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Old 10-11-2014, 12:20   #586
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

"your just lucky, you can't get a harley over 60mph!"

Your arguments are good Dave but statements like that tend to make me question the rest of the opinions.

PS It's "you're just lucky" Sorry, just noticed that.

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Old 10-11-2014, 12:29   #587
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by Coops View Post
"your just lucky, you can't get a harley over 60mph!"

Your arguments are good Dave but statements like that tend to make me question the rest of the opinions.

PS It's "you're just lucky" Sorry, just noticed that.

Coops.

Its was just a little slag at Harleys, I came off a Kawasaki at nearly 90 mph in my teens, Im walking around testimony to safety gear and I didn't hit anything solid, but bouncing down a motorway is one terrifying thing. What passes for safety gear on US motorcycles is rather bizzare , but lets not go there.
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Old 10-11-2014, 16:03   #588
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
not a shred of evidence has been presented to justify your perceptions

You have said that before, and I refuted it then, and I will again.

During the crisis:
(1) We know most fall's (but fortunately not this one) there are several (on average 4 each year over the past 20 years) incidents in the cruising fleet heading south (which has a relatively high contingent of newbies) from the US east, where any objective assessment of the incident would suggest "911 seduction". The USCG helped me and agreed with me on this assessment.

(2) We know (from looking at the three major races where they were deployed in some numbers, and from further collection of independent cruising case) that rafts have a relatively high 'lack of success' rate; and that epirbs while relatively reliable in their registered waters, are a bit slow (eg may or may not not be fast enough to prevent hypothermia for a man in the water) and have a rather higher "lack of success" rate when the system has to cross language/cultural boundaries (as in a US boat with a US registered epirb in trouble in Indonesian waters).

(3) We know various relevant 'psychological effects' do exist. The 'straw effect' (mentioned above) is well proved to exists in crisis, from extensive experience in 'crisis professions' outside the cruising situation. The existence of a 'risk set-point' (if you have a stronger safety net many will take more risk) is also well documented (a couple long but good articles: http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/blowup.pdf, http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/plan%20b.pdf, http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/securityessay.pdf). It is certainly no stretch to suggest both those effects apply in sailing - and point #1 provides specific cruising data to support that.

Before the crisis:
(4) We know that most recreational cruisers don't take significant (in pool) safety at sea training. While most do carry rafts and epirbs. The rally's require the gear, but (most) do not require (just for instance) the ISAF minimum pool training. We know most cruisers don't file float plans. Most have not actually used their drag device in any significant conditions, and most have not attempted emergency (rudderless steering). The lack of even partial watertight bulkheads forward of the rudder on most cruising boats suggests real fore-thinking vessel safety is often not taken all that seriously. Quite a few new cruisers I now know would have a hard time finding their way to port if their electrical system collapsed. It is hard to prove there is an explicit bandwidth constraint/trade-off, with the gear substituting for seamanship and a safety mindset, but the facts would be consistent with there being one.

(5) I can say for absolutely sure the various effects I have described apply to me. Perhaps I am absolutely unique in that, but I doubt it, and the above 4 points would suggest I am not. And if I am a macho-ism cowboy, then I am the most analytical, and fact-based one in history.

That is a 'shred of evidence'. It is certainly not proven as a law of physics, but it is sufficient to justify my point. You can continue to insult me all you like and call all this BS as you please, but that does not make it so. You are the one trying to kill a discussion that could make cruisers/sailors safer by alerting them to various pitfalls with the 'gear oriented' safety approach.


......
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Old 10-11-2014, 16:35   #589
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

No one is saying that a life raft and EPIRB will, without fail, save your life; what should be abundantly clear, is that not having a way to stay out of the water and notify SAR when your boat sinks, lowers your chance of survival to a number approaching zero. Unless someone capable of saving you just happens upon you before you die of exposure or hypothermia, you are fish food.

If you are advising others not to carry an EPIRB and life raft, your advice is reckless at best. What happens if some poor soul takes your advice, omits EPIRB and life raft, and then dies out there?
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Old 10-11-2014, 16:43   #590
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

^^ sigh . . .

Rescue is not risk free. In fact rescue by ship is pretty damn scary. And helo rescue not only puts you are risk but also the operators.

If the gear causes '911 seduction' and a rescue that did not need to happen (as has been documented), it in fact increases risk, not decreases it.

If the gear distracts you from plugging the leak - eg you go to launch the raft and call for help first before trying to solve the problem, then it increase risk, not decreases it. Note: with a leak it is critical to get to it immediately because even a bit later it is damn hard to find and harder to fix. I am amazed when I ask cruisers in seminars what their procedure is with a leak and many do not plan to go after it first.

If the gear causes you to think you have 'checked off safety' and you then don't do pool safety training and don't test your drag device and don't test your emergency steering, etc etc, then it increase risk, not decreases it.

and so on.

Finally, you should read specifically what I have written on the subject, before criticizing me as reckless. Dave has grossly repeatedly misstated it. There are links up in the thread or go to seamanship on our faq page.
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Old 10-11-2014, 18:46   #591
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

Evans, I agree with your main assertion, but I have something else to add, inspired by disagreeing with one of the articles you cite.

While usually a fan of Gladwell, the author of the "blowup" article you listed, I must disagree with him on the Challenger issue. Having met Boisjoly (the Morton-Thiokol engineer who had warned about the o-rings) and heard his perspective on the Challenger disaster, it was avoidable. The disaster was caused less by a failure in an o-ring, and more by a failure in a culture and process.

I had a discussion with a member of my crew on a recent passage. He is a major in the army, and as part of his training was exposed to Crew Resource Management, which is an approach used throughout the aviation industry to help avoid disasters and manage crises. I won't do the approach justice by describing it here (google works), but the main point is to help avoid human error through culture, communication and process.

Beyond seamanship, beyond equipment such as EPIRBs and liferafts, there is much that we can do to make our vessels safer. Culture and process has a lot to do with it.
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Old 10-11-2014, 19:08   #592
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I don't understand this cowboy mentality. Because it cannot be assured that one won't fight for every last inch of the boat if rescue gear is on board, one should not have that gear and be guaranteed to die should something bad happen.
Mark, you have completely misunderstood my point. If there is a "cowboy mentality" being presented here, it is from those who fail to understand that stress produces, as JRM puts it well, a perceptual narrowing ... the straw effect (I like that ). This is why people who routinely find themselves in harm's way (military, emergency responders, CF moderators...) go through such intense training. For the vast majority of recreational sailors, we have none of this. Our training happens with the shyt hits the fan. If we survive we learn a lot about the situation, and even more about ourselves. AND we become better at dealing with this kind of stress.

NOW, balanced against the reality that most of us will become perceptually and cognitively impaired during high stress situations. AND balanced against the observations by Evans and others regarding the rather high failure rate of life rafts. AND measured against the number of boats found still floating, with the crew never to be seen again. ALL this leads me to rationally question the efficacy of liferafts, especially given their rather high cost.
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Old 10-11-2014, 21:11   #593
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

Can anyone post verifiable statistics on the "high failure rate of life rafts" and causes for same? I have heard several anecdotal stories of rafts long out of date inflating just fine.

Modern EPIRBs are extremely reliable by all accounts I have heard. Some of the so-called "alternatives" to EPIRBs not so much. I believe that all who advocate some alternative device (or devices) but no EPIRB are doing cruisers a disservice. It should be EPIRB first then whatever else you want to add (PLB, Satphone, DSC SSB, SPOT, InReach, DSC VHF, etc.).

Stress is caused by the knowledge (or perception) that failure to resolve a situation will have undesirable consequences. Unless the consequences of failure are understood there is little stress. So if you believe in the "straw effect" then logic dictates that having a life raft and EPIRB must reduce the stress and therefore open the straw. Thus making it more likely that a problem will be fixed and there will be no need to pop the raft. One can make a similar argument that without a raft the extra stress will narrow the straw and reduce the chances of saving the boat. I can't for the life of me figure out the logic of increasing stress as a way to improve outcomes.
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Old 11-11-2014, 02:34   #594
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

Good point , logic would suggest that having more survival options might prolong attempts to rescue the boat, knowing that a backup plan is available.

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Old 11-11-2014, 06:13   #595
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by accomplice View Post
the Challenger disaster, it was avoidable. The disaster was caused less by a failure in an o-ring, and more by a failure in a culture and process.

Crew Resource Management, the main point is to help avoid human error through culture, communication and process.

Beyond seamanship, beyond equipment such as EPIRBs and liferafts, there is much that we can do to make our vessels safer. Culture and process has a lot to do with it.
I completely agree.

I studied CRM after the Bounty incident. I will comment that (on ships) it often seems to be only given "lip service", and some of its details are probably per say not all that useful in the typical "two up mom and pop" cruising situation. But I agree that there is a huge (untapped) opportunity for "culture and process" to improve our safety environment.

I was a flyer (not a serious one, but I got my private license), and I have always be interested in the contrast between that environment and boating. We were trained to use check lists. We were given an opportunity to actually experience (with an instructor) some of the very bad things that could happen (stalls, engine out, open field landing, etc) so we would not be too surprised or shocked if they happened to us.

It can be argued that all that made flying relatively difficult to get involved in and expensive. But sailing/cruising could go half way (lets say embrace the culture and process without the regulations) and gain a lot without erecting such high barriers to entry. It used to be, back in the dark ages when I started cruising, that one simply had to learn celestial before going offshore, and that acted as a valuable barrier that one had to climb - it forced you to study (and usually in the process not just pure celestial but other important seamanship material) and to commit before you left. I think perhaps the sport is now suffering a bit with no competence hurdle at all, the only hurdle today is money.

-----------------------

Edit: I just copied this out of a PM:

Giving people the tools AND the knowledge and training to properly use them is a no-brainer.

However, giving people potentially dangerous tool (ones which if used incorrectly could increase risk) without training and knowledge is (for me at least) certainly not a no-brainer.

