May 17, 2009

Top up your black box

DID YOU KNOW there’s a black box on your boat? It’s invisible, but it’s one of the most important pieces of safety equipment aboard. It stores the points you earn for being a good sailor. And when you’re in trouble—when being a good sailor just isn’t enough—those points can save your boat and your life.

Once you know about the black box, you understand why some yachts sink in gales and some survive. Landlubbers talk about good luck; sailors know there’s no such thing. You have to earn your luck.

Every time you inspect the rigging, you earn a point that goes into the black box. Every time you check the running lights, you earn a point. Every time you take the bearing of an approaching steamer, every time you change the fuel filters … you get the idea.

When the weather turn unexpectedly bad, or during other moments of stress and danger when human skill and effort can accomplish no more, the points are cashed in as protection. They withdraw themselves, as needed, to ensure your survival.

Boats with no points in the black box frequently don’t survive. Landlubbers call these boats unlucky. But we know better.

(For more on this subject, click on Black Blox Theory over there on the right.)

Todays’ Thought
We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?
—Jean Cocteau

“How was that gorgeous young secretary you took out last night?”
“Oh, not so good.”
“Jeez, you always were lucky.”

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