Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Here we go again...or not

For many years, one of the most reliable cliches of what now passes for journalism has been the man (or woman) against the sea nautical tragedy. Vessel goes to sea; vessel is lost; crew is rescued (or not); broadcast journalists queue up for the rights to the stories of the survivors (if any). Survivors cash in to try again.

In the wings, people who know something about the subject in general or the tragic vessel in particular quietly gnash their teeth and tear their hair out in clumps. Behind every such tragedy of modern times there stands an idiot, who acted despite numerous and well-informed warnings. In the worst situations, the vessel sinks and everyone dies, including rescuers. In the next worst case, the tragedian survives to acquire more headlines and, perhaps, funds for another quixotic venture.

The curious case of the sailing vessel aptly named RawFaith may prove that one can play the game once too often. The tragic sinking of the (not really a) "pirate ship" is rendered less tragic first, because for once, no one died. Second, the replica has to be the ugliest watercraft ever found this side of a Cracker Jack box. Evidently, the tragedy is further diminished by the owner's somewhat spotty record with the Coast Guard and nearly every other form of nautical authority. This link will take the curious to a representative thread of seagoing opinion.

Oddly, the skepticism that pervades the thread seems to have been picked up, here and there, in the broadcast media. Perhaps for once the facts speak for themselves, even for the thickest. Two men set sail from New England southward in December. They are aboard a 300-ton vessel that might be handled by a crew of six in genial conditions. From reliable testimony (the Coast Guard's), their safety equipment comprised one rubber raft, one survival suit for two men, and a hand-held radio suitable for a one-design dinghy of 16-18 feet. Two independently produced TV news items I saw tonight seem to have stumbled onto the idea that this voyage was, perhaps, a tad irresponsible.

Perhaps one good thing that Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm contributed to popular culture has been the fact that stupid and irresponsible sailors put the lives of their rescuers in deadly peril. Further, efforts to rescue the idiotic may come at the expense of those who are at sea to make a living, who are not weighed down with romantic delusion.

At any rate, one gets the impression that this tragic survivor may not get the favourable media impressions that some of his predecessors have got. With any luck, he can be persuaded to relocate to someplace between Gallup, NM and Kingman, AZ: an area both high enough and dry enough to keep him out of seafaring trouble.

Apt, did I say? RawFaith might better have been named Blind Luck.


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