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Old 02-06-2010, 08:20   #16
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Life isn't safe, but familiarity breeds complacency, every time, and EVERYone is susceptible. Complacency is the open door to death when serious risk is involved. You may get away with it a hundred times, but then one day.....out of the blue and into the black. Out of the million things one must do/check/remember/know, it only takes one mistake or assumption to cost your life. "Well I thought the seacock and thru-hull were fine, I checked 'em last month!". But did you check it before you went out THIS time? One moment of complacency or inattention at the critical moment.........

Just my 2c
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:12   #17
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is there some abominable sea monster cruising off San Francisco down to Los Angeles
I finished a delivery from SF to SD last Friday night. The trip was flat no wind except about about 12 knot around the Channel Islands. Rounded Pt Conception close to dark on Thursday. The water around McAllister was creepy everybody on board commented on it. Sort like walking through a sleeping giants back yard. Jack
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:16   #18
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Dosent sound like the San Francisco Bay I sail on..
Thats because you sail a bennie and race. Cruiser...I'm use to strong currents and tide ...and the bay seemed light to me. And I never found the wind that difficult and rather steady.

However, once you cross under the bridge line, things get crazy for me.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:17   #19
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The water around McAllister was creepy everybody on board commented on it. Sort like walking through a sleeping giants back yard. Jack
i wonder what that as about? Kelp? Sea Monster???
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:30   #20
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Originally Posted by Fishman_Tx View Post
Life isn't safe, but familiarity breeds complacency, every time, and EVERYone is susceptible. Complacency is the open door to death when serious risk is involved. You may get away with it a hundred times, but then one day.....out of the blue and into the black. Out of the million things one must do/check/remember/know, it only takes one mistake or assumption to cost your life. "Well I thought the seacock and thru-hull were fine, I checked 'em last month!". But did you check it before you went out THIS time? One moment of complacency or inattention at the critical moment.........

Just my 2c
I completely agree.


It doesn't mean, however, that unfamiliarity makes anything safer. There is a well-known accident rate curve -- where complete beginners actually have a lower accident rate, at any given dangerous task requiring skill, like flying planes for example. That is because they are afraid, conscious of what they don't know, and concentrate. Then the rate spikes up at that point of experience where great skill has not yet been achieved, but the recent beginner starts to feel confident for the first time and starts to let down his guard, thinking he already knows everything. Then the rate falls again with more hours when the person becomes truly seasoned.


I still feel like a beginner after decades of sailing, for whatever reason. I always feel at least a little bit afraid, and sometimes very afraid, every single time I go to sea even in benign conditions. I always try to think through every thing that can go wrong and prepare for it as best as I can. I never go out to sea without a written passage plan based on serious preparation with charts and pilot books, tide tables, and weather forecasts. I am very acutely conscious of the fact that I am amateur, in a serious business, that is of being a mariner in command of a vessel, and that there is no number of years of doing it as an amateur that will fully qualify you for that position.


When I shot the inside passage at Portland Bill that time a couple weeks ago, my knuckles where white on the helm, I will tell you. Talk about a pucker factor. My passengers didn't understand what was the big deal. But that is because I checked and rechecked the tide tables to be damn sure I didn't miscalculate the timing of slack water, and even called the Portland Coast Guard on the VHF to triple check my calculations and ask for any observations of the race (they were very nice and provided a lot of information). I carefully calculated the time to get there to be right on time, and hove to for 30 minutes when we got there, to use up the margin of error before shooting the race (they thought it was a coffee break). And being right on time as the tide turned, and navigating carefully, we didn't go through any rough water, so the passengers didn't notice anything, and could hardly believe we had just negotiated some of the most dangerous water in the world. They thought I was telling them fairly tales. Little did they know how much sweat went into planning it so it would turn out like that.


