Wednesday 21 May 2008

1300 position 3409.14 16956.40 Wed 21/05/2008 04:18

dtd 1568 so dmg -1 No comment!

In the black glooms last night, thinking that pearshapedness threatened and plug pulling was on the cards, I thought about Cook and La Perouse who must both have been close to here. I wondered about the usefulness (should that be utility?) of information and the effect it has on the quality of decisions. Here we are, with SatC forecasts and warnings, grib files, weatherfax (note to myself - must try to pull in Kodiak wxfax -should be in range) and, in desperation, professional routers almost permanently glued to the satphone for the RTW racers. Does all this stuff inhibit the timid - who can't make a decision until they have 'all' the information? Does it embolden the rash - 'The grib says we can do it...' or simply inform the experienced, who might make a different go/no go decision without the storm warning...In other words, is the quality of the decision dependent on the quality and extent of the information or on the experience of the sailor? Obviously both - but what would Cook have done last night? My bet is exactly the same as us, but without the angst. He'd have been sailing backwards and forwards at the same wind angles as us, looking at the sky, assessing the cloud patterns, feeling the wind, watching the swell and its direction and checking his barometer every hour. (Did he have one??). Then he'd have done what we are now doing - headed NW on the freeing breeze, ready to face whatever was in store and glad to be moving again. The fact that we know that there is a chance of a nasty storm ahead makes our present slightly less comfortable than his perhaps. We also know how it will move, more or less and can therefore decide to back away if we want to. Cook's best information would have been his own, or other sailors' logs from previous visits to the area.

And I wonder how Baudin's committee decision would have worked. And how, maybe, a cold war Russian submariner with his party cadre in his little cabin full of appropriate texts supervising the Captain to ensure the political content of the Captain's decisions was sufficient to ensure their quality. There was a cold war Russian sub in Sydney for a while - those guys must be the bravest of the brave. Still are - Komsomolsk and Kursk as witness. Courage and fear - fear and courage! And in those early days, to have to comply with the cadre as well (whose cabin was next to the Captain's and slightly bigger). We were always in awe of those boats, but to actually see the conditions aboard was an astonishing revelation.

Visited the mid portions of the mast - not as spectacular a performance as Pete's in the S2H, but interesting. Needed to move the radar reflector back to where it is supposed to be and improvise a strop for a second check stay. All done, reflector moved but not taped as intended, strop made, checkstay installed, after some expert unravelling by Mcq and Whitters bruised but happy. Time for a late visit to the Barber Surgeon.