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Old 22-10-2008, 14:57   #1
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Too Much Information

The coast guard does a nice job of laying out the minimal requirements of what you have to have on your boat: flares, lifejackets, fire extinguishers, what not. Can't legally leave the dock without em. And most would agree that it's a reasonable minimum. Good seamanship would suggest the minimums ought to be augmented with other gear and training if you're venturing more than a few miles from the dock, but we don't regulate it in law. We allow idiots to kill themselves. It's one of our last great freedoms.

So the reasonable person is on their own to sort out what they need. It's a problem that is more complicated when you embark on a "voyage" instead of just heading out to the familiar cruising waters for a week or two. You must be self sustaining in conditions that you and your boat have never encountered. The burden of good seamanship is higher as it ought to be.

In the old days it was easy. You would read a book or two, the Hiscocks or Pardeys or whatnot and gather vague bits of information and do a lot of thinking on your own and perhaps draw on the expertise of your local chandler or surveyor if ever you lack information or have to reconcile contradictary advice. You made your decisions and you went with the best information you had at the time.

Now we have the internet. At your fingertips, the knowledgable and the ignorant all offering their opinion. In the old days you might read a magazine article about turning your dinghy into a liferaft and be happy and make it so. Now you might ask the question of thousands and receive 30 strong opinions. And soon you have several irrefuteable bits of anecdotal data, links to test data on liferafts, and a few ridiculous opinions. You reach the conclusion that not only do you need a liferaft, but anything less than an $8000 SOLAS approved offshore version will place your family in imminent peril. So not only do you have to sort through all of this stuff, but the end result is you will ratchet up your costs or knowingly make decisions to compromise your safety/comfort/convenience for the want of a few dollars.

And so the analysis will go through every damn bit of kit imagininable. It's the prudent seaman's obligation to seek the best information that's out there. And in the end, inevitably, choices get made and there are compromises. And you end up sending your wife to the dock in a dingy with an underpowered outboard loaded with the empty waterjugs because you chose to go for radar over a watermaker knowing that there is no such thing as a watermaker, but only a watermaker in the context of an entire electrical system including the increments to the battery bank, the altenator, the solar panels, and charge controllers. All thanks to the great advice you got on the internet. And you must live with the guilt. Though your wife looks to be in great shape.

And so it is that the only people who will be left cruising in a few years are the stinking rich and the ignorant. And I guess the few who dare to ask the question and live with the guilt.
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Old 22-10-2008, 15:04   #2
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Wow. Nicely done rant, dog.
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Old 22-10-2008, 15:47   #3
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Great essay
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Old 22-10-2008, 15:57   #4
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Probably for the most part. The ignorant will have just a good time as the rich. Sometimes ignorance is BLISS
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Old 22-10-2008, 15:59   #5
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So we will finally come full circle when the only people out there are the stinking rich and the ignorant, just like when it all started.

Okay, maybe the ignorant will be of a different sort of person, than the early cruisers, who were ignorant because they did not have access to information before they left, like we do now.
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Old 22-10-2008, 16:10   #6
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I think that those who would subscribe to your thesis are NOT the true cruisers, or even sailors. Yes many of those toys and/or safety tools would be nice but many would say NO. There are a great many goodies out there that people in marketing would love to have us believe are essential. Seahorse pucks!

My strictly personal opinon is that the most desirable addition to my vessel is the seamanship lessons that are available for free. There is a tuition to the school of hard knocks and most of us are still paying it. But if one maintains the vessel, learns sound seamanship, all the goodies that the magazines and the net try to sell us are just window dressing.

Great go out and buy the greatest GPS chartplotter on the market but if one can't read a chart or a compass....... what's the point.
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Old 22-10-2008, 16:15   #7
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Great go out and buy the greatest GPS chartplotter on the market but if one can't read a chart or a compass....... what's the point.
What's the point?

