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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #21  
Old 02-02-2010
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Sailing and Safety - a Personal Matter

I have always believed you are personally responsable for your own safety when you leave the dock. Being able to deal with the s**t that happens out there is the challenge, the raison d'etre of sailing. To many of us it is a metaphor for life. If something bad happens, you either deal with it or you lose - sometimes your life! So how safe you are when sailing is a reflection of how well you prepare for life in general. A safe sailor is an immpecable person. I always admired the sentiment of the Eric & Susan Hiscock, the trend-setting cruisers of the previous generation, who didn't believe in carrying a marine VHF on their boats, lest they be tempted to call for outside help in a tight spot, thus inconveniencing or endangering oher mariners. Safety is first and first and foremost it is a personal responsability. Don't leave the dock if you think otherwise...which will make it safer for the rest of us.
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  #22  
Old 02-02-2010
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My two cents:

cent #1: yeah it's pretty damn safe. Average conditions are safe and among sailors, average behavior in adverse conditions is usually safe (is usually: stay home).

cent #2: the proportion of our discussions that revolves around safety is significantly larger than the proportion of our sailing time during which are in danger. There's a rubbernecking effect; disasters attract our attention, be it morbid curiosity, a need to show that our knowledge and skill is superior to that of the victim, or a desire to improve our understanding of seamanship by another small delta. One of the goals of a good sailor is good seamanship; how are we going to achieve that if we don't reflect on the dangers at sea?
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  #23  
Old 02-02-2010
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This is one of the unexpected and perhaps unintended consequences of the information age, 3F syndrome- Forums Filled with Fear.
See, content is what feeds the big machine that we are all addicted to, this forum. With no new content, we find something else to read, and the forum dies. Some of us seem to like it here, so we provide content and comment on the content provided by others, and some of us like to pass on our hard earned experience hoping that others can learn from our mistakes. Since everyone has some advice to offer, if not firsthand, then a story they heard on the dock, just like around any campfire, the cautionary tales are the ones that get the most attention and we end up with the growth of fear.
Besides, nobody ever bothers to document when things went RIGHT, because that is how things are supposed to go!
A thread titled "Had a great sail today, nothing broke and nobody got hurt"
would be a yawner.
A thread titled "Engine died, I fixed it, everything is fine." would get five views.
Those threads kill forums. BFS and bonehead threads build content. Near-death and stupidity sells, baby!
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  #24  
Old 02-02-2010
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I love sailing and most of the time regard it as a very safe activity. BUT... there are certainly situations we get into which involve risk, and sometimes those situations are not easily avoidable. Nothing feels better than having come through those situations intact (more or less) and feeling we have wrestled with the nature and won.

Contrary to many of my fellow sailors, though, I suspect that much of the statistical data we read understates the risks, not overstates them. The reason is that the amount of time the average person spends on the water is quite small. When we see statistics for commercial transportation, the meaningful stats are given in deaths or injuries per passenger mile. The stats for boating accidents are usually given as just raw numbers.

On a gorgeous July Sunday in perfect sailing conditions, I can look around the marina or the mooring field and see it filled with boats. Until we know how many hours the average sailor spends on his boats, the raw data tells us little about safety. Even many people who think of themselves as pretty active sailors will add up their hours and find that they are actually under way less than 100 hours per year. And there are a lot less sailors around than one might think. So the overall average presented in the USCG report of approximately 6 deaths per 100,000 vessels of all types tells me little about the safety of sailboats. But I can do some comparison.

Almost all of the Sailnet readers sail boats that qualify as "mechanically propelled." The total of state registered auxiliary sailboats was only about 56,000 in the 16 to 26 foot category and 58,000 over 26 feet. (I know this omits documented vessels, but they are probably lost in the rounding). Thus, a total of a little over 100,000 boats. I suspect many never leave the dock. The total fatalities on boats known to be auxiliary sailboats was shown as 15 in 2008.

So, to my surprise, auxilliary sailboats actually have a higher fatality rate per vessel than the average of all boats, including a lot of people I would have thought to be higher risk -- the fishermen or hunters who regard a boat as transportation, those who know nothing about boats (if they sail they almost have to know something or they can't get under way), those who travel 40 knots in crowded waterways while drinking, etc. Since there are no stats on usage, as opposed to number of boats, I can't get much out of this. What I do get, however, is that the raw numbers are less comforting than I would like.

Will I stop sailing? Not on your life -- or mine I suppose. But I will continue to pay great attention to the safety related threads and try to learn as much as I can from other people's mistakes. After all, I am not only the captain of my fate, I frequently take those I love most aboard.
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  #25  
Old 02-02-2010
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What scares me more than anything is being tied to the dock. This feeling comes from a sailor who was thrown from his vessel, and yanked back onto it. Scary stuff happens everywhere, and anywhere. Go sailing, and be safe as you can be.......i2f
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  #26  
Old 02-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainForce View Post
How afraid should you be of sailing?
Less risky than driving to the mall and slightly more risky than walking around the block. Pretty much the same risk as eating fried snacks while watching TV from your couch.
That can be dangerous.



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  #27  
Old 02-02-2010
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Quote:
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Depends on who your sailing with!! If you go out with me, be afraid,,be very afraid!! I still need to post my "BFS" story
Bring it on porkchop!
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  #28  
Old 02-02-2010
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The key for me is "Respect".
Respect the bitch or she will make your life miserable.
The sea at times can be a real bitch.
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  #29  
Old 02-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailortjk1 View Post
The key for me is "Respect".
Respect the bitch or she will make your life miserable.
The sea at times can be a real bitch.
hahahahahahahhaa ....so true! .......i2f
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  #30  
Old 02-02-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailortjk1 View Post
Respect the bitch or she will make your life miserable.
That sounds like part of my wedding vows.
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