Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts

MikeJohns

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Hobart
 there is actually a 'serious' note related to this . .  .  ............ even todays very best sailors are really just casual amateur ..................You look at some of the navigation mistakes ............. lack of depth is just very apparent even in the top ranks..............
There's a trend of excessive reliance on complex technology.

We get to see quite a few rescues, some are genuine but a lot are tired scared inexperienced people with poor or non existent seamanship skills often in unsuitable boats for short handed offshore sailing. 

Recently there have been a few "flat battery" rescues. Abandoning a perfectly sound sailboat to the insurance company because of a high reliance on complex technology and the inability to sail without it. Usually when short or single handed. 

A day in miserable weather, the autopilot working overtime flattens the battery. The engine on a separate battery won't start for whatever reason, and the boat motion is too severe, leaving the occupants too exhausted and ill to do anything below decks. So they trigger a rescue just to get out of a miserable situation. 

I recently asked one skipper who wasn't in dangerous, just miserable seas, why he didn't heave-to and rest and wait for better conditions. He'd heard of heaving-to, and tried but had no idea how it was done in practice.

 

IStream

Super Anarchist
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There's a trend of excessive reliance on complex technology.

We get to see quite a few rescues, some are genuine but a lot are tired scared inexperienced people with poor or non existent seamanship skills often in unsuitable boats for short handed offshore sailing. 

Recently there have been a few "flat battery" rescues. Abandoning a perfectly sound sailboat to the insurance company because of a high reliance on complex technology and the inability to sail without it. Usually when short or single handed. 

A day in miserable weather, the autopilot working overtime flattens the battery. The engine on a separate battery won't start for whatever reason, and the boat motion is too severe, leaving the occupants too exhausted and ill to do anything below decks. So they trigger a rescue just to get out of a miserable situation. 

I recently asked one skipper who wasn't in dangerous, just miserable seas, why he didn't heave-to and rest and wait for better conditions. He'd heard of heaving-to, and tried but had no idea how it was done in practice.
This is the kind of thing that ultimately leads to testing and licensing requirements.

 

stief

Super Anarchist
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Sask Canada
There's a trend of excessive reliance on complex technology.

We get to see quite a few rescues, some are genuine but a lot are tired scared inexperienced people with poor or non existent seamanship skills often in unsuitable boats for short handed offshore sailing. 

Recently there have been a few "flat battery" rescues. Abandoning a perfectly sound sailboat to the insurance company because of a high reliance on complex technology and the inability to sail without it. Usually when short or single handed. 

A day in miserable weather, the autopilot working overtime flattens the battery. The engine on a separate battery won't start for whatever reason, and the boat motion is too severe, leaving the occupants too exhausted and ill to do anything below decks. So they trigger a rescue just to get out of a miserable situation. 

I recently asked one skipper who wasn't in dangerous, just miserable seas, why he didn't heave-to and rest and wait for better conditions. He'd heard of heaving-to, and tried but had no idea how it was done in practice.
Reminds me of the opening of Swallows and Amazons, when the kids finally got the telegram with the father's permission to go sailing

“Is it the answer?” he panted, out of breath after all that beating up against the wind. “Does he say Yes?”

Mother smiled, and read the telegram aloud:

BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN.
“Does that mean Yes?” asked Roger.

“I think so.”

“Does it mean me, too?”

“Yes, if John and Susan will take you, and if you promise to do whatever they tell you.”
A different time.

 
Last “great” one I can think of (I’m sure there are others) was Yves Parlier - that fantastic story, sort of the modern day equivalent to the lunar calcs on the back of a napkin ability.  (More akin, actually, to the latter “example” you gave - but I’ve a feeling Yves could figure out the lunars, if pressed :) )There are probably other version of his story that relate the very innovative mast repair he did in more detail, but this is a good one.

https://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2015/12/15/47722/
I thought of Parlier too.  But I wonder if all the idiots of the past get forgotten, while the great mariners are remembered.  So we compare the idiots of today, with the great mariners of the past.  I recall Slocum described a bunch of duffers he encountered on the coast of Queensland who managed to ground themselves hard in no time flat while Slocum just sailed on.

What we do have these days (as mentioned above) is the improved tech which helps more people get themselves into situations they can't get out of.  So maybe more idiots stayed home in the past?  Or maybe the improved tech also helps more sensible people stay safe and it's a wash.

 

Diarmuid

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What we do have these days (as mentioned above) is the improved tech which helps more people get themselves into situations they can't get out of.  So maybe more idiots stayed home in the past?  
Or they just died at the first asking, without SAR videos or 9-1-1 transcripts or "Stupid Boaters of the Week" compilations on YouTube. My default position is "People today are exactly the same as people 50/500/5000 years ago ... only more so."

