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post #869 of Old 11-23-2012
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Re: HMS Bounty in trouble...

Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
Can you imagine the number of deaths in sailboats from Sandy if their were no weather forecasts from this new fangled technology which some makes people take increased risks.
Well, we can probably safely assume the number would still be at least 2...

Since you mention it, I would have to add what I often see as an undue amount of faith in the accuracy of modern forecasting/weather routing as another double-edged sword that SOMETIMES leads voyagers to take chances that a more prudent sailor would have been unlikely to do decades ago... Unquestionably, the greatly enhanced accuracy of modern forecasting, and the ease of access - both pre-departure, and while underway - that today's voyagers enjoy to weather information has made voyaging FAR safer today than in the past...

However, I still see many sailors today treating stuff like GRIB files as veritable gospel, and sometimes making precious little allowance for an ultimate variance in such forecasts... One only has to look at what happened with last fall's NARC rally between Newport and Bermuda to see an example of this... Those boats left despite an extremely narrow weather window open to them, and when that weather didn't pan out precisely as forecast by the rally's router, much of that fleet got hammered, and the resultant abandonment of boats, and the loss of one life... The resultant finger-pointing at Herb Hilgenberg in the aftermath was very unseemly (especially, given the fact that he had strongly cautioned against a departure from Newport to begin with), but seems to me a clear example of the tendency of some sailors today to look elsewhere for someone to "blame" when a forecast doesn't necessarily pan out as advertised, after having taken the risk of availing themselves of an extremely narrow window... I believe Mark alluded to such a situation as well, regarding a number of boats heading north from the Bahamas in spite of an unsettled weather pattern, obvious by simply reading the clouds, but in the hopes of catching a slight opening some forecasts might have hinted at...

Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
I have yet to see any real PROOF other than a few unsubstantiated opinions that more people are risking their lives because of the use of chart plotters. It is kind of like saying because you have a better chance of surviving an accident with a seatbelt we will all drive faster and risk more.
I'm sorry that you consider my opinions to be "unsubstantiated", as they are simply the results of what I have observed over a period of over 3 decades as a delivery skipper, and roughly 2 decades of cruising aboard my own boat... Be that as it may, I can assure you I am not alone in sharing some of these opinions, however... Would you consider the opinions of people like Don Street, or Steve Pavlidis, "unsubstantiated", as well?

I've tried to explain my reasons for believing why an over-reliance on electronic navigation was likely a major contributing factor in an incident like the RULE 62 tragedy... I'm not going to bother again, I've done so in my first-ever post here on Sailnet, I'd urge you once again to read it:

Sinking of Rule 62

Now, ask yourself the following: Do you think it was commonplace pre-GPS for cruisers not only to attempt, but to actually plan ahead on transiting a reef passage like Belize's Ranguana Pass at night? Do you think Bahamian cruisers would navigate The Devil's Backbone in poor light, or during a modest rage condition, as I've seen them doing nowadays? Even in the late afternoon, sun in their face, completely blind in their ability to read the water, and simply relying upon the GPS track of the path laid down by the pilot from Spanish Wells who took them across to Harbour Island the first time? Do you think it's likely a skipper would have brought a yacht worth well in excess of $1 million through one of the most dangerous and remote reef passages in all of the Bahamas - the entrance to the Columbus Anchorage at Samana Cay - in the dark, without relying upon GPS, and the extremely accurate Explorer Charts? Or, do you simply not consider such a maneuver "risky"? Better yet, do you simply think I'm making these anecdotes up, in support of an otherwise unsubstantiated opinion?

Sorry, but if you believe such risks were routinely being taken by sailors 30 or 40 years, you're dreaming...

I mentioned Steve Pavlidis above, the highly regarded author of some of the best cruising guides available for the Bahamas and Caribbean... I'm not at home at the moment, so I don't have access to my copy, but... In his introduction to his CRUISING GUIDE TO THE NORTHWEST CARIBBEAN, he explains why he has decided to decline to provide anything more than a basic Approach Waypoint to reef passes along the northern shores of places like Guanaja, and Roatan... Basically, because he has come to believe that cruisers are nowadays relying on such information to an undue extent, and are tempted into making such passages through areas where VPR rules only should apply, and eyeball navigation in good light is the ONLY way such passes should be attempted...

He simply wants no further part in contributing to what he considers to be a very dangerous, unseamanlike trend among some cruisers today... Feel free, however, to dismiss his opinion as "unsubstantiated", as well... (grin)

Again, speculation as to why the skipper of RULE 62 attempted to enter the North Bar Channel that night will likely forever be just that - pure speculation... My hypothesis is simply what I consider to be most likely, based upon the above described patterns of behavior I've observed over the years, and the extraordinary amount of trust ALL of us place in our ability to fix our positions today... I simply see a panicked, desperate captain, inexperienced in running inlets or cuts, who believed playing the video game on his chartplotter would lead him to safety... That's my hunch, nothing more...

You, however, have appeared to insist this could not possibly have been the case, and that this particular captain would have entered that cut in any event, whether he had such modern means of navigation at his disposal... I'll ask once again - how do you KNOW that, to state it with such assurance?

30 years ago, that guy would not have been there, to begin with... Modern cruising rallies only came into existence after the advent of GPS, after all. It's hard to me to imagine that a skipper who obviously never mastered the simple art of heaving-to, would have mastered the far more complex art of celestial navigation which would have been required to have gotten him there to begin with...

My scenario presents the actions of an inexperienced, panicked captain, who made a VERY bad decision contrary to the most basic rules of seamanship... To accept your hypothesis, however, one needs to accept that he still would have entered that cut without the modern electronic tools available to him... That, armed only with a sketch chart clearly intended for daylight use only, in good light, and without knowing with any degree of real precision - off a dark, featureless coast bounded by reefs, absent any lit navigational aids whatsoever - either his own position, or the location of that cut... That he would have proceeded, in rage conditions, through such a passage anyway?

Hell, Dave - I'm only suggesting that the guy made an extremely poor decision based upon an inordinate amount of faith in modern technology... What you're suggesting, is akin to a belief that the guy must have been clinically INSANE... (grin)

Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
Statistics show the numbers are down...hard to justify people are taking risks you are speculating on.
Again, I sure wish someone could find statistics addressed specifically to "cruiser-type" fatalities or incidents, and not those inflated with numbers from rescue operations such as these:

Last edited by JonEisberg; 11-23-2012 at 09:39 AM.
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