Oh I fully agree HS, data of any kind does not necessarily provide information. Context, limitations of collection, bias ... all this and much more must be considered. But at least it's a start. It's usually better than individual anecdotal evidence (which IS also useful data).
I guess the reason I'm hanging onto this like a dog with a bone is that the OP's initial posting, and Jon's apparent defence of it (if that's what he was doing), is reaching some rather damning conclusions using pretty scant data. Anecdote, feelings, and a very small list of events over a very short period tells us almost nothing. As a first simple step I think one needs to show that there actually is an increase in SAR events; that it's not just a blip. This information is available.
This is pretty funny... Not so so long ago, when I was butting heads with Smackdaddy in the "Rallies Gone Wrong" thread, seems I was pretty much the only one who bothered to research the actual experience level of the skippers who got into trouble, and actually DEFENDED
them against the implication that inexperience likely contributed to the problems they encountered during the SDR:
Rallies Gone Wrong
And now in this thread, after being pretty much the only one who has offered any factual support of my OPINION
that we've recently seen a spike in offshore abandonments/rescues, my litany of over a dozen such incidents in recent memory is dismissed as being merely "anecdotal", and it is suggested that I need to dredge up additional "data" before my opinion can be legitimized... :-)
If there is an increase, then ascribing cause by blaming it on ill-prepared, push-botton sailors is, as I think you're pointing out, a really big stretch. It may be the case, but if you're going to fling blame around then try and support it with something other than your gut feeling.
OK, so if I were to select a single incident of the dozen or more I cited that was likely due to poor preparation/inexperience, it would be tha abandonment of the Pearson 362 RUNNING FREE that eventually came ashore on Marthas' Vineyard... Reading the guy's blog, it was apparent he was a total newb. For instance, he had tried anchoring the boat only ONCE before setting out across the Atlantic, where he eventually flagged down an AMVER ride 4 or 5 days into the trip...
Now, with what available "data" am I supposed to support my opinion? How does one quantify
the impression he had no business being out there to begin with, and that his punching out during his first encounter with 30+ knot winds was probably largely attributable to poor preparation and lack of experience?
Sorry, but I'm going with what my eyes and ears have told me over 35 years of running boats up and down the East coast.... During the past few years, these sort of incidents HAVE happened with greater frequency than before... And, I'm not alone in believing this. I know for a fact, for instance, that one person in a good position to have reached an informed opinion - CRUISING WORLD'S Herb McCormick - would agree...
Don Street, of course, has been beating this drum for years... Then again, what would a guy who's been in the yacht insurance business for close to half a century possibly know about the casualty rates among offshore sailors today? How could his opinion possibly be validated by any sort of "Data"?