Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old Greenwich, CT
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One more vote for needing to be safe in all waters. There are times when you can, and should, experiment to push yourself harder. But those should be times when you really know what plan B will be. Like always, you need to take account of all the circumstances. For instance, I think most would agree that one should err on the side of less sail up when sailing at night because it is more difficult to anticipate wind changes and gusts.
On the other hand, how do you improve your skills if you don't test them from time to time. To use someone else's analogy, you don't move from a Piper to an F-18 in one shot. The same applies with sailing. When you can control it, you move up the difficulty chain gradually. Of course, most of us have run in to circumstances where we were unexpectedly challenged well above anything we had done previously. That often happens in the longer ocean voyages (I'll also include other big bodies of water like the Great Lakes), when you can't always control the conditions you will be in.
While I would agree that the Great Lakes count as comparable to the ocean, I have to somewhat disagree with the Hudson River comparison. I have lived near the Hudson my entire life. It is true that you can have dangerous conditions there, but it is far less likely - and more predictable - than in many other places. That doesn't mean one should drop one's guard, just that the Hudson doesn't belong in the same danger category as some of the other waters, in my humble opinion. Now talk about Hellgate, and parts of the East River and I think your point would be more relevant!!!!