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Old 22-07-2009, 10:18   #16
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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Does that deserve much sympathy?
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I'm sorry, Gord, but I just can't summon sympathy for this sort of cruiser.
I find it interesting that several people mention this. Who is asking for sympathy? Is not the point of lesson learned stories... to learn? While some may throw stones because they are without fault, recognize that there could be at least one person on the forums who may have something to learn. By throwing rocks at people who post such stories, you just discourage them from doing so. In the long run this does great harm.

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Is our insensitivity to the failure of others…. caused by fear and the critical exercise to somehow prove…. “that it can’t happen to me!”?
I 100% think this is the case. I have pondered this many times when viewing reactions to these types of stories. It seem we get very strong, visceral, reactions to many stories of loss. I think we all have a deep need to believe that we could not have lost a boat in such a way as person X, that we would have made a better decision.

Bernard Montissier lost 3 boats, and I will not pretent to be the Seaman he was.
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Old 22-07-2009, 11:25   #17
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... I have wondered when I found myself being too judgmental, why we sailors sometimes tend to be an unforgiving lot? ...
Sympathy vs Unconditional Approval
Love the sinner - hate the sin!

I believe anyone suffering misfortune (even self-inflicted) deserves simple human sympathy; but not necessarily our endorsement or our support.
This might be analogous to the unconditional love we have for our children, even whilst sometimes disapproving of their actions.

The sea can be a harsh and unforgiving mistress, requiring that we exercise our very best, and rigorously examined judgement.

Thus, we can and must be very critical of a person’s preparations and actions etc (if we are to learn from these incidents), without expressing harsh judgements about the person, himself.
Such personal judgements may be appropriate somewhere - but that’s not what we do here at CF.

I try to be very discriminating and judgmental, believing these to be intellectual strengths. I try not to express judgements about people. When I do, it’s my character flaw.
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:20   #18
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was that intended as a rhetorical question?

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Who is asking for sympathy?
Gord was. Read reply #6.

Let me tell you something about Anacapa Island, since I see you hail from Texas. Anacapa is part of a National Park, and it's an important bird nesting sanctuary located 12 nm offshore from Ventura. It's separated from the mainland by one of the most active shipping channels in North America.

The closest thing to a reliable anchorage there is Frenchy's Cove, and every single cruising guide will tell you that while it provides adequate protection in a westerly, any deviation of wind to the NW or NE will make it an uncomfortable and even dangerous anchorage. Most boats will have to anchor in 20' of water (low tide). The National Park Service suggests that when parties go ashore that someone be left on the boat at all times in case conditions change in the anchorage. Locals who anchor at Anacapa will tell you that you should have oversize ground tackle to anchor there, and that you should always be ready at a moment's notice to scoot back to Ventura the instant conditions become unfavorable.

So this guy anchors there with a tiny danforth that his insurance company has already told him is too small for his 38 footer. And the moment the wind shifts, he's up on the rocks. So whose tax dollars went into a rescue effort in a National Park? And whose insurance rates go up when someone like this needs salvage?

A year rarely goes by when I don't end up giving someone a tow, or help guide them out of a fog bank, or pull someone off the mud in one of our estuaries. Support? Yes, it's the law of the sea. Education? Absolutely, but with the caveat that sometimes the best thing we can do for some of these guys is let them know, "Hey, you really shouldn't be out here." Sympathy? I'm running low on it.
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:22   #19
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I think there is a lot missing here at CF. At S.N. the ordeal was in detail. The first posters have already read how, and why. I don't think it fair to say they have no sympathy. The owner used very poor judgement, and nobody sugar coated what went down. The boat was never ready, and it's as simple as that.......i2f
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:25   #20
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In the discussion in SN, a few people referred to the skipper, George, as having insulated himself from the caution and criticism expressed by others before he shoved off.

Herein lies a difficultly, as the Georges out there must balance the naysayers against those with informed advice. Add in a third leg to the equation -- money -- which is an issue for nearly everyone to one degree or another.

