We covered this story last week, and below Webb Chiles offers his take…
My initial subject line for this entry was ‘some fools deserve to die.’ Perhaps I’m mellowing in my old age. I changed because I realize they don’t deserve to die—if they can save themselves. What they don’t deserve is to be saved by anyone else. You may have read reports as I did of a father and son rescued last weekend from a sailboat 150 miles off Nantucket Island in a blizzard. If you did you surely thought as I did: What the hell were they doing out there?
I googled and learned. A pretty good report can be found here, even though the journalist uses the hackneyed ‘once in a lifetime adventure’. Another of the infinite misuses of the word. In this instance ‘adventure’ should have been replaced by inanity. And I suspect this was not a ‘once in a lifetime’ occurrence with these people. I deliberately don’t call them ‘sailors’.
I don’t like those ashore who second guess and criticize those at sea. They have often done so with me. Wrongly as I have proven. But the blunders here beggar belief; and on first thought I disagreed with the younger man’s assertion that “If anyone sat down and worked things out they’d understand why we left.” Actually I do understand: they were too stupid and inexperienced to know what they were getting themselves into. This was a failure, multiple failures, of intelligence and imagination.
I don’t care that they left Newport in February on an ill-prepared and perhaps structurally defective boat with a blizzard forecast. I do care that they called for help and were rescued at considerable risk to the rescuers.
If you do something so foolish, I believe the Coast Guard should have the authority to require you to sign a waiver before departure that any distress calls will be ignored. Even better, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a radio transmitter or EPIRB on board.
If these people had not known that if they got in trouble they could call for help, I doubt they would have sailed. On the other hand, they might have. In which case they would have already gotten what they deserved.