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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-13-2013 10:55 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by gfh View Post
I was going to say something very similar. There's a cool little museum in Beach Haven called the New Jersey Maritime Museum that has a database of 7200 known shipwrecks off the NJ coast, the vast majority before GPS, the vast majority professionally crewed, and that's only for like 130 miles of shoreline. I guess the more important technological advance since the old days is weather forecasting, but still...

At least when a ship went down in the 19th century, there was no public forum for the inland dinghy sailor to endlessly pontificate on what the skipper did wrong.
Just a comment to give this perspective:

1.- Most of these wrecks are (probably) sailing SHIPS or commercial fishing vessels of some sort (read: no engine); (The famous Bluenose started life without an engine in the 1920s);
2.- Most of these wrecks are commercial vessels. This means, the vessel and crew are out in all weather, and in all seasons;
3.- Most of these wrecks pre-date modern communications, including forecasting of hurricanes and a "get out of the way" window;
4.- Most of these wrecks were wooden hulls (how well maintained, how old?) and sails and rigging far less resilient than our modern stuff;
5.- NOW you can start adding crew error as a factor
08-13-2013 10:31 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by Coquina View Post
Commercial pilot here - it is by NO MEANS a settled fact that electronics are making flying safer. There is some evidence that we have passed the optimum point and are now having issues with pilots that cannot do their job when the electrons misbehave.
The same fully applies to all activities, including our sailing. I sail on Georgian Bay that has an east coast full of (hard, rocky!) shoals and a coastline that has hardly any landmarks to visually help you with a land fall. Yes, I do enjoy my chartplotter but I am always checking against my chart, lines of position, dead reckoning, because electronics can and do fail without warning (and I have a very early-generation hand held GPS for back-up). Now, if I was totally without my GPS, my learning curve for navigating these waters (especially approaching from the west on a lake crossing) would be very slow. Take away my radar and the degree of risk increases even more.

As a society we have become utterly reliant on electricity-based (never mind satellite based) aids in virtually every activity that we undertake - all in less than one century. It is small surprise that kids growing up in this "sterile" environment have an inadequate concept of what constitutes "self sufficiency" and, I, myself, get lulled into a false sense of security, I have to make an effort to guard against that, as well...
08-13-2013 10:27 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by aprilsails View Post
I find the OP's post beginning odd especially in reference to how "high tech" gizmos are making sailors take risks or make mistakes that they wouldn't have made if they did things the old fashioned way.
I don't think it's as much about taking risks as it is about lack of planning.

Before GPSs became popular, planning ahead was necessary. Now you can just shove off and follow the line on the screen.
08-13-2013 10:03 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by JimMcGee View Post
Aaron unfortunately there are a lot of captains out there who think they're good seaman if they make it into the slip without ripping out dock boards.

As a commercial mariner with a lot of miles under your keel, what do you look for and what do you consider signs of good seamanship?
Prudence, Calm, slow and graceful movement in tight quarters. Humility with a sense of humor. Confident but not complacent. Good line handling skills, absolutely no dependency on electrical gadget to tell them anything about where they are, how deep the water is or which way the wind is blow'n. The ability to use the prevailing conditions to their advantage. The ability to communicate in clear, short and precise sentences. The ability to lead through example and follow common sense, even if it comes from the least experienced of their crew. The ability to cuss eloquently enough to make a queen laugh and a nun blush. Someone who puts safety of the crew, the boater's around them and the vessel above and beyond every thing else, in that order. Some one who will never ask a crew to do something they can't, haven't or won't do them selves. The ability to make quick decisions correctly, and change with the conditions as they change. The ability to choose the right anchor and deploy it proper. All these thing's and much much more I have seen in great Seaman and strive to achieve as I grow and learn about the sea.
08-13-2013 08:01 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by Capt.aaron View Post
all of 'em, when I watch them are in my opinion, pretty crappy boat handlers and problem solvers.
Aaron unfortunately there are a lot of captains out there who think they're good seaman if they make it into the slip without ripping out dock boards.

