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Old 05-03-2018, 09:31   #1
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Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Sure, as we get older we learn from our mistakes, we read, and we understand what we are doing better. But we also become complacent, more certain that we can handle a blow and avoid trouble.

Forget complete beginners. Most will never become serious sailors and it could skew the statistics. We know beginning drivers are poor. They become steadily better with age, until some tipping point is reached. But driving is different from sports.

If I think about rock climbers, I know beginners have accidents. But I know VERY experienced climbers that have had stupid accidents resulting from complacency. There is also a tendency to push more and more difficult climbs as their skills grow. That is what keeps it alive. Their skills are greater, but so is the difficulty and hence risk.

For many sailors there must be a similar curve. I am far more likely to singlehand in a blow. After all, I've got it down. There are very few surprises anymore. Even in light to moderate weather, perhaps I am more casual on deck. Sure enough, we hear of sailors of all ages being lost.

I'm sure if we adopt a low-risk style, safety increases. We make fewer mistakes and avoid hazardous conditions. Many older sailors do this. But if we do not, if we still seek adventure, as we did in our youth, does safety increase with age, stay level, or even decline as a result of arrogance?

Can you prove it?
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Old 05-03-2018, 09:39   #2
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pirate Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Nothing to prove.. never has been..
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Old 05-03-2018, 17:44   #3
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Generally said about soldiers, pilots, divers and mushroom hunters
But it's also true in this case:

There are old sailors and there are bold sailors. There are no old, bold sailors.
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Old 05-03-2018, 18:10   #4
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

StuM beat me to it, I was planning to mention old/bold sailors......

I think it is near impossible to prove /disprove the point, that older sailors are safer.
I can think of the following, in no particular order:
- an older sailor might not be able to save him/herself/the boat, not because of lack experience, but lack of strength/stamina, ie climbing back in the boat/dinghy
- older sailors (ie me) take fewer risks
- really old sailors ( eh... more like those whose ability to clear thinking has been reduced) will be prone to more accidents
- older sailors might not be able to act quickly anymore, due to various ailments, joint replacements, reduced vision, reduced hearing etc. ie to fix a stuck furler on the foredeck could be fixed by an agile person in 2 minutes, while an old man may need 15
- older persons suffer more from extreme heat, cold, tiredness, as they have physically less reserves

Hehehe, the best combination is an old, wise experienced skipper with one or two agile younger crew!
BTW, I take out regularly an old friend in his own boat, in his time a very experienced skipper, who sailed singlehanded across the North Sea back and forth from England to Holland in WWII, and later became a competent skipper of his racing yacht in Australia. But right now, is barely able to turn a winch, but he still steers his boat!

Hmmm, he lost once his boat on the coast of WA, but he was still agile and young then! Figure that.
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Old 05-03-2018, 18:26   #5
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

This would be another interesting query to test if you could get a hold of relevant data. Insurance data perhaps? The USCG accident data includes “Operator Experience” levels, but it doesn’t provide this as a rate, so not very meaningful.

I think there’s a general principle that indicates that the most dangerous folks are those in the mid-stages of competency. In the early phases everyone is cautious and conservative, so avoids problems. At the ‘mastery’ level you have a deep understand of the dangers and your limits, so behave accordingly. It’s that mid-level, when you know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to know your limits, where disaster strikes.

This was a well known effect in the mining field (I covered health & safety issues as a journalist).

USCG data:
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Old 05-03-2018, 23:45   #6
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
But we also become complacent, more certain that we can handle a blow and avoid trouble.
5. Strongly disagree




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Old 06-03-2018, 01:22   #7
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Ya know, thinwater, I'm kinda surprised that you, as someone who makes their living doing ostensibly objective tests of products and practices should propose a question that is entirely subjective and without definitive criteria. "Safety" has no specific definition, no parameters and no scale. How in the hell can you propose to measure such an amorphous quality at all,let alone with age and experience as a controlling parameter?

From anyone else I'd think this was a troll...

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Old 06-03-2018, 01:33   #8
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HankOnthewater View Post
StuM beat me to it, I was planning to mention old/bold sailors......
- older sailors might not be able to act quickly anymore, due to various ailments, joint replacements, reduced vision, reduced hearing etc. ie to fix a stuck furler on the foredeck could be fixed by an agile person in 2 minutes, while an old man may need 15
.........
The old sailor would -hopefully- realise there was nothing wrong with the furler but that someone had wrapped the spinnaker halyard into the genoa...

