Group: Forum Members
There has been some recent writing of 2 mariners being rescued after 5 months drifting around on their sailboat. I know little of the actual facts of this incident, but found myself interested in responding in a general way and using it to put some thoughts together on what I see as our personal and community responsibility to our completely voluntary recreational sport.
We are largely un-regulated and I wish to keep it that way. It is my take that regulations/authorities appear as a reaction to abuse/excess/problems.
I believe that these 2 mariners should have been told, by their sailing community, that their plans were un-wise in a multitude of ways and strongly discouraged from leaving. I would want to suggest that every experienced sailor who knew of their plans had some community responsibility to actively and strongly discouraged them from departing.
I say this for multiple reasons:
1. They were lucky not to have died and it was predictably likely they would get in trouble.
2. People who need rescuing at best incur great expense on the part of the SAR people and at worst put them in danger.
3. If we do not police/supervise our sport, I worry others will move in and do so. (Could you picture a bureaucratically administered “offshore license” necessary to sail to Bermuda from the US? Or to the Azores from the UK?)
4. Ours is a sport best learned in a “guild/apprenticeship” like manner: where those with knowledge and experience pass their knowledge along. Book knowledge and self-taught skills can only take you so far. This entails a willingness on the part of those learning to actively search out mentors in areas where they need more knowledge/experience. Concomitantly, those with experience/expertise need to be available, even forthcoming, and maybe even a bit forceful in educating others, especially when observing potentially dangerous practices or intentions.
I am not suggesting this to produce a cadre of supervisors/police-people, but rather to facilitate a caring community who recognizes the adventurous nature of our sport and the inter-dependence necessary to ensure that cruising widely on small sailboats thrives. In addition, most learning, I believe, takes place through interaction.
To my mind we carry a large responsibility when we venture offshore. This is particularly and especially the case if you carry an EPIRB, or radio or satphones etc. with the intention of calling for help if you get into trouble. This responsibility becomes even more magnified with crew/wife/guests on board who believe that the proposed trip makes sense and is safe, but who also have no ability to question the experience/preparations of the skipper.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy