What is Boating Safety??

Much of Boating safety like all safety is attitude.  John Vigor sums it up more elegantly than I.

Vigor’s Black Box Theory:

The basis of the theory is that there is no such thing as fortuitous luck at sea. The reason why some boaters survive storms or have fewer accidents than others is that they earn their “luck” by diligent and constant acts of seamanship.

Aboard every boat there’s an invisible black box.

Every time a skipper takes the trouble to consult the chart, inspect the filters, go forward on a rainy night to check the running lights, or take any proper seaamanlike precaution, he or she earns a point that goes into the black box.

In times of stress, in heavy weather or other threatening circumstances where human skill and effort can accomplish no more, the points are cashed in as protection. The skipper has no control over their withdrawal. They withdraw themselves, as appropriate. Those skippers with no points in the box are the ones later described as “unlucky.” Those with points to spend will survive-but they must start immediately to replenish their savings, for the sea offers no credit.

This method of “earning luck” was well known in practice, if not in theory, to sailors in square-riggers, who were told:

For six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able;

And on the seventh, holystone the decks and scrape the cable.

From:The Practical Mariner’s Book of Knowledge, John Vigor page 20

This is attitude and diligence, looking and thinking ahead, telling the crew what is expected of them, the crew telling the skipper what they expect of the skipper.  Everyone on the boat asking when directions are not clear.  It is the proper tone on the boat that everyone feels safe asking a question, asking for help, assistance or directions.

I get very irritated when I hear people say something like “I’ll put on my lifejacket when the weather gets bad.”

I want you to make doing things the correct and safe way the regular way you do things on your boat.  Train the crew to do things the correct and safe way from the start.  If you start out the safe way then there is no un-training later on.

Yelling at people does not make them smarter.

Remember the skipper sets the tone on a boat.  Lets all set a postive tone on our boats and pass the positive tone on.

Thank you for helping with boating safety.

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