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Old 06-07-2007, 03:54 PM   #1
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When John Vigor was musing about why some cruisers are unlucky to "have more accidents" or are "hit by more bad weather" than others, he came up with the following theory in his book "Practical Mariner's Book of Knowledge".


There is no such thing as fortuitous luck at sea. The reason why some boaters survive storms or have fewer accidents than others is that they earn their luck by diligent and constant acts of seamanship.

Aboard every boat there's an invisible black box. Every time a skipper takes the trouble to consult the chart, inspect the filters, go forward on a rainy night to check the running lights, or take any other proper seamanlike precaution, he or she earns a point that goes into the black box. In times of stress, in heavy weather or other threatening circumstances where human skill and effort can accomplish no more, the points are cashed in as protection... Those skippers with no points in the box are the ones later described as unlucky.

The skipper has no control over the withdrawal of points, and once points have been removed, then the skipper must immediately start to replenish their savings, for the sea offers no credit.

Food for thought!



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Old 06-07-2007, 04:15 PM   #2
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Boy, can I relate to that! Peter is the most conscientious about maintenance and ship's systems. His one real blind spot is that he doesn't conserve energy when the weather is calm and the going is good. I make up for that because I'm more conscious of my limitations in that area.

"Tomorrow" is not the time to fix that problem. Who knows when the next waterspout is going to hit you!

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 06-07-2007, 06:31 PM   #3
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I agree with that, I would liken it to most experiences where you need to focus on your job no matter what you're doing, and not put things off. Take it seriously.
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:32 PM   #4
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Along the same line of thought, there is an old salt on our dock that I often consult with. He and his wife have been living aboard and cruising for most of their lives. They have demonstrated to me that a well prepared vessel and couple can venture for 3 years without any major issues whatsoever.

The salt shared with me that he and his wife do not like to cruise with groups of other boats because the weakest link law prevails in groups. He shared with me a story regarding a vessel in a South American port that was looking for a pump that he just happened to have as a spare. He said that he refused to sell the pump because it would then mean that this unprepared individual would be making his shortcoming in planning his problem. He said that the individual in need of the pump then spoke poorly of he and his wife to all the other cruisers.

My question is this, do you suppose that there is a balance between "black box points" and "Karma"? Should he have sold him the pump leaving himself without a spare?
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:16 PM   #5
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I think it is in our nature as cruisers and good people to assist where we can, even with the knowledge that providing assistance can be to our cost. I learned a lesson after giving a rebuilt Jabsco to a cruiser who was marooned with an inoperable engine.

The couple on the boat seemed like a lovely pair; sincere, warm hearted and honest. So I parted with my expensive spare pump on the promise that they had ordered a replacement and would return my pump when their new part arrived.

These people were anchored east of Darwin at Black Point, a pearling company's anchorage. The pearling company was going to fly the new part to them, from Darwin. They did not contact me when they arrived in Darwin a fortnight later, a fact which surprised me when I saw their boat at anchor off the Darwin Sailing Club. I accepted their excuse for non contact, and asked how they had fared with their new part. I was then told the replacement pump had arrived only after they had left the pearling anchorage and that it had subsequently been flown back to Darwin for them.

I was told this on a Saturday morning. They were going to collect the pump and fit it on the following Monday. They promised to buy me dinner if I would meet them at the Sailing Club on the Tuesday night. On the Tuesday night I learned they had set sail. I was left a note saying they had wanted to make up for lost time and chose to sail for Indonesia on a good tide. They had, I discovered, previously arranged for Customs to clear them out on Monday morning.

So, I contacted the pearling company's chief engineer (a mate of mine) and asked if they had the pump in their stock. Nope! The pump had been flown to the Black Point anchorage and was fitted to the boat by a company mechanic, free of any charge before they had set sail for Darwin. My pump, was boxed and left with the boat as a spare.

These people had deliberately stolen my $600 pump despite my gesture of friendship and successful attempt to get them sailing again. There was nowhere else they could possibly sail to from Black Point, other than Darwin, so I felt somewhat insured against their 'forgetting' to return it.

Moral: If someone wants an expensive spare part in future I will give it gladly with the sole provision that they give me the paperwork, and authority to collect their ordered replacement. I therefore believe the old Salt was wiser than me under the same circumstances.

It's all just a little bit sad.


PS...This happened many years ago and while I would like to say the offending party was a foreigner, I cannot. He was Australian and probably made his way around the world thieving from others as he went. Meanwhile, I am still happy to give fuses, nuts bolts and other 'bits' wherever I can in the hope that weeny kharma scraps will bond to form a sizeable chunk in time.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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Old 06-12-2007, 12:44 AM   #6
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In direct contradiction to the laws of Karma is the prevailing truism that "No good deed goes unpunished".
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Old 07-05-2007, 06:23 PM   #7
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"Black Box" installed - ready to launch!
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:49 PM   #8
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We keep spares to keep our boat fit, and safe. I would never give a part unless I still had a third one. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. My goal is to keep me, mine, and my loved ones safe. You can't do that with someone else sailing off with your goods. We all know the first thing to break is what we don't have aboard.
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Old 09-26-2007, 09:35 PM   #9
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The “Black Box” concept is so true, but to my salted psyche, a bit inanimate and bland.

My yacht is my wife and our marriage is one of complete unconditional devotion, to the needs of each other.

I will love her and take care of all her needs, keep studying so as to never purposely put her in harms way and make sure she looks her best around the other girls. In return she will look after me and my other wife, who feels the same way about her.

At times of nautical stress, we all know that we have all done our best to keep this marriage afloat!
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Old 10-01-2007, 06:37 AM   #10
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Wherever we sailed, we found over and over again that it's usually the same people having problems.

When we sailed across the Pacific, the people that had problems in French Polynesia were the same ones that had problems in New Zealand and points onward. I don't think this is an accident.

Some people make choices that create a trail of destruction. When you first meet them, you transiently feel sorry for their tales of woe, but before long it becomes clear that the problem is them. They just don't get it. I think the black box theory probably sums it up reasonably well; whatever deposits they make are too little and too late. It's all about preparation. If you don't prepare to succeed, then be prepared to fail. If you don't prepare for problems, then be prepared for the disasters that are sure to follow.

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