Editorial April 2008 Issue

Happily Aground Again

I’m not sure why this month’s Ocean Tested review of the new forward-looking sonar from Interphase Technologies, the SE-200 (page 14), gives me the creeps, but it does. The technology, which promises a digital representation of the seafloor ahead, is impressive, but I can’t help but feel like we’re opening Pandora’s box. Imagine that the SE-200 always worked as its promotional literature suggests, giving us adequate time to react to underwater obstacles ahead. Should the technology become affordable and widely accepted, groundings may become so rare that the world’s bays and estuaries will be populated by sailors who’ve never been humbled by the sudden heel of their boat as it wallows onto a mudflat. Part of what distinguishes sailors is that our affliction—this incurable addiction to wind and water—requires that we confront our own limitations. Each time we clear the bell buoy, we are embarking on an act of submission, surrendering ourselves and our good little ship to whatever the ocean might deliver.

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