Mailport: June 2012
The discussions about the Fastnet incident in the May 2012 issue and the WingNuts deaths in the Mackinac Race (April 2012) both omit to focus on the most obvious of points with respect to safety at sea. What happened in both of these cases would not have happened in a Vertue, or an Alberg 37, or a Mason 44, to pick these three from among many possible examples.
The Mackinac Race deaths were the result of two sailors being forcibly struck by their own lightweight, unstable, and entirely unsuitable vessel. The Fastnet capsize was the consequence of an edgy and improperly designed and constructed boat. Despite the occasional Blackfish sinking when keel bolts are not attended to, traditionally designed vessels with safe initial and ultimate stability will rarely put their crews in the water or kill them when properly maintained and sailed.
There are, of course, always some residual dangers, and some rare and unforeseeable circumstances against which no reasonable protections may be had, and for these, the best of safety equipment should be provided.
But, as a starting point, sail in a soundly designed and maintained boat. Generally, she’ll be able to take far more than you can, and—if good seamanship guides her, she may be trusted to bring you back home safely.
Next: PFD Suggestion