Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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I mostly think the sharp increase in rescues is about who is going out there rather than what they are going out there upon. For years now, perhaps once every 6 weeks or less, I get an email that reads something like, "Hello, I have seen your posts on Blank Blank sailing forum and you really seem to know your stuff. I am (fill in the blank) years old and have just started sailing and I want to sail around the world. What kind of boat should I buy?"
My typical advice is to suggest buy a small, responsive boat and learn to sail well, try to get out on other people's boats and by the time that you know enough to actually sail around the world you will also know what kind of boat will suit your needs and tastes. About half the time I end up providing second opinions as these people get into the sport.
Most of these people are in too much of a rush to bother to learn to sail well. They go off and buy serious offshore cruisers as a first boat, and dump a bunch of gear aboard planning to go cruising nearly immediately. The majority that I have come in contact with that follow that route end up, getting hammered in some storm early in their sailing carreers, come back disheartened and end turning around and selling their boats fairly quickly.
Most of those that have taken the time to learn to sail, and spend time to get some experience under thier belts, no matter what kind of boat they chose are still out there.
The second part of this is that historically people have always disappeared at sea on a regular basis. These days we have large numbers of amateurs out there. With the advent of long distance communications and long distance rescue capabilities, today some percentage of these people that historically would have been silently lost at sea, are being rescued and with modern communications and sensationized news services, we all get to hear about it.
When I hear about rescues with boats being abandoned, a very large percentage of these boats are traditional offshore designs, which is not so much an indictment of traditional offshore designs as much as it is a product of the fact that Newbies seem to look at these older designs as offering them a better chance in rough going. I can't tell you how many of these brand new to the sport folks believe deeply that the Island Packet is the only way to go if you are going offshore
(As an aside, frankly, many of us who have thrashed it out in older traditional designs and also thrashed out in the better newer designs are more inclined towards the ease of handling, and thier greater stability relative to drag of the newer designed boats. By the same token, I really don't understand how people see Island Packets (with their wide beam, shallow draft, post hung spade rudders, lack of seaberths etc) as a great offshore option, but then again maybe that's just me.)
Anyway that's how I see it,