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Old 01-08-2013, 03:44   #196
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Look this is going to sound really harsh but some people just aren't cut out to be sailors. They don't take it seriously enough, they don't care about seamanship, and they view a boat like a floating RV. It's hard to tell on the Internet who's who, and I'm not trying to sound like I'm Admiral Drake espousing the laws of the sea. I could give you a list of names of people I know personally who are much more capable sailors than myself, but I could also give you a list (including this thread starter) that have exercised blatantly non-seamanship behavior.

I mentioned the hip tow option in the event that there was no wind and he was being gently dragged onto a reef at 1/3 a knot. The first thing I mentioned in this thread was to use another sail, fix the sail, or stitch up the friggin bed sheets.

I mean put it in this context: everyone without electronics and an engine (which is thousands and thousands of sailors, including currently) is pulling off on a daily basis what caused this person to abandon ship.

I try to be helpful on this forum and there have been plenty of times where someone really did as much as can be reasonably expected and still lost the dice roll: it happens. Based on the information I'm reading, this is not one of those cases.

I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well put.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:52   #197
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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Condolences to Syserenity for your loss and congratulations for your honesty. There is another perspective to the critics of this story that can be understood better by those who have played sports beyond a rudimentary level. When preparing for a game/event/match, athletes spend hours practicing to hone the skills necessary to be competitive and hopefully win. And, it is known to those who have played at higher levels of competition that there are some who perform well in practice and fold during the game. This is purely psychological since nothing has changed in the athlete other than the knowledge that this is no longer practice but the real game. I compare this reality to the CRITICS of Syserenity who in their ego lust to impress others with their skills, knowledge and bravado provide countless examples of how they would have avoided the loss of the vessel if it were they who were faced with his choices when, in reality, most will never encounter his situation in their sailing lives. One can never be certain of what your mindset will be at any critical event in your life and many of those who play well at practice (the armchair critics)--fold in the game. It has been my experience that those who have proven their mettle in real life crisises and are truly the most competent are always the most sympathetic to the ill fortune of others unless there is an ego to be fed that overrides compassion and decency. Syserenity has shared a devastating personal loss with our Forum. It is instructive to all of us as a teaching tool if we were faced with a similar fate. None of us can really know what we would have done unless we were there in the moment. And, if it was his choice based upon the conditions as he perceived them to abandon his vessel, we can never fully appreciate the mindset unless we were there in the moment. Only the most arrogant and ego driven of us would use this honest man's story as a bully pulpit to build and promote their internet image of master sailor and technician at the expense of another man's loss and tragedy. There is a difference between practice and the game. When you're there,contrary to what you believe, your story may be the same. Best of luck to Syserenity. May your sailing fulfill your dreams.
Sounds like you really tried to overthink the obvious. Lets face it, he didn't have the where with all to even be out on the water. Even the coasties of sereral nations realized this was a babysitting mission and not a rescue----hence no response.
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Old 01-08-2013, 03:55   #198
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

My condolences for loosing your boat. And a big THANK YOU for shearing. I can only imagine how hard it was. There is a lot to learn from your experience.

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Old 01-08-2013, 04:04   #199
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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You should save yourself some heartache and put this thread on your ignore list.

Now that the original poster is ignoring this thread we can all express our real opions.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:10   #200
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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Serenity, 7/30/13 - on the reef
approx. 18*20'.5 N, 87*40' W, ~5 miles north of Xcalak Mxco
Glad to know the capt & crew are OK.
Local authorities not too happy.
WOW, abandoned ship with the mainsail still up. Time to pile on!!!!!!!
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:13   #201
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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Thanks for telling us the circumstances.

It is a little difficult when its your first few months cruising at sea.

But for those with more experience faced with similar circumstances there are other ways to dig oneself out of the situation... but as I say they require quite a bit of experience...

The plotted point of the loss should be easily navigated to safe waters Bahia de Trujillo and therein Puerto Castillo.

All waters between the abandoned boat and that port are clear and open except for a few islands that are deep close to the islands so no nav problems. Getting into the towns on those islands would be tricky without any chart at all, but one could stand off and wait for a local fishing boat.