Nor would he have let the furling line run free and cause a jam on the furler drum.

With age comes wisdom... or so they say.... dunno how old you have to be before that starts to happen....
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Old 06-03-2018, 04:47   #9
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Some sailors are inherently safer than others. Some are so timid as to be poor sailors and some, as we all know, are so reckless as to be a hazard to all afloat. One would expect experience to to temper the extremes and shift most to a state of greater care..
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Old 06-03-2018, 05:00   #10
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I think there’s a general principle that indicates that the most dangerous folks are those in the mid-stages of competency. In the early phases everyone is cautious and conservative, so avoids problems. At the ‘mastery’ level you have a deep understand of the dangers and your limits, so behave accordingly. It’s that mid-level, when you know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to know your limits, where disaster strikes.
I'd have a dickens of a time proving it with hard data, but that has been my impression as well... the 100-500 hour pilot, the 1000-10,000 or so mile biker, the skipper who knows all the ropes, but not yet how they can bite... and personally, that has been my experience... once I passed 65 (now 70), I find that I am almost timid in the way I attack these recreations -- as they say in aviation, far better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground (I'm sure there is a sailing equivalent -- but it takes a while to get to the point where you realize it is okay to stay tied to the dock/anchor today...).
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Old 06-03-2018, 05:14   #11
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Having owned the same boat for 24 years, the variable is me. And I can tell you that the anchor is now heavier and the deck moves around more, sometimes making me inclined to grasp stays and such to keep steady on deck.

I'd like to think that aging has improved my experience, but I can assure you that it's forced me to behave differently.

But has it made me safer? I dunno. Four years ago when an elderly couple broadcast a mayday and it was too rough for USCG to respond, my buddy and I went out, deposited me on their boat, and I saved the boat. Not safe. Some would argue stupid. But I did wear a life jacket, something I'd have not done in my younger years!
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Old 06-03-2018, 05:21   #12
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Quote:
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Having owned the same boat for 24 years, the variable is me. And I can tell you that the anchor is now heavier and the deck moves around more, sometimes making me inclined to grasp stays and such to keep steady on deck.

I'd like to think that aging has improved my experience, but I can assure you that it's forced me to behave differently.

But has it made me safer? I dunno. Four years ago when an elderly couple broadcast a mayday and it was too rough for USCG to respond, my buddy and I went out, deposited me on their boat, and I saved the boat. Not safe. Some would argue stupid. But I did wear a life jacket, something I'd have not done in my younger years!
For all your sober posts.. you sound as loopy as me..
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Old 06-03-2018, 05:50   #13
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Lots of aviation related comments so here’s another
Years ago in my youth I was a top rated hang-glider pilot.
Dangerous activity for sure BUT what made it safe was that I went
flying every weekend for years. It became dangerous and why I stopped
flying, was when other things like my family and business started to
take time away. Every week became every other week, then once a month.
That’s when stupid mistakes started to happen, It wasn’t age or experience,
It Was Lack Of Practice. IMHO the experienced sailer who goes out once
a month is just as likely to get into trouble as those with much less experience.
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Old 06-03-2018, 07:19   #14
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Time2Go View Post
Lots of aviation related comments so here’s another
Years ago in my youth I was a top rated hang-glider pilot.
Dangerous activity for sure BUT what made it safe was that I went
flying every weekend for years. It became dangerous and why I stopped
flying, was when other things like my family and business started to
take time away. Every week became every other week, then once a month.
That’s when stupid mistakes started to happen, It wasn’t age or experience,
It Was Lack Of Practice. IMHO the experienced sailer who goes out once
a month is just as likely to get into trouble as those with much less experience.
Cheers
Neil
Exactly. I've met lots of divers and sailors who tell me how long they've been doing these activities. There are quite a few I wouldn't buddy up with or sail with because they lack competence regardless of their "years of experience."
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Old 06-03-2018, 07:41   #15
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Re: Are More Expereinced Sailors Actually Safer? Prove It.

An unanswerable question becaue we have no data.

However, I know personally, (drunk beer with them) the owners of three boats that have been lost in the Pacific in the last three years. All the owners were relatively inexperienced even though they we crossing the Pacific.
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