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Old 20-04-2014, 20:25   #1
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It just occurred to me today after spending the day on one of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, to wonder how many people who sail actually know how to swim?

In 50 + years I have never ever had qualms about weather conditions or cause for concern about sinking or being thrown off or whatever because I know how to swim.

After what I witnessed today on the beach and subsequent conversations with random thereafter, it becomes increasingly clear(er) the majority of people do not like to swim. From your buff youngster through all manner of athletes.

Today on one of the finest beaches I have ever encountered I witnessed the following:

Maybe 100 people on the beach max. 20 people in the water, at knee height, splashing water upon them selves. maybe 10 people standing chest height further out, doing squats. No one swimming.

For me, I would enter the water in stride, to a certain depth ground non-touch able of course, dive into the wave and swim out to the furthest buoy, tread water, loll around on my back, breast stroke right and left, simply enjoying swimming. When done, masterfully convert to the stroke and swim back to shore. Like a walk in the park.

Once back upon land, I at there in bemusement at what everyone else was doing, then I watched with interest a young girl, essentially do what I had just done: boldly walked into the water, dove in and swam out to as far as she felt like. Did some laps, swam back as strong as she did when going out, and waltzed on out of the ocean back to her chair.

All the while most people are either dipping their toes in the ocean, walking in to knee depth and squatting to splash water upon them selves, or waist depth doing do the same.

So I wonder when on a sailing vessel as mentioned I have zero qualms about "sinking" or being "thrown over board" (subject to conditions obviously) because I know how to swim and enjoy it. Which I think amounts to being not afraid of the water.

So how many sailors are like this. It does seem to me the majority of people simply do not like to swim.

Is it odd that the fear of the most catastrophic event in sailing to me is not a problem.

How many of you share this if any at all.



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Old 20-04-2014, 20:31   #2
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I wouldn't be too blasť about ending up in the water. Depending on water temperature and distance to shore, swimming skills aren't going to save you.

That said, I do think most people, myself included, could really do with some fine tuning of their swimming skills

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Old 20-04-2014, 20:40   #3
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I singlehand my sailboat and am a strong swimmer. Despite that, I know that if I fall overboard while sailing I am dead. Even if just a mile or more offshore in warm Caribbean waters and with land in sight, fall overboard and you won't make it to land.

Things look very different when starting from a beach, when you swim out and turn around to return you are already halfway through the swim.
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Old 20-04-2014, 20:57   #4
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Maybe it has to do with fear of predators, rip tides, ect. More people die from falling coconuts than predators and rip tides. A falling coconut missed me by 3ft I had a green viper fall out of a coconut tree close to me about 6ft away. Though a mango did hit me on the shoulder. I think it is fear that keeps people out of the water.

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Old 20-04-2014, 20:57   #5
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Yes actually maybe my wording is wrong as I type in real time.

Maybe how many people be it captain or admiral do not really enjoy sailing or may be are fettered by the nominal possibility of having to swim.

In other words if you know how to swim and enjoy it and know how to do it, how much less concern will you have sailing.

From my RON induced beach analysis, most people simply do not like to swim let alone know how to. in such a case a sailor of a sail boat is not guaranteed to be a swimmer. Actually thinking further ahead maybe the question should be should anyone partaking in water activities be a certified swimmer. No that does not work.

It is clear to me from today's example that simply most if not all people do not like the water at all, regardless if they sailing or paying 1000's dollars for a vacation on the beach.
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Old 20-04-2014, 21:10   #6
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I lived in Carolina Beach and we had a guy in his sixties that would swim around the island every day. Almost twenty miles. He would start from the beach beach in the ocean, swim up the Cape Fear river, across Snows Cut, and back out yo the ocean. I was on the swim team and could not hang with him. I bailed before we got to the river. Now that I am older I know a couple of strokes like the inverted breast stroke that you can do some distance but twenty miles in current and waves is not something I want to try. I think I am going to invest in a good tether. I get nervous here I'm the Great Lakes be cause I sail early and in these temperatures a man overboard would not last long. Even with all the boats and agencies here . I watched a boat wait for 30 minutes for help.
That being said when the weather gets better we are in the water every weekend. Having a sailboat there is no wading. We just get out of the current and creep in to about six or seven feet or so and instant pool.
I never thought about it but at beaches not very many people swim over their heads. Maybe once I get a dinghy we can try wading.

