Risk Management and Watertight Bulkheads


Should our boats have watertight bullheads? It's a question that comes up often and the obvious answer is "yes". But not so fast:

My thinking is that, while I agree that a forward watertight bulkhead is a desirable feature in a voyaging boat, it is far from essential and that trying to incorporate multiple watertight bulkheads can cause more problems than it’s worth.

I’m going to write at some length (what else is new) on this subject because I think it represents an interesting exercise in risk evaluation, a process all of us who wish to sail offshore must become adept at, because if we treat all risks as equal, and try to guard against each of them equally, we will quite simply never leave the wharf.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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