Two capsized boats

Firstly……the TV news and the newspapers have been filled with the reports of the cruise ship MV Explorer which emulated the Titanic in the Southern Ocean, hitting an iceberg and sinking.

Happily, all the people on board were saved and transferred to dry land without loss of life and, it would appear, without injury, thanks to the speedy response of other vessels in the area and to the magnificent maritime communications which exist today, which were not in place when the ‘Titanic’ was lost.

It is very sad to see a ship go down, even when all its crew and passengers have been saved.

Fortunately, a comprehensive network of rescue activities swung quickly into action, and the experience and expertise of the Captain and crew played a huge part in the safe transfer of everyone on board to the relative safety of the ship’s lifeboats, where they would have had a cold and not very comfortable wait for rescue, despite the fact that the both weather and therefore the sea were comparatively calm.

Meanwhile.………At the other end of the world, three people accepted delivery of a cabin cruiser. They appeared to have no understanding of how it functioned.

Reportedly lacking in any experience or training, they decided to set out to sea from Whitby Harbour in Yorkshire in a force eight (Gale) wind and with seas running at 20m high.

Theirs was the only boat to leave the harbour that day.

They were warned that it was too dangerous.

They were called three times on the radio from the lifeboat station as they left, to try to prevent their exit.

The boat capsized just outside the harbour and it took the bravery of the local lifeboat men and the helicopter service to fetch the two men and one woman from the sea.

All three died.

Why do some people have so little respect for the sea?

Just because Britain historically regards itself as ‘a seafaring nation’, it doesn’t mean that all knowledge of navigation, boat handling, safety procedures, radio etiquette, radio operation, engine operation and maintenance and sailing skills are automatically passed down through the genes. You have to learn it!

We really loved our sailing years. However, we ensured that not only was our boat always maintained to the very highest standard, we also made it our business to be well versed in all the skills and requirements needed to keep us safe, in the hope that we would never need to call on the emergency services.

The RNLI, HM Coastguard etc are there for just that,….EMERGENCY.

On our travels, we came across a frightening number of ‘sailors’ who had not attempted to learn how to sail, had not bothered with RYA navigation classes, had not maintained their craft as it deserved, had not realised the changes in tides and currents at different times, and did not even know how to understand shipping forecasts…. around the UK, let alone in foreign waters.

Two very different kinds of disaster, with very different causes…. but the message is the same: Respect the sea. Understand weather systems. Be aware of the results of climate change’.

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