Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Circumnavigator Rating Proposal: Rationale

The recent debate about the proper age and preparation for young men and women vying to be the youngest unassisted solo non-stop ocean circumnavigator has perhaps generated more heat than enlightenment. And, I've seen no guidance from anyone remotely identifiable as a "sailing authority". So, into this breach will I boldly voyage with some proposed ratings for how well or poorly a prospective solo circumnavigator is prepared.

While some people have succeeded in circumnavigating with little knowledge of the sea in rickety, unfit vessels, the odds are rather great that they will fail and even endanger themselves, other voyagers, and rescue services. At some point, Coast Guard, Lifesaving, or other authorities may declare a proposed or ongoing voyage to be manifestly unsafe and terminate it until deficiencies can be resolved by means of repairs, equipment, training, or otherwise.

I will rate preparedness in several areas on a letter grade scale from "A" to "F". You may feel free to translate the ratings into some other system, such as numeric grades or even the Harry Potter scale, where "F" translates into "T for troll".

My personal opinion is that anyone who can achieve a near-superhuman "A" preparation level is welcome to the King Neptune's realm, regardless of age. I would think it an extraordinary, legendary, unheard-of-achievement for a thirteen-year-old to achieve this, but if one does -- he or she should go for it and certainly doesn't belong in the realm of clodhopping landlubbers. To be rated at level "A", a sailor and boat most meet substantially all of the requirements without any significant deficiencies.

An older teen or young adult ideally should be prepared to level "B", which still represents a very high standard. And most adults should be prepared at level "C", which represents a moderately good or typical level of competency and preparation.

To rate at levels "B" or below, a sailor and boat must preponderantly (on average) meet the requirements of the guideline, with deficiencies in some areas made up for by strengths in others.

Level "D" sailors really shouldn't go out of sight of land without supervision. They have some skills and training, but aren't up for the grueling conditions of a solo, unassisted circumnavigation through the remote corners of the world ocean.

Level "F" are better described as landlubbers, boom targets, or shark bait. The more resourceful of them provide excellent examples for the rest of us and significant training opportunities for rescue services.

I hope to upload the tables soon.


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