Didn't the Hays duo sail a Marshall 22 in the open Atlantic from the Bahamas to New London? They survived that one, too. The gods must be smiling on them. Had they been pooped with that large cockpit, it would have been all over. (Yes, I am aware of the air mattress trick.)
Sailing coastal craft in the open ocean and sailing engineless in general doesn't make for a good example IMHO. These guys were doing the equivalent of playing russian roulette. Their survival was a matter of luck--not design. To get the full picture, you need the stories of the folks who took chances and didn't make it---but they don't write books, do they?
As I recall, they had a larger "chase" boat following them for their catboat voyage (or did just the son sail the catboat, with dad in the chase boat?). So, they were a bit more prepared, by design, than you intimate.
And, Vertues are pretty well respected bluewater boats. In fact, for their size, I can't think of any designs with a better offshore reputation. (But, I still can't imagine being trapped on one with my dad for weeks on end. Sooner or later, one of us would be bound to break.)
In any case, sailing is as much (or more) about the sailor as it is about the boat. Remember, Capt. Bligh and his remaining crew sailed an open (and engineless) boat 3600 nm after the rest of the crew of Bounty
mutinied. Granted, that was back when boats were man of wood, wrot iron, and tar, and men learned their sailing skills on the open ocean, rather than via books and the Internet; so we can't quite compare Bligh to someone in a fiberglass boat, with an aluminum mast, dacron sails, stainless steel rigging, an auto pilot, and several thousand dollars worth of navigational do-dads. And of course, Bligh never benefited from reading all the opinions of arm-chair sailors on SailNet. But, still.....
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