Think of all those pretty lights you would be missing out on, if you didn't have the greatest GPS chartplotter etc..

Speaking as someone who has never actually used a chart plotter, I assume they have lots of pretty lights.
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Old 22-10-2008, 16:35   #8
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Originally Posted by cabo_sailor View Post
I think that those who would subscribe to your thesis are NOT the true cruisers, or even sailors. Yes many of those toys and/or safety tools would be nice but many would say NO. There are a great many goodies out there that people in marketing would love to have us believe are essential. Seahorse pucks!

My strictly personal opinon is that the most desirable addition to my vessel is the seamanship lessons that are available for free. There is a tuition to the school of hard knocks and most of us are still paying it. But if one maintains the vessel, learns sound seamanship, all the goodies that the magazines and the net try to sell us are just window dressing.

Great go out and buy the greatest GPS chartplotter on the market but if one can't read a chart or a compass....... what's the point.
I didn't mean this a rant against the commercial machine. And I'm not talking about marketing pressure for gismos. What set me off was a perfectly sane activity deciding on an spares set for an extended cruise to Mexico. 20 years ago, I would have taken the list from the manual and then asked a diesel mechanic if there is anything he would add to or take away from the list. But this is another century and I happened to pose the question to an owners group and got a long list of suggestions based on experience. I made final choices and left some things out, got some great sourcing suggestions etc. I decided a freshwater circulation pump would not make my list. My funds are not unlimited. And as soon as I do, two owners share their experience of the failed fresh water pump and long wait for parts with ruined vacations on exactly my engine type. Now what? I either buck up for a pump or I go without and if my pump fails I'll be anchored off La Paz thinking damn I should have taken Jerry's advice. 20 years ago it would have failed and I would have thought how unusual for a failure like this when its not even listed as a recommended spare by the manufaturer in blissful ignorance...
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Old 22-10-2008, 18:07   #9
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Poor Common Sense... is all but dead.

Recently the editorial in SAIL magazine marveled that the 'first boat' has progessively been getting bigger. The editor celebrated the ideal that with all the modern nav. aids and so forth an inexperienced 50-year-old couple could 'easily' handle a 50-foot boat. I then scanned the magazine and found that about 90 percent of the new-boat advertising was for boats over 40 feet. So Peter was only talking to his advertiser base; and his opinion is tainted if not just irrelevant.

My concern, and I think Waterdog's, is what will happen when one pooping wave kills an electrical system. Do these people, so dependent on their electonic gadgety, intend to ring up the USCG on the cell phone? 'Help! My GPS has fallen and I can't get up!'

There is no substitute for an enlightened, educated mind in really anything, especially sailing. Fortunately Waterdog admits his mistake was in listening to other people, most likely people less intelligent or less enlightened than him. (What were you thinking, man?) I think one point is that the Internet HAS led to 'too much information' --much of it provided by those who are less than authoritative on the subject. We discovered this beautiful big Internet and its by-product is that EVERYONE has a voice about EVERYTHING. 'Consider the source,' as my dad would say.

My expertise comes from 35 years of sailing and in the boat design, boatbuilding and boat-parts industries. I evaluate everything on its own terms and apply the learning to my existing knowledge base. I do this all the time. Between working for my father and working at West Marine, I have gained an education. Consequently, all the upgrades to my 34-year-old boat and my boating activity are of seagoing quality-- I avoid chromed-brass hardware; I eschew all silicone in favor of 5200; I actually carry and fly a steaming cone; I can't afford a GPS and so navigate without one (and more reliably); the whole boat (except for the microwave) operates while away from the dock; my MSD system is sensible, legal and reliable; all my safety sytems are doubly or trebly redundant; etc. It is what I have learned about yachtsmanship.

