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Old 28-07-2008, 08:48   #31
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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.
It does predicate that fact and knowledge are certain. While many if not most things appear certain the assumptions we make about certainty (how could they not be assumptions) are often at the root of our undoing and the secret of success.

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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.
You only think when you are in doubt? Only in the absense of certainty is thinking desired. The requirement of certainty places all thinking as potentially adding doubt. How can you be wrong when you know you are right? The box is finite and it is complete and we know all the contents. It's easy in the box because the box is real. Cetainty demands the box be real.

If all things are to some degree uncertain then we all require thinking all the time because there is no box to contain things that are certain. The box excludes as much as it can contain. We manage uncertainty every day and we become more certain. The failure to see uncertainty is what keeps you in the box.
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Old 28-07-2008, 09:16   #32
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"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."
Donald Rumsfeld

Paul and Gord's discussion reminded me of this.
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Old 28-07-2008, 09:21   #33
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Thanks Hud, I do remember being told that Rutherford had a similar experience, but I could easily be mistaken.

I think we do get inspired (awake or in our dreams) to come up with radical solutions…but then going back and proving that concept becomes a self fulfilling prophesy of describing these thoughts in incremental building blocks.


Paul my own philosophical dynamo has been my inability to prove our very own existence. This, if nothing else, has kept my box translucent.

“ There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen
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Old 28-07-2008, 10:01   #34
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“ There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in” Leonard Cohen
And if I may open a crack in this arcane conversation, I think 'seamanship' is much the opposite of what you have all been discussing. Seamanship is almost the absence of thinking; doing something out of long practiced tradition and experience without forethought.

Such as the sailor who when needing to cleat a line does it without any thought as to how his hands are moving; they have properly cleated so many lines they almost do it on their own. The arms that grab a loose line and in seconds tie up a perfect seagasket coil without a moments thought.

The sailor who instinctively maintains his windward advantage to the shore in case a problem happens, not because he's conciously thinking about it, but because it's a trained habit that just happens. Instinctively waking up to a change in the boats movement; that's seamanship.

Seamanship is easily recognized by the old salt. A seasoned sailor can walk down the dock of any marina and just glance at boats, immediatly picking out "that's a sailor's boat, newbie, newbie, sailor, newbie," etc. by all the obvious signs of practised seamanship.

Seamanship is learned by trial and error, not by reading the internet. It is looking at a line, and knowing 'that's not big enough for the job' because you've seen a line part that wasn't big enough.

Safety is a byproduct of seamanship, not the purpose of it. The purpose of it, as it has been for hundreds of years, is the efficient moving of a vessel from one port to another.
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Old 28-07-2008, 10:20   #35
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[Seamanship is almost the absence of thinking; doing something out of long practiced tradition and experience without forethought.
So is being stupid but they somehow manage to show a difference.
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Old 28-07-2008, 10:52   #36
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I think for most of us, we have a good understanding of what "seamanship" entails, but would have a hard time defining it.
For me, "seamanship" is the distilled wisdom of several centuries of sailing. Some of it can be taught (and therefore learned), whereas some can only be gained through experience. "Seamanship" or "the ordinary practice of seamen" was ultimately responsible for the creation of rules, reg's, safe-working practices, etc., but is not wholly defined in safety - it is also that which is most sensible, that which is easiest, that which is most effective. As an example, I offer "knots" - there are literally thousands of types of knots - for any job on board a ship/boat, there are probably several knots that would accomplish the job; but chances are there is only one knot that does it best - that doesn't work itself loose, or that's easy to untie when the line is wet, or has whatever other characteristic that is most desired for that particular usage - seamanship is using the right knot for the job.
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Old 28-07-2008, 12:59   #37
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So is being stupid but they somehow manage to show a difference.
I would consider being stupid the practice of wrong thinking, not necessarily the absence of thinking when performing rote tasks.

Is seamanship best represented by the sailor who has to think about each bend of the line around a cleat and which direction it should go, or the sailor who does it right from habit and practice? Or in other words,

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Only in the absense of certainty is thinking desired.
My view of seamanship has nothing to do with brilliant minds and outside the box thinking, but rather the traditional art of sailing which was practiced for hundreds of years by often dull minded conscript sailors. A set of practices that one followed which leads to successful voyages at sea. The right way to splice a line, to set an anchor, to set a spring line. One can philosophize all they want about the merits of a tidy and neat ship, but it is a simple concept that remains good seamanship, and no thinking is necessary. At least that's what our Captain told us in the Navy when it was time to clean the bilge.
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Old 28-07-2008, 13:40   #38
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... One can philosophize all they want about the merits of a tidy and neat ship, but it is a simple concept that remains good seamanship, and no thinking is necessary. At least that's what our Captain told us in the Navy when it was time to clean the bilge.
Ah, the military, where thinking (for oneself) is always encouraged and appreciated.
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Old 28-07-2008, 16:23   #39
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While preparing for a cruising lesson I am teaching next week, I had a thought that applied to this thread:

Seamanship is whatever you can do with your boat or your actions on your boat that puts "chips" into the little (imaginary) black box on the boat.

