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Old 23-07-2008, 19:47   #16
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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
My own philosophical buzz phrase is “proactive pessimism” where I tend to look at the “worst case scenario” for any given nautical situation and then take positive proactive steps to either minimize the chances of that ever happening or at least be mentally prepared if it ever did happen… to minimize the damage.
I agree. Building on that, to me seamanship is the practice of "proactive pessimism" you describe, along with looking back in self-evaluation, a sort of continous process improvement.

I think pursuits like diving and flying involve the same thing.
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Old 23-07-2008, 23:04   #17
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Welcome RunningFish! …. Most of our threads aren’t as esoteric as this one, but while waiting for some parts to finish the house bank rewiring….the mind wanders.

I agree that any endeavour like flying or diving begs self examination as well as proactive measures the same as cruising.


The big difference when it comes to cruising is that it is not just a means of travel or sport, as in your examples, but it is a Lifestyle.

That lifestyle is not highly regulated (thank god) but it is full of strong opinions and philosophies that range from being super prepared in one extreme to being more fatalistic and accepting of conditions with the theory that you are more able to go with the flow and actually accomplish more.

Just as design philosophies can be radically different (as between mono and multihull) so is the personal approach the individual takes to managing his time on the water.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, just different ones
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Old 24-07-2008, 03:05   #18
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Pelagic:
First let me apologize for driving the thread off topic.

I thought* that the original question was too open-ended to engender a comprehensible discussion.

* As implied by my proposed definition (ALL things to do with operating a boat).

A formal debate usually begins with a specific proposition or hypothesis, usually affirmative, which the participants can support or oppose. This encourages debaters (like me) to stay focused “on topic”.

I was not using the word “rules” in the sense of “regulations”; but as an (awkward) synonym for the above-mentioned proposition or hypothesis.

Your “Proactive Pessimism” (Risk management* - What could go wrong, and what are we going to do about it?) might have formed the basis of a debatable topic:
- How does one identify risk (assessment)?
Or better yet:
- How does one quantify & prioritize risk (establish a hierarchy)?

These questions would have naturally led to the logical follow-up
- How do we deal with (mitigation) the highest risk potentialities?

* Risk management is a prioritization process, whereby the risks with the greatest loss and/or the greatest probability of occurring are handled first, and risks with lower probability of occurrence and/or lower loss are handled in descending order.
In it’s simplest form: Risk = Loss x Likelihood
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Old 27-07-2008, 16:30   #19
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Well - I don't know where the line is but I know when it is crossed - LOL.

Let me explain. I believe seamanship is a set of skills used in handling sea going vessels. One can have a set of basic seaman skills that include not falling overboard and being able to tie knots.

One can have more advanced skills that may include more complex skills such as navigating, helming, docking and so forth.

However, in my mind when you get to the point of advanced decision making and risk management, you aren't talking about seamanship, but about something else.

In my mind the difference is this: Almost any seaman's skill can be taught and mastered. For some people good decision making cannot be mastered. It is not entirely a black and white or cut and dried process. Many outcomes have variables that cannot be predicted so the actions to be taken cannot be proscribed or learned or written in a book for all situations.
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Old 27-07-2008, 20:17   #20
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Great answer Dan and the kind of direction I was hoping this discussion would take.

If we were to accept a simple definition:
Seamanship: The study and practice of all things relating to the safe operation and management of any vessel.

And consider Gord’s explanation: * Risk management is a prioritization process, whereby the risks with the greatest loss and/or the greatest probability of occurring are handled first, and risks with lower probability of occurrence and/or lower loss are handled in descending order.

Then it begs the question: Why do similarly experienced ship masters make different decisions when faced with the same life threatening circumstances?

This looks like it supports Dan’s premise....."However, in my mind when you get to the point of advanced decision making and risk management, you aren't talking about seamanship, but about something else………For some people good decision making cannot be mastered”.

Sounds good, but I am not yet ready to accept that good decision making is some kind of innate ability that only the gifted can master.

I think the problem lies more with the nature of teaching “seamanship” where young sailors are taught by older “masters”. These same masters got a similar education from their Elder Brethren, who were also steeped in nautical folklore, yet with only personal experiences to offer a rather closed interpretation of “seamanship”.

