August 31, 2016

Best ships, best preventers

ANY WELL-READ BOATER knows that an ounce of preventer is worth a pound of cure. Well, okay, it may not be exactly like that, but you know what I mean. There’s nothing better aboard a boat than a preventer for preventing things that, if they happen, are difficult to cure.
Preventers prevent things that shouldn’t happen, from happening. What is a preventer, exactly, you ask? Well, it can be almost anything that prevents; but on sailboats it’s usually a bit of rope, used with forethought and intelligence to prevent the worst from happening.
For example, a preventer can prevent the mainsail from jibing accidentally and injuring someone or causing the backstay to snap and making the mast fall down. Preventers lash dinghies firmly to the cabintop, so they don’t get washed overboard in storms.
Preventers act as backups to lines under great strain, and minimize any damage that might occur. Preventers turn major catastrophes into minor inconveniences.
Preventers are mostly small lengths of wire or rope, intelligently placed and artfully attached in the right place at the right time to stop something awful from happening.
Some, such as the topping lift, are permanent and known by proper names. Others are temporary and not dignified with permanent names. But the best ships carry the most preventers because wise skippers know preventers are worth points in the Black Box, the best preventer of all. And if you don’t know about the Black Box, you really owe it to yourself to find out.
Today’s Thought
Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.
— Cervantes, Don Quixote
“I hear poor old Fred got run over by a road roller.”
“Yeah, right. He’s in the hospital.”
“Where do I find him?”
“Wards 4, 5 and 6.”
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for another Mainly about Boats column.)


Lazybones said...

But do I find the "preventer" IN the Black Box?.. or do you find it in a White Box, along with all the other ropes, and then "Prevention" goes into the Black Box? This is a bit of a Grey area... Can I build up points in my Grey Area?.. and what effect might they have?

John Vigor said...

Lazybones, just look over on the right and you'll see a reference to the Black Box Theory. If you can find enough energy to click on it and read it, you'll understand what I'm talking about. I hope.
John V.

Lazybones said...

Thanks John, I've was educated in the "Black Box Theory" when I read "The seaworthy offshore sailboat" recently (I even paid for it!). I can't tell you how much I liked the book... because I understand nobody is allowed to tell you how much they like anything you do! Please excuse the attempt at humour in my earlier post, it clearly sank without a trace. Gurgle.

John Vigor said...

Lazybones, nothing wrong with your sense of humour. I'm afraid I mistook it for a genuine query. I guess it's my sense of humour that's the grey area. Butwotthehell, archie, life goes on.
John V.

Alden Smith said...

Many years ago I saw a photograph in the NZ SeaSpray Magazine of a crew member celebrating on board a yacht tied up in Constitution Dock, Hobart, after the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. He was obviously very drunk but his kind crew mates had tied him cocoon like to the cap shrouds from ankles to shoulders with a preventer in the form of a jib sheet. He looked very, very, very happy.