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.