One doesnt need even a paper chart in emergency to do it, nor a full set of sails. Its the sort of thing a quick glance of the computer should have been done before the passage started at all... opt out points and general coast line. And, of course when things were getting sketchy to reinforce it in writing.

It does show the value of MULTIPLE back-ups. I have a few GPS independent of ships batteries including a hand held plotter.

The other thing someone with more experience can consider is time: If there aint no impending dange then take it slowly, very slowly, who gives a damn if you're at sea an extra day or two? A few extra days may also let someone good with engines work out a solution to the water problem.
The most useful post in this thread so far.

A big part of cruising is fixing things and dealing with failed components and systems, sometimes creatively ("boat repair in exotic places"). Most people, when they first start out with a complex cruising boat, expect it to be something like a car -- turn the key, raise the halyard, flip a switch, and it just works. Reality usually sets in pretty soon -- it will often not "just work" without fixing something, solving something, tracking down some elusive problem.

So eventually you accumulate tools and spares and skills, and you start to add backups to those systems which are most likely to fail or which are most critical to getting to your destination. This is not necessarily directed to the OP; I have no idea what his experience or skills are, but this may help other people.

For really critical systems, like navigation, it pays to have backups to backups to backups, like Mark said. Of course some systems can't be backed up at reasonable expense -- steering is one. But navigation is easy. Like Mark, I have a handheld plotter and a couple of battery powered GPS's (one in a biscuit tin), with a bunch of lithium batteries in sealed containers. I have paper charts of every place I sail. There is no way I would be unable to navigate should my main electronics go down.

Electrical power is also something which, with time, one learns to keep going under adverse conditions. After a certain number of years, every cruiser will have experienced power failures. I have four ways of charging my main batteries -- large alternator on the main engine, 6.5kW diesel generator, backup emergency Honda 1kW petrol generator, wind generator. Just running out of power is inconceivable; to lose power I would need to have some kind of massive failure in the distribution system. Even that I think I could deal with -- I have a whole locker full of spare wiring and a complete electrical tool kit.

As Mark and others have said, it is also extremely desirable to separate your battery banks. In my opinion, you should never rely on engine starting by a battery which is used for other things. The engine starting system should have its own battery, its own alternator, its own shorepower charger, and should not be connected in any way to any other system. A different configuration is really asking for trouble, IMHO. A separate emergency battery for electronics and radio, especially if you have SSB, is also very desirable. It's actually required by GMDSS for larger vessels. I don't have this, but I'm thinking about it.

Diesel propulsion is backed up with sails. Of course the wind doesn't always blow, and it doesn't always blow in the right direction, but I think most sailors in most situations could get a boat into port with sails alone, or at least into an anchorage. If you have an outboard, you can also maneuver your boat onto a dock by towing alongside with the tender.

Autopilots are nice but not generally a matter of life and death. Wind vanes are extremely desirable -- wish I had one on my boat.

Steering is probably the biggest single problem which could force you to abandon a floating, non-burning boat. It is d*mned hard to back up. It rarely fails, but it does happen at sea sometimes. It happened to friends of mine in a storm in the Med a few months ago (rudder fell right out the bottom, nearly sinking them -- but they did get their boat home). Some boats can be steered to some extent with sail balance and trailing warps or small drogues. Smaller boats might be steered with a partition door lashed to a spin pole - it's been done many times. ScanStrut make an expensive backup rudder which would be a very desirable thing to have on board a boat taken far offshore. Of course, if you have a wind vane, you have backups to both steering and autopilot -- very, very good -- two birds with one stone.

As to food and water -- most people out on any kind of a longer cruise will have provisions on board which can be stretched for even weeks if necessary. Experienced cruisers will always have canned and sealed up dry stuff laid by somewhere for a rainy day. You should also have some kind of food in your grab back and/or liferaft. Water is rarely a problem -- if you get into trouble which may seriously delay getting into port, you just stop taking showers. A typical yacht's water tank would support the life of a single-hander probably for probably a year under survival conditions. Experienced cruisers will also have emergency water supplies squirreled away somewhere, on top of that.