Therefore, I believe seamanship and it’s applied decision making has the inherited weakness of being subject to the quality of the individuals early influences which coupled with actual experiences, often gives them a definitely biased approach to decision making.
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Old 28-07-2008, 02:39   #21
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... However, in my mind when you get to the point of advanced decision making and risk management, you aren't talking about seamanship, but about something else.
In my mind the difference is this: Almost any seaman's skill can be taught and mastered. For some people good decision making cannot be mastered. It is not entirely a black and white or cut and dried process. Many outcomes have variables that cannot be predicted so the actions to be taken cannot be proscribed or learned or written in a book for all situations.
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... Then it begs the question: Why do similarly experienced ship masters make different decisions when faced with the same life threatening circumstances? ...
This looks like it supports Dan’s premise....."However, in my mind when you get to the point of advanced decision making and risk management, you aren't talking about seamanship, but about something else………For some people good decision making cannot be mastered”.
... Sounds good, but I am not yet ready to accept that good decision making is some kind of innate ability that only the gifted can master ...
Decision making, like thinking, are often misunderstood to be innate personal characteristics, not skills that can be taught.

Many people intuit, rather than think, because they really don’t know (have never learned) how to think.

I’ve long thought (intuited ) that thinking skills and techniques should be a part of every student’s basic curriculum, beginning with simple precepts in the early grades, and progressing through formal logic, philosophy, and scientific methods, in higher grades of PUBLIC school. These important subjects should not be left for higher education - they are as basic as adding & subtracting, and/or reading and writing.
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Old 28-07-2008, 04:10   #22
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I’ve long thought (intuited ) that thinking skills and techniques should be a part of every student’s basic curriculum, beginning with simple precepts in the early grades, and progressing through formal logic, philosophy, and scientific methods, in higher grades of PUBLIC school. These important subjects should not be left for higher education - they are as basic as adding & subtracting, and/or reading and writing.
Totally agree with you Gord and in this context of teaching “seamanship” I think we are sadly lacking.

After a few years in Marine College I noted that as the licenses got higher the focuses still remained on memorizing a myriad of formulas, rules and regulations, admiralty law, etc…etc. It was only when you got to the instructor lever in Marine Emergency Duties that you were actually encouraged to think outside the box.

This taught me to conduct actual safety drills at sea where each of our 15 to 20 crew were challenged to come up with very descriptive and personalised emergencies where the goal was to create a worst case scenario specific to our ship, put a few key personnel out of action (or needing medical treatment) and try to stump the rest of the crew by revealing hidden weaknesses in our equipment or personnel.

A nice bottle of wine was the prize to the writer if we missed something critical to finding a successful solution.

It worked great and gave all the crew a much greater appreciation for the reality of seamanship.

Perhaps this Forum could start a “How would you solve this?” thread where a poster describes a very tricky situation and then the rest of us come up with the thought processes to solve the problem.

(Hidden surprises are allowed and encouraged!)

Could be fun!
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Old 28-07-2008, 05:07   #23
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... It was only when you got to the instructor lever in Marine Emergency Duties that you were actually encouraged to think outside the box...
Unlike many others, I think that thinking “outside of the box” most often results in useful innovation when performed by those who:
- know how to think
- know & understand the box, and it’s contents
- examine the known facts in a non-traditional or creative manner

It’s axiomatic with teachers & coaches, that you teach the fundamentals first, or walk before you run.
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Old 28-07-2008, 06:58   #24
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examine the known facts in a non-traditional or creative manner
That is what people who can't think outside the box assume. Being creative is something that can be taught at least in terms of being productively creative. You could easily say that nothing is creative and we just do things as well as we can. When ideas unknown work they are always outside the box and creative. When they don't work it is because the rules were not followed and it clearly is a result of attempting to be outside the box nd being reckless, careless, and undisciplined. Outside the box is only creative when the results are good. Good outside box defines what is creative yet somehow missing and is quickly brought inside the box so it is then "approved". The box is then preserved and grows in an orderly approach.

