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  #1  
Old 08-08-2013
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Vanishing Seamanship

This has been bothering me for some time, now. I just don't understand what's going on with all these tall ships and yachts being abandoned or sunk, or like the racers off California last year, with significant loss of life.
For years vessels like the Bounty, the Astrid, the Nina and Concordia sailed the seas avoiding hurricanes, "downdrafts" and rocks, but they all perished in the last few years.
Never before have multiple vessels been abandoned in one season (that I know of) sailing from the East Coast to Bermuda, and it's happened two years in a row! Not racing, which is a whole other ball game, but just cruisers on their way to the Caribbean.
And now Archangel is lost in an area well known and oft traveled by forum members; a seemingly unexplainable loss.
So what is going on? Is the weather changing so drastically that experienced mariners are unable to adjust? Is it just a numbers game; there are many more boats out there doing this, so there are going to be more tragedies? Or is it the crews, the captains and owners?
I continually see professional captains operating charter and private yachts down here in the Caribbean who seem to emulate the most inexperienced bare boater. Of course, we all screw up now and then, but why is it always happening while I'm watching? Honestly though, ask any cruiser and they will all have astoundingly similar tales, of big bucks boats seemingly handled by novices.
Thirty years ago when I was operating the big bucks boats, I saw very few screw ups by professional crews. There was competence and pride in our boat handling (without bow thrusters or even twin screws) that seems to be missing in today's professionals and a serious lack of basic seamanship in many of the cruisers of today.
Or maybe it's just global warming.....
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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Sign of the times. Easy entry. Apps galore. I'd go on but I'm out here doing it...
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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Maybe it's just complacency due to over reliance on the next best thing in electronics.

I kinda just shake my head when I hear these guys talk'n about their new AP with the remote control.

And then there's a guy several slips down that couldn't go sailing for three weeks cause his BT'er wasn't working on his Bene50
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Old 08-08-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by capta View Post
This has been bothering me for some time, now. I just don't understand what's going on with all these tall ships and yachts being abandoned or sunk, or like the racers off California last year, with significant loss of life.
For years vessels like the Bounty, the Astrid, the Nina and Concordia sailed the seas avoiding hurricanes, "downdrafts" and rocks, but they all perished in the last few years.
Never before have multiple vessels been abandoned in one season (that I know of) sailing from the East Coast to Bermuda, and it's happened two years in a row! Not racing, which is a whole other ball game, but just cruisers on their way to the Caribbean.
And now Archangel is lost in an area well known and oft traveled by forum members; a seemingly unexplainable loss.
So what is going on? Is the weather changing so drastically that experienced mariners are unable to adjust? Is it just a numbers game; there are many more boats out there doing this, so there are going to be more tragedies? Or is it the crews, the captains and owners?
I continually see professional captains operating charter and private yachts down here in the Caribbean who seem to emulate the most inexperienced bare boater. Of course, we all screw up now and then, but why is it always happening while I'm watching? Honestly though, ask any cruiser and they will all have astoundingly similar tales, of big bucks boats seemingly handled by novices.
Thirty years ago when I was operating the big bucks boats, I saw very few screw ups by professional crews. There was competence and pride in our boat handling (without bow thrusters or even twin screws) that seems to be missing in today's professionals and a serious lack of basic seamanship in many of the cruisers of today.
Or maybe it's just global warming.....
Who knows? Too many helm stations, perhaps? Too many 15" Simrad Glass Bridge displays?

Or, not enough? :-)





If I had to point my finger at any single element, it would be at modern electronics and related systems that has made much of the business of running our boats all too easy... Certainly, all too easy to become complacent, or distracted, or whatever... Here we had a multi-million dollar yacht equipped with the absolute state-of-the-art equipment, theoretically there should have been NFW that boat should have hit the bricks on a short daysail on a perfect afternoon, while under the command of a professional captain... And yet, it did...

It's become all too easy to take this stuff for granted, I've been guilty of that numerous times, myself... Anyway, that's the most likely explanation I can think of...

Having said that, however, I doubt the incident involving ARCHANGEL is necessarily representative of any particular 'trend'... I imagine the captain may have been simply distracted, they were likely just getting underway with a new group of guests... I certainly don't envy the job these charter crews have, a crew of 2 on a 70-footer, the skipper has to be a bit of a one man band... And given how demanding of attention and being 'entertained' some of these charter guests can be today, it's not hard for me to imagine how easily the skipper might have been distracted...
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Last edited by JonEisberg; 08-08-2013 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I'm fairly sure that boats have been hitting rocks, sinking and generally not being boaty for a long time now. Perhaps the Internet just means you hear about it a lot more now with the "everything is instant news" that it gives you.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I think Paul has a lot of it covered there. Another factor is that people are handling bigger boats sooner. I routinely see 38' boats advertised as "entry level".

Back in the G.O.D.'s EVERYONE started in small boats - dinghys & rowboats. Now they don't bother unless they have all the comforts of home along. I was just talking to an old timer & long time broker here. He just got back from a several week cruise through the islands. He said there were two very noticeable things - very few huge motoryachts (probably fuel costs) and very few small <30' sailboats.

Cruising a 35'+ boat with limited experience and completely relying on electronics to guide you is going to result in more trouble than before I think.

The ocean is a place where experience REALLY counts. There are simply too many things going on and too many possibilities to be able to think it all out - you have to have instincts developed from experience to go on.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulinVictoria View Post
I'm fairly sure that boats have been hitting rocks, sinking and generally not being boaty for a long time now. Perhaps the Internet just means you hear about it a lot more now with the "everything is instant news" that it gives you.
Bingo!
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I'm willing to say, it certainly hasn't gotten better. I'm not sure it's gotten worse.

I know I would find myself in more "oh crap, how did we get this close to shallow, rocks, etc" moments years ago, than I do now. The electronics have actually helped, not hurt, at least me.

There is no question that electronic nav improvements have increased safety in aircraft, so why can't they do so in boats? It's all about training and cross checking. I am sure there are many that just want to get out there and play the video game.

All that said, humans do make mistakes and that will never change.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

It's certainly true that we hear about more incidents now but that may be only part of the answer. It just seems that more people with no experience with their hands or with the way physical things work are buying big, expensive boats because they have a lot of money. Most of the boaters I grew up with had/have many years of experience with boats, starting with small boats, stepping up to bigger boats. Their boats had no e-charts, current arrows, large screens, no in-mast furlers, no rope clutches, electric winches or bow thrusters. In short, they learned the hard way how to handle a boat, navigate using DR, change an engine now and then, and hold a caulking iron. There may be a lack of appreciation of how quick things can turn to S**T and the consequences of cascading failures. I have noticed a lot of big expensive boats doing really stupid things.

Nowadays it's too easy. Until, of course, it isn't.
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Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I've always maintained the position that whether it's appropriate to start small and move up is based upon one's aptitude and training. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. However, I do agree that electronics allow those with less aptitude and no training to get away with it until something goes wrong.
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