It's been a long time since I read "Ice Bird", but I seem to remember something about David Lewis' steel
boat taking a spill off a wave and having some part of the superstructure split open. Mind you, even though he was an extremely tough sailor with tremendous determination, he endured conditions and got into scrapes he didn't really have to: for example lack of insulation
. There were other simple things, the details escape me at the moment. I wonder if his crash & split could have also been due to an error in judgement. I wasn't there, haven't been there (and don't intend to go near ice), and am a double belt & three braces kind of guy, so don't let my skepticism of his approach to adventuring detract from his heroic achievements.
For all I know it was a bad weld, or a design fault with a stress riser; perhaps a JSD would have spared the spill in the first place and avoided the follow-on problems. The lessons for me from that are: watertight subdivision so a large breach doesn't soak everything; a simple and strong boat that I can handle; layers of redundancy; and gaming out every situation I can think of, and what I can learn from others, to exhaustion, so I don't have to make it up on the fly. Something I learned in the Army: a good soldier makes himself comfortable whenever possible (apart from artificially contrived training situations), because exhaustion and exposure will destroy you. It will make simple problems insurmountable, snowballing into calamity. Conditions can quickly get very bad on their own; planning on playing the macho hero will seem very foolish when there's no remedy and the thought "if only I'd...." comes too oft and ready to mind. Failing to prepare is planning to fail.
The boat is a system, and must fit the purpose. I'd rather suffer a 10% penalty in speed and a 5% penalty in effective pointing angle over the 85% of the time the weather
isn't dramatic; so that in the other 10% I'm at my freshest in a boat built to survive without external dependency and as few built-in failure cascades as possible. The missing 5% is where real miracles are necessary anyway. The way things are going I intend to spend a lot of time away from "civilisation", not necessarily deep ocean but surely far from the madding crowds.
Epirbs and PLB's are all fine and dandy, but it takes time for someone to come; if they come, if they can find you. Not getting into that situation in the first place sounds much better to me. Dealing with it myself means I don't risk someone else's life for my worthless hide. What are the usual causes of small boat disasters? Dismasting
breach, fire, loss of steering
, grounding....but mostly it's the crew that breaks first, because things were permitted to get out of hand, long in advance. Often the boat is found some time later and has to be sunk as a hazard.
I won't be carrying a liferaft
...I'm already in it. If that can't hack it, then neither will a glorified wading pool. My voyaging system isn't one size fits none - off the rack, it wasn't built for monetary profit, or to show off, or for cheap
thrills. Once upon a time I was a croupier; if you gamble long enough, you will lose. You can gamble longer if you reduce the house's advantage and don't play for high stakes.
It might seem paranoid to some to devote so much effort into measures that sacrifice some comfort and a lot of "prestige"; but becoming a statistic is even less cool. What is this "blue"? A voyaging system that can reasonably be expected to carry the crew to wherever they're going through a hostile environment
for as long as necessary. Blue is a state of mind, it is principles, it is wisdom from lessons some other poor fellow learned, it is the courage to be different and independent, and the humility to criticise one ownself. That's blue for me...for others it may be different.