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Old 30-04-2018, 18:40   #1
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Accidents, death and sailing culture

A couple of years ago I became involved in scuba diving. The scuba forums pick apart every accident, every fatality, in painstaking detail. Sometimes it seems like there are more accidents picked apart in the forums than the statistics would show occur in any given year. As a whole, I think it's a healthy habit. The community learns. Individuals learn. Diving becomes safer. Eventually, 50 posts into any given accident thread, discussion devolves into "it couldn't happen to me because..."

The sailing culture couldn't be more different. It seems to me that sailors turn a blind eye to the reaper. It's not as though sailing is any less dangerous. The water is just as unforgiving whether things go to hell at the surface or at depth. I don't understand it. Nobody picks apart the accidents. Nobody excogitates upon how they could be prevented, or what particular piece of gear, or training, or procedure would have changed the outcome.

Maybe it's the fact that people have been sailing for millennia while SCUBA dates only to 1943. But air-supplied diving is much older, with some authorities stating that diving bells were used in the 4th century B.C. Maybe it has to do with the way diving has been commercialized.

But I still don't quite get it.
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Old 30-04-2018, 18:50   #2
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

Part of the problem, at least on this forum, is any accident is viewed as a way to "score points."

By way of example... If a catamaran capsizes, you can bet that the first post here will be by a monohull fanboy. If a monohull loses a keel, you can bet that a catamaran enthusiast will be sure to post it first. Score one for my team!

None of the discussions are data driven, because usually there is none. They are just endless arguments of the same people making the same points.

A primary difference is that the number of "unusual" accidents are very small. When a sailboat is lost, it is almost always because someone screwed up, either in operation or maintenance, and in all likelihood nobody else was there to take detailed notes. If there are survivors, they are likely the people who made the mistakes, and sometimes (not always) they are not the most reliable narrators of events.

In the absence of detailed notes, the trolls make stuff up.
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Old 30-04-2018, 19:24   #3
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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Originally Posted by billknny View Post
Part of the problem, at least on this forum, is any accident is viewed as a way to "score points."

By way of example... If a catamaran capsizes, you can bet that the first post here will be by a monohull fanboy. If a monohull loses a keel, you can bet that a catamaran enthusiast will be sure to post it first. Score one for my team!

None of the discussions are data driven, because usually there is none. They are just endless arguments of the same people making the same points.

A primary difference is that the number of "unusual" accidents are very small. When a sailboat is lost, it is almost always because someone screwed up, either in operation or maintenance, and in all likelihood nobody else was there to take detailed notes. If there are survivors, they are likely the people who made the mistakes, and sometimes (not always) they are not the most reliable narrators of events.

In the absence of detailed notes, the trolls make stuff up.
I don't really think it is quite fair and nor is it accurate to implicate people who try to fabricate hypotheses as to how accidents may have come to pass as "trolls".

While there may be some monohullists and catamaranists who would do as you suggest in your first and second paragraphs, it does not seem to me that that behavior is typical of CF in particular.

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Old 30-04-2018, 19:28   #4
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

As an openwater diver and longtime sailor, the differences are far and few between.
First as a diver one goes thru certification and in water training before he can even buy air. As well, there is very little equipment to maintain with dive gear.

Sailboats can be bought and launched by anyone with enough money. There's a LOT MORE to maintain on a boat to keep it safe. At least these days the USCG does inspections but that doesn't qualify the skipper as confident. Ignorance and apathy are a sailors worst enemy.

And boats have to watch out for invisible obstructions and weather. Whereas a diver will not be nodding off, just worry about currents, surf and creatures. Providing the gear has been inspected and up to date.

The main difference I really noticed between the two, especially being older, is the physical stress is much higher in diving.
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Old 30-04-2018, 19:31   #5
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

Jammer,

I think it does happen here, take a CF google custom search look at the sinking of the Cheeki Rafiki, and the loss of the catamaran last year at Huahine for discussions of loss of life and boat and boat only. Do become acquainted with the CF Google Custom Search function, it generally works much better than the regular Search, which requires an exact match.

However, among older sailors, there is an awareness that the ocean can kill you. Some people react by accepting the threat, and doing what they want; others glorify it by calling it an adventure. The problem is, today's misfortune is tomorrow's adventure--till you don't come back; then it was the death of you.

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Old 30-04-2018, 19:38   #6
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post

While there may be some monohullists and catamaranists who would do as you suggest in your first and second paragraphs, it does not seem to me that that behavior is typical of CF in particular.

Ann
Ditto!

I've always seen it from a different perspective......
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Old 30-04-2018, 20:14   #7
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

As both a Sailing instructor and Diving instructor at advanced levels, the dangers and solutions you teach are quite different and I think that gives you a glimpse at how casualties are analyzed.

Diving Instruction is far more physiological, with limited encouragement for in depth repairs/modifications of breathing equipment. Awareness of Currents and Thermals are basically the only Navigational concerns until you get into cave diving.

So basically Diving is self centered training with a "buddy" mindset.

Sailing is far more diverse in all area of crew management, communication, planning, maintenance, weather, navigation and safe, knowledgeable use of all the various electronic aids.