I do not, however, check my through hulls every time I go out, and don't know anyone who does. Do you, really?
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:33   #21
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My first thought with one them, thinking here specifically of Felix Knauth who disappeared first and was not found, is that at 80 he might well have had a heart attack and gone over the side. Pictures of him setting off shows he had a small boat with a small cockpit, so it is entirely possible his disappearance might have a solid medical explanation.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:42   #22
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My first thought with one them, thinking here specifically of Felix Knauth who disappeared first and was not found, is that at 80 he might well have had a heart attack and gone over the side. Pictures of him setting off shows he had a small boat with a small cockpit, so it is entirely possible his disappearance might have a solid medical explanation.
Except Knauth radio'd in a "mayday mayday" and I doubt he could do that after passing over the side w/ a heart attack.

My "realistic" grasp is that of a rogue wave, and that he had a handheld. But I don't know what was found on board.

He had a 22 ft boat, so theoretically a breaking wave of 7 feet might breech it. 11-12 ft absolutely would. if he was strapped in perhaps he unhooked because it turtled and would not right? And that water is damn cold.
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:53   #23
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Dockhead. Nice post. Very nice.

Some thoughts:

1) I don't know where people think that more miles of experience makes you better. There is a certain ramp of rapid experience, and then it levels off. If you've travelled 10,000 miles vs 100,000 miles doesn't matter. Same with most professions. In fact, you can get not complacent but locked into your own systems and get myopic in thinking.

2) From physics. Stable and perfect systems move toward instability. Perfect planning won't save you. Redundancy might. Backup etc.

3) I agree. Always learning. I'm trying to simplify everything to a point where an absolute beginner should be able to move easily. Less math. Less knots to know. Less complexity. less systems. If you have no energy and you can't clearly think, can you still navigate and steer the boat? If you reach out your hand will you find the tool already there because you knew you would not be able to find it because you are tired or sleepless etc.

With you tide issue, I dunno what I would do. Have some sort of backup plan - stand off with a sea anchor?...sail to france? another port? anything to ease my mind and my knuckles if I didnt make that window.
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:01   #24
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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
Thats because you sail a bennie and race. Cruiser...I'm use to strong currents and tide ...and the bay seemed light to me. And I never found the wind that difficult and rather steady.

However, once you cross under the bridge line, things get crazy for me.

you have no idea of what you're talking about..
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Old 02-06-2010, 10:20   #25
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Some thoughts:

1) I don't know where people think that more miles of experience makes you better. There is a certain ramp of rapid experience, and then it levels off. If you've travelled 10,000 miles vs 100,000 miles doesn't matter. Same with most professions. In fact, you can get not complacent but locked into your own systems and get myopic in thinking.

2) From physics. Stable and perfect systems move toward instability. Perfect planning won't save you. Redundancy might. Backup etc.

3) I agree. Always learning. I'm trying to simplify everything to a point where an absolute beginner should be able to move easily. Less math. Less knots to know. Less complexity. less systems. If you have no energy and you can't clearly think, can you still navigate and steer the boat? If you reach out your hand will you find the tool already there because you knew you would not be able to find it because you are tired or sleepless etc.

With you tide issue, I dunno what I would do. Have some sort of backup plan - stand off with a sea anchor?...sail to france? another port? anything to ease my mind and my knuckles if I didnt make that window.
Agree with you about miles. They don't translate directly into learning, for sure. With more miles comes only a tendency to have had more learning experiences. Not necessarily the reality.


Planning is crucially important to doing anything risky and complex like going to sea. Perfect planning won't eliminate every risk, but damn sure reduces them. A problem or challenge or a crisis, even, is always less dangerous, often radically less dangerous, if you know what to do, and have prepared yourself and your boat for it. Good planning in the sense of knowing exactly about your tides and knowing the chart of the area you are travelling in, and knowing the pilotage of the port you're going into, and knowing as much as you can about what weather to expect, is much more important than reducing your workload with simpler systems. Actually simpler systems often increase your workload and thus increase your risks.

