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Old 30-07-2009, 06:07   #1
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The Proper 'Offshore Psychology?'

The thread on the fate of the S/V Gringo, as well as several similar post mortems of disaster have made me think a lot about what I will call the "offshore psychology" thing.

We routinely field newbie questions about circumnavigation dreams, many that start out something like this: "I need to get a boat that I can single-hand on a trip around the world, preferably for under $20K. I am planning to leave by the end of the year. I am new to all this, so need your advice on which boat to get."

Inevitably, the "advice" breaks down into "sober curmudgeons/naysayers vs. follow your dreams" debate that makes the former out to be a bunch of dream killers and the latter out to be reckless facilitators.

Yes, I realize that the vast majority of these wouldbes will never go much beyond posting the dream here. But others, we have seen, get to the point of heading offshore. In many cases they are utterly ill-prepared both materially and psychologically. Some get lucky, pick up the skills along the way and manage just fine, thus encouraging the "go for your dreams" crowd. Others, are not so lucky, giving ammunition to the naysayers.

Thoughts?
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Old 30-07-2009, 06:28   #2
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I think that there are certain types of personality that are less desirable when going offshore and others that are better. The type of person who, when confronted with a difficult situation, either freezes up and does nothing or who goes into "doom and gloom" mode is less likely to enjoy going offshore than the mindset of "we'll fix something up". I'll call it the survivor mindset for lack of a better term. A person doesn't need to be a consummate mechanical McGyver but imagination is necessary and is, in my opinion, more powerful than determination.
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Old 30-07-2009, 06:38   #3
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Quote:
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......... In many cases they are utterly ill-prepared both materially and psychologically. Some get lucky, pick up the skills along the way and manage just fine, thus encouraging the "go for your dreams" crowd. Others, are not so lucky, giving ammunition to the naysayers.

Thoughts?
Part of it is LUCK but a large part is "how well one deals with fear".

Regardless of macho statements, most of the "utterly ill-prepared" off-shore sailors will experience large doses of fear, even if not recognized as such.

How they re-act to their fears will largely determine the outcome of the voyage - IMO.
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Old 30-07-2009, 06:40   #4
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Great thread Sneuman. I was once a newbie to the idea of cruising and a part of my education started on this site. While I never posted the question, I read many of those posted by other newbies and you're right on point as to the general question and responses. It appeared to me that reasonable minds can disagree and that both opinions maintained valid positions. The answer to me was to take advice from both sets. Since I was already familiar with sailing, I am a bit biased toward the naysayers crowd and am methodically marching toward my shove off date with my primary concern directed toward the safety of both crew and vessel. However, I have weighted those concerns to a degree with knoweldge that no one is ever completely prepared to shove off and if I'm not careful (or maybe too careful) the sandman will take me instead of that rogue wave. I would much rather it be the latter than the former.
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Old 30-07-2009, 07:20   #5
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Having been in a survival storm, one of the things that concerns me is an attitude for a certain group of cruisers that you don't necessarily need much mechanical and problem solving skill. These (presumably more financially endowed) people believe you can just get someone else to fix it (whatever it is).

I, for one, completely disagree with this ethos. When there is no land in sight, you are either self-sufficient or insufficient.

I think in some ways, modern communications technology and EPIRBs have contributed to this thinking. Yes, EPIRBs are wonderful life savers, but they can also be just a little too handy.
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Old 30-07-2009, 07:34   #6
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Sensation-seeking cruisers are not necessarily risk-takers.

There’s a relationship of Risk to Skill:

Who gets hurt? – Usually, the untrained and those with minimal skills.
Risk is relative to skill. The skilled know their limits and observe them.
The unskilled unknowingly take risks because of their inferior skills.
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Old 30-07-2009, 07:41   #7
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Quote:
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........ people believe you can just get someone else to fix it (whatever it is).

I, for one, completely disagree with this ethos. When there is no land in sight, you are either self-sufficient or insufficient.

I think in some ways, modern communications technology and EPIRBs have contributed to this thinking. Yes, EPIRBs are wonderful life savers, but they can also be just a little too handy.
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......Who gets hurt? – Usually, the untrained and those with minimal skills.
Risk is relative to skill. The skilled know their limits and observe them.
The unskilled unknowingly take risks because of their inferior skills.
Hear Hear - I concur (totally).
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Old 30-07-2009, 07:52   #8
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One other thing occurs to me ...

GPS has significantly lowered the threshold for self-sufficiency at sea.

In "the good 'ole days" the need to master celestial navigation (along with the knowledge, as mentioned above, that rescue was not as simple as pulling a cord) was a significant barrier that probably kept many from setting off.

Now, things just seem so much simpler and surely encourage those with less commitment to "go for it."

I'd be the first to admit that I have not mastered sight-taking and computation myself. It's on my list, though.
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:40   #9
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I am of the mind set to go now. That doesn't mean go unprepared. That means get things in order, hone your skills in all weather, and go as soon as you are ready. Not as soon as you can, but be ready!

I took lessons, and then 3 months later bought Frolic, and sailed S.F. Bay constantly. In the begining there were days I just didn't go. I did not have the skill, and I had an ancient furler that would hang up.

It was said to me that Frolic was the most used boat in a 500 slip marina, and I believe it. There were many days I beat out from the east bay to the Golden Gate in 20 - 25 knots +. Reefing along the way as wind built. Changing hank on sails as the wind built. Then the whole way back practicing gybing right up to our break wall for the marina.

If you can't improvise along the way. You are going to run into trouble eventually. A sailboat lives in a tough enviroment once it starts to cruise. The boat needs to be prepared, and the master of the vessel needs to be prepared.

I call the EPIRB the EASY BUTTON. It makes it too damned easy to get saved. We read it all the time that the vessel is found months later floating, and mostly intact. What's that say about the person, or persons that left it behind? You need some skills of sailing, fixing, and managing the boat. Throw in a wee bit of intestinal fortitude, and you should be okay........i2f
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:49   #10
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I would also like to know why so many start out with the "Sail around the World" dream? I've been sailing for 35 years, and I'm still not that interested in going all the way around. I'm really happy in the islands... most any of them!
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:56   #11
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I think it's those slick magazine covers......lol......i2f
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Old 30-07-2009, 08:59   #12
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I think it's those slick magazine covers......lol......i2f

Well really, that is all sailing is... anyone who thinks otherwise is just missing the point.
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Old 30-07-2009, 10:35   #13
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To me the difference in wanting to cross oceans vs. just enjoying sailing where you're at it is the same as the difference between mountain climbing and rock climbing. Rock climbing always seemed sort of like practice to me, I wanted a summit to complete the experience. I had pals who thought the top of a mountain was worth a look at for the view and not much more.
As far as how someone can know if they are ready for offshore or not at a certain point can't really be known until you go. How you react to things breaking is impossible to predict, but really is key to how much will enjoy the journey.
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Old 30-07-2009, 10:53   #14
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Professional perspectives

I doubt if I have the perfect psychology for ocean sailing, but I did learn from some professionals along the way: that made up for many of the imperfections.

It is interesting that mixed crews of savage seamen get along well with good officers on steel ships: a lot of the time.
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Old 30-07-2009, 10:57   #15
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Cruising Psychology

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Utopian Tourists — Cruising is Not Just About Sailing
Ocean Cruising: A sailing subculture

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