Self-Sufficiency is a Virtue
October 3, 2005
For all our faults we boaters are self-sufficient
people. We plan. We practice. Before a trip we check
everything from fuses to foghorns, charts to chocks.
Tanks are topped off. Spares are secured. For a
weekend cruise we stock
for a fortnight.
This is fun, actually. Planning the cruise is part
of the cruise. See, virtue really is its own reward.
Pre-cruise we tune the TV to The Weather Channel. We
check real-time satellite images. If a tropical
storm or worse is a possibility, we call off the
Certainly, the human survival instinct motivates us.
Boaters know how quickly the sea gets angry and
becomes life threatening. We’ve read about others
who died at sea or survived, barely. So, we prepare.
We play what-if games. Better safe than sorry is
more than a cliché.
And there is this. No boater wants the embarrassment
of being rescued by another vessel or, God forbid,
the Coast Guard. Chastened, that skipper imagines
what other boaters might be saying back at the dock,
mean things like, “He just ran out of gas; is that
pitiful or what?” Or, “You won’t believe this, but
they were using an old chart.”
a vessel operator, embarrassment of that sort may
not be a fate worse than death, but it’s right up
Another current of thought – you could put it at the
core of the boating belief system – is the ideal of
freedom. We are free to sail where and when we want.
But we also accept the corresponding responsibility.
If others are willing to rescue us when we’re in
trouble, we ought to try hard not to get into
trouble in the first place.
seems like every hurricane season we have a case
where thousands who should and could have evacuated,
did not. They probably told themselves, Hey, we
haven’t had a storm here since forever. It won’t hit
us. They never do. That rationale reminds me of the
Steven Wright line: “I plan to live forever. So far,
Well, if just a few individuals get into trouble the
police or fire departments may come to their rescue.
But when thousands get into trouble it seems to me
some should have made other plans.
Super hurricanes like Katrina and Rita remind us
that there is a fine and fragile line that separates
our comfortable lives from hardship or death. Good
planning helps us boaters stay on the bright side of
to readers: If you have not already donated to the
relief effort, we hope you will. You never know when
the tide will turn and you and your family might
need help. Barb Hansen