can sailing guarantee my safety? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 73 Old 05-04-2011 Thread Starter
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can sailing guarantee my safety?

I am dabbling with the idea of sailing someday. It is one of my dreams to sail accross an ocean. I realize that no hobby comes with a safety guarantee. But I'm just wondering if, with all the right equipment, technology and skill (and time), it is possible to sail accross an ocean, without getting caught in a storm. Basically, can sailing accross an ocean ever be as safe as flying accross one?

It is one of my greatest fears in life to get caught in a major storm helpless at sea. With all of the best equipment, technology and skill, are the odds still good that I will get caught in a major storm and die?

I have a friend that says "there is no way to avoid all major storms...and at some point you are pretty much guarenteed to have to face a storm that will possibly capsize your boat"

Once again, I realize that all hobbies come with safety hazards. But is it possible to almost gaurantee that I will never be killed or capsized by a terrible storm?

Last edited by package81; 05-04-2011 at 05:04 PM.
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post #2 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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Can't answer you except with an analogy to my job, Pilot.

You have flights where you face weather challenges you have flights where you don't. A healthy respect for the weather keeps you alive, not fear of it. You learn by doing, don't take off (or set sail) praying for a clear route, take-off knowing that you are ready to handle what may come at you. Plan for the best weather window and go but always be ready for the worst, notice I said ready, not scared when you are scared you make mistakes, when you are ready you make decisions.

Hope this helps!

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post #3 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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Welcome to SN......First of all, you need a new set of friends. LOL

Why don't you take some sailing lesson and learn it well, and then decide for yourself. No one can guarantee your safety. But i would rather to sail across the ocean than to ride a motorcycle across the United States. Sailing is safer than riding a bike.

You can die in the ocean without hitting a storm. Hitting a storms or multiple storms does not mean that you will die. Preparation, experience and readiness are the key.

I am sure others will add more.


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post #4 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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Hey pack. Welcome to SN dude.

Read "Handling Storms at Sea" - by Hal Roth. He does a great job of putting everything in perspective.

But if you're looking for a "guarantee" - your bar might be a little high.


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post #5 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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People would not do it if it was not challenging and airplanes fall out of the sky pretty regular

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post #6 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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People would not do it if it was not challenging and airplanes fall out of the sky pretty regular
But just for perspective - driving a car on a busy highway at rush hour is pretty risky too. And no one thinks that's unusual.

This powerpoint from US Naval Academy (look at page 6) - puts driving at 30 deaths/100k participants, riding a bike at 0.09, sailing at 0.03 (all normalized for average hours of participation per person).
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post #7 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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Zed - that's a great report...and fits with this thread we were batting around a while back...

How "afraid" should we be of sailing?


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post #8 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by package81 View Post
It is one of my greatest fears in life to get caught in a major storm helpless at sea. With all of the best equipment, technology and skill, are the odds still good that I will get caught in a major storm and die?

I have a friend that says "there is no way to avoid all major storms...and at some point you are pretty much guarenteed to have to face a storm that will possibly capsize your boat"

Once again, I realize that all hobbies come with safety hazards. But is it possible to almost gaurantee that I will never be killed or capsized by a terrible storm?
Get some new friends.

Seriously, the part of your post that bothered me is the word "helpless". A well prepared sailor is not helpless. There are many techniques that can be used to help you weather a gale and continue in your passage.

Of course there are no guarantees. Just you and your abilities against what ever Mother Nature throws at you. But it is one of the few areas where you can truly test yourself. As Bob Bitchen says "Attitude: the difference between an ordeal and an adventure."

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
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post #9 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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The only guarantee life offers us is death.
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post #10 of 73 Old 05-04-2011
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package, fifty years ago talking about the pacific he might have been right. Today? The key word is SKILL. That's the only variable left in the equations.

The Atlantic is covered much better than the Pacific, and IIRC there are a couple of key weather satellites out of order right now over the Pacific, but the bottom line is that with live satellite imagery and modern meteorology, there's dman good weathercasting for most of the planet.

This doesn't guarantee your safety, but it does ensure that IF YOU WORK ON THE SKILLS, you will be able to appraise the forecasts and cross safely when there is a reliable weather window. That doesn't mean blindly listening to the forecasts--because you also have to learn when to believe them, and when the confidence level from the forecasters really is not solid.

I've had "solid" forecasts for balmy 5 knot weather turn overnight into 40 knots and 8' waves when simple coastal forecasts weren't so simple. When you hear words like "occluded front" and "stalled"...you throw out the forecast. Other times you'll hear that the jet streams have been unmoving, the wind and weather are clear and consistent for a thousand miles upwind of you, and you can expect them to stay the same for a while.

Assuming of course, "a while" is long enough for you to cross. If something breaks and your week long trip turns into two weeks...there goes the forecast.

Meteorology can get awfully complicated, but with all the online resources at least you can start studying up on it for free!
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