As a commercial mariner with a lot of miles under your keel, what do you look for and what do you consider signs of good seamanship?
08-12-2013 01:52 PM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I live in a town where captains are a dime a dozen. These yahoo's that are taking cattle-maran boats with over 100 guests, or dragging them around behind a skiff para-sailing. Even my good friend who is 100 ton master with his ASA instructing thing, all of 'em, when I watch them are in my opinion, pretty crappy boat handlers and problem solvers. I often wonder how they convinced themselves they where any good in the first place. Where does the confidence come from. I was as nervous as a knocked up Nun runn'n boats for 10 years before I felt worthy of my 6 pack. Now I'm going through the same thing as I move around 400 foot boats. It will be another 10 years before, even though I'm licensed, That I'll feel worthy and take full charge of my own tug and barge. I wish more of Today's captains had gotten some old school seamanship training and where honest with themselves about there ability's before these nautical disasters take place.
08-12-2013 01:30 PM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
"The statistics doe not show an increase ( even if you look at the last couple of years) in incidents or rescues. They in fact show relatively the same numbers. The Internet has helped publicize them more. We all can point to our own personal stories of ineptitude and experiences with others as you have, but that really doesn't mean overall there has been an increase percentage wise. Again the stats show pretty much static."

Be that as it may be, the reality is apparently not showing up in those statistics.
There were three sailing vessel losses with fatalities over the last year or so off the California coast where there had never been a fatality in any of the three races before.
The abandonment of numerous vessels crossing from the east coast to Bermuda is unprecedented over the last three years. Thirty foot seas (or more) and seventy knot winds are not a rarity on a crossing from the east coast to Bermuda, in fact they are to be expected.
This post was not about the number of rescues the USCG does annually on coastal duties, but about experienced and sometimes professional captains losing or abandoning boats in situations that may be extreme, but certainly should not be life threatening.
The Bounty, Concordia and Astrid all had highly respected and experienced professional captains aboard at the time of their loss. If we keep losing tall ships at this rate, there will be none for our children's children to visit on the waterfront or sail on.
Even with the better communications today, I do believe that we are seeing a disproportionate loss of vessels operated by highly respected and experienced captains.
And please, guys, don't show those maps of the coasts of the US, UK or NZ showing the shipwrecks from the days before engines, electronic navigation and efficient rescues; that's just NOT the subject here.
08-12-2013 01:18 PM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

Once again I'll be your goat.
Last year cruised my PSC34. No trouble in/out pump outs/fuel docks any tight stop. No bow thruster just back down on springline to get the bow out. This year 46' boat with all the geegaws- bow thruster etc. Whole new ballpark. Whole new set of skills to learn. New level of stress as I'm moving my house not a weekend cottage. Thing is any time I can watch my slip mates do it I watch and learn. Any time I can get an experienced hand coach me I listen and learn. At end of the day many have no respect for the skillset so don't learn it even if on the water for years. They don't respect others, their lives and property. Without that basic respect for the sea and others the motivation to gain seamanship is not there. Whether being more technologically connected as made us less attached to each other and the realities of the world can be argued but as my grandmother once told me "when you stop learning you better be dead or you soon will be".
08-12-2013 10:56 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

If you're a new boater what you'll see in articles, read in ads and hear at boat shows is that GPS is accurate to within 3 feet.

You will hear it over and over as accepted fact. You will NOT hear about how the old the chart data is, that the shoals shift with every storm or that some hazards are simply put in the wrong place on the chart.

You are used to turn-by-turn directions in your car. When you're constantly told how accurate these systems are why would you assume differently?

Experience teaches you to keep lots of distance between yourself and hazards.
08-12-2013 09:38 AM
Re: Vanishing Seamanship

I find the OP's post beginning odd especially in reference to how "high tech" gizmos are making sailors take risks or make mistakes that they wouldn't have made if they did things the old fashioned way.

I learned how to sail on Tall Ships. The first ship I sailed with had no GPS unit for the first 3 summers I spent onboard. When we went down the East Coast to Boston we finally invested in a haldheld GPS which was used to call in out position once a day for the Tall Ship races. We did have a depth sounder, a VHF radio, and a handheld windmeter but that was the extent of our high tech toys. We did speed estimates using a timer and a floating bottle on a rope and all of our fixes were done using dead reckoning and line of site navigation, as well as celestial when we were offshore.

So for a young sailor (29) I have a strong foundation in very traditional seamanship. That being said, I appreciate the convenience of GPS, love my speedometer, and I am a very cautious sailor. Years of navigating with a 12' draught and not being certain where the hell I really was except for once every 15 - 30 minutes means that I stay in the deep water and well shy of the shallows. My husband was laughing at me when we sailed a 5' draft boat around and I was avoiding areas charted at 15'.

It should be noted that I am absolutely terrible at sail trim since I suck at dealing with anything that doesn't have squares or isn't a dinghy. I'm going to take a course soon to learn how to handle a spinnaker.
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