20 Myths About Offshore Sailing

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One of the things about offshore voyaging that keeps me endlessly fascinated, despite having been…well, fixated on the subject for some 50 years, is that there is always more to learn.

And not only that, with that learning I have come to the realization that many true things about offshore voyaging are counter-intuitive, which, in turn, results in a lot of myths becoming widely believed just because they seem to make sense and have been repeated a lot.

This post is a list of some of those myths.

By the way, before we get started, I will be honest and admit that at some time in my life I have believed that at least 15 of these myths were facts. However, I’m going to preserve the last shreds of my pride by not telling you which ones.

All of the statements below are wrong, despite being many being accepted as fact in the voyaging community:

  1. Double-ended boats are intrinsically safer in following seas.
  2. Good weather forecasting and a good weather router can keep you out of storms. (Members*)
  3. Wave strikes are what damage boats in storms.
  4. Lying a-hull is safe.
  5. Being pooped is a risk in storms.
  6. Twin rudders are a desirable feature. (Members*)
  7. A good jackline system can keep you from being dragged in the water. (Centreline jacklines excepted.) (Members*)
  8. Very low-stretch wire or high modulus rope jacklines are a good idea. (Members*)
  9. You will die in just minutes in cold water.
  10. The more anchors you set the safer you will be. (Members*)
  11. You are safer with shorefasts than anchored.
  12. Small snug anchorages are safer than larger ones. (Members*)
  13. Chain provides spring through catenary.
  14. A kellet increases holding power.
  15. Learning CPR will have a significant effect on outcomes.
  16. A boom brake replaces a preventer. (Members*)
  17. Full-keeled boats always steer better than fin-keeled boats.
  18. Installing a series hybrid diesel electric system in a voyaging boat will save fuel and is the environmentally responsible thing to do. (Members*)
  19. To be a good mariner you need to know how to tie a whole bunch of fancy difficult knots.
  20. Modern hull designs can’t heave-to. (Members*)

I have linked to the source that debunks each myth, where available. For the myths without links, if there is enough interest expressed in the comments, I will write a post explaining my thinking.

*Non-members can read the Online Book Introductions and Tables of Contents, to assess their value before joining, at the above links.

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So, what other myths can you think of that you once believed but now know to be wrong? Please leave a comment.

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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 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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