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Old 16-07-2010, 12:17   #1
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Lost Confidence . . .

Now reached a position in life where I am able to at last realize a dream I had since childhood - owning a sailboat for an eventual ambition of long-distance cruising.

Now, i'm not an experienced sailer and have spent a lot of time researching the web to get a better understanding of what this kind of sailing involves.

Like anyone else here I guess, the the second worst horror scenario for me has got to be a dismasting in the middle of nowhere and being all alone to deal with it.

I always thought that you'd have to be pretty unfortunate or sloppy sailor for such a rare occurrence. How wrong was I?

Google 'dismasting' and there's a disturbingly large number of stories of sailors who have experienced this disaster. Not just sloppy sailors but a lot of competent sailors with good boats too.

The regularity that dismasting seems to occur is seriously starting to put me off the idea of buying a boat now. If there was a rare chance of it ever happening by applying good sailing skills and maintaining the boat in good order than fair enough. But it seems to me that there is a good chance a dismast will happen to anyone anywhere even if do all the right things like regularly checking the standing rigging condition etc.

Can someone put some sense in me or am I justified in feeling ever so slightly Freaked Out?
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Old 16-07-2010, 12:34   #2
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you have to worry about as much as you have to worry about pirates (yea it happens, but the odd are greatly against it)
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Old 16-07-2010, 12:38   #3
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Can someone put some sense in me or am I justified in feeling ever so slightly Freaked Out?
i can't offer any sort of perspective on statistical chances of dismasting, but i've just just enough hubris to think my philosophical ramblings are worth sharing, so bear with me i think there are a few important things to keep in mind when confidence lags and the scary scenarios start creeping into the back of your mind:

first, pretty much everything i've ever done in my life that's been worth doing (from climbing to surfing to sailing to marriage to...) has been scary before hand. and most of the time has been waaaaay less scary in practice than my worst fears lead me to believe it might be. that's part of what makes it an adventure and what makes it worth doing.

second, keep in mind that "news" is only newsworthy if it's infrequent. again, i can't help on the statistics, but if dismastings happened every day, it would be less worthy of note. if you're REALLY freaked, don't go offshore - plenty of awesome costal cruising to be had too...

third, i can't tell you how many times i get the "aren't you guys nervous - didn't you hear about abby sunderland?!". she's still alive, people - between EPIRB's SSB's, satphones, liferafts and the excess of traffic at sea, dismasting is hardly a death sentence in and of itself. think of the story you'll have to tell at the yacht club

to quote mel gibson in braveheart: "every man dies - not every man really lives."

don't give up on a life long dream.
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Old 16-07-2010, 12:40   #4
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Not such a common experience at least on the boats I've owned. I broke a boom once a few blocks have failed. The worst I experienced was the worry and doubt while alone on a seemingly unoccupied space. Buy a good boat maintain the rig and don't get to far into your own anxiety. Just do the next that needsto be done.
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Old 16-07-2010, 12:42   #5
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Here's a thought to help take your mind off that disaster...

1- are you worried about a hole in your monohull? If it fills with water, it'll go to the bottom, maybe even land there upright.... LoL
2- now are you more worried about the mast or the hole?

I always wanted a FAST sailboat... like a big long narrow McGregor 65... dreamed about, watched them go across the sales pages almost daily, could evn tell you which ones' were for sale at a given time around the world... yes I was smitten with the 65' and when the time came to start counting the pennies to buy one, I took a trip on a Seawind 1160 and fell in love... not only was it upright, I later found out by conversation and realization that if it (or any other CAT for that fact) did get a big hole in a hull, it'd still float. Nice... Even if it got tumbled, landed upside down, in a pile of fiberglas and rigging, it'd still be on TOP of the water.
Can you just imagine how depressed I was? Here all this time I was so looking forward to a monohull but now can't begine to imagine myself on anything except a CAT.

So, dismasting should be at the bottom (no joke intended) of your hurt list.
just me 2c worth.
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Old 16-07-2010, 13:43   #6
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I've always been amassed by folks who have never sailed yet 'dream' of spending a lifetime or anytime for that matter on a boat. What in the world makes it appear that sailing in the open ocean only invloves deciding that you want to do it. My best guess is a total lack of understanding about what it takes to sail, especially across oceans. Add to that the glossy images of paradise and sailing in 10-12kts.. Pretty easy and enjoyable stuff to be sure. You just need to know that it can and will turn to **** in a heart beat...You must be able to deal with whatever whenever and however. Take the rough with the gentle and know that you will get hammered eventuately and IF that 100% ok with you you're good to go. IF you can't or don't want to put up with getting hammered in order to enjoy paradise, you'de be better served with an RV...

