I think the OP was making the point that people are tending to call for help too soon.
Yes, with the ease of calling for a rescure via EPIRBs, Satphones and PLBs, it now seems some sailors call the Coast Guard when conditions become uncomfortable and/or scary. When I registered my PLB with SARSAT, that was not the standard for activiation that I recall. If I understand correctly, an abandoned vessel at sea is free to the first individual who salvages it, or at least that individual can claim a hefty salvage fee for the vessel.
What about the consequences of abandoning ship unnecessarily?
1. You risk the lives of everyone on board when you transfer to the helicopter or other ship;
2. You risk the lives of your rescuers, including the Coast Guard;
3. It diverts the Coast Guard from rescuing people who really need to be rescued, i.e., vessel is sinking and/or someone is seriously injured and needs immediate medical attention;
4. You cause the economic waste of losing someone's valuable recreational sailboat and all the costs attendent to your rescue; and
5. Unless you scuttle the vessel, it remains a hazard to navigation, probably an even greater hazard.
Everyone who contemplates an ocean passage should read K. Adlard Coles' "Heavy Weather Sailing." Many have survived far worse than 50 knots and 20 foot waves - there are racers who continue racing in those conditions. In a storm, you should expect to lose your electrical power, your engine and to have water ingress. If you are not emotionally and psychologically prepared for that, you should not head offshore.
This boat was apparently in no danger of sinking but then they had no way of knowing what the storm was doing without electronics. It's pretty scary at night with 20' seas and no idea whether things are going to get worse BUT does that warrant bailing out? I personally do not think so. There are lots of ways of stabilizing a situation: trailing warps, heaving-to, drogues, etc. These are well documented, much used, and effective.
Judging by the regular posts on Sailnet, it seems a majority of the sailors today might have skipped the basics, the foundation of sailing, and jumped to the electronic gizmos phase. Without their electricity and engine, they are helpless. They literally cannot sail without the modern conveniences.
With all respect to D. Ferron whose opinion I respect (especially for her work with the Coast Guard Auxiliary), the facile response to every incident nowadays, from sailing to politics, is "well, lets wait for the investigation." That is pure corporate b.s. No, an investigation is not necessary to form a preliminary opinion about any particular event. There are enough facts here to reveal the problem. So what if the newspaper did not understand what a sea anchor is?
Did the investigation change any one's opinion about the Bounty incident? No, it only reinforce the validity of those of us who correctly concluded the captain was reckless. When are we going to hear the results of the investigation of the other delivery captain who lost the Island Packet off Cape Hatteras earlier in the year? Do we still need more facts?
Taking any boat into the ocean offshore under any condition requires a bare minimum of stuff to save your a$$ if things don't go right. Anyone purporting to be a professional has the responsibility of being so prepared. It does not seem like they were adequately prepared. On my own boat I have all that equipment and would not take the boat out of sight of land without it. I would certainly not consider risking my life by taking a strange boat with inadequate equipment offshore just to do a delivery for someone. An attitude of nonchalance toward the ocean seems to be a big contributing factor in these incidents..
The ease of calling for help has encouraged this nonchalance and now we are seeing the results.
So what should be the point at which one gets on the horn or inflates the liferaft or activates the EPIRB? It would be interesting to hear what folks think a minimum list of equipment should be before considering venturing into the ocean 50 miles.
I would certainly include flashlights on that list. Everytime I go to my own boat, even for a day sail, I take a bag with my GPS, my weather radio, my handheld VHF, flashlights, a camera and a video camera, along with all the gear and equipment already on my boat.