Now that we have an actual date set to begin our cruise we are beginning to hear more concerns for our safety. Pirates, storms and drowning seem to be the big three. Here is how we see it
Pirates: Yes they do exist and no we don't want to meet any of them. Realistically true piracy isn't a concern in any of our intended cruising grounds. There are bad people no matter where you are and we all use common sense to stay clear of "bad" areas. We won't be carrying any firearms, as neither one of us is trained in their use or even comfortable being responsible for one. The people that prey on cruising sailboats target the bigger, newer sailboats rather than the older, smaller sailboats like ours.
Storms: Of course we will see bad weather. We purchased a very heavy boat that is made to deal with pretty nasty conditions. The plan is to be well versed in weather and keep a very close eye on the forecasts. We will be coastal cruising and will rarely be more than 24 hours from a nice safe bay. Almost all storms give you enough warning to allow you time to scoot into a safe haven. In the event we get caught in heavy weather we will trust our experience and our sturdy boat to see us safely home. Cell phones and a VHF would make it possible to contact help if we truly needed it.
Drowning: This is the one concern that everyone has. It is a fact of boating that the possibility of falling off and drowning can occur. Brenda and I are both good swimmers and we have a boat rule that if the wind is strong enough to justify a reef in any sail (reduction of sail) that we have our life jackets on. We have some very nice self-inflating life jackets that make this an easy rule to follow. In addition the boat has tethers and jack lines aboard to attach each of us to the boat when conditions warrant.
The United States Coast Guard publishes an annual summary of boating related accidents and deaths. In 2013 there were 32,719 deaths in automobiles. During that same time there were 560 boating deaths. Of these 560 deaths over 80% were in small (<21' in length) recreational boats. Of the 560 deaths only 3 were on a sailboat. As you can see, we truly are doing something that is quite safe if we use the right equipment, have a seaworthy sailboat and use our common sense. Remember, we can only go 7 mph. Worry about those guys on the lake with 20' power boats that fly along at 70 mph.