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Old 30-03-2011, 13:48   #76
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Here's an oportunity to build a case from anecdotal material. I was a SAR Pilot out of NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA in the early 70's. I made 12 offshore rescues (nine from life rafts) in a period of 2 and a half years out of 196 searches. More than a hundred of those searches were called off after days of searching. So I spent a hell of lot more time searching than rescuing. That was 1970 BE (Before EPIRBs.) I heard a 121.5 beacon on a few of those trips, but for many different reasons the beacon wasn't very useful because our RDF equipment was abysmal. The Coast Guard had better radios, but... See if you can do the math here.

I am continually amazed the people look for reasons to save money on liferafts and EPIRBs. So far we've heard: they kill people. Its a government plot. I can use my dinghy. my boat won't sink. and the very best: I'm too smart to need them.

Accidents happen to everyone. Accidents kill people who aren't prepared. Accidents don't kill people who have the means to survive them. SAR finds EPIRBs. SAR may find a floating head or two in daylight with calm conditions, but that is not when accidents usually happen. Give that floating head a PLB and the odds improve dramatically, so much so that it is now possible to get a victim to the emergency room inside that "Golden Hour" from many areas around this country, thanks to the Coast Guard's Rescue 21 system, where even an unregistered DSC radio can be triangulated and located such as the Chesapeake Bay.

You don't think YOU need a liferaft? Your boat won't sink, you don't GO where boats sink, or your superiors skills and seamanship will deal with any happenstance? I have a surprise for you: You have just been elevated to the status of full accident elligibility. Mother Nature hates naysayers. Murphy has a Law for you. There's no wood to knock on.

If I could have found any of those victims in the beginning of this tome, they would probably have agreed with you BEFORE THE ACCIDENT.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:59   #77
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

PS I picked a couple of sailors off boats that still floated. You think that's shameful? You weren't there. All the Sunday Morning Quarterbacking in the world won't come up with a reason for that not to happen; an emergency exists when the victim says so, period. It was an emergency to him, and he needed help, not a ration of uninformed criticism.
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Old 30-03-2011, 14:11   #78
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

I don't really care how many are used, just as long as mine gets me help if I have to use it..

Good answer Sandy Daugherty and THAnK YOU for your service.

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Old 30-03-2011, 15:43   #79
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post

(...)

The problem I see, and I carry a liferaft when going offshore, is that it is tempting to think that you'd better use the liferaft now before things get worse, so instead of trying to fix things you waste your time and energy getting the raft launched and abandoning ship.

(...)
Yep. Pretty hard to sort apart the percentage of rescues that could have been avoided. People have EPIRBs and liferafts and some, well, will elect to press the button and jump into the raft as soon as there is any trouble onboard. And especially so if the boat is insured.

Funnily, when we got badly knocked down (same area as the QBS, but in a different year), we did not have EPIRB nor a liferaft. I spotted a ship and, being in the pretty messy condition we were (cold, wet, broken spreader, dead electrics, etc.) I asked the ship to inform the NZCG of my trouble and of my ETA. A moment later the ship wanted to rescue us. OMG just imagine this would have been the end of our adventure. It took me at least half an hour to dissuade the ship's officer from saving us.

But then again, I often wonder how I would have behaved if we DID have the rescue toys back then.

We still do not carry a liferaft nor an insurance. Not to say that we would not.

Just one of the many faces of the same old thing.

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Old 30-03-2011, 18:18   #80
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by sandy daugherty View Post
I am continually amazed the people look for reasons to save money on liferafts and EPIRBs.
In what thread did you see people searching for reasons to save money ?



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Old 30-03-2011, 18:19   #81
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by sandy daugherty View Post
PS I picked a couple of sailors off boats that still floated. You think that's shameful? You weren't there.
You probably meant that reply for some other thread ?



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Old 30-03-2011, 18:21   #82
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by Therapy View Post
Not that book so much but one of his writings was about risk taking and safety devices that when installed change behavior. Not the devices really but the behavior of the owners changes. Human traits and all.

http://www.gladwell.com/pdf/blowup.pdf
Got it. Thanks !



