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Old 13-04-2014, 04:31   #1
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The Evolution of Cruisers

"Who are today's cruisers vs the cruisers of the past"? The two biggest unknowns for the cruisers of the past were where are we and where are the weather systems. In the old days I never considered crossing an ocean because back then was before I learned celestial navigation. Today's cruisers have GPS, chartplotters, weather FAX, Iridium phones, well the list goes on. What I'm saying is ocean crossing cruising has opened up to more folks with a level head, good seamanship skills, adequate bankroll, and of course the sense of adventure.

Deckofficer asked a great question, but unfortunately tied it into a hot emotional topic..

Past Cruisers:
I believe, in the early days, cruisers/sailors were more outwardly looking…
They were very dependent on honing their seamanship/navigation skills by studying the masters while being ever sensitive to more frequent errors and the natural warnings of meteorology.
There was a higher level of “Acceptance of Fate or Luck” when compared to their modern counterpart


Today’s new cruiser is much more inward looking and demanding.
Focusing inwardly on equipment and modern support resources rather than the telling murmurs of the ocean and sky.
They are conditioned to demand a much higher level of efficiency in predicted navigation and set themselves higher goals and expectations based on those massive improvements
Efforts are spent on maintaining and understanding a reliable array of electronic Nav. Aids, while the basic navigational arts suffer mainly from lack of practice.

I believe there is a more subconscious nervousness in their passage making which evolves in some to a more dangerous tunnel vision.

I think the best sailor/cruiser becomes a hybrid of both past and present.

They have still managed to keep thier expectations of performance more humble and self-sufficient.

Am I wrong?.....In what other ways are cruisers evolving?
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Old 13-04-2014, 04:39   #2
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

I think the key difference is simply numbers afloat. Today ordinary people cross large bodies of water in stock production boats with relative ease.

In the past, it was difficult , expensive and the Queen gave you a knighthood. !!

As to skills loss , I don't personally agree, more and more people now do RYA classes and learn formal navigation techniques. In the past such courses hardly existed and were not commonly taken

If anything, the modern yachtsman in the Internet age is surrounded by knowledge and often has at his fingertips far more then in the past.

The ability of modern boats to range far and wide in relative comfort, coupled with I beleive superior education and access to widespread information has in my view made the modern yachtsman a better sailor then his predecessors.

In the past, people often sailed into the unknown, poorly equipped and lacking knowledge ,they often never were seen again

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Old 13-04-2014, 04:43   #3
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

I have a theory about anti-Darwinism. I think it could be applied to modern GPS, EPIRB cruising.

It basically goes like this, in pure evolution survival of the fittest-The strongest and most successful reproduce the most. In a Modern welfare state, the poorest and theoretically weakest have economic incentives to reproduce the most. The richest probably don't want the legal liability and hassles of all those kids and the middle income people can't afford the copay and college tuitions on more than one or two children.

I would suggest the quick rescue afforded by the EPIRB and GPS navigation has created the same anti Darwinism in cruisers.
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Old 13-04-2014, 04:47   #4
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

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Originally Posted by Boatguy30 View Post
I have a theory about anti-Darwinism. I think it could be applied to modern GPS, EPIRB cruising.

It basically goes like this, in pure evolution survival of the fittest-The strongest and most successful reproduce the most. In a Modern welfare state, the poorest and theoretically weakest have economic incentives to reproduce the most. The richest probably don't want the legal liability and hassles of all those kids and the middle income people can't afford the copay and college tuitions on more than one or two children.

I would suggest the quick rescue afforded by the EPIRB and GPS navigation has created the same anti Darwinism in cruisers.

Lol , I think I just read the Fox News analysis of modern sailors, ( not to mislead, Fox News is not a registered news channel, more a " daily show" for the mis informed )

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Old 13-04-2014, 04:54   #5
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

The link to cruising was a bit of a joke but it is noticeable. I figured out what people get some nervousness about the Panama Canal is that most can't handle their boats skillfully in reasonably close quarters. We met people in the Marquesas that admitted to barely knowing how to sail.

My larger point is that countries need to offer economic incentives to NOT reproduce in excess.
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Old 13-04-2014, 05:38   #6
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

It's too quick a loss to degrade Pelagic's post into a social class political arguement so soon.

Steering to topic, I would suggest that there may be some analogy useful to compare past crusiers with those of today. There have been similar chages in crossing the country by land compared to crossing an ocean. It is not uncommon to see grave markers from the early 19th century marked as "killed by highwaymen". People crossing the country in years past faced obstacles of weather, illness and isolation that are hard to conceive when we merge onto the modern highway. Today's technology available to cruisers definitely removes much danger and doubt, but I think that it is not the norm for today's cruisers to leave the dock with an expectation to rely on help. Still, wether you are on the highway or on the seas, there is a safety net of help that was not available years ago.
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Old 13-04-2014, 05:50   #7
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The Evolution of Cruisers

The existence of safety nets ( and there's not a lot of such nets) in my view is not a factor in the degree of knowledge or preparation in modern cruises. If anything , we suffer today from " over ability ". People undertake courses, get experience, go crewing, meticulously prepare boats, Elicit help from the Internet etc

In the past a lot of ignorance rained, people had little knowledge of the destination , weather etc , they just shrugged their shoulders and went, some were never seen again. Today the vast majority seem to manage it just fine.

