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Old 16-06-2014, 07:53   #1
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Dangers at Sea, Dangers on Land

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Originally Posted by accomplice View Post
letsgetsailing, I don't deny that risks exist (I suffered a serious head injury racing a C&C44 27 years ago), but, knock-on-wood, in 40 years on the water there was only that one time that I needed to seek emergency medical treatment for self or crew. On land, we several times have needed medical assistance (and I live with a doctor!) for illness or injury. I worry more about a serious injury while my five children are bicycling on the streets in the rural town where we live than about a serious injury while cruising.

As far as minor injuries, resupplying the first aid-kit tells the tale. We go through more bandages at home in a week for skinned knees or sprains than while cruising. Personally, I stub my toes more on the boat, but I think that says more about my clumsiness than anything else. I have found that the only minor "injury" that happens more frequently while cruising is sunburn -- and you'd think that would be easily preventable.

Dangers abound while on the boat -- losing someone overboard chief among them -- but dangers are everywhere at home too. Experience shows that the zipline in the back-yard or wet tile in on the mudroom floor have caused more ambulance rides than anything on the boat. Yes, one could get ones fingers caught in a line on a winch, but instead I've had to take my daughter to multiple specialists when she closed her hand in a car door.
I think this is worthy of debate.

Really? You live with a doctor, but don't believe that being closer to health care is an advantage? You seem to be at odds with the Obama administration, who believe that government supplied health care is a basic human right and necessity.

I think your basic premise is flawed. I'll restate it, and you can tell me how I've misinterpreted it.

You're using bicycling on the street as your comparison. So what you're saying is that because your kids would do inherently dangerous activities on land, that you can better control their movements while cruising, so cruising is safer?

Have I summed up your argument correctly?

Because I'd be surprised if what you're saying is that being aboard a boat at sea is safer than being in your house, in a community with emergency medical facilities within a 15 minute drive.

I believe that cruising has risks that are higher than staying home. It seems to me to be basic common sense that if you go from a place where you have more relative control over water, food, shelter, and events and ready access to emergency care to a place where you have less control over these basic needs then you are adding risk. You're more exposed to the elements. This is why most people live in houses if they have the opportunity, and not small, fiberglass boxes.

Don't misunderstand me -- I think the risks are worth it, but I don't really understand some people's need to deny that they exist. For me, the dangerous bit isn't that there are risks, it's denying that they are there.
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Old 16-06-2014, 08:20   #2
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Snow skiing is more dangerous than boating. And many people who go skiing stay in houses overnight.
Are you kidding me?

More people die in boating accidents every year than snow skiing.

Here are some statistics.

  • In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3000 injuries and approximately $38 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
    • The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 12.9% decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
    • Compared to 2011, the number of accidents decreased 1.6%, the number of deaths decreased 14.1% and the number of injuries decreased 2.6%.
  • Almost seventy-one (71) percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, almost eighty-five (85) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
  • Almost fourteen percent (14) of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only nine (9) percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.
  • Seven out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.
  • Twenty-four children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2012. Ten children or approximately forty-two (42) percent of the children who died in 2012 died from drowning. Two children or twenty (20) percent of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket as required by state and federal law.
  • The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (19%), and cabin motorboats (15%).
  • The 12,101,936 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2012 represent a 0.59% decrease from last year when 12,173,935 recreational vessels were regisistered.
Source: http://www.americanboating.org/boating_fatality.asp
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Old 16-06-2014, 08:52   #3
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

The majority of these fatalities were drunk people in speed boats on inland water ways. What does that have to do with the risks of cruising?
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Old 16-06-2014, 08:53   #4
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

No, letsgetsailing, you have not summed up my argument accurately.

My argument is that neither is it immediately obvious, nor have I seen objective data that demonstrates that it is more dangerous to undertake family cruising than not. There are dangers inherent in any activity (or inactivity), but I have seen no studies comparing all-cause-mortality while cruising vs. typical American lifestyle.

As far as being closer to healthcare, because I live with a doctor, we take our healthcare with us when we cruise . She does not join me for offshore deliveries -- but since my crew often includes people in their 60s and 70s, she has equipped the boat with a range of medicine. She is only a sat-phone call away should there be a cardiac event, for example. For the children, who do not have chronic medical conditions, we simply carry standard first aid equipment and antibiotics.

