Legendary singlehander Webb Chiles offers this perspective on going to sea, alone.
Before Nik Wallenda tight roped across Niagara Falls he said he did not want to wear a tether. I believe him even though he ended up wearing one at the insistence of the television network and his sponsors. Sponsors are bosses. That’s not the only reason I don’t have them; but it’s one of the reasons.
Several things I have read recently have caused me to realize that almost no one goes to sea any more without tethers, which is to say that almost no one really goes to sea any more. They remain electronically and mentally tied to the land. SSB radios; tracking devices; satellite phones; cell phones; shore teams; weather routers: are all links back to the society the sailor has chosen to leave behind. Perhaps for encouragement; perhaps in hope of rescue; perhaps just for sociability.
With one exception there is nothing wrong with any of that. It is just not my way. And I make no claim that my way is the right way. It is just the right way for me.
I like communicating. What else have I been doing with all these words and photographs for the past forty years? But when I go to sea, I cut the cords–every one–and enter the monastery of the sea. That uncompromised purity is one of the greatest attractions of sailing oceans for me. My only radio is a handheld VHF with a range of about ten miles, used once to frighten off would-be Javanese pirates, but normally to learn when entering an unfamiliar port where the officials want me to dock for clearance. I am not going to call for help. I’m going to live or die on my own. That’s the way it has been for five circumnavigations, and the way it will continue to be.
When I expressed a similar opinion some years ago, I received an email saying: Remember what happened to Slocum! To which I immediately replied: I do. He died at sea instead of in a nursing home. The exception to there being nothing wrong with sailing with tethers is that even if calling for help is possible, I am reasonably certain no one should go to sea counting on it to come.