I have some sympathy for James' curmudgeony perspective, but I think this thread is largely railing against a problem that doesn't exist. Sure, there is the occasional wing nut that posts here with visions of finding a floating Shangri-La, but that's a tiny minority. I've been hanging around these boards for four years now (one less that you James), and I don't perceive any change in character. I could be wrong (not the first time
), but I'd like some evidence.
As for any increase in SAR events due to a rise in ill prepared dreamers venturing forth, you're going to have to show me the data. Has there been rise in rescues? Are these somehow linked to "careless, irresponsible" sailors and cruisers? You can't just make this statement without backing it up with real data. Of course there are incidence of this, but is this really any different than in the past?
Yes, there most certainly has been an increase in SAR events. I would suggest there has been a substantial increase in bluewater sailors and coastal cruisers, in spite of the decrease in overall keelboat sailing participation. The prevalence of electronic navigation devices, sat phones, marine radios, and rescue beacons have encouraged more, with less experience, to head offshore. If you read many of the rescue threads, its clear some are not well prepared for what awaits them or don't even understand what they should have. No storm sails, no manual backup systems or redundancy, no problem! The substantial increase in rallys and the resulting increase in rescues demonstrates the fact that some sailors are setting forth without the same respect for the sea in the false belief that an organization or a group will provide them with some extra measure of needed safety.
For an anecdotal example, compare the different response to Robin Lee Graham in 1962 setting out in his Lapworth 24 with Rimas M. currently setting out in his San Juan 24, while fundraising for his voyage on Facebook. Read some of the posts there. https://www.facebook.com/rimas.meleshyus
(No disrespect intended to Rimas M. personally, but I question the wisdom of his voyage in that vessel with his level of preparation, or lack thereof.)
Same size boat, one designed more for the seas and the other for racing. The Dove's voyage was a big deal, covered by National Geographic in a series of articles, due to both his young age, and the very idea of circumnavigating solo. Robin Lee Graham was a well-prepared, experienced, albeit young, bluewater sailor. People on Facebook are now funding Rimas M. in an undertaking that is clearly regarded differently today than it was 50 years ago.
Now, circumnavigating no longer commands the same attention, fear and respect. People know about it, and it's apparently no big deal, other than the time element. It has been done a multitude of times in a multitude of different crafts. So much so, that we now have people considering it who have no idea what they are doing. And they find approval and encouragement here, instead of critical thinking and prudent advice.
It is the boat that matters, right? If you get the right bluewater boat, any Dude can do it! Go for it! (Just take your ASA 101-106 classes first.)