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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There is a saying that I think rings true for virtually all of us sailors:

"In rough conditions, the boat will generally outlast the crew."

What this means, is that the crew will likely call the CG and ask to be rescued when the boat is still doing its job.

In the AMVER story I wrote for Cruising World (and the S/V Triumph story that started me thinking about it) - and the interviews I conducted with the USCG - the "red line" statement from most all crew seeking rescue is, "We're taking on water."

Now, the USCG will NEVER second-guess a skipper or crew who is calling for rescue. But I will...

The other quote we like to throw around is:

"You should only step up into a liferaft."

Well, there's obviously an entire world of actual danger level between these two quotes.

I think the sad reality is that most sailors call for rescue because they are simply scared and very uncomfortable. "Taking on water" becomes the out. But should our bar as a sailing community really be that low?

This thread is for discussing the scenarios of where exactly that "red line" is...and where it should be.
 

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islander bahama 24
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Subscribing to watch my boat has positive floatation so won't sink and being a damage control specialist in the navy I'm curious to see what the concensus is. Short of breaking up I'm not leaving my boat at sea
 

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There is a saying that I think rings true for virtually all of us sailors:

I think the sad reality is that most sailors call for rescue because they are simply scared and very uncomfortable. "Taking on water" becomes the out. But should our bar as a sailing community really be that low?
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Obviously this is a personal opinion based in no factual data. I actually do not beleive that is the case.

I will also make another similar statement based on no factual data that people want to get off when they feel they are overmatched by the conditions ( the seas, the weather or their boat)

I do not think thats a sad reality. Its just a reality. I dont put value judgement on a persons decision when they have had enough. Thats no necessary Just like with pain...different people have different thresholds.

We can all wax poetic how we would handle a situation ( course we arent in it) or that they shouldnt have put themselves in a situation....but in reality unless you are in the situation you dont really know how you will act.

I marvel at the criticism people spew at others for feeling they have needed rescue
without all the facts, and even then it doesnt take into account the individual persons fears/ ability to deal with the predicament they are in.

I dont subscribe to the premise that people set out without any care with the mantra that they can always call for a rescue. I have never met anyone who ever has said that in person. Maybe I am living a sheltered life or looking through "Dave Goggles"

Good topic Smack
 

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I think for the majority of sailors everywhere, this, fortunately, will forever be a completely hypthetical scenario.

Agree it's difficult to judge anyone from a distance, even with hindsight, without having actually 'been there'.

I imagine we all think we know how'd we'd like to think we'd react - but only one who's been there done that will REALLY know.

Seems like these various accounts often have an element of influence from spouses, crews, etc who are desperately afraid, ill, or otherwise distraught; it must be tough to endure that and continue to make 'good' decisions. I know that I've made decisions at times based on my wife's discomfort or anxiety that in hindsight could have been better made - and this in much more benign conditions than an actual crisis/emergency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Obviously this is a personal opinion based in no factual data. I actually do not beleive that is the case.

I will also make another similar statement based on no factual data that people want to get off when they feel they are overmatched by the conditions ( the seas, the weather or their boat)

I do not think thats a sad reality. Its just a reality. I dont put value judgement on a persons decision when they have had enough. Thats no necessary Just like with pain...different people have different thresholds.
I think the value judgement comes in the decision of that skipper to venture far enough past his own safety/ability threshold to create that problem in the first place. Bad conditions HAVE to be expected out there. Therefore, our threshold HAS to increase with those odds.

That's the disconnect that draws criticism I think.

I marvel at the criticism people spew at others for feeling they have needed rescue
without all the facts, and even then it doesnt take into account the individual persons fears/ ability to deal with the predicament they are in.
I think you're right here. But I do think it's a healthy thing to think through and talk about. If nothing else, you can begin mentally preparing for whatever you have coming up so you can make a better decision for yourself...and the CG.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay - so let me start with a real example (I've got lots):

I remember a story from one of DrakeParagon's videos when he was crewing on Bella Luna (the Swan). The captain said he and another crew were delivering that boat and ran into some really bad stuff. They fell off a wave and began immediately taking on water in a major way.

The captain jumped down into the salon and began looking for the leak. By the time he found it, there was water up to the cushions.

It turned out to be a speed transducer that was completely popped out of the thru-hull by the pressure of that wave drop.

THAT is taking on water. Yet he fixed it, pumped out the boat which now had very limited electronics, and made it into port.

Do you get scared or do you work the problem? He worked the problem. That's the way it should be.