So there are so many more variables in a Sailing Inquest that a definitive answer is not so easy.
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Old 30-04-2018, 20:24   #8
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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...The sailing culture couldn't be more different. It seems to me that sailors turn a blind eye to the reaper. It's not as though sailing is any less dangerous. ...
InterestingÖ I have zero experience with SCUBA, let alone what the level of amateur analysis is around diving mishaps. But itís not my impression that sailing accidents go un-scrutinized here. Quite the opposite I would say. Most of the time I think they are WAY over analyzed here, with way too many people offering hindsight quarterbacking and criticism for my taste.

I donít know what the risk levels are in scuba, but if it is as safe as sailing, then it a very safe activity. Sailing, especially with the cruiser-level boats that most people have here, is exceedingly safe according to the stats.
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Old 30-04-2018, 20:56   #9
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

It's been a while since I have been diving (with a tank anyway) but I think it may have something to do with it being a lot easier to die doing something careless while diving than sailing. I'd say we scrutinize accidents here as well as we can but there are a lot of variables like sea conditions and boat design, as well as sailors' experience that figure in also.
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Old 01-05-2018, 05:34   #10
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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I donít know what the risk levels are in scuba, but if it is as safe as sailing, then it a very safe activity. Sailing, especially with the cruiser-level boats that most people have here, is exceedingly safe according to the stats.
For SCUBA, the best statistics show that there are roughly 120 fatalities worldwide per year. Typically about 40 of these are in the United States. Since the statistics are compiled from the news and voluntary reports, they are thought to be incomplete. As many as half the fatalities are thought to have underlying medical causes, primarily heart attacks and stroke.

In 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 701 recreational boating fatalities in the United States. Of these, 15 occurred on sailboats. Of these 15 sailing fatalities, 11 occurred on sailboats large enough to have an engine. Unlike the situation with diving, fatalities that have underlying medical causes are not included in the statistics.

There are 14 million boats (including power, paddle, and sail) in the United States, based on registration data. There are thought to be around 3 million active SCUBA divers in the United States based on industry data.

Which is the safer activity depends on how you interpret the statistics.
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Old 01-05-2018, 05:57   #11
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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Sailing is far more diverse in all area of crew management, communication, planning, maintenance, weather, navigation and safe, knowledgeable use of all the various electronic aids.

So there are so many more variables in a Sailing Inquest that a definitive answer is not so easy.
^^^ This.

Diving has a very specific, relatively speaking, set of safety issues. It's confined to individual physiological issues and some other, limited concerns.

Cruising on the other hand is a remarkably diverse activity, with diverse technical challenges as well as procedural and knowledge ones. Seamanship encompasses a tremendous amount of knowledge and that's before you even get to the maintaining the machine itself.

I have always felt that reported accidents get picked apart pretty thoroughly here, although much of it is speculation and hypothesis. I don't read diving forums so can't comment on the difference, but I assume any difference revolves around diving accidents having a very specific identifiable cause. In boating, accidents often result from a cascade of bad decisions.
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:26   #12
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

Have to agree with the comments that accidents get picked apart pretty thoroughly around here. I strongly disagree that there is an "trolling" associated with this.

People want to understand -- at least as best they can -- what went wrong, so that they can avoid the same problems themselves. That makes perfect sense to me. Hence, on the internet, the problems get discussed a lot more than the successes. Of course, some times the discussion gets a little too far into uninformed speculation, but that's to be expected.

If the SCUBA forums are that much more heavily into picking apart accidents then they must not talk about anything else!
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Old 01-05-2018, 06:42   #13
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Accidents, death and sailing culture

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Sailing is far more diverse in all area of crew management, communication, planning, maintenance, weather, navigation and safe, knowledgeable use of all the various electronic aids.

Like mentioned here, we sailors like to focus on aspects of Safety while underway. But what about at anchor activities?

A real peeve of mine is dinghies at night zipping around the anchorage at high speed, risk of running into unlit objects and not so much as a light from a smart phone to be seen by other boaters. Slow down & put some lights on!! NaviSafe make some excellent nav light products for dinghies. Weíve all heard or read about dinghy fatalities along these lines and I find them utterly unfortunate and preventable.

Another is going up the mast without a backup line. Often itís just the main halyard. Use the spinnaker halyard or topping lift as a secondary line. All tied to your harness with proper knots of course.

So to the OPís point, underway incidents would benefit from more scrutiny yes, but these other fatalities are like, Meh, stuff happens! For everyoneís sake letís take this part of cruising more seriously.
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:20   #14
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

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...It's not as though sailing is any less dangerous...
Would have to disagree on this, in that the danger in scuba is much more immediate and the consequences of very simple mistakes can be much more serious (and can happen and escalate much more quickly). Throw in the machismo factor several divers I have known had (and some still have) and...

As for statistics, though morbid, it seems the 'deaths per hours pursued' for each sport would give the best rough quantification of relative dangerousness...
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Old 01-05-2018, 07:22   #15
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Re: Accidents, death and sailing culture

Sailing accidents are probably more akin to flying accidents than scuba.

Scuba is likely an individual circumstance. Flying/sailing can be an individual issue - badweather planning or individual equipment failure. However more often it is a collision/right of way issue. Perhaps fewer collisions in flying.

The point being is that when this forum hears about a fatality, collision or weather escape and there is enough media coverage to discern some detail we will pick it apart pretty well - or at leaat debate to death.

Probably the incidents that get the most airplay would be weather escapes or boat foundering and colliiosns between sail and power.

Search the threads and you'll find many of these.
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