Speaking to your argument that one controls one's environment more at home than at sea, I'm not sure. For example, I don't control the other drivers on the road (there are numerous car-bicycle, car-pedestrian, car-car accidents and fatalities), nor do I control whether some deranged individual will bring a gun or knife to their school. I also probably have greater oversight of the children while cruising than when at home. On the other side, I do not control the weather when at sea, but I can check the forecasts and adjust coastal cruising plans and itineraries to minimize exposure. There are many inherently dangerous places on a boat -- but so far the kids have known to keep their hands out of the winches -- if only they should be so alert as to keep their hands out of car door hinges. I hope they don't drown in the ocean, but I also hope they don't drown in the pond in my back yard. They can all swim, and always wear PFDs when above deck underway, but should they fall in while at a mooring, I'm probably closer to them when they are on the boat (with a few yards), than when they're on land.

Dangers while cruising certainly exist. But is it any more dangerous, particularly for children, than what they would otherwise be doing? I cannot say, I haven't seen any evidence to demonstrate that, and my anecdotal evidence doesn't support it.

You cite data showing that there were 651 boating deaths in 2012, the vast majority from small powerboats. I do not know how to extrapolate from that to find children's deaths aboard larger sailboats while cruising. A fatality rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels is comparable to the rate of automobile fatalities -- about 13-20 deaths per 100,000 registered vehicles. One could argue that people spend more time in their car than on their boat (what a shame!), but boats typically have more passengers at a time than cars, and sailboat fatalities are much less frequent than powerboat or pwc fatalities. Thus my point is supported -- it is not immediately obvious, nor have I seen any good data to support the assertion that cruising on a sailboat is inherently more dangerous for a family.
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Old 16-06-2014, 09:24   #5
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

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Originally Posted by accomplice View Post
There are dangers inherent in any activity (or inactivity), but I have seen no studies comparing all-cause-mortality while cruising vs. typical American lifestyle.
Ha! Tricked you!

I couldn't have argued my point any better if I tried (and I did try before).

There isn't a study like this, so why bring up sports injuries? I threw out the boating fatality stat simply mostly because it doesn't prove anything, but I wanted to see if you would make my point.

Statistics are quite misleading if they're not being compared to like statistics.
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Old 16-06-2014, 09:42   #6
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

letsgetsailing, I don't believe I was tricked in any way. In the aftermath of the Rebel Heart incident, many people, including some posting on CF, argued that it was irresponsible of the parents to expose children to the risks of cruising. Others even went so far as to say that there should be regulations limiting this. Underlying both of these assertions are several assumptions, including the assumption that cruising as a family is more risky than not cruising -- something you have asserted (haven't you?) but which has not been proven.

Comparing to sports injuries is useful for two purposes. First, we have there a qualitatively comparable undertaking of risk that has, for the most part, full social acceptance -- how many people argue that someone is an irresponsible parent just because Johnny plays in little-league or rides his bike to the library? Second, we have a demonstration that just as being on a sailboat carries risk, not being on a sailboat (and thus doing other things), also has risk -- it makes no sense to compare a risk to zero, it makes sense only to compare it to the alternative.

This discussion is germane to the Rebel Heart discussion in that I wish to defend the choice that those parents, and others make when they take their family cruising.

I would go further to assert that even if cruising were more dangerous than not cruising (which has not been proven), that most of the risks can be minimized or mitigated. I would further argue that even if there were greater risks that could not be minimized or mitigated, that the benefits outweigh the risks. I would further argue that if someone were to say that for them that the benefits do not outweigh the risks, that they have no right or standing to impose that view on others.
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Old 16-06-2014, 09:56   #7
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

Unfortunately, I don't have it anymore, nor can I find it on their website, but Beth Evans published a summary of a study done by the insurance industry that rated the "dangerousness" of various activities (based on number of insurance claims).

The summary showed that the only activity less dangerous than sailing was golf. Bicycling, skiing, swimming, you name it - they all resulted in more injuries than sailing.

So the discussion regarding how dangerous it is to cruise with children is moot. Compared to everything else (except golf) it is the least dangerous activity around.
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Old 16-06-2014, 10:01   #8
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

Found it- I don't want to copy form their website without permission, but if you want to see the results, here's a link

Cruising Life.
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Old 16-06-2014, 10:09   #9
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

Thanks, Casternb. The funny thing is that my father-in-law broke his back playing golf!

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Old 16-06-2014, 10:11   #10
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

I agree with you on a great many of your points, and I think that's a much better way to make the argument.

It isn't that cruising is inherently safer than being on land, it's that there are ALSO a great many risks on land. Throwing out random statistics about land risks, without the corresponding statistics on sea risks doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you phrase it in the way you just did. There aren't zero risks on either side. You take a trip to opinion land, however, when you say there are fewer risks cruising.