Thought like this will come from experience, from reading and being taught, from logic, and from our own Common Sense-- which when all is said and done is the only thing we can rely on when we are away from the dock and the Internet and when all the would-be pundits are (happily) out of earshot. I think what Waterdog wants is more sanity, less spending, more usefulness self-reliance and less vulnerability and disposability. I know it's what I want.
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Old 22-10-2008, 18:16   #10
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Stop Whinging and just enjoy!

I am trying to understand where you are going with this waterdog…

Scanty information 20 years ago was a good thing….but,

Unlimited information today….is a bad (or at least a disturbing) thing?

So you can’t afford a spare FW Circ Pump.... Ok….what’s the big deal? You assess the age of yours, buy a rebuild kit if you think wise and get on with it.

I have spent a lifetime at sea and the only real adage I could comfortably state is:
“The more complicated you make a boat, the more automated you make the systems…the more time you will spend maintaining and replacing them”.

So find your own comfort level, both financially and technically and just go ahead and do it.

Ignorance has no place on a sailboat and the truly dumb are those whose priority is to keep up with the Jones'.

Just go ahead and sail with Bliss and treat every technical challenge as part of the adventure, but never stop learning that Murphy likes to sail to.
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Old 22-10-2008, 18:24   #11
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Good thread! Essentials should definitely include duct tape, WD40, freshwater tanks, vice grips and local charts but that isn't the CG requirement.
I also find that a lot of folks must have redundant systems. My theory is to learn how to repair systems and get one good system with some spare parts jsut in case you need to repair it. For example, if your 12v freshwater pump goes can you repair it or is there a manual backup? If the manual backup goes out do you have parts to repair it? If you can't repair either the 12v or the manual can you open the top of your freshwater tanks and dip out the water or have a petcock at the bottom of the tank?
Thanks for the thread.
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:00   #12
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There is no such thing as too much information, even if you do have to sort the garbage from the good.
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:23   #13
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I decided a freshwater circulation pump would not make my list. My funds are not unlimited. And as soon as I do, two owners share their experience of the failed fresh water pump and long wait for parts with ruined vacations on exactly my engine type. Now what? I either buck up for a pump or I go without and if my pump fails I'll be anchored off La Paz thinking damn I should have taken Jerry's advice. 20 years ago it would have failed and I would have thought how unusual for a failure like this when its not even listed as a recommended spare by the manufaturer in blissful ignorance...
Not a cruiser yet so take this FWIW.

If you had a spare for every thing your wife would be following sailing the second boat...What all this input does for us is to let us catalogue the best possible information on what has happened to others...in this we can then decide what to pick and choose to carry aboard considering exactly what you have detailed like in your case not having the cash for everything you think might be needed ...that's just life...most of us have to choose many things over others...personally I think life would get boring if everybody had everything...but I'm straying off topic...

Bottom line... dang if you do dang if ya dont kind of a deal..If you ever find that Crystal ball let me know...I want to quit making mistakes too...
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:46   #14
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With over 40 yrs of cruising /racing yachts I feel for the best between sizes of boats come expences and handling, a 35ft boat be it mono or cat will do all you want. If you over capitalize with gear then you will spend all your time fixing which if that's what you like doing, OK. Nothing lasts forever out there but theres a limit to how much one takes and Murphys law states that he's always just there to help to find a new problem. Why so many older people want to have 40/50 ft boatts and bigger I don't know, size counts in some things they tell me but not out on the ocean, a well found yacht be it only 35ft but it will see you anywhere. Read Eric Hiscock.
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Old 22-10-2008, 20:52   #15
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Waterdog,

I belong to the same owners group, and was wondering:
1. If you were about to stock all that stuff.
2. Where you were going to put that spare engine?

I think that you need to do what YOU think based on the feedback you have to sort through. No way you are going to take all those spares to go to Mexico..where FedEx and UPS DO GO. Can something break? Absolutely! Will it break? Maybe or probably! Many of the things that are suggested are fine if you have a dock box to store them in...and most probably do. However, you do need food and water to make the trip as well. Leave some space for it.

Good Luck
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