Monday, September 07, 2009

Programming Note: Teen Circumnavigators

With so many solo teens abandoning shopping malls, video arcades, and drag strips in favor of remote, storm-tossed corners of the world's oceans, I've inserted a links section for Circumnavigators, which includes the latest crop of globe-circling teen solo sailors, and some other ongoing or planned solo trips.

Please let me know if there are others, including any school, Boy/Girl/Cub Scout/Guide, or church youth group-sponsored solo circumnavigation outings.

Is there a sane limit to how low the lowest age attempts can go? I'll for sure become worried if Highlights for Children or Ranger Rick emerges as a primary sponsor for one of the future attempts.

For the record, I don't oppose all teen circumnavigation attempts, but would hold would-be teen circumnavigators and their families and sponsors to a strict standard of preparation.


At 7:33 AM, September 08, 2009, Blogger Tillerman said...

Personally I am convinced that this quest for the "youngest circumnavigation" record is heading for a disaster. I don't know what the youngest safe age is... and neither does anybody else. Sooner or later some parent is going to send their kid to a watery grave.

I think that the press and the record-keeping bodies should discourage this activity by not giving publicity to it. For that reason I will not be covering it on my blog.

At 10:58 PM, September 12, 2009, Blogger Pat said...

It's a tough call; I don't want to censor rational, informed discussion or fair debate on the topic and think it would be best for the sailing world to attempt some sort of consensus about what is or isn't reasonable.

I don't know that parents, teens, or government bodies should have the only say. I don't know whether it's the best choice for the sailing community to not take any position or sound appropriate cautions. If we have expertise and awareness of the hazards and ways to mitigate the hazards, it seems wrong not to speak out.

If any attention at all -- even justified criticism or balanced debate with careful attention to risks and past history -- still encourages some people to do something foolhardy -- then very obviously the fault is not with the critics.

Similarly, I think that level-headed sailors could serve as a useful counter-weight to people to project their own fantasies of freedom and accomplishment and resentments against authority onto the would-be teen circumnavigators. A lot of comments made about the teens seem to lack proportion or knowledge of just what lies out there.

One place where perhaps the sailing community, or even individual experienced sailors might help, is be presenting the risks of this activity in as accurate and objective a manner as can be achieved.

Another is in defining some sort of goals for preparation for the challenge of a circumnavigation, which would-be participants could them measure themselves against. It might become obvious that some participants, because of lack of age, strength, maturity, experience, or training, can't measure up to such goals.

At 12:53 AM, September 21, 2009, Blogger O Docker said...

This is a classic dilemma the press always faces in such stories.

But the press doesn't have as much freedom to choose what it covers as it might appear. If a 13-year-old did successfully circumnavigate (or is even seriously considering doing so), should we 'choose' not to report that because, in our judgement, this will encourage reckless behavior? I think a story like that is news and any responsible journal should report it.

But HOW the coverage is handled is a whole other matter. I think we should encourage public debate about whether such a thing makes any sense. In fact, I think the focus brought on this case by the press pressured the appropriate agency to take the action they did.

Should we report how easy it is to find bomb making instructions online? I think we should point out the dangers of such things and the fact that people have access without giving the specifics. The bomb makers will find out without our help. It's the people who are endangered who need to be reading about it.

People will make bombs and send their kids off on suicidal adventures whether or not the press reports it, but it's the job of a responsible press to warn of the dangers.

At 1:55 AM, September 21, 2009, Blogger Carol Anne said...

Amen, O.

At 11:21 AM, September 22, 2009, Blogger Pat said...

Thank you O, T-man, and Carol Anne!

Typo in my own last comment; I wanted sailors to serve as a counterweight to people _ who _ project their fantasies....


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