Human development like engineering is iterative

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Old 13-04-2014, 06:26   #8
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

I don't agree that today's sailors are an improved version, I think they just look good on paper. Take away a GPS/chartplotter and Sat phones and 90% of them could not find their way home. Yes boats have improved with roller furling on everything and are generally safer and technology has taken huge leaps. Autopilots actually work most of the time and there are vast improvements to supply electricity. We have weather routers and even the forecasting is much improved so all this adds up to allowing todays sailors a cushion that past sailors could only dream of.
The only thing that has not changed is the sea, its still the same one that Columbus sailed on so no matter our sailing history crossing oceans is still an accomplishment.
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:34   #9
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

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I don't agree that today's sailors are an improved version, I think they just look good on paper. Take away a GPS/chartplotter and Sat phones and 90% of them could not find their way home. .............................
Of course we can not really test this "90%" speculation. The number is probably high with weekend boaters and daysailors, but I would guess that the great majority of experienced cruisers would do very well with the loss of their convenient GPS.
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:37   #10
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The Evolution of Cruisers

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
I don't agree that today's sailors are an improved version, I think they just look good on paper. Take away a GPS/chartplotter and Sat phones and 90% of them could not find their way home. Yes boats have improved with roller furling on everything and are generally safer and technology has taken huge leaps. Autopilots actually work most of the time and there are vast improvements to supply electricity. We have weather routers and even the forecasting is much improved so all this adds up to allowing todays sailors a cushion that past sailors could only dream of.
The only thing that has not changed is the sea, its still the same one that Columbus sailed on so no matter our sailing history crossing oceans is still an accomplishment.

I think your view is a commonly held view amongst " old salts" , mind you when this generation become old salts , what will they use as a benchmark

( CF 2050) " back in the day , we had to press buttons and actually read the GPS and plot it on a chart , you youngsters today , with you auto guided , fully autonomous systems have no idea how tough it once was " )

The argument about taking away GPS etc, I would contend is somewhat misplaced. Equally I could say take away the sextant or the RDF and a previous generation would be lost too. Equally the navigator aboard Magellans vessel would scoff at your sextant. Sailors of the day , use whatever tools technology places at their disposal a d that is right and proper.

Has sailing become easier, maybe , fixing the boat has become much harder, that's for sure.

Then we have the numbers , if today 100 sailors make a journey then in the past would make, does that make them better or worse.

It's clear in both sports and extreme outdoor activity, that a combination of good nutrition , better Heathcare and technology has produced a human that can to tackle quests that in the past wiped out whole expeditions. Are we better today. Incrementally yes,

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Old 13-04-2014, 06:38   #11
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

Well I guess that gets back to defining what an experienced cruiser is.
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:47   #12
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

Dave,
I don't think my thoughts are unreasonable. The further we go back in time the better the sailors were. Are you suggesting that a modern sailor could compare himself with someone like Cook? I won't debate that competitive sports are different in that the human body has become bigger and stronger than past generations but I sure don't see how thats tied together with modern sailors.
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:49   #13
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

i blame it all on auto pilots!,allowing a 2 person crew to keep a boat going 24/7,keeping a reasonable watch,without extreme exhaustion.

how many people actually hand steer a vessel these days across an ocean without a reasonable sized crew?
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:54   #14
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Re: The Evolution of Cruisers

The current cruisers are far better than the cruisers of old.

The old ones knew a number of things that are irrelevant today. Calhking hulls didnt make them better. Serving lines and rigging with tarred twine didnt make them better. Looking upwards to the sky to find out where they are on earth did not make them better.

Sh!tting in a bucket, cold cockpit showers for Lyn Pardys 17 years didnt make her or any of them better.

Having an inaccuracy of location most times when closing a coast is not safer than now. This may be news to some, but its less safe.

Low breaking strain natural fibre lines are less safer, they wear worse, and are more difficult to handle than modern synthetic fibres.

The old cruisers had very little resources information and chandlery supply... It didnt make them better, it made them under equipped, less knowledgable.


The old cruisers did it on a wing and a prayer... And many more died, per capita, than do now.

The past is very fortunate to be lost.




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Old 13-04-2014, 06:56   #15
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The Evolution of Cruisers

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Dave,
I don't think my thoughts are unreasonable. The further we go back in time the better the sailors were. Are you suggesting that a modern sailor could compare himself with someone like Cook? I won't debate that competitive sports are different in that the human body has become bigger and stronger than past generations but I sure don't see how thats tied together with modern sailors.

Cook as a sailing rock star of his time, today a comparison might be with Desoyeaux , is he ( D) a better sailor, yes I'd say he is. Cook was a captain with a significant crew of seasoned men. I suspect Desoyeaux has forgotten more about sail trim at speed then Cook ever knew lol

Nor is both yours and mine directly comparable. Cook sailed in a very different era, so we can't to compare like with like. He certainly didn't seem to master multi -culturalism !! Anyway Bougainville was better then cook IMHO

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