle, all those little mistakes in the beginning can pile up into a BIG problem, so the second lesson is to be prepared. Among other things, that means checking each other's navigation.

One of the problems with having been cruising for as long as we have is that every topic pops up a story. So here's today's story.

We were heading up to the Great Sandy Straits in Australia on our way north to Darwin. One has to negotiate the bar at Tin Can Bay, and usually that means leaving Mooloolaba or Brisbane the night before to get to the bar in the morning. The coordinates and bearings through the pass (there is a range to follow, but one must pay attention) are posted by the volunteer coasties at Tin Can Bay and they are very good about standing by to answer all questions. It's a bit worrying because the waves are breaking all along the bar and you don't want to make a mistake or you will be high and dry on the sand bar and being pounded unmercifully.

As we were heading in through the passage, we heard another sailboat calling frantically "we can't find the pass, there are waves breaking all around us!" the Coastie asked the fellow his coordinates, and the reply prompted the coastie to yell "You're a mile off! Get out of there right now. Take a reciprocal course and get out!"

Silence.

that got everyone's attention, and I'm sure every boat for 15 miles was listening to this conversation.

The Coastie called the boat again, and again, repeating his instructions. Finally the fellow came back, saying "I'm trying to figure out a reciprocal course! (turned out he was the teenage son of the owner/skipper)" In other words, he didn't know what a reciprocal course was (add, or subtract, 180 degrees from present course). Finally, they were out of trouble and everyone breathed a sigh of relief as the coastie told the boat to follow the fishing boat in, asking the skipper of the fishing boat to wait for the fellow.

It turns out that the sailboat was VERY inexperienced. He was one minute off course. "What's a minute?" he could ask since he hadn't a clue that the pass through the bar, less than a 1/4 mile wide, could not be missed by one mile, or one minute of a degree.

Both of us know how to navigate, and that's good because it's pretty easy to make a small, one minute error. One's ego cannot get in the way out there. We check each other, discuss what is happening, and generally avoid bad mistakes. Most important, I learned to think first. Another thing I learned was to assert myself. "I don't want to go out in bad weather." "Too bad, let them wait if necessary." "It's time to find shelter, we're both too tired to try to fight this." You get the idea.

Sometimes you just have bad luck. We were once T-boned by a car running a red light, it's a wonder we weren't both killed. An acquaintance got hit and killed by a truck that lost control and ran up onto a sidewalk to hit the fellow. My sister lost her leg when hit by a huge truck on the other side of a divided highway that lost control and ran into five or six cars of oncoming traffic. Pretty grim.

In sv Watermelon's logs is a paragraph in the General Bits and Pieces entry, "sailing is safer". I should add the last several years' land accidents to that list. It's all relative, isn't it?

Fair winds,

Jeanne
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Old 02-19-2007, 04:18 PM   #9
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Jeanne

I enjoy the stories about real life experiences. I think it helps to know history, learn from others and their experiences and not learn everything the hard way through the school of hard knocks.

The young lad in Tin Can Bay is history. I got the point of the history lesson.

I know what a reciprocal and a minute are, but have much to learn in the way of nautical terminology and general knowledge.

My goal is to cast off with confidence, properly prepared. At this point I realize that I don't even know all the questions yet.

~ ~ ~

Swagman

QUOTE: Not sure any one person might be able to answer all those questions. Guess a lot of global stats are simply not collected.

I didn't know. I guess that makes sense as no single country, jurisdiction or agency is charged with compiling and reporting the stats.

The responses are providing valuable information, things to consider and prepare for or prevent.

QUOTE: If we all remember human nature will report on and discuss the more 'exciting' safety issues over the most common, then piracy and guns will be seen in the right perspective.

Understood. That is the basis for the news media, and reporting the "Top Stories and The Headlines".

~ ~ ~

MMNETSEA and dnelson combined provided the numbered list. That helps a lot.

It is comforting to know that most risks and dangers are preventable, at least manageable.
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Old 02-20-2007, 04:54 AM   #10
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I must have missed it.

CAPTIAN'S ERROR. All of these problems was caused by the Captian.

What is the worst accident, the one that you have. Proper planning, study, training, time on water is needed to reduce "chances".

Safety is a key issue on a boat. If one cannot handle it or affored it, he should be willing to take the risk.

To put this in the right order. It is far safer to be on the water than driving an R/V, in my view.
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Old 02-20-2007, 05:51 AM   #11
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nothing beats experience

ie. get out there and do it (preferably with somebody more experienced)
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Old 02-22-2007, 11:51 AM   #12
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Offhand I can think of these catagories of risk:

Gear failure

Your own error as a captain, or crew errors

Some one elses error as a captain

Piracy, theft or other criminal activity

The first two are the most common, you can reduce the chance of gear failure with regular maintainence and by buying good gear in the first place.

Assuming you have studied how to be a good captain the number one cause of error is fatigue. That is why a comfortable place to sleep, reasonable watch schedule and good food are all very important. If you one of those people who goes out using a road map for a chart then we can't save you

Crew errors often come from captain's errors, for example failure to warn your helmsman about rocks in the channel, or not teaching them that the main sheet on a 100 ton schooner has enough force to lift them off the deck and pull thier hand into a block when uncleated. Under many circumstances a crews error is legally the captains error and there is a good reason for that.

Being a good captain yourself reduces the chance that you will be adversly affected by some one else's mistake.

Though piracy and criminal activity are serious problems they don't happen nearly as often as running aground or something breaking.
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Old 02-22-2007, 05:17 PM   #13
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You might want to try this one.

Every time we take out a crew, we always nominate who's 'fault' it is in advance of any mistake being made. Like 'Whatever goes wrong today is xxxxxxx fault - OK?'

Kinda takes the issues out of when someone does stuff something up as they usually do, and it also results in the nominated person keeping a special eye on most everything - so they don't have to 'take' the blame.

Cheers

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Old 02-23-2007, 08:28 AM   #14
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This business of experience and misstakes is a bit of a catch 22 situation.

Misstakes come from lack of experience, but, unfortunately, experience comes from making mistakes.

How do we avoid making mistakes and yet gain experience? The answer is not difficult. Get the training needed and thus gain experinece under supervision. This can mean going to a sailing school but it also means learning from others and there are many contributors to this forum who willingly share their experiences so others can learn.

Having said that, seamanship is essentially MCS - Mostly Comon Sense. Given a degree of experience and the ability to think out of the box most problems can be avoided.

Good seamen (includes women of course) are practical, pragmatic people who learn to cope with difficulties and find solutions to problems without shouting for help as soon as something goes wrong.

Aye

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