Then, in George's case, he already had some reason to trust his own judgement, having a lot of bluewater under a previous keel.

It's a potentially volatile psychological mix.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:11   #21
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...given the foregoting, it [the loss of the boat] was not misfortune but a near certainty. Does that deserve much sympathy?
The foregoing was a rhetorical question, not a judgement. Again, without a judgment, should one feel pity or sorrow for another's loss, if such loss was foreseeable, self inflicted; and, in spite of other's efforts to dissuade the undetaking?

Because of my upbrining, one side of me says yes, perhaps in the spirit of: "I am my brother's keeper"? But, also from my upbringing, my other side says: "I, alone, must accept responsibility for my own choices and actions." If so, however, then should one not expect the same of others?

Sympathy for another's self afflictions may be pallative but usually is not and may, in fact, encourage their continuation, particularly if some foolishly enoble them with heroic attributes:

Quote:
WE ALL HAVE DREAMS , NOT MANY OF US ACTUALLY CUT THE LINES AND GO. HE DID, HE TOOK THE RISK AND LOST. WE ALL DO STUPID THINGS, NO ONE IS IMMUNE, SOME GET AWAY WITH IT - SOME DON'T.
When one sails one necessarily accepts risk-the possibility of an outcome other than an intended or desired outcome. Unless one has no concern for the consequences of an unintended outcome, it seems incumbent upon one to make every reasonable effort to minimize that possibility. If one does not...?

If nothing else, the event is a good, albeit painful, object lesson that we can all profit by, fortunately vicariously.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:31   #22
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I think this story is fundamentally different from the many we hear about starry eyed dreamers who set off to cross oceans with little or no experience and unsuitable boats. The skipper of the Gringo had extensive experience - just reading his log demonstrates that. By the only accounts we have, he was also skilled at preparing a boat for sea and he spent a year doing so. While some of his decisions especially before embarking on this voyage are highly questionable, they are more in the nature of calculated risks which an experienced sailor might be inclined to take.

For a great short story by Jack London about how experience can deceive you and actually get you into trouble, go here:

To Build A Fire - Jack London
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:35   #23
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My intent in making the original link was to be educational and part of that education is making some harsh judgments about the preparation and decision making of the captain involved. Hopefully this will be a cautionary tale and instructive. I see no reason why we can't have sympathy for the captain and I'm sure he has learned a few things in the last couple of weeks as well. I commend him for putting the whole tale out there so that others may learn as well. I also commend his spirit, for with each new problem he tried to think of his best course of action without complaint and only abandoned his boat when there seemed to be no other choice and he must have been totally exhausted.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:53   #24
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While it's sad that the fellow lost his boat, given the forgoing it was not misfortunate but a near certainty. Does that deserve much sympathy?[/quote]
It certainly happened I can't conclude that it was a near certainty though.
the boat as near as I could tell didn't fail may not have been great but the owner states it is probably still floating. The equipment that wasn't working on the boat should not have been life threatening or voyage ending. Engine, generator watermaker ssb and torn but mendable main. I assume he was solo but he refrences we so not sure was he solo?
I'm not quite grasping what occured. I can guess that enough was going not well and this led to fatigue and the choices which were made. Certainly uncomfortable but there isn't the oh **** moment My steering is disabled Im getting clobbered and Ill never make it to land. I think what I read was pschological trauma and then abandonment.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:56   #25
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It always feels a bit awkward when picking over the bones of the misfortunes of others, but if lessons are to be learned them IMO useful to do.

IMO unsympathetic should be expressed when felt, but I think a line between having no sympathy and giving someone a good kicking
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:58   #26
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Maybe this thread could take a different tack now. After reading George's log, I get a sense that this is about priorities. Here is a cruiser that has some experience, but may not have learned all he could from it. He stocked his boat with lots of goodies, but failed to recognized the HUGE risk he was taking by not doing all he could to just insure his diesel would be fed with clean fuel. He had every possible spare for his engine, but must have basically just prayed that the fuel would take care of itself. Ditto, his water tanks. Had he taken a shake down, it sounds as though this would have become apparent alot closer to SeaTow. Please, I don't want to attack, or to sound uncaring. Let the learning begin!
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Old 22-07-2009, 16:19   #27
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The Tyranny of the Urgent (with thanks to Charles Hummel)

I agree w/ Christian: what comes through in the narrative and the forum discussion on S-net is that two factors converged here: urgency to be on the water/at a location by a certain date, and relatedly, inadequate shake-down.