As Mark said -- dealing with an immobilizing failure at sea should be done slowly and systematically. If you're not sinking or burning or being blown down onto a lee shore you should take your time. Heave to and have a cup of tea and think about it first. Personally, I would not be inclined to spend a lot of time in the engine room trying to get the diesel going, if it failed to start. I've been through that once in real life, by the way. In most cases, I would just sail, knowing what I know now, including, how my boat handles under sail in a crowded harbor (vastly better than I had thought for the first four years I had her). A starter failure is one of the tougher things to deal with -- and I will soon have a spare starter on board. Some diesels can be started with an improvised pull cord and tackle. Fuel problems can almost always be dealt with one way or another, with an improvised day tank. Even without extra filters (which you should always, always have on board), you can usually siphon some clean fuel off the top of the tank into a clean container, and limp home on that. You hardly need anything for that other than some spare hose; the dinghy tank is the ideal container (I guess it is unnecessary at this point to mention how important it is to avoid fuel problems in the first place, by regularly cleaning out your tanks, having proper filtration, carefully checking fuel taken on board from dodgy sources). But some diesel failures can't be solved at sea -- say the injection pump falls apart, and who has a spare one of those. But for that you have sails. Pity the single-engine trawler owners without "wing engines". They are really screwed in case of engine failure. We are not.


Kudos to the OP for posting this. These threads are extremely valuable as they give us all a scenario for "what would I have done?". The thought processes which go along with answering that question, and what we learn from each other's thoughts, are extremely valuable for being prepared ourselves.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:20   #202
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
Now that the original poster is ignoring this thread we can all express our real opions.
My real opinion is that when we hear about those things we start to think, we start to compare our boats to his boat and our would be actions to his actions. And that is very useful. For us. Don't beat him up. He has done what he has done and has paid his toll. Just learn.
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:42   #203
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None of you know so much or have so much experience that we will forgive you bad manners. Some of you will never know, and some of you will not survive to gain the experience. Some of you may even think we listen to you..
I think you need a mirror and wake up call, because your bad manners are not just that, but also have no other goal than to attack people. You completely fail to notice that posts from cruisers (the ones that bring their boats and crew safely back in again and again) are all meant to help; if not the OP then others who might follow his wrong example.

In the mean time, all you do is defend incompetence and attack those who did no wrong; you are not being helpful in any way except may be promote cudling and hugging. The problem is that the sea is not the place to do that and this forum ultimately is about the sea. How to tell somebody nicely that he had no business being out where he was? Show us if you know so well.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:16   #204
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

d
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The guy had a bad day.... to many problems he could not handle alone so he hit the button....
I know I crack the odd joke or two about these things but you could say I've been there...
I came close to bailing myself on my 1st attempt to get the H37c to the UK in '04... got dumped on by some heavy seas that punched out a bulkhead N of Bermuda... crapped myself and turned for Beaufort... after 13 days at the wheel fighting a SW'ly and 50 odd miles still to go to Cape Lookout I spotted a cruise ship heading S as we rose on the waves... I was knackered doing 16hr shifts sailing and losing some ground I'd made every time I slept... believe me the thought of warm dry conditions.. decent food not snacks and a ride S was sooooooo very tempting... I did not... I carried on... only to nearly lose the boat at the entrance to Beaufort... it was night time as I closed... my local chart had gone over the side with the wind and being fatigued I followed the wrong lights in... felt the keel kiss the sand and threw the helm hard over to take her back out... luckily Neptune was in a good mood and a wave smacked the stern which helped the pivot enormously and I bumped my way back into safe water as the sails powered up... not something I'd care to repeat...
Absolutely.

No one can really know what the situation looks like from the skipper's point of view in a crisis, which is why it is often said that you should never question any skipper's decision to abandon. Human life is always worth a lot more than any boat, so to hell with the boat, really. This is true.

So those on here who are saying we shouldn't question the OP's decision to abandon are right.

At the very same time -- those who are trying to figure out what they would have done in the same situation, and how they would have dealt successfully with the same situation, are also right. This exercise is really valuable -- it's essential training, really, and preparation for real problems.

I'll tell an engine failure story on myself, to break the ice.