Next time you are at home or in the car or wherever on land and a huge storm rolls over you...Imagine what the sailors are doing when this storm rolls over them.
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Old 16-07-2010, 13:59   #7
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staining their pants and saying prayers....
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Old 16-07-2010, 14:00   #8
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Originally Posted by Kasabian View Post
Now reached a position in life where I am able to at last realize a dream I had since childhood - owning a sailboat for an eventual ambition of long-distance cruising.

Now, i'm not an experienced sailer and have spent a lot of time researching the web to get a better understanding of what this kind of sailing involves.

Like anyone else here I guess, the the second worst horror scenario for me has got to be a dismasting in the middle of nowhere and being all alone to deal with it.

I always thought that you'd have to be pretty unfortunate or sloppy sailor for such a rare occurrence. How wrong was I?

Google 'dismasting' and there's a disturbingly large number of stories of sailors who have experienced this disaster. Not just sloppy sailors but a lot of competent sailors with good boats too.

The regularity that dismasting seems to occur is seriously starting to put me off the idea of buying a boat now. If there was a rare chance of it ever happening by applying good sailing skills and maintaining the boat in good order than fair enough. But it seems to me that there is a good chance a dismast will happen to anyone anywhere even if do all the right things like regularly checking the standing rigging condition etc.

Can someone put some sense in me or am I justified in feeling ever so slightly Freaked Out?

S**t happens! All these years you should haver been more worried about driving than anything that is likely to happen on the water (assuming you're not just an idiot type).

Sure you hear about it a lot because has a lot of drama so gets played up. Stop worrying and go sailing!
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Old 16-07-2010, 14:06   #9
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Ask all those good sailors with good boats how long before their dismasting they inspected the rigging. It can happen to anyone, but it seems to happen a lot more to people who don't know anything about their rig, outsource all the responsibility to the yard, and expect the boat to be as maintenance free as a Honda Accord.

Most dismastings are from race crews, carbon fiber rigs, poor maintenance, or too much canvas.

Like everything else in sailing there are a lot of things you can do to stack the odds in your favor. Almost no one with a properly maintained rig is going to get dismasted in sub-cyclone weather if they're not overcanvased and don't suffer a knockdown. If you want to race your boat, push hard in nasty conditions, and never go aloft to check fittings, then yeah, you might break your spar.
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Old 16-07-2010, 14:11   #10
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Leat of my worries,boat should stillfloat,use motor,presidentl rig it,"dont worry be happy ".marc
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Old 16-07-2010, 15:02   #11
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S**t happens! All these years you should haver been more worried about driving than anything that is likely to happen on the water (assuming you're not just an idiot type).
how true! why is it that when there's a crash on the highway i never hear "WOW - aren't you terrified to commute now?!"

people are just afraid of the unfamiliar - doesn't matter how dangerous something is, if you understand it well, the fear factor diminishes hugely... just one of those weird truths about human nature, i guess.

think of the brass balls columbus had as he set off into the unknown with most people telling him he was about to sail off the edge of the earth!
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Old 16-07-2010, 15:10   #12
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Hey Kasbian:
I have some sympathy with a guy who has the dream of sailing and works hard at his career to make enough $$ to realize it. That may mean you haven't had much time to sail and that is job #1 - NOT buying the boat but sailing.Get out there and get some experience.

I've noticed that as I've gotten older I've become more concerned about some things like accidents and violence. The fear promoted by the popular press is amazing! After you've had a bit of sailing experience I think you'll realize: 1) how rare this is; 2) how much a competent sailor can do to avoid it; and 3) how many resources that you have to deal with the situation if it arises. I did check out the dismasting posts on Google - most of them are highly tuned (i.e. very fragile) racing boats....and most of the time the crew lived through it.

Step back and try to assess risk realistically in your life. You are at far more risk driving or standing around in your house than you are of dis-masting (and remember that 74.8% of all statistics are made up on the spot!). In any event, worst case scenario, I think that I'd rather go out in one exciting if doomed adventure than linger until I'm 100 in a depressing nursing home!
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Old 16-07-2010, 15:47   #13
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Get out there and learn how to sail. Take lessons, sail as much as you can. Then when you are comfortable single handing a bareboat charter reassess your fears of dismasting, reassess your dream of cruising and if you are still interested start shopping for a good, well rigged cruiser.

It you are no longer interested in cruising, do something else.
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Old 16-07-2010, 15:56   #14
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if it's any consolation I've dismasted 4 boats. All while racing and none in really tip top condition. I have not lost the rig on either of my cruising boats. It could still happen, but not as likely as you don't push as hard cruising.
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Old 16-07-2010, 16:09   #15
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if it's any consolation I've dismasted 4 boats.
and lived to tell about it
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