We tend to talk in terms of outside the box because from a productivity perspective we as culture prefer people to stay inside the box. The CEO desires the shipping clerk to stay inside the box. Should the clerk figure out a way to save a lot of money on shipping they are considered outside the box since it violates the rules of doing as told and not to be creative with shipping boxes. Saving money is a good thing and you can't go around accepting such behavior but you will keep the money. If a package does not arrive it is because the clerk failed to follow the procedures of staying in the box. If they find the great savings then it was an accident even if a happy accident. We celebrate the happy accident not the process of thinking.

If you can accept that there is no such thing as a box then you can think independently and make "informed decisions" with comfort. That is not a desired goal with most education systems and clearly counter to the traditional military structure of seamanship. If sailors can think, they might not want to get killed in battle. We don't want people thinking outside the box because it gets some people thinking that don't have to do as they are told. They can question the instructor as equals and can challenge ideas and even worse challenge authority.

We compromise by saying that thinking a different way is outside the box as if it were something you shouldn't do all of the time. We need most people staying inside the box because who could predict the results if they accidentally got outside and found out there is no box at all.

We look at the world mostly from a fascist perspective. It's only OK for some people to think outside the box and then only the correct people. The rest can only get outside the box at their own peril. Most people will lose their job if they get outside the box and fail. The assumption is had they stayed in the box they would have followed the rules, done the right thing, and be rewarded. Being outside the box is "risk taking".

The whole paradigm collapses if you accept that there is no box. Far too radical I fear.
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Old 28-07-2008, 07:25   #25
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... The whole paradigm collapses if you accept that there is no box. Far too radical I fear.
Interesting analysis. I like it.
It may help to think of "the box”, not as a limiting restraint, but as a handy container in which to keep all your facts & knowledge organized.
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Old 28-07-2008, 07:29   #26
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Insightful post Paul (and a great discussion for the night watch)

But I believe “creative thinking” is a matter of timing, not politics.

Obviously employers choose people with different behavioural traits to suit specific jobs. Some are creatively open, others are very much closed (as in the military) but the majority are a carefully selected combination of both.

A good communicator though will signal if the goal is to create conceptual ideas or to just lock in a practice that has proven successful.

The box does exist because we create it but our intent often dictates where we wander.
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Old 28-07-2008, 07:54   #27
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I don’t see creativity as the ability to create something out of nothing (God-like), but as the ability to generate new ideas by evolving (incrementally improving), combining (synthesis), changing (revolutionary), or reapplying (use an old idea in a new way existing ideas.
The creation is almost always built upon the foundation of the old existing idea.
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Old 28-07-2008, 08:19   #28
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I am a bit rusty on my history Gord but wasn’t it Rutherford (?) who came up with his atomic theory by staring into the coal fire and seeing a pattern.
I would not describe that as “incremental”
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Old 28-07-2008, 08:35   #29
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Pelagic,

Maybe you're thinking about Kekule figuring out the structure of benzene.
"...I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis."
The snake seizing it's own tail gave Kekulé the circular structure idea he needed to solve the Benzene problem! [source: Famous Dreams - Dream Discovery and Dream Creativity]


I find it true that if I'm struggling with a difficult and complex problem, if I "sleep on it", I often wake up with the answer. That was especially true with some of the more difficult problems I encountered when in graduate school. Perhaps the sleeping brain is unencumbered by the normal confines of lateral thought and branches out laterally to find new paths to the solution.


Creativity is generally associated with "lateral thinking", not the "linear thinking" that is most commonly used by most.
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Old 28-07-2008, 08:47   #30
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Rutherford came to his atomic theory, describing the atom as having a central positive nucleus (containing most of the mass) surrounded by negative orbiting electrons (separated by gereat distances of empty space), as a result of experimentation.
His gold foil experiment involved the firing of radioactive particles through minutely thin metal foils (notably gold). and detecting them using screens coated with zinc sulfide.
He found that, although the vast majority of particles passed straight through the foil, approximately 1 in 8000 were deflected - leading him to his theory that most of the atom was made up of 'empty space'.

His work built upon Thompson’s discovery of the Electron, which followed upon Goldstein’s discovery that atoms had positive charges, ... etc ...

Even Newton was too modest of his own achievements to call them “creative”, writing in a letter to Robert Hooke"
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
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