I had a great talk last night at the dock with the owner of the boat next to mine. We talked about many things, but one was his Columbia 22. It's also near our boats, and I've always admired it as a hale small craft with a nice green hull.
Basically, he owned it for 15 years. Bought it in '82, and sailed and did basic upgrades every year he owned it. No problem selling it to a friend when he moved up to a Catalina 27.
He was talking about how much he liked the boat, and noted that the previous owner had took it to Hawaii, twice. Both times in the 70s, both from San Francisco and back, once with a crew of two, and once with a crew of four...
Anyway, this is not a large boat, and the rigging looks basic to me (not super oversized off-shore gear). At the same time, I believed him. I know even a Cal 20 has been sailed to Hawaii once.
So, if we roll the clock back to the 70s, when you found Hawaii with a sextant or you didn't find it at all, were the sailors simply braver than most small boat sailors today, or did they just have less sense? Obviously, they survived. Maybe the trips weren't pleasant, but they made it and went again. Perhaps Robin Graham was a bad influence on them.
Today, however, even with the chartplotters, gps/epirbs, ssbs, liferafts, radar, generators, water-makers, etc., it seems like taking a Columbia 22 to Hawaii, twice, would be extremely unlikely. Is it that we're simply more informed and careful nowadays, or simply over-cautious and more likely to have the preparation kill the voyage than the seas?