For instance giving people a defibrillator with no training at all is probably a bad idea (at least the EMTs I hang with agree with that).

Exactly how much extra risk incorrect use of rafts or epirbs can cause is difficult to undetermined (but I have provided evidence that there is certainly some level of extra risk), and how that trades off against the good they do is also undetermined (epirbs obviously do a lot of good, rafts rather less at least among the sailing/cruising community today). My only point is there is NO/ZERO cost to discussing/informing/educating cruisers on how and when to best use them, and what the pitfalls to avoid are. I can not understand at all why people are so resistant to discussing the potential pitfalls and culture and procedures and training while might help make better use of these tools.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:11   #596
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

^^ and just following on the aircraft case . . . we also practiced 'emergencies' in scuba training - ripping your mast off and putting it back on, buddy breathing in case your air quits.

In sailing MOB is practiced (although not much by cruising sailors), but I have not seen a recreational sailing instructor (or skipper) tie the wheel and say "you just lost your rudder, what do you do now", or turn off ALL the electronics and say "you just got struck by lightening and all your nav gear including the compass is toast, what do you do now", or pull the engine stop switch as you are entering a marina and say "you just lost your engine, what do you do now"?

Also in flying part of the check list was inspecting the plane before every take-off (flaps, rudder, engine oil, fuel off bottom of tank). Scuba had less procedure about that (at least 20 years ago). Sailing has almost none.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:49   #597
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

the probability of dying with or without life insurance is the same. As a former offshore racer I'll stick to the international offshore safety rules. I've only been in one offshore race that a boat sunk. All five crew survived due to having both an EPIRB and a life raft. None would have survived without both.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:54   #598
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

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I've only been in one offshore race that a boat sunk.
Which year, race, boat name? Curious about the details of the incident. As I mentioned a couple times above I have been collecting a 'database' of sailing incidents.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:11   #599
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

Probably less than 1% of EPIRBS, life rafts, seat belts and air bags ever save lives. But if you ever need any of them, you will sure as hell be glad you had them.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:12   #600
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts Ever Save Lives ?

I am not communicating well, because while what I am saying does require an adjustment to conventional thought, it is not all that complex or controversial once you understand the point and the facts.

So, let me start again, from scratch.

To the OP, yes there are sailing cases where EPIRBS and Rafts have saved lives. And in the past decade, in US SAR coverage, I have found 4 such (sailing) cases (I may well have not found/missed a couple but I am comfortable that is the order of magnitude).

Quote:
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Probably less than 1% of EPIRBS, life rafts, seat belts and air bags ever save lives. But if you ever need any of them, you will sure as hell be glad you had them.
And I believe we can all agree if you end up in one of those case, you will be glad you had the gear (assuming it works).

That is half of the equation.

Now to the other half of the equation.

In that same past decade, in only half the US SAR zone (the Atlantic), I have found on average 4 cases per year of vessel abandoned unnecessarily (yes arguably but the USCG agreed with me) enabled by the gear (primarily the epirb). So, we have 10 times, an order of magnitude, more pitfall cases here than in the 'saved by raft/epirb' category. We can quibble about the details of these cases, and the definition of "unnecessarily", but even if you want to scrub a few cases off this list, it is an inarguable fact that it will still be more than the 'saved'. (remember I have include the whole SAR zone in the saved cases, but only the Atlantic in this. I did that because these cases required more work and help from the USCG to identify and assess).

And that is the 'negative cases' from only one of the four potential pitfalls of this gear. I know specific examples exist of the other three pitfalls (rescue first, respond to emergency second, too late; safety checked off by buying gear; gear did not work as well as anticipated) but I do not know how frequent they are. However in any case, they will add to the above collection of 4/year (which does not include the pacific or gulf of mexico) cases of actual pitfalls.

So, we have way more, an order of magnitude more, 'pitfall' cases than we have 'saved' cases. We will all agree they are not apples to apples. A 'save' equals near 100% of a life while a pitfall equals some rather smaller probability of a life (including the SAR crew).

So, how do you respond to this information. I see four options:

(1) Inform yourself about the potential pitfalls, and develop culture and procedures to minimize them. This seems the most sensible course for the sailing community/leadership as a whole.

(2) Don't carry either one or both of the pieces of gear. This is the 'aesthetic sports' response. I respect it. We are already engaged in an obsolete and somewhat irrational aesthetic sport. I see no contradiction to 'playing it purer'. This is a well accepted approach in many other 'adventure sports'.

(3) Argue that a life saved is invaluable and overshadows the possible lives and vessels at risk due to the pitfalls. And so we should just ignore the pitfalls. This misses the point that approach #1 above allows you to still capture all the lives saves while reducing the pitfall cost. It also misses the point that putting professional SAR lives at risk in a recreational sport should be reduced/avoid as much as possible.

(4) Ignore the point, and the data, and insist the gear is all only good. I will not argue against any individual taking that approach - it is their choice. But I will argue that it is harmful to the sport to promote it and try to shout down and insult those taking approaches 1 & 2.
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