May 14, 2014

Adventure vs Danger

When kids are involved we choose safety over danger--but I wonder if we lose the adventure? (Newborn Hector's Dolphin btw)

With the recent hubbub over how dangerous it is to take kids blue water sailing I’ve been reflecting on how SAFE sailing is these days. Absolutely sailors run into trouble out there now and again. But I think it’s the relative safety of it; the fact that most of us only lose the odd rudder, blow the occasional sail, lose a mast now and again, and rarely run into unanticipated storms, that highlights how different it used to be.

Technology has made it really easy for new sailors to become seasoned sailors without ever going through anything challenging. We’ve had friends sail around the entire world without hitting bad weather. The entire world. Which, by the way, is how I’m hoping to do it…
Maia dreams of having adventures like Cook did but worries they've all been used up

Contrast that to sailors who did the same trip 20+ years ago (pre technology such as GPS chartplotters, satphones, AIS, EPIRBs etc). Back then it was pretty rare not to have something go wrong and usually it was a whole lot of things. And as I was listening to a fabulous interview on ABC in Australia, by former boat kid Glenn MacFadyen about his childhood trip that included nearly starving, two shipwrecks and imprisonment in Africa (he characterized it all as exciting…) I realized we’ve become so risk adverse that we even want our adventures to be safe.

My heroes have always been adventures. And a large part of their appeal was how they coped with adversity. I love hearing tales about people who have gone through the toughest of moments and emerged triumphant after patching together damaged boats and dampened spirits. I love the fearlessness of it all—the idea that when the wind howls you roar back.
How safe should life be?
I think the whole Huck Finn aspect of cruising is what first drew me to it and made me want to share it with Maia. And as we add yet another piece of safety equipment (this time an uber cool MOB radio that allows us to zero in on someone who’s fallen overboard) I question just how safe we can make living before we’ve squeezed the life out of it.


Jonathan said...

Diane, Please tell us the brand and price of the MOB radio you chose. Is it based on AIS? Finally, an MOB product that makes sense. Thanks, Jonathan

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

We actually went with a VHF handheld with GPS--it still seems a bit bulky but we'll be doing a post on our choices and options shortly:

smountain said...

Good post Diane. Got me thinking. To me, the problem with some of the adventures that used to occur more frequently is that, at the time, they are pretty frightening, and maybe even terrifying. (Being imprisoned in Africa? Maybe fun in retrospect, but had to be a little worrisome at the time). And having been scared a few times on my boat (some of them pretty recently), I definitely don't like that feeling, and am not keen to experience it again if I don't have to. So, for me, I'd say, I am happy to trade a little adventure for the safety that new technology brings.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Scot, I tend to agree. I hate being afraid. I just wonder if we inadvertently make ourselves more fearful in the process. Those old-time sailors just seemed so rugged and superhuman compared to how ordinary and mortal I feel.