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Old 30-03-2011, 19:06   #83
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Sven, I am with you on this general principle. . . It's well proven that people take more risks when they have more insurance and more safety equipment. Its called Moral Hazard in the insurance industry and is well documented. In the terminology of economics, people consume the extra safety margin day to day rather than saving it for extreme moments.

And on this practical point . . . Life rafts and the ability to call for effective rescue is in fact a pretty recent development in sailing. Its pretty clear today that people call for rescue and abandon ship when previously they would have stayed and saved the vessel because they had to. There are many many examples when old timers 'self rescued' when most today would pull the rip cord . . . but my favorite is the Smeetons/Tzu Hang off Chile.

Quite frankly in our first really bad storm we probably would have gotten off the boat if a ship or chopper had happened by, but it would have been a terrible mistake and I have always been terribly glad we stuck it out. Years later, even after we were quite experienced, when we had better communication gear I did call for assistance when we had the boat on the rocks in Iceland and a force 10 storm was coming in. There was no assistance available and after realizing that I got us off by our own efforts. That call for help was a mistake. And after the fact it made me sit and think about my decision process in the time of stress - the communication gear and safety marketing makes it just too easy to think you can call 911 and get help before you have really examined what you might be able to do yourself. I hope I have learned, but it is hard to know how you will react and how clear your decisions will be in times of extreme stress.

There is really no way at all to assess the net effect of the rescue capability - obviously there are now people saved who would have died before but equally obviously there are boats lost and people killed who would would not have been if they had stayed with the vessel. The numbers of both aboard sail boats are so tiny there is no valid analysis that can be done.

We in fact have not carried a raft precisely because we want to be forced to do everything possible to save the boat. We realize that means we may die in some circumstances, but it also means we will save the boat and ourselves in other circumstances. Its a trade-off we consciously make.
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Old 31-03-2011, 04:46   #84
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To characterise that the existence of EPIRBS and rafts as making people take more risks is ridiculous. Risk taking is a function of individuals makeup.

I've never seen or heard of sailors taking additional risks simply because they had such equipment. It is however true that such equipment reduces the need to sort ourselves out of trouble. But that really isn't a function such equipment. It's more that we have a hugely resources and expensive rescue service at our disposal.

Going to sea in the past often meant loss of life. Sailing was one of the greatest areas of fatalities. ( mining being another). In the 19th century this was accepted.

Now we do not accept trivial loss of life. We as a society makes huge efforts to rescue people from their own stupidity. I beleive it's a hallmark of a free society that you can think up new ways to kill yourself every day, but society still tries to rescue us.

EPIRBS and liferafts are merely ways on making such massive SAR undertakings easier to accomplish.

Ps to correct something said. Unregistered epirbs will cause a SAR event. They are never ignored.

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Old 31-03-2011, 07:30   #85
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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To characterise that the existence of EPIRBS and rafts as making people take more risks is ridiculous.
Your statement is factually incorrect.

My question is really aimed at figuring out if the increased risk taking negates the safety benefit from the equipment.

As noted in some of the posts above, it would be really hard to get to the real answer but I suspect that if you are aware of how your judgment is effected you can benefit and realize the safety benefits.



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Old 31-03-2011, 07:42   #86
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

Sven, you are enaged in a classic " angels on a pin" esoteric argument, Amusing but pointless, since we will never have statistics on people that "might" have got into trouble, only thoese that do.

The fact is arguing against EPIRBS etc is like arguing against seatbelts and airbags. Both have shown to increase safety and only in marginal cases have they caused problems.

Teh same is exceptionally true for EPIRBS, liferafts are a dubious safety device, really a device of last resort, often more dangerous then the original problem. But this is widely recognised amongst the user group.

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Old 31-03-2011, 08:51   #87
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Re: How many EPIRBS and liferafts are ever used to save lives ?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
since we will never have statistics on people that "might" have got into trouble, only thoese that do.
I agree here - this is an impossible thing to make a good fact based analysis of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
seatbelts and airbags. Both have shown to increase safety and only in marginal cases have they caused problems.
I agree with the statement, but am not sure that it has much relevance to EPIRBS and life rafts.