 
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estarzinger

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 "People today are exactly the same as people 50/500/5000 years ago ... only more so."
People may well the 'the same', but cape horn captains had experience and on-the-job-training and mentoring which is simply unavailable today.  In addition there was an actual darwin process at work as they worked their way up, the weak and stupid and careless died.  The position/opportunity was attractive enough and there were enough job openings that you had a full funnel of people trying for that brass ring - might possibly be comparable to spec-ops in times of hot war.

 
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accnick

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But the reaction you get these days when you set up your boat so that critical things operate without electricity....it’s like you’re a prepper or something. 
And that's exactly what you are: prepared for what comes your way. I've never been ashamed of that when it comes to getting my boat ready for cruising.

Back in the mid-1970s, when my wife and I and several of our friends first lived on boats, we used to say "when the revolution comes, we are ready to get away."

I still have that mindset when it comes to boats.

The corollary is: if you have complex systems onboard, you had better know how to fix them. You are the only mechanic available in the middle of the ocean, or a lot of other places you may end up.

 

estarzinger

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But the reaction you get these days when you set up your boat so that critical things operate without electricity....it’s like you’re a prepper or something. 
What, you are thinking/planning that something might ever fail at sea?  Such as pessimist!  (/s . . . just to avoid misunderstanding)

one of our approaches to Bermuda, the night before landfall we saw a sail on the horizon (sailing 90 degrees to our course).  He called us up on the VHF and said 'do you know where you are? I'm trying to get to Bermuda but my GPS went out 2 days from Montauk'.  We said 'sure, just follow us' which he did that day, but that night he charged on ahead and passed us.  When we got in to customs we asked after him, and they had not seen or heard from him . . . turned out he sailed right past the island - they later triangulated on his radio and talked him in. . . . he later became a pretty well known delivery skipper lol.

btw - from other thread - I can see we missed super critical things from our 'desirable' list: 'masthead burgee (and other flag etiquette hardware)'.

 
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Fah Kiew Tu

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Tasmania, Australia
Nothing wrong with that, since most have manual backup in any case.
Exactly. I'm sick of cranking in the chain while my GF handles the wheel & engine controls. As she's 152cm tall and weighs 57kg she's not about to swap positions.

My boat has a moderately complex wiring/electronics system but as I used to look after much much more complex systems, and I installed everything myself, I can either fix it or work around it. Lot of redundancy. The basics are very strongly constructed including the steering gear.

FKT

 

Jud - s/v Sputnik

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But the reaction you get these days when you set up your boat so that critical things operate without electricity....it’s like you’re a prepper or something. 
I’ve nothing but huge respect for those who can cross oceans using a sextant (or none at all, i.e., using natural navigation).  And I think it’s a way to connect with the cycles of your environment too, which ain’t a bad thing :)

 

Jud - s/v Sputnik

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Over reliance on technology at the expense of learning the fundamentals is an even bigger problem in aviation. I won’t bore you with examples. They are ubiquitous (and deadly).
Here’s a dead simple example.

I was in downtown Vancouver, a semi-large North American city.  A family approaches, tourists, clutching a phone with Google maps or similar open.  They’re looking for directions to a rather rough nearby street, and can’t seem to locate it but despite having what is effectively a powerful computer with a GPS-enabled map on it...and in a city with grid-pattern streets...yikes!

The description of this book below has it all wrong - “what does it mean to never get lost” - a book that describes itself as “examin[ing] the rise of our technologically aided era of navigational omniscience-or how we came to know exactly where we are at all times.”

Many know where they are, but are actually, in fact, lost (because they’ve lost sight of the larger context, like that famous Dutch Volvo Ocean Race boat near the Seychelles).

687FAF7F-AB24-4210-970D-C90D4CB3A292.jpeg

 
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Jud - s/v Sputnik

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So - you aspire to reach the dizzy heights of competence as practiced by Rimas, then?

FKT
One of the coolest books about non-instrument navigation...written in the ‘50s by a famous Aussie dude who flew around the world in the 1930s...https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Your-Way-Without-Compass/dp/048640613X/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=natural+navigation&qid=1620961717&sr=8-4 who also wrote a classic book called “The Raft Book”, on ocean nav without instruments...perhaps the modern version of which is the book “The Barefoot Navigator”,’ also quite good - looks at how other cultures have solved the navigation problem (Vikings, Polynesians, etc).

https://www.amazon.com/Barefoot-Navigator-Wayfinding-Skills-Ancients/dp/1472944771/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=barefoot+navigator&qid=1620961121&sr=8-2

Rimas had available to him centuries of humanity’s greatest navigational lore, tradition, and knowledge...endless fascinating wisdom to draw on...yet the fool in him is strong :)

 
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