Had he postponed his trip for next season, (and is there any reason in the world that he couldn't? Hmmm), he would have had plenty of time to be familiar with his vessel, to thoroughly prepare, to address weaknesses as they arose, and to choose a more opportune weather window. Submitting to the Tyranny of the Urgent makes us abandon sight of the Important. Pushing the schedule led to cut corners & eliminating essential process, to wit: the shake-down, which would certainly have revealed the exhaust problem. That one fix alone could have meant a safe landfall.

That's a good lesson right there, and I'm going to re-absorb that truth.

The temptation to take the short, easy route to our Ends is common to all humans. Anyone else here impatient? Don't like deferring our desires, practicing delayed gratificaton? If so, you can understand him. I recognize that he'd worked on that boat like Noah himself for 5 years, but the end of the process was cut short. If there's any criticism there, it might be that at his age and experience, he should have known better than to let his cart get before his horse.

He seems to be a very competent seaman, and relates his tale with a tight jaw. I don't smell any undertone of victimhood. I'll crew with this man before I'd step onto a boat skippered by ol' whatshisname: Ken Barnes.

I admire his pluck, have little negative to say about his decision-making once out on the water (allowing for some mental fatigue near the end). He even is very prudent about not putting himself in dangerous situations, e.g., not stepping up to a precarious place on the stern to try to fix the tender or repair his mizzen boom.

He just rushed his launch, and so forfeited familiarity with his vessel. The hidden problems surfaced under the physical stress of the situation: too many and too seriously to overcome.
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Old 22-07-2009, 18:46   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic
Is our insensitivity to the failure of others…. caused by fear and the critical exercise to somehow prove…. “that it can’t happen to me!”?


Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDog View Post

I 100% think this is the case. I have pondered this many times when viewing reactions to these types of stories. It seem we get very strong, visceral, reactions to many stories of loss. I think we all have a deep need to believe that we could not have lost a boat in such a way as person X, that we would have made a better decision.

Bernard Montissier lost 3 boats, and I will not pretent to be the Seaman he was.

Well said! Bernard has and always will be my sailing Hero!
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Old 23-07-2009, 03:03   #29
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When you read air accident reports, you learn that no one event caused the accident, its always a combination, in which any one single aspect could be overcome.

This guy had a whole bunch of things that lead to the sinking and the main one was his lack of respect for the sea, for the other people who would become involved and for himself.

In the EAA (experimental aircraft association) the rule always was you can do what you want, its your life to lose but here in the UK we are nannied and prevented by law from doing many things. There has to be a ballance between the two. If you fly an unsafe aircraft, crash and burn, you may kill yourself and thats your choice, but what happens when it lands on someones house and they are involved.

He was irresponsible and not for the first time.

I hope everyone in CF has the sense to know he was wrong and not to make the same mistakes.
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Old 23-07-2009, 03:18   #30
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Quote:
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...
Because of my upbrining, one side of me says yes, perhaps in the spirit of: "I am my brother's keeper"? But, also from my upbringing, my other side says: "I, alone, must accept responsibility for my own choices and actions." If so, however, then should one not expect the same of others?
......

There is much that can be written about in this thread but right now I only want to expand on this aspect.

A simple example of the above is seen in the father / son conversation that goes like:

Father: "Son, I will always be there for you, but you will have to take responsibility for your actions. If you end up in jail, I won't use my influence to get you out but I will bring my sleeping bag and sleep beside you".

So I believe we help others who get into trouble without having to condone their actions. We help them out of immediate danger and once they are safe, we are free to walk away. Of course if we can learn something from the episode, so much the better.
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