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Avoiding situations that endanger the vessel


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What is the issue?
Every year, hundreds of yachts are lost. The thought envisions enormous natural forces overwhelming a beleaguered sailing craft as set out in thousands of romanticist paintings. Yet this is far from the most likely case and a vessel is more likely to be lost for a variety of reasons. For instance, failure of ground tackle, yacht breaking free whilst unattended, striking a semi-submersed objects, fire, explosion, crew exhaustion or crew failure, faulty navigation, or many other events or oversights. Being overwhelmed by a seaway is too narrow a focus.

Why address this?
Keeping the vessel out afloat and out of harms way, will save an owner and the lives of the crew not to mention untold damage expense.

How to address this?
Read ‘Total Loss’ by Jack Coote. This is a collection of 50 stories where there was a ‘total loss’ of a yacht.

Openly, before I circumnavigated, I knew little or nothing about sailing. This book provided first-hand accounts of the situations by category of incident – or at least the edition I read as it has been revised since. All events were written in a blow-by-blow narrative making it completely accessible to people who do not have extensive sailing knowledge

Once I read through the stories they became very much ingrained in my thinking and stayed with me. Hence, I had a heightened awareness of many more situations of jeopardy than I realised. I could easily have allowed the vessel to stray into potential danger plus the associated path of escalation that should occur if I allowed it to happen. This helped keep me clear of a host of unnecessary risks and a quote by Michael Porter, the celebrated business strategist best describes it, when he said: "The essence of strategy is in deciding what not to do." Should the worst occur it will help any sailor how best to cope with emergencies.

In retrospect this was perhaps the most important book I personally read before setting off and I very much recommend it.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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