I think you are more exposed at sea, and have less resources if you do get into trouble. In fact, the only resources you have are the ones you brought with you. Cruising is problem solving, and there are always problems. Things break, and then you do without. The weather has it's way with you. Cruising risks are mitigated with experience and preparation.

I thought some of the criticism of cruising families after the RH incident were unfair, but I likewise thought some of the defenses weren't logical. I don't believe at all that cruising is safer than staying home. I do believe that with the right experience and preparation, one can get the risks to an acceptable level.

As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on taking very young children cruising. I think the risk is far higher than having those children at home. I wouldn't do it. I don't have any statistics on risks to small children, but being close to health care would be something I'd want. That is parental choice, however, and I wouldn't argue with a parent who had taken a reasonable set of precautions to address the risks.
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Old 16-06-2014, 10:30   #11
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Unfortunately, I don't have it anymore, nor can I find it on their website, but Beth Evans published a summary of a study done by the insurance industry that rated the "dangerousness" of various activities (based on number of insurance claims).

The summary showed that the only activity less dangerous than sailing was golf. Bicycling, skiing, swimming, you name it - they all resulted in more injuries than sailing.

So the discussion regarding how dangerous it is to cruise with children is moot. Compared to everything else (except golf) it is the least dangerous activity around.
42 injuries per million hours sailing? I used to race boats, and I got injured about once an hour. Maybe the difference is that I didn't report it as such to the insurance company. I know you're going to think I'm biased, but the study seems somewhat flawed. I guess the people who get lost at sea don't report back in. Or they get their broken arm fixed in the country they're in and don't report it to their insurance company. Or they sew their own stitches, since there's nobody else there to do it. Sailors are a scarred up bunch.

That guy who has a hook for a hand and an eye patch? Almost always a sailor.

As for collegiate sports, I do believe there are less injuries in non-contact sports than in contact ones, but what does that have to do with cruising?

I know I'm fighting the current here, but I think most of the cruising community feels it's in their interest to prove that going to sea is safer than staying on land. They seem to go to extreme lengths to "prove" this, but when I look at their actual data, it normally doesn't prove anything.

Cruising has some life-threatening risks. They are certainly less than before we had Epirbs, but there are still risks. If you love to travel by boat, you accept them, you mitigate them, and you move on. I just don't think you need to pretend it's as safe as basket-weaving.
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Old 16-06-2014, 10:39   #12
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

I think there is a kind of "fear of flying: issue here

Firstly., just like flying i son elf the safest forms of transport, boating as an activity i every low risk. So on a purely mechanistic reasoning, kids afloat are certainly no more likely to get injured or fall sick then at home.

Of course what tugs the heart strings, rather like aircraft flying , is the survivability of incident , when and if it does occur.

Hence, in that regard, offshore sailing is more dangerous , in that the likelihood of nearby specialist medical help and facilities is fairly non existent.

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Old 16-06-2014, 10:55   #13
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

Safer since the advent of the EPIRB to be sure, except for the public ridicule if you have to use it. One of the factors that I see that may tend to be overlooked, is since the invention of the electronic navigation aids, some, place less emphasis on skill building and using your head for something other than a hat rack. Don't take the time to get the experience; hook up the gps plotter, and epirb and go. The whole instant gratification thing on steroids.
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Old 16-06-2014, 11:46   #14
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

I assert, without proof, that racing is more dangerous than cruising. In support of that assertion I not only have common sense and personal experience, but also my insurance company doubles my deductible if I am racing.

The Cruising Club of America sponsors many races, including Newport-Bermuda. They reviewed injuries over several seasons of races. Although there were numerous minor injuries reported, there were, out of 1336 boats entered, 10 satellite or radio calls for assistance and 4 incidents of crew-members being removed from vessels for medical reasons. Using rough numbers, assuming 6 crew members per boat and 5 days (I know some do it in much less) for passage, that is 10 calls/4 removals in over 960k hours at sea. The reported injuries (and they include everything from constipation to migraines to urinary tract infections) are 122 over that same 960k hours. This is consistent (on the same order of magnitude) of 42 injuries per million hours reported from the other source.

Again, I suspect that cruising injuries at sea are less frequent than racing. Furthermore, one is only at sea a fraction of the time while cruising.
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Old 16-06-2014, 11:55   #15
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Re: Dangers at sea, dangers on land

Quoting letsgetsailing3

"That is parental choice, however, and I wouldn't argue with a parent who had taken a reasonable set of precautions to address the risks."

And who decides what a "reasonable set of precautions" entails ?
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