It was my very first trip out of the Solent on my present boat, which was four times the tonnage of my previous one. I was still totally intimidated by my new boat's size and complexity, and I was totally intimidated by the very hard sailing and pilotage in the English Channel, with its strong winds, rocks, huge tides, currents, dense ship traffic. We're not in Florida anymore, Toto!!

I sailed out of the Hamble in a NE F6, which at the time of our departure was not predicted to turn into a gale. I sailed downwind down the Solent, then approached the fearsome (to my mind) Needles Channel, which I had never seen before. I didn't want to have to gybe in that horrible (as I thought) place, in a strong wind. So I tried to start the engine, planning to take in the sails. Nothing. Oh, no. I had noone but a friend's young son with little sailing experience, so I was almost single-handed. I turned the boat around and started tacking back up the Solent. But the tide -- I had timed it to go through the Needles at slack tide -- started to build (peak flow there is about 6 knots at springs). I dived into the engine room between tacks with a multimeter, trying to trace the fault. It was my first close encounter with the very complex electrical system on my boat. I couldn't figure it out. My tacks got wider and wider as the tide started to push us into the Needles Channel. At that moment, the Coast Guard comes onto the radio with a gale warning -- "Gale -- Imminent!" Oh, brother. Why is this happening to me?? So I looked at the chart, turned the boat around, and sailed through the North Channel, not knowing if I could make it (it looks very narrow on the chart), not knowing whether it would even be navigable in those conditions (shallow water, gale force winds, strong tidal current, breaking seas?), and out into Christchurch Bay, between the Western end of the Solent and Poole. There I hove to as the gale raged, and dove back into the engine compartment. Spent hours with multimeter and electrical schematics trying to trace the problem. No spare wire on board at that point, so without hacking up something else, I couldn't hot wire the engine, either.

It started to get dark. Without the engine, I couldn't use the main windlass so couldn't use the main bower anchor, either. In those days, the kedge anchor lived at the bottom of the laz with no rode (not now!!). I started to feel really overwhelmed. So what did I do? I decided to ask for help. Poole was the logical place to run to -- downwind from there. But I'd never been in Poole before, never sailed my boat in any busy harbor, and to get into Poole one has to go up the Swashway -- a long channel between two shoals. The wind was shifting around and the tide was running out the Swashway, and I didn't think I could negotiate it under sail.

I was ashamed to call the Coast Guard with my petty problem (now I know better), so I arranged a commercial tow. The towing skipper asked me to sail up to the chain ferry. I told him I didn't think I could manage it -- please meet me at the first set of buoys in the Swashway. I could almost hear him saying to himself -- that Yankee idiot can't even sail up the Swashway? With an almost audible sigh, he agreed and motored out and handed a line. Towed us all the way into the harbor and tried to get us onto a mooring. But it was blowing a gale and we couldn't pick up the mooring, so he put us onto the fuel barge, where we tied up.

He came on board -- "what seems to be the problem"? First thing, he tried the starter -- and the engine fired right up. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl into a scupper.

Later got a marine electrician on board who quickly traced the problem to bad connections at the engine wiring harness.


Last week, I sailed to Poole across the Channel from Alderney, in gale force winds at the end. Sailed right up that same Swashway and right into the harbor, gybing as necesssary, furling and unfurling in order to adjust my speed to keep pace with traffic. I put the engine on only just next to the quay. The next day, I sailed all the way from Poole, gybing from out to sea into the entrance to the Needles Channel in a WSW F8, threading the needle between the Bridge and the Shingles with a horrendous sea state over both banks, just a cable away on either side, then running DDW up the Solent and all the way up the Hamble River to Swanwick, which is dense with traffic and so narrow that in some spots only two boats can pass abreast. What a difference four years of experience with the boat make, and with the local area.


But I made the right decision back then -- I bailed out of a situation which was overwhelming to me, although it would have been trivial to many other sailors (and to my own self, four years later). It didn't cost me my boat, thank God, but it would have been worth even that if life had been at stake (especially considering the fact that the boat is well-insured). The OP also made absolutely the right decision to bail out. Single handed, with a growing cascade of problems -- of course he did. Maybe you or I might have been able to deal with it -- or maybe not. There but for the Grace of God . . .
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:29   #205
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

This sailor in question made the correct decision...for him, with his abilities.