The sea will take away those chips in whatever quantity it wants, whenever it wants. When you run out of "chips" you die/sink/etc...

So... any and all things you can do to keep the box full of chips is seamanship.

For instance:

Knowing how to reef
Keeping diesel fresh and clean
Knowing navigation
Making sure your electrical is in good shape
Carrying a liferaft
Having a VHF
Having a backup and maybe a backup to that

The list is close to infinite, but the more of these you do, the more chips you put into that black box.... so when the sea decides to take some out, you still make it home.

That's my definition of seamanship (and I'll be using it next week!) ha ha
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Old 28-07-2008, 19:07   #40
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This is an arcane subject which is why it is worth trying to shed some light on it.

I also understand what Fishspearit was alluding to…. that many skills learned become autonomous and we experienced mariners seem to do things instinctively.

However his conclusion that we do it without thinking, by trial and error, is mistaken, for those who practice seamanship that way.... usually have the scars to prove it and become the worst teachers.

I know this because I cut my teeth working in the Bering Sea and in offshore salvage with the most hardened and seasoned “salts” you can imagine. The good ones were constantly thinking and applying formulas for SWL rather than just “knowing”. The others, I quickly surpassed and learned to avoid, (especially in the bars).

Someone once told me that to be a good seaman you have to be a “jack of all trades”. I tend to agree with that.

But perhaps that is part of the problem in trying to be totally prepared, because it is impossible to be “Master of all trades”.

Is that why we gravitate towards traditional solutions when faced with a crisis? Because there are too many unknowns outside our knowledge base?
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Old 28-07-2008, 21:03   #41
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The good ones were constantly thinking and applying formulas for SWL rather than just “knowing”.
No one just knows anything through enough repetition. It is a complex thinking operation. It is all too easy to marginalize physical operations as requiring no thinking. It's even easier to do to marginalize someone else's skills. Skilled riggers do amazing feats but they all require exceptional thinking to repeat the operation in any number of situations without getting splat on the deck. How is this possible without intense thinking?

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Is that why we gravitate toward traditional solutions when faced with a crisis? Because there are too many unknowns outside our knowledge base?
If you require certainty without thought and things go bad you have the least chance of success. You don't know how and you don't know why. Dumb luck saves the fool but not much else does. Odds are you won't even see it coming.

Seamanship is clearly a constant thought process at all times in every way without limit. There is no rehearsal for everything possible. Greater experience exposes more uncertainty not less. Memorized operations become grossly inadequate soonest. Confidence does not covey certainty any more than experience conveys wisdom. Applied thinking is always superior to memorized actions.

The ability to think in times when there is no time is the precise time to think. It is possible to think faster than you can act.
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Old 28-07-2008, 22:43   #42
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I agree Paul but I also wonder…….. Is there a Sixth Sense that we sometimes apply in Seamanship?....
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Old 29-07-2008, 01:08   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
”... Greater experience exposes more uncertainty not less ...”
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Originally Posted by A. Einstein
”“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.”
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Originally Posted by Confucius
“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”
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Originally Posted by Gord May
”If you read the instructions, you’ll get an education (learn). Don’t read the instructions, and you’ll get experience.”
Experience is a hard school because the test usually comes before the lesson, and the tuition can be very high.
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Old 29-07-2008, 07:36   #44
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Is there a Sixth Sense that we sometimes apply in Seamanship?.
No I don't think so.

Your mental speed is faster than your hand by at least one order of magnitude. It can seem like a sixth sense when you react quickly to something and you can wonder after the fact how you knew your hand could move so fast. You feel like you knew it would move before it did because you really did know a split second before you commanded your hand to move.

The sensation of motion you feel in your hand is long after the command to move it. You can get the sensation that time slowed down and you had just a long time to do something that takes a very short amount of time. The expression "in the zone" comes to mind. The sensation is very real.
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Old 29-07-2008, 08:25   #45
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I also understand what Fishspearit was alluding to…. that many skills learned become autonomous and we experienced mariners seem to do things instinctively.

However his conclusion that we do it without thinking, by trial and error, is mistaken, for those who practice seamanship that way.... usually have the scars to prove it and become the worst teachers.
I never intended to draw any conclusions. I was merely offering my definition of 'seamanship'. I certainly don't mean to imply that my dog can sail my boat, and that thinking is not necessary.

Thinking is a valuable and important thing, and necessary aboard any boat. However, I don't consider troubleshooting, navigating, or engineering to be 'seamanship' but rather seperate arts of shipboard life. Perhaps I have a much narrower definition of 'seamanship' than others. The captain's job is not just 'seamanship', that is something that he trains the new crew in, but his job description is far more than just 'seamanship', and requires much more thinking. In my mind 'seamanship' is the practice of old shipboard traditons which help to keep one out of trouble, not the problem solving to get one out of trouble. You don't let every new crewmember, no matter how smart they are, figure out what they think is the best way to splice a line. You splice a line the traditional way, and it avoids problems.
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