Group: Forum Members
Recent opinion article by George Day (of Blue Water Sailing, Cruising Compass, and other publications) puts well a drum I have been beating for a few years now.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Safe Sailing is No Accident
In the last month, there have been four dramatic Coast Guard rescues of sailors who got into trouble miles off the North American coast. We carry these stories in Cruising Compass because they are news, and they can be cautionary tales. Yet, we have to wonder about the wisdom of amateur cruising sailors heading offshore in December in the North Atlantic and North Pacific in relatively small boats. Certainly, it is their choice. But by making what looks to me like reckless decisions, they put the lives of Coast Guard helicopter and cutter crews in danger; plus, the rescues cost taxpayers a bundle. I wouldn’t be in favor of mandatory boat inspections by the Coast Guard before a crew heads offshore as New Zealand tried some years ago. Instead, I think we need to look at ourselves, the cruising and blue water community, in the mirror; we should speak up when someone in our community announces plans to do something reckless. Sailing and cruising has always had mentors with experience who bring new sailors along. But perhaps in the age of Covid and YouTube, that mentoring process has broken down. Safe sailing and seamanlike passage making is no accident. It depends upon the three Ps: planning, preparation and practice. Every sailor who buys a cruising boat with ambitions to sail offshore should know this.