If you think you'll get scared in a situation like this and can't work the problem - you shouldn't be "out there".

Bear in mind, that last sentence is as much to myself as to anyone else. I believe it to be correct. And I'm still working up to being able to do what I believe. I'm not there yet.
 

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Unfortunately, this is a kind of double edged sword. There comes a time when the body human can no longer tolerate conditions that could obviously become fatal - mentally and physically, there are certain limits, and each person's limit is different.

I was aboard a U.S. Navy heavy cruiser in Hurricane Hazel, a 760-foot behemoth that I considered pretty much indestructible, at least until then. After the third day of towering waves tossing the ship around like a toy, I was pretty much convinced that I was going to die out there along with 1,250 other young men. We pretty much kept those thoughts to ourselves, macho and all that stuff, while we puked our guts out for days on end, and saw several injured shipmates sent off to sick bay with broken bones and dehydration from seasickness.

I would have given everything I own to get off that damned ship at that point, especially when I was standing watch on the bridge and watched a 3-inch 50 dual mount ripped from the bow and tossed overboard by a monster wave that probably approached 80 feet. Those live shells were bouncing down the deck like bowling pins, but fortunately, not detonated. Then we began splitting seams in the forward section of the ship. Communications was a bit hampered because 100 MPH plus winds had ripped all but one antenna from the superstructure. The ship was taking 30 degree rolls and 20-degree pitches when the antennas went flying off into the ink-blue north Atlantic.

Well, the ship survived, some of the crew members were busted up pretty bad, and a couple nearly died. Problem was that during the storm, we couldn't have launched a helicopter, which was also damaged from the storm. Conditions were that bad. We limped back to Portsmouth, VA, the ship went into the yards for repairs, which took nearly three months, working day and night.

Now, I read where a 65-foot sailboat that had been abandoned during the Perfect Storm had actually survived the onslaught of that maelstrom. The crew was rescued, the boat left on its own, and it was found months later, pretty much unscathed. The sails were gone, as was nearly everything above the main deck, but despite the topside destruction, the boat was still intact.

Would the crew have survived equally as well? I sincerely doubt it. I'm relatively confident that most would have sustained significant physical injuries from being slammed around in 100-foot waves for more than a week. Additionally, nothing mechanical, including the engine, was still functional, if I recall correctly. The crew would have been no different than any B-29 crew shot down over the north Atlantic during WWII, drifting aimlessly in a small boat, or inflatable raft until they died of exposure, starvation and dehydration.

So, when do we make the decision to abandon ship? - I guess it's when we feel there is a real threat to life itself. If that threat exists, whether it's real or imagined, it's time to get the Hell out of Dodge.

Cheers,

Gary :cool:
 

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That Drunk Guy
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Do you get scared or do you work the problem? He worked the problem. That's the way it should be.

If you think you'll get scared in a situation like this and can't work the problem - you shouldn't be "out there".
Fear is a healthy emotion that helps keep us alive, and probably drives most people to find and solve the problem. (I just made that up, but it seems right to me). Didnt that Swan eventually end up sinking in another storm recently? Seems like I read that somewhere. There is a really good book entitled Rescue in the Pacific that deals with several boats in trouble between Fiji and NZ. Although most of the boats ended up staying afloat and washing ashore in various places...many people 'chose' to be rescued...and I personally can't fault anyone for that choice.
 

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Maybe it's more like "when should you not get on"? Other than situations where you're not in control of your own destiny like newhaul, the damage control specialist in the navy, who is required to follow orders, putting yourself or your crew in harms way, knowing beforehand that sea conditions may be perilous are, IMHO, not a prudent decision. But that's just me. I'm not a blue water sailor but was on a cruise ship that got 150 miles from Superstorm Sandy. I believe the cruise line erred in putting the ship in those conditions. The ship sustained damage and heaven forbid if it was to lose propulsion, like the Carnival ship did in the Gulf of Mexico, the body count would have been high. If you remember, The Bounty broke up off of the Carolinas in Sandy. Yes, we could have chosen not to board and stay ashore and lose the cost of our cruise fare but no way did we think the Captain's orders would be "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" instead of seeking a safe harbor as her sister ship did during the same event.
 

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I'd like to say that I'll get off some time just before my boat or crew are in imminent danger of severe injury. But how is that determined with any certainty?

Seems to me that determining when to make the call for rescue is a bit like reefing - When you know for certain it's time to do so, it may very well be too late.
 

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islander bahama 24
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The thing I was alluding to was I was trained to calmly assess potentially perilous conditions. And respond in a calm and determined manner I solo all the time have never had people on my boat in even potential harsh conditions if I was in charge of others lives then the same thing I would due to training hopefully be able to make good sound judgement calls in those conditions and I'm not afraid to call a pan pan if the conditions warranted it. Just best to avoid the condition if possible
 

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It turned out to be a speed transducer that was completely popped out of the thru-hull by the pressure of that wave drop.
That is the second time I have heard of that besides the time I experienced it myself.

Maybe the first thing someone should do on an unfamiliar boat after they figure out where the radio is is to locate the transducer.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That is the second time I have heard of that besides the time I experienced it myself.

Maybe the first thing someone should do after they figure out where the radio is is to locate the transducer.
In light of the subject of this thread, I think you'd probably want to do the opposite. Find the transducer first and fix the leak - then the radio may not be necessary.
 

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islander bahama 24
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I belliev david was thinking when they first board the vessel when I ride the ferry the first thing I seem to find is the coffee and second the closest fire station to my seat
 

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In light of the subject of this thread, I think you'd probably want to do the opposite. Find the transducer first and fix the leak - then the radio may not be necessary.
I was thinking in terms of adding the transducer location to the list of safety items everyone locates when they first board an unfamiliar boat.

Things like Fire extinguishers etc.
As opposed to having to locate them in an emergency.

I'll start a new safety checkout thread inspired by this thread.

Life jackets
Throw-able.
Anchor
Bildge pump and manual switch
Manual pump and handle.
 

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I think for the majority of sailors everywhere, this, fortunately, will forever be a completely hypthetical scenario.

Agree it's difficult to judge anyone from a distance, even with hindsight, without having actually 'been there'.

I imagine we all think we know how'd we'd like to think we'd react - but only one who's been there done that will REALLY know.

Seems like these various accounts often have an element of influence from spouses, crews, etc who are desperately afraid, ill, or otherwise distraught; it must be tough to endure that and continue to make 'good' decisions. I know that I've made decisions at times based on my wife's discomfort or anxiety that in hindsight could have been better made - and this in much more benign conditions than an actual crisis/emergency.
Well said
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Obviously, each person will act and behave differently and individual circumstances will influence that.
If I am alone, I would act in a certain way, if I am not alone I would act totally differently. If I would have someone on the boat with me, my first concern would be that person, and for that, I might get off much sooner and not take chances with someone’s life.
If I am alone however, I would probably push my luck all the way to the point when the boat is literally sinking before I give up, not because I would be brave enough to try to solve a situation but simply because when I own something like a car, or a boat, they really become like “a person” to me if that makes sense. They are part of my life and I feel responsibilities and commitment toward them just like for a person.
I never had a “boat rescue” situation. I had however a car rescue situation. I was seriously scared, stunned at the realization that that could be it for my life, for days I heard about people and whole families stuck in their cars over night and found dead the next day, including a family I actually knew well (very bad winter storm even with whole trains stuck in the middle of nowhere). And there I ended up by a stupid mistake in exactly the same situation wondering and stubbornly playing different scenarios in my head as to how can I make it through the night without to have the same fate as others I heard of the previous days. Even when the rescue (by chance actually) did come, strangely enough I really didn’t want to leave the car because I literally identified with the car as part of me. Something that took care of me, something that protected me all the hours that I was stuck there, I would have been frozen to death without it in 30 min out there. I would be very surprised if I wouldn’t feel the same way when I own a boat. So I would fight for it per so, not to just save my life.
This is both good and bad, one needs to know when to fight all the way and when to also give up and there is no rule book for it. Its simply an instinct to trust yourself and your abilities, know when to do one or the other. I guess that only comes with experience.
As you said earlier, if one is literally afraid of losing their own lives, they shouldn’t be out there, but by out there I really mean seriously out there. And I say this because when you really don’t fear that, I think you have what it takes to deal with a hard situation with a focused (even when scared) approach. And that focused head can make a whole difference to a situation. Fears of outcomes will simply sabotage everything else in the moment.
 

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This is just in a hypothetical situation and in the water I sail, I would not activate my EPIRB until I am ready to get on my life raft. In other word, the boat is sinking fast.

I hope I will never get into this situation. But if I sail long enough, my luck will runs out. If I did, I deal with it.

We should not overlook is that one may be overly trigger happy for rescue because he may have a great responsibility for family at home to take care of. He can't just die.
 
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