Best example of that is having a chart plotter at the helm. I'm all for being able to work with paper charts (I wouldn't sail without them), but when you have a crisis or problem and simply don't have the mental bandwidth to do conventional navigation, or if you get caught out in bad weather and need to negotiate some difficult channel to make it into a port of refuge, a chart plotter at the helm can make the difference between life and death.

Another good example is roller furling headsails. You get one risk -- that the thing jams. Simpler hank-ons can't jam. But simpler hank-ons require you to go to the foredeck to reef. Have you ever wrestled with a hank-on jib in a storm with waves crashing over the bow? The risk of being caught out with too much sail up in a sudden squall, and the risks inherent in trying to reef from the foredeck, plus all the performance disadvantages of never having the right amount of sail up because it is impractical to have so many foresails on board, or reef so often, make the slight added complexity of roler furling headsails a complete no-brainer. Why even Volvo Open 70's, with their full foredeck crews and unlimited sail lockers, use roller furling headsails. You would have to be a complete retro poser, who never ventures into real blue water, to "simplify" your systems with hank-ons, on a practical cruising boat (I'm obviously not talking about faithfully authentic classics, of course).


As to tides -- I am still a relative beginner -- have not yet completed my first full year in strongly tidal waters. But having a backup plan for tidal windows is not such a big deal (they're called "tidal gates" -- places you can't get through on the wrong tide). In the worst case, you turn around and ride the tide back to some port of refuge. Or heave to and have tea. Or go out to sea and take the long way around, which is what we would have done at Portland Bill that time if we had missed our window.

Where we sail (south coast of England) having the backup plan is not such a problem because of the great density of ports -- rarely more than 30 miles between good, all-weather ports. That is probably why English sailors go out in worse weather and take more risks than we do. They know there's always some place to slip into if things get hairy.

So different from the Sea of Cortez where we were sailing last year with its vast distances between even usable anchorages, much less ports. But nor do you have any tidal gates there.
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:18   #26
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Except Knauth radio'd in a "mayday mayday" and I doubt he could do that after passing over the side w/ a heart attack.
No, but he could have before passing out. Heart attacks are often not instantaneious.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:20   #27
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I don’t know anything about these California incidents. But if they all involve solo sailors engaged in multi-day passages, factors such as fatigue, exposure, injury and illness, which might be trivial on a crewed boat, can have extreme consequences. Not the least of which is impaired judgment. Sometimes experience can be a false prophet.
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Old 02-06-2010, 13:51   #28
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you have no idea of what you're talking about..
Well, that was really constructive I am sure. Good luck on your sailing adventure. When you fall in the water in the bay, I'll be sure to turn up my stereo.
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Old 02-06-2010, 14:01   #29
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Best example of that is having a chart plotter at the helm.
Yes I feel the same way these days about radar. I used to sail without it in fog alone. These days I would never risk it. I must have been an idiot then

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Another good example is roller furling headsails. You get one risk -- that the thing jams. Simpler hank-ons can't jam. But simpler hank-ons require you to go to the foredeck to reef. Have you ever wrestled with a hank-on jib in a storm with waves crashing over the bow?
No, because I think ahead, and usually go to storm jib early. I also never had a cutter rig. Only sloops with inner forestay. Took off my furler on my last boat. I guess I am retro.


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As to tides -- I am still a relative beginner -- have not yet completed my first full year in strongly tidal waters.
I sailed and boated off Portsmouth UK when I was growing up. But most of my solo and experience was in NE in Maine/Canada so I am used to crazy tides and currents. 6 knts sometimes. I usually time them similarly, but find I am usually too early and have to wait for a ebb to stop and flip come back in.
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Old 02-06-2010, 14:04   #30
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No, but he could have before passing out. Heart attacks are often not instantaneious.
Ok good point to consider...

Yes I thought of that, but I'm trying to imagine. Hes leaning over the side - for what? has a timely heart attack right at that moment and falls in. Now hes in pain. He reaches for a radio in the cold water and has the dexterity to turn it on and issue a mayday.

hmmmm

I think the wave is more likely.
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