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Old 20-04-2014, 22:57   #7
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Don't know how much truth there is in it, but an oft told tale is that in the days of sailing ships, many sailors preferred not to be able to swim since they would rather drown quickly than linger for a long time as shark bait after going overboard.
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Old 20-04-2014, 23:09   #8
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Basically, I don't know how to swim. I have no fear of the water, I'm a certified diver and I also enjoy snorkeling but I would probably die if I had to swim from Point A to Point B. Its not that I don't want to learn - I've even taken private lessons to improve my skills but I left several instructors baffled that I would make virtually zero forward progress as I attempted to follow their instructions.

We take staying aboard our boat very seriously even when we're making coastal passages.

There are other highly skilled sailors that don't know how to swim. Dennis Conners, two-time winner of the America's Cup, is one of them.
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Old 20-04-2014, 23:10   #9
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I used to learn to swim in a sport classes when I was a kid, but then later forgot everything. So, while I can manage some basic swimming, anything serious is out of question. Which is not good considering our plans to go cruising. That's why we (me and my wife) decided to get some professional swimming training before we go. That does not mean we won't get tethers etc.
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Old 20-04-2014, 23:56   #10
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I think some people know how but don't enjoy doing it just to be doing it. Also many choose to swim in pools rather than from the beach. Then I know cruisers who anchor and swim regularly but don't swim from the beach.

One other point. Swimming skills often diminish because as working adults we don't do as much of it. Then weight changes and age impact it. My wife and I both love to swim and do so a lot when home, but not as much when cruising.

That said, I don't feel confident if somehow tossed overboard in the ocean or my boat sinks. Life vests and rafts for that. In the ocean traditional swimming isn't of great value to you. When I was in college, we had to take a course entitled "drown proofing" which required floating in a standing position for hours. That way the waves don't impact you and you come up for air. Still, I don't want to test my skills.
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Old 21-04-2014, 02:50   #11
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When I'm on my boat and anchored somewhere I always like to take a morning swim. I swim out a ways with my mask or goggles, with or without fins on and check the bottom, make sure my anchor is still set well and inspect the bottom of my boat. I'm not trying to set any speed records or become exhausted first thing in the day. It's just a nice way to wake up in the morning.

Other times I just sit on the beach and drink some beers until I have to wade out into the water to get my swim suit wet.
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Old 21-04-2014, 03:25   #12
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pirate Re: SWIMMING

I definitely prefer swimming from the boat to off the beach.. no Weaver fish, broken glass etc to worry about as I wade out.. the waters just that much more appealing...
As for the splasher's who pop in and out.. usually they're just going in for a pee I'd imagine...
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Old 21-04-2014, 04:00   #13
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Thing that astonished me a few years ago was talking to the inhabitants of San Saba island in the Bahamas a few years ago, the majority of them couldn't swim. You live on a small island in the Bahamas, and you can't swim?
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Old 21-04-2014, 05:01   #14
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My stepchildren are all good swimmers, but they don't like to taste salty water and only play in the surf at the beach.

I had let my swimming strength atrophy, and joined a gym with a warm pool this past winter. After swimming laps for 30 minutes two to three times a week, I now am much stronger and will feel comfortable doing kayak trips in the bay here this summer. And it just feels so good to swim. Our water is chilly even in the summer, so if I do any swimming on purpose in the bay, it will be in my wetsuit!
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Old 21-04-2014, 05:21   #15
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I'm more concerned about the folks who can't even get back on their boat. Perhaps no ladder, one that must be deployed from on-deck, or a ladder that does not meet their fitness. Last year we had a mid-aged person fall off the dock and it was a suprising strugle to get up a simple ladder. I was stunned that a person who can neither swim nor climb a ladder would not treat a dock like a cliff top without a railing.

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