The auto statistics suggest seat belts and airbags have increased safety but ABS has apparently not - so the record for 'auto safety equipment' is not as crystal clear as it might be - clearly people take more risks when they have ABS. And these are functionally not analogous or equivalent to epirbs. The close marine functional equivalent to a seabelt might be a tether, and the closer auto functional equivalent to an epirb might be a 911 cell phone.

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The same is exceptionally true for EPIRBS, liferafts are a dubious safety device, really a device of last resort, often more dangerous then the original problem.
And I disagree here. It is crystal clear that many people with EPIRBS have in fact abandoned ship when they did not need to (because they were seasick, because it was a gale and they did not realize what it would be like, because the engine stopped working, etc) and would not have in 'the old days' and in doing so have taken more risks than if they had stayed with the vessel.

I agree with Sven that the psychology here is worthwhile for a skipper to understand. If you had asked me when I started sailing if I would take more/higher risks when insured than when not insured I would have said absolutely not I would act the same - but I have since observed myself and I am super super careful when we have not been insured and just ordinarily careful when we have been insured. Its definitely not an intentional thing, but it is there - and as I said in my previous post its well known and documented in the insurance industry.

And the same applies to epirbs and rafts. If you don't have them you will likely (or at least I am) be super super careful to make sure your thru hulls are sound and your rudder bearing is in good shape, etc; while if you do have them you will 'only' be normally careful about such things.

That's the psychology . . . the more important aspect is what you do and in what priority when you get into trouble. Many many people (including me in the Iceland story I mentioned above) when they get into serious trouble and have a raft and epirb/comm equipment will mess with them first - that is almost always wrong (but unfortunately to make things messy - not always wrong) - trying to fix the situation first and 'self rescue' is almost always right. But we have been so trained by the safety marketing and the 911 mindset to just "call for help and wait for the professionals" that many of us will put things in the wrong order and priority in times of stress UNLESS we have discussed it as we are doing here.
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Old 31-03-2011, 09:36   #88
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

So let's carry this argument to its logical extreme. If I am more careful and hence safer if I don't carry a raft and EPIRB, then I would also be even more careful on deck and hence safer, if I didn't use a tether? If I didn't carry a fire extinguisher, I would be even more careful, hence safer, when using the galley stove? If I didn't carry a first aid kit, I would be even more careful, hence less likely to get injured? If I carry no safety or emergency gear whatsoever, am I then the safest of all?

The whole thing gets rediculous in a hurry. There are responsible people who carry safety gear, but don't use it unless they really need it. There are also idiots who let safety gear lull them into a false sense of security, and use it when they they don't really need it. Generalizations are pointless.
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Old 31-03-2011, 12:46   #89
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

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If I am more careful and hence safer if I don't carry a raft and EPIRB, .
You should note that, I at least, have not said 'hence safer'. I have said you will be more careful but that it is impossible to assess which way you are net safer.

The economist would suggest that your consume the surplus safety so in the end are basically equally safe either way. I don't think I buy that either, because safety incidents are rare 'long tail' probability events that we as humans are very poor at analyzing.

Regarding you logical extension' to fire extinguishers and first aid kits . . . One of the problems with life rafts and EPIRBS is that they ARE in fact allowing people to abandon ship when they should not, before they have tried seriously to solve the problem. I don't see that same sort of effect with first aid kits and fire extinguishers.

The fortunate thing about this whole discussion is how safe sailing actually is.

Generalizations are pointless.[/QUOTE]
Not if they generate a worthwhile discussion that cause us to think about important topics. And you will note that I have been quite specific about two incidents in my sailing life - twice I either have wanted to or have called for help - both times in reterospect it was a mistake - and interestingly both times help was not available so I was given the chance to correct my mistake and self-rescue.
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Old 31-03-2011, 14:00   #90
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Re: How Many EPIRBS and Liferafts ever Save Lives ?

Generalizations are pointless?

Well, not if they are made and used properly.

Generalizations are just a tool. How one uses a toll is a separate issue.

My 2 pesos.

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