Should he have been out there in the first place is debatable but at least he did not have a crew that he was putting at risk.

After 50,000 sea milesI am very close to having the experience to write my first sailing book...

"101 Ways to Screw Up at Sea!"
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:32   #206
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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I'm way more impressed with this guys guts posting here than I am with the weenie police for telling him everything he did to fu*% up.
You must be easily impressed. Any idiot can post on the internet, only the clueless post on a forum expecting only a group hug. For sure it needs a bit of a thick skin on some subjects, but CF pretty tame as far as internet forums go.

If it was me posting this story I would be grateful others had bothered to spend the time and effort in helping to educate me, and I would be sucking every last ounce of knowledge out of them - not throwing toys out of the pram and running away in a huff .
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:45   #207
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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The guy had a bad day.... to many problems he could not handle alone so he hit the button....
Seems to me that almost all the abandon ship stories I've read fall into this category. Seems most of the stories lately have ended with the boat turning up something else later so it wasn't sinking. If the boat wasn't sinking and turned up somewhere, in hindsight it shouldn't have been abandoned.

Boats get abandoned due to a series of problems that finally over whelm the people on the boat so that they make decisions that they may not have with a clear head. The biggest learning thing I get out of these threads is hopefully to know know that my fears are bigger than the problem if I ever get into the situation.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:55   #208
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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After 50,000 sea milesI am very close to having the experience to write my first sailing book...

"101 Ways to Screw Up at Sea!"
Great caption! Can't wait to read it
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:01   #209
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

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d

What a difference four years of experience with the boat make....
.......

But I made the right decision back then -- I bailed out of a situation which was overwhelming to me, although it would have been trivial to many other sailors (and to my own self, four years later). .

Dockhead - A really interesting post that shows how moronic it is that certain posters on this thread dismiss the OP as ' not cut out to be a sailor'.

I nearly lost a boat once. The tide was turning and I was looking for a supposed jetty on the shoreline to wait out the tide in the channel between Islay and Jura. I was motoring, close in, following the 5m contour, trying to spot the jetty when I lost all propulsion when the prop fouled. The sails were furled away and we were being blown onto the (very close) rocky shore. With a bit of luck, we managed to get out of the predicament.

I am glad I got away and also glad that I didn't post the experience on here as I am sure that i would have been told that my unseamanlike conduct meant that I represented a danger to international shipping and that I should never set foot in a boat again.

Somehow the boat and I still survive - although we did get rammed by an ocean class lifeboat later that same day! But that is another story.

Rav.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:07   #210
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Re: Regret to Inform Have Lost my Boat off Honduras...

"I think that aside from the specific mistakes made here, there is a larger question of adequacy of preparation by new cruisers (which may or may not apply to this particular case).

I was with you there.

Simply put, there are a lot of folks who have acquired a boat and are going cruising now, with no intention of investing the time and effort to prepare themselves and their boat for the rigors and risks of ocean cruising. We live in a world of instant gratification, and woe be to anyone who suggests that a new owner needs to wait, gain local experience, and prepare before making their cruising dreams come true.

I think that's a huge assumption. It may be that he just didn't know what he needed to know (and have) in order to make the trip safely. Hopping all around the Caribbean isn't the same as hopping down the coast of Florida. If he had just been hopping down the coast of Florida he probably would have gotten away with it -- and not learned what he needed to know to travel more broadly.

And there are a LOT of these folks not wiling to take the time it takes to gather the knowledge and experience?

I'm put down here regularly, sometimes in the the same day for 1) not knowing something but also 2) not traveling as widely as I might.

I don't listen to either person. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know I don't know what someone who has cruised for 40 years knows. I also don't listen to the second person, who is sneering at me for not going out unprepared.

Then there's the third person, sneering at me for attempting to gathering the information to broaden those experiences.

This ALL happens on this board -- but not ONLY on this board, and not only to me. Someone probably told this guy to "go for it," and he did. Someone probably told him he needed food and water for two weeks -- he said he ran out of food, a serious issue. You think that might contribute to fatigue?

The guy "went for it" and lost his boat. I'm very sorry for him but I can't believe how quick others here are to throw stones.
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