While we report that Britain's Royal National Lifesaving Institution (RNLI) rescued 39 people a day last year, there are no world-wide statistics for the number of rescues from sailing boats that take place annually.
However it seems intuitively obvious that, as more and more sailors take to the world's oceans, more and more rescues are inevitable.
It has often been expressed by cranky old salts, but can never be proved, that this is exacerbated by the explosion of technical aids to sailing: electronic charts, GPS-enabled EPIRB, PLB, AIS etc.; that these may be lulling inexperienced would-be sailing adventurers into a false sense of complacency.
One thing is sure. It is a rare rescue that is not caused by crew mistake. This week a yacht crossing the Indian Ocean hit something solid (Whale? Container?) and sank. Apart from that incident, the others all had causes in crew mistakes:
One didn't get his sails down in time and blew them out in high wind, then couldn't start his engine (and panicked?); another forgot to tether before he left the cabin; another either left port without reading a weather report or sailed too close to the shore or both; one had an EPIRB, but it was not GPS-enabled and not registered.
I love reading stories of sea incidents and analyzing them, in the hope that I will continue to learn by others' mistakes - instead of my own.
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